TRUSTS & ESTATES LAW
In Matter of Estate of Rodman, 498 P.3d 1054 (Alaska 2021), the supreme court held that that the statute of frauds barred enforcement of alleged contracts for the state of land and that the alternative remedy of restitution was not warranted in all but one property. (Id. at 1073). After Alexina Rodman (“Alexina”) died and left a will disposing of several parcels of real property and two trailers, her ex-husband Glenn Rodman (“Glenn”) filed claims against her estate for those proeprties. (Id. at 1060.). Glenn claimed that Alexina had transferred title to three of those propertie to him and that they had agreed on mutual life estates for two of the properties, which, after their deaths, would be sold and the proceeds given solely to their great-grandchild. (Id.). The estate rejected Glenn’s claims, citing the statute of frauds and the absence of any written agreement. (Id.). The case first reached the supreme court, which remanded to the superior court to decide ownership of a contested trailer, believing that revealing who owned the trailer would distill ownership of the other contested property. (Id. at 1062.). On remand, the superior court issued an order describing key facts and legal issues left to be decided. (Id.). The order advised the parties to either request another opportunity to present evidence or allow the court to decide based on the existing record. (Id.). However, due to an error by the clerk of court, Glenn never received the notice, and therefore never offered new evidence. (Id.) the superior court entered a final decision, denying all of Glenn’s claims of ownership and for restitution. (Id.). Glenn appealed, arguing that the piecemeal process and lack of evidentiary hearings deprived him of his due process rights, and that the superior court misapplied the statute of frauds in not recognizing enforceable contracts between Alexina and Glenn. (Id.). The supreme court held that Glenn could not raise the issue of the clerk’s error before first seeking relief under Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1). (Id. at 1063). Glenn also waived his due process arguments because he never argued to the trial court that due process entitled him to specific procedures. (Id. at 1064.). The supreme court found that the superior court did not err in denying Glenn’s claims to ownership of the contested lots and the trailer for two reasons. First, the superior court’s findings regarding Glenn’s credibility were not clearly erroneous. (Id. at 1067). Second, the superior court properly found that Glenn’s evidence did not show clear and convincing evidence of a contract or his ownership over any of the contested lots or chattel. (Id. at 1068, 1069, 1070). Finally, the supreme court found that the superior court did not commit clear error in denying restitution for two of the lots and the trailer but remanded for additional findings regarding the third lot (named Lot 2). (Id. at 1073). Affirming in part and reversing and remanding for a sole issue, the supreme court found that a series of alleged oral agreements were not enforceable under the statute of frauds. (Id.).