CHARLES W. PIETERSE

CHARLES W. PIETERSE PHOTO
Practice Areas
Trust & Estates Litigation, General Litigation,
Business Litigation,Complex Commercial Litigation
Partner, Greenwich, CT
203.862.2332
cpieterse@wbamct.com
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Charlie is Co-chair of the Firm’s Litigation Department and leads the Firm’s Trust and Estate’s litigation group. Charlie has 28 years of litigation experience with Whitman Breed and its predecessor firms, including five years with Whitman Breed’s former Manhattan office. Charlie has represented clients before state and federal trial and appellate courts, probate courts and administrative bodies in a broad range of matters, including trusts and estate litigation, business and complex commercial litigation, product liability defense and commercial lending litigation.

Charlie's trusts and estate litigation experience includes representation of corporate and individual trustees, executors, beneficiaries, conservators, guardians and attorneys-in-fact, and service as a guardian ad litem or court-appointed attorney, in disputes involving all aspects of probate and trust and estate litigation, including removal proceedings, contested accountings, breach of fiduciary duty claims, will and trust contests, reformation and decanting proceedings, and contested conservatorship and guardianship proceedings.
 

Professional and Community Affiliations
  • American Bar Association
  • Connecticut Bar Association
  • Fairfield County Bar Association
  • Greenwich Bar Association (President, 2004-05; Vice President, 2003-04)
  • Family and Children's Agency (Vice President, Board of Directors, 2008 to present)
  • Community Centers, Inc. (President, Board of Directors, 1993-99)
  • Lawyers for Children America Volunteer Attorney (Connecticut Regional Leadership Council Member)
 
Publications/Presentations

Speaker, "The Ultimate Guide to Probate," National Business Institute, November 2016, Topic: "Ethical Practice Considerations and Concerns in Probate Court"

Speaker, "Drafting Trustee Releases and Beneficiary Consents," Connecticut Bar Association, Estates and Probate Section and Young Lawyers Section, New Haven, CT, May 12, 2015

"Releases between Trustees and Beneficiaries: Ensuring Enforceability" published in the Connecticut Bar Association Estates & Probate Newsletter, December 2014

Speaker, “Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries,” Americal Law Institute Continuing Legal Education Group (ALI-CLE), Chicago, Ill., July 2014, Topic: “Releases and Their Challenges.”

“The Effectiveness of Retention Clauses and Exculpatory Language under Connecticut Law” published in the Connecticut Bar Association Estates & Probate Newsletter, May 2010 (Co-Author).

"Exculpation and Proaction,” “Estate Planning" Magazine, February, 2010 (Co-Author).

Speaker, "Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries," American Law Institute-American Bar Association, Chicago, Illinois, July 2009, Topic: “Exculpatory Language in Wills and Trusts”

Guest Commentary: “Companion Opinions Address Emerging Trend in Standard of Proof of Debt Owed,” Bank Bailout Litigation News, November 9, 1998, Commercial Lending Litigation News, November 1998.

“A Question of Fault - Apportioning Contract Damages,” Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, October 1997.
 

Honors and Recognition
  • AV Preeminent Rating, Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™
     
  • Recognized in the 23rd and 24th Editions of The Best Lawyers in America for the practice area of Litigation - Trust & Estates.  See selection methodology at https://www.bestlawyers.com/Methodology
 
  • Recipient, Anne C. Cary Volunteerism Award, Family & Children’s Agency (2013)
 
  • Recipient, 2011 Connecticut Family Champion award presented by Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies (2011)
 
  • Robert G. Krause Probate Pro Bono Award (2008)
 
  • Named to Connecticut Bar Association's annual Pro Bono Honor Roll (multiple years)
 
Representative Trust and Estates Litigation

Successfully resolved claims against corporate fiduciary in contested accounting proceeding wherein beneficiaries sought to surcharge trustee in an amount in excess of $70 million. Issues included trustee’s compliance with Prudent Investor Act, including whether it had a duty to diversify concentrated holdings, and scope of protection afforded trustee under exculpatory language of trust instrument.

Successfully defended individual trustee in removal proceeding brought by trust beneficiaries alleging breach of fiduciary duty, hostility and failure to properly manage trust assets. Case settled upon favorable terms after close of evidence.

Successfully defended corporate fiduciary against trust beneficiaries’ claims seeking damages for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion and unfair trade practices. After several years of discovery and motion practice, beneficiaries withdrew all claims.

Successfully opposed, on behalf of Vermont fiduciary, attempt by decedent’s former attorney to contest Vermont will and probate an earlier will in Connecticut, including vacating attorney’s ex parte appointment as temporary administrator.

Successfully represented trust beneficiary seeking to remove individual trustees and install successor trustees to ensure substantial family trust administered in manner consistent with settlor's intent.

Successfully represented out-of-state receiver of insolvent insurance company seeking recovery from Connecticut estate.

Successfully resolved will contest by decedent’s daughter contending late father’s “death-bed” will was procured by undue influence exercised by decedent’s girlfriend.

Representation of son contesting actions of stepfather who commenced involuntary Guardianship proceeding in Florida against son’s mother. Matter involved proceedings in both Connecticut and Florida.

Representation of beneficiaries contesting final Estate accounting filed by Executrix of estate of New York decedent.

Representative Commercial Litigation

Successfully defended insurer in complex insurance coverage dispute involving a claim in excess of $150 million by a multinational corporation under the errors and omissions coverage of a combined specialty insurance policy.

Successfully defended national financial institution serving as trustee of construction project financing in dispute involving claim in excess of $80 million by general contractor arising out of project developer’s termination of general contractor and its subsequent claims against, inter alia, trustee for claims of breach of implied contract, fraud and negligent administration of funds.

Represented internet comparison shopping provider in dispute involving claim by former director for options and consulting fees. Matter favorably resolved after securing dismissal of former director’s counterclaims and prevailing in venue dispute (Dealtime.com v. McNulty, 123 F. Supp. 2d 750 (S.D.N.Y.2000))

Successfully defended, through appeal, international corporation and its domestic manufacturing subsidiary in $60 million breach of contract/warranty case. (Outboard Marine Corp v. Babcock Industries, Inc., 106 F.3d 182 (7th Cir. 1997); Outboard Marine Corp v. Babcock Industries, 1995, N.D. Ill., 1995 Lexis C429; Outboard Marine Corp v. Babcock Industries, 1994, N.D. Ill., 1994 Lexis 11998).

Member of national defense counsel team which successfully defended manufacturer of prescription drug in connection with nationwide class action and multi district litigation proceeding. The litigation involved more than 250 suits and claimants throughout the nation (Valentino v. Carter Wallace, Inc., 97 F.3d 1227 (9th Cir. 1996)).

Coordinated international investment group’s investigation and prosecution of claims arising out of its multimillion dollar investment with founders and control group of prominent theme restaurant companies. Responsible for international financial investigation and prosecution of claims against control group and its multiple corporate entities. Successfully removed control group and favorably resolved lawsuits commenced in Italy, Ireland and the United States and international letter of credit proceeding.

Member of team defending national financial institution’s subsidiary against claims arising out of client’s cancellation of purchase of $275 million mortgage loan pool. Involved in all aspects of case, with primary contribution to discovery directed to representations concerning, and actual credit quality of, mortgage pool.

Extensive experience in representing national, regional and local financial institutions in problem loan litigation, including foreclosures, lender liability claims, complex loan workouts, prejudgment attachment and receiver hearings and adversary proceedings in bankruptcy court. Litigation of these matters frequently included obtaining prejudgment attachments, conducting concurrent actions against guarantors and obtaining the dismissal of lender liability claims (e.g., In re Pinnacle Corp., 273 B.R. 240 (Bankr. D. Conn. 1999); Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. v. Farmington Corp. Park Ltd., 1992 WL 67600).

Education
Fordham University
School of Law, J.D., 1986
University of Massachusetts,
B.A. cum laude, 1983
Admitted to Practice
Connecticut, 1986
 
Massachusetts, 1987
 
New York, 1988
 
U.S. Supreme Court
 
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh
Circuit
 
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second
Circuit
 
U.S. District Court, District of
Connecticut
 
U.S. District Court, Southern
District of New York
 
U.S. District Court, Eastern
District of New York
 
U.S. Tax Court