Trusts and Estates

Darrin v. Miller

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Cite as A155089
Filed January 28, 2019; Modified and Certified for Partial Publication 2/21/19
California Court of Appeal, First District

By Golnaz Yazdchi
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

Headnote: Probate Litigation – Elder Abuse Act – Standing

Summary: Under the Elder Abuse Act, any person age 65 or older has standing to petition for a restraining order against an individual alleged to have engaged in abusive conduct, as defined by statute, even if there is no special relationship between the alleged abuser and victim, such as a caretaking or custodial relationship.

Case Brief:

Jude Darrin, age 81, petitioned for a restraining order under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act against her neighbor, Sandra Miller. Jude alleged that Sandra and her boyfriend harassed and intimidated Jude, trespassed onto Jude’s property, destroyed a hedge, and defaced, damaged, and twice removed a barrier fence. The trial court issued a temporary restraining order, and scheduled a hearing on the petition. After Jude’s opening statement, Sandra moved for nonsuit, arguing that Jude lacked standing because Sandra and Jude did not have a special relationship, such as a care or custody arrangement, and Sandra had no control over Jude’s real or personal property. Jude argued that the Elder Abuse Act applies even in the absence of any relationship between the alleged abuser and elder. The trial court granted Sandra’s nonsuit motion, vacated the temporary restraining order, and dismissed the petition on the merits.

The Court of Appeal reversed. Elder abuse is defined broadly to include “[p]hysical abuse, neglect, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment [of an elder] with resulting physical harm or pain or mental suffering.” “Other treatment” is similar to “physical abuse” and requires no special relationship between the elder and alleged abuser, unlike other types of abuse such as abandonment and neglect, both of which require a special relationship.

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