Soriano v. Estate of Manes

Soriano v. Estate of Manes, 177 So.3d 677 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015), 2015 WL 5965203)

This decision centered around whether a potential civil claimant arising out of a pending criminal prosecution was a "reasonably ascertainable creditor" entitled to personal service of the notice to creditors.  The Court ultimately held that the claimant was not a reasonably ascertainable creditor, because the personal representative has no actual knowledge of the claimant's civil claim, nor would a more diligent search have revealed the existence of the claim.

Four months after the notice to creditors was published, the claimant filed her statement of claim alleging that she had a claim against the estate based upon an imminent private tort action against the decedent stemming from a criminal charge.  She argued that her statement of claim was timely filed because she was a reasonably ascertainable creditor, since she presented evidence showing that she was the victim of an alleged misdemeanor battery and that she had hired personal counsel who had contacted the decedent's criminal defense attorney and advised he was representing her.  

The Court noted that pursuant to F.S. 733.2121, a personal representative is required to promptly (1) publish the notice to creditors and (2) make a diligent search to determine the creditors of the decedent and serve a copy of the notice on those creditors.  However, F.S. 733.2121(3)(a) specifically provides that "impracticable and extended searches are not required."  Thus, the Court held that since the claimant could not show that the personal representative had actual knowledge of the civil claim or that a more diligent search would have revealed her claim, since she failed to place anyone on notice of her claim, she was not a reasonably ascertainable creditor entitled to notice and her claim was barred by F.S. 733.702(1).

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