What We've Done...
More often than not, our cases escalate into some of the most contentious and hard-fought battles around – largely due to the severity of the claims and issues typically at hand. Here are just a few examples of matters recently handled by our firm throughout the state of California (click here for a more detailed list of our recent litigation results):
- The Crooked Lawyer
After agreeing to provide legal assistance to his elderly relatives free of charge, a lawyer steals hundreds of thousands of dollars from the elders’ settlement proceeds as his “50% contingency fee” – and then forges their signatures on an attorney-client agreement to cover up the crime. The elders retain Schwartz & Schwartz to pursue all available claims against the lawyer. Following a protracted, vicious battle, on the eve of trial the Schwartz Firm's efforts compel the lawyer to pay his elderly relatives nearly twice the amount of money he stole from them. The lawyer was sentenced to more than five years in prison for his wrongful conduct, and was disbarred by the State Bar of California.
- The Nasty Niece
A young woman subjects her elderly aunt and uncle to a subtle but relentless pattern of undue influence, first causing them to move miles from their long-time home and circle of friends into a house literally across the street from the young woman and her husband (so they could maintain ‘control’), and eventually coercing them to dramatically alter their long-standing estate plan in the young woman’s favor. The elderly aunt retains Schwartz & Schwartz to undo the fraudulent estate plan and recover property already wrongfully transferred to her niece as a result of the undue influence. Schwartz & Schwartz’ overwhelming attack during the first day of trial in Northern California convinces the niece to relinquish her entire 'inheritance.'
- The Greedy Trustee
The trustee of a well-known television producer’s trust pays himself nearly $400,000.00 of professional fees for the “services” he renders as trustee and as the trust’s accountant following the producer’s death – even though he is entitled to less than half of that amount. The beneficiaries retain Schwartz & Schwartz to remove the trustee and recover the money he stole from the trust (and ultimately, the trust’s beneficiaries) through his deceptive and wrongful conduct. After a successful trial on the merits, Schwartz & Schwartz obtains a judgment permanently removing the trustee from his position and ordering the trustee to repay all of the money to the trust’s beneficiaries.
- The Remorseless RCFE
The operators of a residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE) neglect an elderly woman’s most basic care needs for several weeks, resulting in profound malnutrition, dehydration, five severe bedsores, infection and, ultimately, death. The Schwartz Firm is brought in by co-counsel to assist with the case's prosecution, and the court eventually awards approx. $2.25 million in compensatory and punitive damages (including attorneys’ fees and costs). Schwartz & Schwartz proceeds to sift through the countless layers of judgment-proof entities and other corporations to expose – and hold liable – the real parties responsible for the despicably-run RCFE. After spending more than a year successfully dissembling the corporate shell game employed by foreign nationals ‘behind the scenes’ of the RCFE, Schwartz & Schwartz leverages a settlement by which the defendants agree to pay $3,000,000.00 to the victim's daughter – even more than the $2.25 million elder abuse judgment originally obtained.
- The Slimy Stockbroker
A 27 year old stockbroker befriends a recent widow, childless and60 years his elder. He convinces her to make him trustee of her trust and, over a period of years, persuades her to transfer virtually all of her assets to him. Suspecting foul play, her out-of-state nieces contact Schwartz & Schwartz, who engage a highly respected local professional fiduciary to manage the widow’s affairs and pursue her claims against the stockbroker. After learning the stockbroker has lost the widow’s life savings in a series of failed real estate investments, Schwartz & Schwartz sues the lawyer and accountants who facilitated the stockbroker’s thievery, recovering millions.
- The Shameless Insurance Salesman
An automobile and homeowners’ insurance agent convinces his 84 year old client (widowed and childless) to liquidate her entire multi-million dollar stock and bond portfolio, using the money instead to purchase from him a set of annuities that are absolutely inappropriate for someone of her age and circumstances. Her CPA discovers the sad story when preparing the elderly woman’s tax returns, and refers the problem to the Schwartz Firm. Schwartz & Schwartz files suit against the insurance agent and the annuity issuers, recovering the widow’s entire multi-million dollar annuity investment – and more.
- The Predatory 'Nurse'
A childless 88 year old widower (seriously sight and hearing impaired) is isolated by his so-called, but unlicensed, live-in “nurse.” The nurse obtains access to her charge’s bank and brokerage accounts, both in California and in Australia. She repeatedly takes him to the bank to make a series of cash withdrawals and writes out checks for him to sign, all totaling nearly $1 million. She also arranges for him to change his estate plan, leaving her (and her daughter) real estate in Santa Barbara and Australia worth $5-10 million. After retention by the widower’s out-of-state nieces and nephews, the Schwartz Firm immediately obtains a restraining order preventing the ‘nurse’ from taking the vulnerable gentleman out of the country as threatened, and obtains additional court orders freezing his remaining assets to avoid further harm. Within months, the court authorizes a new will and trust, leaving everything to family and charities, not the ‘nurse.’ Proceedings to recover the hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen by the ‘nurse’ continued in the United States and Australia.