Successfully mediated a case brought by Successor Trustee on behalf of a family trust relating to the sale of two adjoining commercial properties owned by the trust against their Real Estate Broker/CPA and attorney. The suit alleged causes of action for professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, financial elder abuse, fraud and concealment. Plaintiffs alleged that the Trust (through its 72-year-old infirm, widowed Trustee, who died months after the real estate purchase agreement was executed) entered into a listing agreement with the defendants for the sale of the property based on the defendants’ representations that they could assist in dealing with the myriad liens on the properties while marketing and selling them for future development. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants’ tortious conduct caused them to enter into a binding contract for a sales price of $9 million dollars when the actual market value was over $14 million dollars, that defendants demanded a six-figure commission despite having failed to obtain the statutorily required Agency Disclosure, and that when plaintiffs discovered that the sales price was below market value, they refused to perform and were then sued by the buyers for specific performance. Plaintiffs claimed damages for the difference between the sales price and the alleged market value, recission of the commission obligation, statutory treble damages for elder abuse, and punitive damages. Defendants were uninsured. The mediated settlement agreement was reached five days prior to trial.
Presided over court trial involving cross claims brought by adjoining rural property owners for quiet title and declaratory relief, concerning the claimed existence of an access road easement over plaintiff homeowner’s parcel for the benefit of the defendant/cross-complainant, adjoining homeowner’s parcel, arising from a deed given in 1971 which created a subdivision of nine separate parcels. Plaintiff contended that the claimed easement was not described or contained in the deed by which he subsequently took title, an alternate access road was available to defendant, and the defendant was overburdening the claimed easement by using it for substantial illegal marijuana cultivation activity. Multiple deeds, parcel maps, records of survey, and subdivision maps relating to the properties in issue required expert explanation and interpretation. Evidence of historical use dating to the early 1900s was required to provide meaning to the subject deeds. Judgment was granted in favor of the defendant/cross-complaint confirming the existence of the easement but limiting its use to normal household passenger automobile use.
Presided over a lengthy court trial involving cross-claims for quiet title, declaratory relief and constructive trust involving title to farmland property which included farm labor barracks and 14 residential units. Defendant/Cross-Complainant alleged she obtained full legal title in 1993 by way of a combination of a quit claim deed from the father of her children (the mortgagor and Defendant’s predecessor in interest) and a grant deed from the mortgage lender who had obtained title via a nonjudicial foreclosure sale. Defaulting father died in 2015 without a will, survived by 17 adult children from three different women, including the Defendant and the Plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed she was the surviving wife of the defaulting father by lawful marriage in Nevada in 1970, that she had a community property interest in the property, that she resided in a house on the property for 42 years without paying rent, that Defendant’s purported 1993 deed was a sham transaction and a nullity, that Defendant executed a grant deed in her favor in 1995 and that full title should be confirmed in her. The unrecorded 1995 grant deed containing Defendant’s signature was produced for the first time during trial - Plaintiff claiming recent discovery in an old lock box in one of the buildings formerly occupied by the defaulting father. Defendant claimed the deed was a forgery. Competing handwriting experts testified to the authenticity of the signature. Judgment was rendered in favor of Defendant with full title confirmed to her, subject to an equitable right granted to Plaintiff to continue to reside in the house she had occupied for the remainder of her life without any obligation to pay rent. Plaintiff appealed. The Sixth District affirmed in full.
Hon. Paul Burdick (Ret.)
96 North Third Street Suite 350 San Jose, CA 95112