United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
REV. BARRY D. BILDER, Plaintiff,
JANICE A. DYKSTRA and JANE/JOHN DOE, Individuals as discovery may reveal, Defendants.
Charles P. Kocoras United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Janice A. Dykstra's
(“Dykstra”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff Rev.
Barry D. Bilder's (“Barry”) complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in
the alternative, motion for summary judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following
reasons, the Court grants Dykstra's motion for summary
following facts are taken from the record and are undisputed
unless otherwise noted.
Barry is an Oklahoma citizen and the brother of Defendant
Dykstra, an Illinois citizen. The parties had a third
sibling, Richard J. Bilder (“Richard”). Dykstra,
Barry, and Richard were all the children of John Bilder
August 10, 1995, John appointed Dykstra as the Executor of
his Last Will and Testament. On November 27, 2001, Richard
died. Four days later, John died. On June 5, 2002, Dykstra
was appointed as the Independent Administrator of both
Richard and John's estates. According to John's Last
Will and Testament, all of his assets were to pour over into
his inter vivos trust, of which Dykstra was the sole
beneficiary at the time of John's death. Although Richard
died intestate, he also created an inter vivos trust
prior to his death that listed Dykstra as the sole
beneficiary. As such, Dykstra came into possession of Richard
and John's property.
2015, a civil matter arose between the parties in Oklahoma
that involved real estate previously purchased by John. In
the course of obtaining discovery for that matter in July
2016, Barry obtained the probate documents of Richard and
John's estates. Upon reviewing the documents in July
2017, Barry discovered alleged forgeries on two probate
documents: (1) a June 5, 2002 document titled “Waiver
of Notice, ” which waived his right to notice regarding
the probate hearing, the right to require formal proof of the
will and to contest the will's admission to probate, and
his rights in independent administration; and (2) an August
4, 2006 document titled “Receipt and Approval on
Closing of Independent Administration, ” acknowledging
that Barry received his distributive share of the estate in
full. Barry alleges that Dykstra fraudulently prevented him
from receiving his inheritance by forging his signature on
these two documents, which prevented his involvement in the
probate process and falsely acknowledged his receipt of
inheritance when he had not received a share.
on these events, Barry filed his complaint on July 25, 2019,
alleging a claim for forgery. On October 3, 2019, Dykstra filed
the instant motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, motion for
summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) “tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not
the merits of the case.” McReynolds v. Merrill
Lynch & Co., 694 F.3d 873, 878 (7th Cir. 2012). The
allegations in the complaint must set forth a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Plaintiffs
need not provide detailed factual allegations, but they must
provide enough factual support to raise their right to relief
above a speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A claim must be
facially plausible, meaning that the pleadings must
“allow…the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). The claim must be described “in sufficient
detail to give the defendant ‘fair notice of what
the…claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs.,
Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, ” are insufficient to
withstand a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678.
considering a motion to dismiss, the Court may consider
documents “referred to in the plaintiff's complaint
[that] are central to his claim.” 188 LLC v.
Trinity Industries, Inc., 300 F.3d 730, 735 (7th Cir.
2002). However, if a moving party relies on additional
materials, the motion must be converted to a motion for
summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
Given that the Court must rely on such materials to resolve
this motion, we deem it appropriate to convert the motion to
a motion for summary judgment.
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court considers
the “record as a whole.” Morgan v. Harris
Trust & Sav. Bank of Chi., 867 F.2d 1023, 1026 (7th
Cir. 1989). In its consideration, the Court construes all
facts and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate
“if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A
genuine issue of material fact arises where a reasonable jury
could find, based on the evidence of record, in favor of the
non-movant. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
urges the Court to grant her motion on two
grounds: (1) Barry cannot state a claim because
Dykstra was the sole beneficiary of Richard and John's
estates, and (2) Barry released Dykstra from any and all
claims he may have against her pursuant to the settlement
agreement the parties entered on February 28, 2019. The Court
addresses each argument in turn.
Barry's Damages and Expectation of Inheritance
asserts that Barry cannot state a claim for fraud or
intentional interference with inheritance because he was not
listed as a beneficiary of either Richard or John's
trusts. To establish a claim for common-law fraud, Barry
would have to plead sufficient facts to show damages.
Giammanco v. Giammanco, 253 Ill.App.3d 750, 758
(1993). To allege intentional interference with inheritance
under Illinois law, Barry would have to plead damages, as
well as “the existence of an expectancy” and
“defendant's intentional interference with the
expectancy.” In re Estate of Ellis, 236 Ill.2d
45, 52 (2009). If Barry was not listed as ...