The California Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Seven), in an unpublished decision, recently upheld a trial court order sustaining a demurrer to a cause of action for financial elder abuse. The complaint alleged that the administrator of an estate incurred attorney fees in removing an elderly person’s conservator for having breached of fiduciary duties in providing physical care for the elderly person. The complaint asserted that the conservator’s physical neglect, which precipitated the removal, constituted elder financial abuse.
The trial court and Court of Appeal disagreed. The Court of Appeal explained that “the plaintiff must show the defendant took, secreted, appropriated or retained the elder’s property, not simply that the defendant’s misconduct caused financial harm or economic loss.” The court suggested that the fees incurred in removing a conservator might be recoverable in an action for neglect or breach of fiduciary duty under the tort-of-another doctrine, “but the loss of those sums, on its own, does not constitute elder financial abuse.”
The case is Jeffrey Seigel v. Sonsino, 2011 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7061.