Trusts and Estates

Royals v. Lu

Cite as A160985
Filed July 18, 2022, First District, Div. Four

By Michelle Barnett Batista
Aaron, Riechert, Carpol & Riffle, APC

Headnote:  Elder Financial Abuse – Writ of Attachment  

Summary:  A financial elder abuse claimant may not obtain a pretrial writ of attachment for prospective punitive damages or statutory penalties, including double and treble damages.

Following her father’s death, Royals filed a petition for financial elder abuse against Yu.  Royals alleged the compensatory damages were “at least $1,095,000.”  Royals also requested an award of punitive damages, statutory penalties, and attorneys’ fees and costs.  Royals contemporaneously applied for a right to attach order (RTAO) in the amount of $3,440,000.  Royals cited her verified petition as the basis for the attachment order but did not provide further evidentiary support and did not explain how she calculated the requested amount. Lu filed declarations and documentary evidence in opposition to the RTAO.  The trial court granted the RTAO.  Lu appealed.  

The appellate court reversed.  A financial elder abuse claimant may obtain an attachment for potential compensatory damages and an award of attorney’s fees and costs associated with those damages, but only if the request complies with all applicable provisions of the Attachment Law.  Royals’s attachment request for compensatory damages did not meet the statutory criteria because it was not based upon facts within her personal knowledge and did not plead a definite amount of compensatory damages.  Further, the appellate court determined that recovery for punitive damages and statutory penalties could not support an attachment on a financial elder abuse claim.  In so ruling, the appellate court sought to strike a balance between the Elder Abuse Act’s broad remedial scheme to protect elders and the importance of ensuring that the Attachment Law conforms to due process standards.

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