CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Lawfuel) – The 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi, Texas, has ruled that a paternity dispute involving one of the state’s wealthiest and most storied families may proceed to trial.
The decision was issued May 22, reversing the trial court’s summary judgments and anti-suit injunctions rendered in Ann M. Fernandez v. The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Foundation, et al. and Ann M. Fernandez v. Frost National Bank, Former Executor of the Estate of Elena Suess Kenedy, Deceased, and Frost National Bank and Pablo Suess, Trustees of the John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust.
The rulings allow the family of Ann Fernandez to continue in their efforts to legally establish whether she is the biological daughter of John G. Kenedy Jr., grandson of South Texas ranching legend Mifflin Kenedy.
In accordance to John Kenedy’s will, which listed no heirs, control of La Parra Ranch and the vast Kenedy empire passed to his widow and sister upon his death in 1948. The will was ruled final the following year. Upon the death of his widow in 1984, control of the estate fell to the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation and the John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust. The estate currently is valued between $500 million and $1 billion.
More than 50 years after Mr. Kenedy’s will was finalized in the Texas courts, a remark by Mrs. Fernandez’s mother, a former family maid, shortly before her death in 2000 led the family to research the possibility that she gave birth to Mr. Kenedy’s daughter in 1925. The family’s findings prompted them to seek legal recognition in the courts, but efforts have been mired in a series of appeals for nearly five years.
“This is about a family that has spent far too long not knowing the truth about who they are simply because Mrs. Fernandez was born at a time when the truth would have created nothing but scandal,” says attorney Marcos Ronquillo, lead trial counsel for the Fernandez family and Managing Partner of the Dallas-based law firm of Godwin Pappas & Ronquillo PC.
“Their pain is compounded by being stonewalled at every turn by those who have sought to preserve the myth that the lineage of this great South Texas family ended nearly 50 years ago with John’s death,” he adds. “The Fernandez family deserves the opportunity to prove that the Kenedy family tree is continuing to flourish.”
The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation is among the largest charitable foundations in Texas, with local Catholic charities as the primary beneficiary. La Parra Ranch is home to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
“This family is not interested in coming in and dismantling the good work that these groups do,” says Mr. Ronquillo. “This is about family heritage. What the family wants is the rightful recognition of Mrs. Fernandez and her children.”
Godwin Pappas & Ronquillo PC is a mid-size Texas trial and appellate firm with offices in Dallas and Houston that represents Fortune 500 and middle-market industry leaders in Mission Critical Litigation® throughout the United States. We Solve the Problem™!