Trusts and Estates

Tedesco v. White

Cite as G061197
Filed October 27, 2023
Fourth District, Div. Three

By Erika J. Gasaway
Hopkins & Carley

Headnote:  Discovery – Monetary Sanctions for Misuse of Discovery

Summary:  Monetary sanctions were properly awarded in connection with a conservator’s motion to quash a subpoena that was overbroad, violative of the conservatee’s privacy rights, and issued for an improper purpose.  

In a trust contest where one of the settlors is conserved, Debra issued a deposition subpoena to the law firm that previously represented the conservator seeking all documents, writings, or communications relating to the conservatee’s accounts and assets.  The conservator moved to quash the subpoena based on, among other things, overbreadth and the privacy rights of the conservatee, and sought monetary sanctions.  The trial court granted the motion and awarded $6,000 in monetary sanctions on the grounds the subpoena was oppressive and a misuse of discovery. 

The appellate court affirmed.  There was no abuse of discretion because Debra did not limit her document requests to a reasonable time period and could not tie the document requests to the evidence that she claimed showed fraud by the conservator that was her basis for the subpoena.  The court properly balanced Debra’s interest in disclosure against the conservatee’s reasonable expectation of privacy.  Sanctions were appropriate because Debra attempted to “conduct[] an expeditionary search for unidentified financial misconduct.”

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