May and Zawideh convince court to find defendant in contempt and default him for violating injunction.
Alan A. May and Robert S. Zawideh represented a Personal Representative following the death of her widowed mother who lived with her son. After the decedent’s death, the daughter petitioned the court to be appointed decedent’s Personal Representative. Less than a month after the appointment, Defendant, decedent’s son (who claimed to own decedent’s home by virtue of joint tenancy with rights of survivorship), quietly listed the home for sale, sold it thereafter, and did not notify the Personal Representative until after the closing.
May and Zawideh filed a Petition for Examination and Discovery to investigate and locate the decedent’s assets. Following Defendant’s deposition, May and Zawideh filed a civil action to determine title to the decedent’s home. In the action, the Personal Representative claimed the Defendant took advantage of his late mother’s dementia in transferring title to her home from herself to the two of them with rights of survivorship.
Thereafter, May and Zawideh successfully obtained an injunction requiring the Defendant to place the proceeds from the sale of the home, over $203,000 into a court restricted account within 7 days. Defendant deposited less than half of the proceeds into the account, claiming he spent the remaining funds, and was broke.
Despite claiming poverty, Defendant attempted to push forward with depositions of the Personal Representative and two other siblings. Zawideh immediately filed a Motion to Show Cause why Defendant should not be in held in contempt and for default judgment or alternatively to bar Defendant from conducting discovery until he complied with the injunction.
Defense counsel, a published, well known and respected probate attorney, vigorously argued against the contempt motion and request for default, and in fact sought sanctions against the Personal Representative for blocking Defendant’s discovery efforts. The Probate Judge rejected Defendant’s arguments and granted May and Zawideh’s motion, found Defendant in contempt of court, granted a Default Judgment for over $203,000, without setoff, and granted May and Zawideh’s request for attorney fees and costs.
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