Los Angeles Trial Attorney | Jeffrey Cowan

Caretaker Daughter Wins Trial on Siblings’ Claim of Undue Influence Over Mother.

Our client spent over ten years caring for her elderly father and later (after her dad died) her mother. Her grown siblings did little to help. The parents promised to reward our client.

At one point, the mother deeded two pieces of land in East Los Angeles to our client after two siblings (who never helped care for their parents) filed a conservatorship lawsuit to wrest control of the mother’s money. One property was a house that the mother already had bequeathed to our client. The second property was a commercial building that the mother deeded after a TRO had been issued “freezing” the mother’s assets. The siblings later abandoned the lawsuit, and nothing happened until after the mother died. Then, near the peak of the real estate bubble (when the two properties were worth over $1 million), the mother’s estate sued to recover title to the properties on theories that included lack of competence by the mother and undue influence by our client. There also was a claim for elder abuse.

The client hired Los Angeles trial lawyer Jeffrey Cowan. Because our client had limited money for fighting the lawsuit, we litigated very strategically. We took the minimum depositions necessary (which included having Jeffrey Cowan depose a psychologist in Seattle who years ago lived in Los Angeles and had examined our client’s mother during the conservatorship lawsuit).

To further complicate matters, we learned during the lawsuit that our client had been induced to transfer some of her interests in the two properties to a Las Vegas resident who had attended a few years of law school without graduating but had told her that he was “just as good as a lawyer.” This person was added to the lawsuit, and we sued him for fraud and to rescind the subject transactions. When Jeffrey Cowan deposed him, there were two “Perry Mason” moments. First, the non-lawyer admitted to doing things that constituted the unlicensed practice of law – and eventually invoked his 5th Amendment rights. Second, Jeffrey Cowan impeached the non-lawyer with court documents from other jurisdictions that showed similar fraudulent conduct. Eventually, the “non-lawyer” agreed to settle on highly favorable terms.

Los Angeles Trial Attorney Cowen wins trial to allow caretaker to retain home bestowed

But settlement efforts with our client’s siblings failed (likely because of family dynamics/animosity). As a result, Jeffrey Cowan tried the case in 2007. The trial lasted over a week and involved testimony from not only many family members but also a neurologist and two psychologists. In the end, the judge found (among other things) that the siblings had not carried their burden of showing that the mother lacked competence when she made the subject transfers or that our client had exerted undue influence over the mother. As a result, our client retained the home that had been bequeathed to her in the first place.

To read our client’s trial brief, please click here.


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2049 Century Park East, Suite 3850

Los Angeles, California 90067

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