By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A lawsuit filed by the grandson of Walt Disney over the disposition of land in Teton County should be decided in California, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled.
The court on Wednesday turned down Brad Lund in his attempt to have a lawsuit over the sale of a plot of land known as Eagle South Fork Ranch near Wilson heard in Teton County.
Justices unanimously upheld a state district court’s ruling that justice would be better served if Lund’s challenge was heard in a California court rather than one in Wyoming.
“The district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the California court was an available and adequate alternate forum,” said the ruling written by Chief Justice Kate Fox.
The ruling is the latest in a long series of legal battles between Lund, his sister Michelle Lund and the trustees for both of the trusts maintained for the two.
Brad and Michelle Lund are the children of Sharon Disney-Lund, the daughter of Walt Disney.
Their father bought the 110-acre ranch and after their mother’s death, the ranch was placed in residuary trusts for the two children, with each trust owning 50% of the land.
According to the ruling, since 2009, Brad Lund and the trustees have been involved in a lawsuit in California probate court over numerous elements of the trust, including ways assets should be divided between the trusts of Brad and Michelle.
In 2019, trustees agreed to let Bradford buy his sister’s interest in the Eagle South Fork Ranch for $9.7 million rather than sell the land to an outside party.
In September 2020, the trustees announced they had received an offer of $35 million for the property, which they intended to accept. Michelle withdrew her consent to her brother’s purchase of the land.
Brad then filed a complaint against his sister and the trustees in state district court in Teton County, saying they breached the terms of an agreement for the purchase of the land.
The trustees and Michelle asked that the lawsuit be dismissed because all of the other legal actions surrounding the trusts were taking part in California.
The state district court granted the request and Brad challenged it to the Wyoming Supreme Court, saying the action involved a Wyoming property, so it made sense to hear the challenge in Wyoming.
But the Supreme Court which agreed it made more sense to pursue legal action in California because it was actually part of a larger probate case in that state.
“The California court has an extensive history with these parties and their trust disputes, and the district court reasonably concluded that the more efficient course was to have that court preside over this dispute as well,” the ruling said.
In addition, all of the parties, witnesses and evidence in the case are located outside of Wyoming, the ruling said.