Israel claims Hillbroom’s mother removed as co-guardian


Vietnam-based lawyer Barry J. Israel has claimed to have obtained a 1998 order from the Guam Guardianship Court that removed Junior Larry Hillbroom’s mother, Kaelani Kinney, as his then-co-guardian.

Israel, through counsel Theodore W. Frank, stated in court documents that this 1998 court order removing Kinney as co-guardian of Hillbroom is directly relevant to his (Israel) motion for summary judgment.

Frank noted that Hillbroom opposes Israel’s motion for summary judgment in part by asserting that Kinney, as his co-guardian, was not notified of the 56% retainer or the application for its approval to the Guam Guardianship Court.

But notifying Kinney was no longer required, Frank said, because at the time the application to approve the 56% retainer, Sept. 6, 2001, Kinney had already been removed as Hillbroom’s co-guardian for almost three years.

In his lawsuit against his former lawyers, Israel and David J. Lujan, Hillbroom alleges that the two lawyers, together with Hillbroom trustee Keith Waibel, conspired in 2001 to wrongfully increase their contingency fee when the estate of ex-DHL co-founder the Larry Hillblom was undergoing probate.

Frank disclosed that last Wednesday, Oct. 23, he received an email from attorney Jim Brooks, a colleague of Lujan, which attached the Guam Guardianship Court order dated Dec. 23, 1998.

“This was the first time that I became aware of the existence of this order, as it was not in any of the documents produced by the parties in this action,” Frank said.

Frank noted that the Guam Guardianship Court’s order removing Kinney as co-guardian was issued on Dec. 23, 1998, and that the same court approved the 56% retainer, ordering it effective as of April 15, 1999.

Frank said the approval of the 56% retainer was requested in an ex parte application by Hillbroom’s grandmother, Naoko Imeong, who then-served as co-guardian of Hillbroom.

Ex parte refers to an application to the court by one of the parties without the other party being present or heard.

Frank said the 1998 order proved that Kinney was not Hillbroom’s guardian at the time the 56% retainer was approved by the court.

Frank said in his opposition to Israel’s motion for summary judgment, Hillbroom argued that Israel and Lujan failed to include Kinney in most of the important decisions made on behalf of Hillbroom.

Frank said Hillbroom also argued that Israel and Lujan were legally required to get approval of any act on behalf of Hillbroom or the Hillbroom’s trust from both Kinney and Imeong, but they did not.

These statements, Frank said, are demonstrably false as to the 56% retainer and its approval by the Guam Guardianship Court, based on the court’s 1998 order removing Kinney as co-guardian.

Frank said Kinney was not Hillbroom’s guardian at the time that the 56% retainer was submitted to and approved by the Guam Guardianship Court on Sept. 6, 2001.

Therefore, Frank said, there was no legal obligation by Israel and Lujan to give notice to Kinney or to obtain her consent/approval/joinder to the 56% retainer and it’s submission for court’s approval.

Frank said every party that was required to have notice of the submission of the 56% retainer for approval by the court received notice.

He said Waibel, as trustee of Hillbroom’s Trust, entered into the 56% retainer as the client, and therefore had notice.

Frank said Imeong, Hillbroom’s grandmother and guardian, signed and submitted her joinder in the application for the court’s approval of the 56% retainer, and therefore had notice.

Frank said everyone who was legally required to look out for Hillbroom’s best interests had notice of and consented to the application for approval of the 56% retainer by the Guam Guardianship Court.

Hillbroom is suing Israel, Lujan, and Waibel, alleging mismanagement of approximately $90 million he inherited as heir of Larry Lee Hillblom, a co-founder and former owner of DHL Worldwide Express.

The jury trial in Hillbroom’s lawsuit is currently set for Nov. 19, 2019.

Hillbroom, a Palauan, is one of the four DNA-proven children of Hillblom. His name is spelled differently from that of Hillblom. The three other children are Jellian Cuartero, a Filipino; Mercedita Feliciano, a Filipino; and Nguyen Be Lory, a Vietnamese.

Hillblom died in a seaplane crash off Anatahan waters on a flight from Pagan Island to Saipan on May 21, 1995, leaving behind an estate worth approximately $550 million. The bodies of the pilot and a business partner were found, but Hillblom’s body was never recovered.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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