Massillon Community Hospital was one of three charities named to share the remainder of Kathryn Seymour's Trust at her death. The Trustee sought a declaratory judgment on the distribution of the 40% share that was to pass to the hospital, which had since been sold to a for-profit entity and was now named Affinity Medical Center.
The probate court found the language in Seymour's Trust "clear and unambiguous" that she wanted the distributions to be made only to charitable organizations. Affinity was not an appropriate recipient, the Court said. The Court awarded the hospital's share to the two remaining organizations under the cy pres doctrine.
Affinity appealed, arguing that cy pres applies only where the Trust exhibits a general charitable intent, not where the Trustor "clearly restricted the bequest to a specific limited purpose." Seymour's Trust specifically provided the hospital's share was to pass to "successors or assigns," Affinity argued. The Court noted that the cy pres doctrine, as codified, modifies the requirement that the donor show a general charitable intent. A Trustor is presumed to have had a general charitable intent when a charitable purpose becomes impossible or impracticable. Paying the hospital's share to Affinity would contradict Seymour's "overt charitable desires," the Court said. Firstmerit Bank v. Akron General Medical Center, 2018 Ohio 2689.
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