Click for LACBA Trusts and Estates Section Newsletter Online Version
VOLUME 16 | NUMBER 6 | JUNE 2021
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Upcoming Events
Court News
Recent Cases


The Trusts and Estates eBulletin
is published monthly by the Trusts and Estates Law Section, coeditors:

Jana G. Garrotto
Lewitt Hackman

Stefanie S. Cutler
Ruttenberg Cutler Broomer, LLP

Jessica G. Gordon
Thompson Coburn LLP

Julie Birkel
Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP

Trusts and Estates Executive Committee Officers:

Jana G. Garrotto, Chair
Deborah Keesey, Vice-Chair
Susan Barlevav Devermont, Secretary & Treasurer
Stefanie S. Cutler, Immediate Past Chair


Upcoming Events

CAC Fundamentals Training

Date: June 12, 2021, 9:00 a.m.—12:30 p.m.

Location: Webinar


This is a required program for all prospective and currently acting Court Appointed Counsel in the Los Angeles Probate Court.

This program will include:

  1. The Nitty Gritty of CAC Appointments;
  2. How to Draft a CAC Report;
  3. Different Types of CAC Appointments;
  4. The Interplay between CAC, Privately Retained Counsel for the Proposed Conservatee, Minor’s Counsel, and the Guardian Ad Litem – with a focus on Ethics (1 hr. of Ethics Credit); and
  5. The Role of the Public Guardian’s Office in the Conservatorship Arena.

This promises to be a lively seminar, providing a solid foundation for new CACs and some interesting topics for the more seasoned counselors.

Registration: Click here for more information and to register


We'd like to thank The Sanborn Team for their sponsorship of our events.


Court News

Reminder as to Court New Platform for Remote Appearances

Click here to see the latest news release from the Los Angeles Superior Court: LACC Video Platform Transition to Microsoft Teams

Recent Cases

Attorney Fees

A trial court was not required to reduce a defendant’s liability for attorney fees simply because the plaintiff had the foresight to purchase insurance; where a contract authorized an award of attorney fees to the prevailing party in a dispute, the prevailing party was entitled to the award regardless of whether it actually paid the fees. The fact that a case is partially contingent does not eliminate contingent risk as a factor in a lodestar calculation.

Sonoma Land Trust v. Thompson - filed April 30, 2021, First District, Div. Five
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1945
Full text click here >

Civil Procedure

An arbitrator’s award was properly vacated where the arbitrator voluntarily engaged in an ex parte communication with counsel for a party, making light of the opposing party’s self-representation and perceived shortcomings as an advocate, and the arbitrator did not disclose the communication to the self-represented party.

Grabowski v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan - filed April 19, 2021, publication ordered May 10, 2021, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 2002
Full text click here >

The parties’ agreement to a trial date outside the three-year limit imposed by Code of Civil Procedure §583.320 extended the statutory deadline to that trial date.

Nunn v. JPMorgan Chase Bank - filed May 18, 2021, First District, Div. Four
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 2075
Full text click here >

Family Law

A spouse’s lump-sum cash payment respondent received from a retirement plan upon leaving his employment with an accounting firm after a marital dissolution was not an enhanced community benefit derived from the retirement benefits accrued during the marriage since the payment was an additional benefit the spouse acquired when he became a partner in the firm, which occurred after the parties’ date of separation.

Marriage of Kelpe - filed May 11, 2021, Sixth District
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 2001
Full text click here >

Professional Misconduct

Harm is often uncertain in situations where the plaintiff claims he would have prevailed in a court of law absent the defendant’s conduct. While a client’s file is the property of the client, in the obligation to turn it over is activated by a request; there can be no legally cognizable failure to turn over a file until the request is made. While a client may have a claim for emotional distress damages resulting from the conversion of his case file, testimony that the client was upset by the delay in receiving his file is insufficient to establish compensable emotional distress.

White v. Molfetta - filed May 24, 2021, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 2242
Full text click here  >

Professional Responsibility

A plaintiff failed to produce legally sufficient evidence to demonstrate that his former attorney’s purported failures with respect to retention of a forensic expert resulted in a worse outcome than he would have otherwise received where his expert could not testify to a reasonable degree of legal certainty that a forensic accountant’s involvement would have resulted in different outcome, since whether a forensic accountant’s testimony would have made a meaningful difference in the outcome of a child support matter is outside the common experience of jurors.

O'Shea v. Lindenberg - filed March 23, 2021, publication ordered May 14, 2021, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 2061
Full text click here >

Real Property

A 60-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy was fatally defective and cannot support an unlawful detainer judgment where the notice listed nonpayment of rent as the reason for termination, but it did not include the amount of rent due or any information to permit the tenant to cure the default for nonpayment of rent.

ESA Management v. Jacob - filed March 10, 2021, San Diego Superior Court
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1967
Full text click here >

A defendant may not use a motion to quash service of summons as a means of disputing the merits of the unlawful detainer complaint’s allegations or to argue the plaintiff failed to comply with the pleading requirements specific to unlawful detainer actions set out in Code of Civil Procedure §1166.

Stancil v. Superior Court (City of Redwood City) - filed May 3, 2021
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1930
Full text click here >


A defendant has the burden at trial to show the percentage of fault attributable to other parties who may have contributed to causing the plaintiff’s harm. A trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to consider the defendant’s survey of awards in other cases where the survey was not among the minutes of the court.

Phipps v. Copeland Corp. - filed May 18, 2021, First District, Div. Seven
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 2104
Full text click here >


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