This is an interesting complex litigation involving Los Angeles County Superior Court, as well as the Alameda County Superior Court.
The plaintiff (“P”) was represented by Firm Members Stan Pedder and Tim Walker of Lafayette, and defendant Children’s Hospital was represented by attorney R of Oakland.
In a bit of convoluted factual history, Baby Love was born severely handicapped, allegedly by the negligence of hospital “x”. (Hospital x was unrelated to the defendant Children’s Hospital in this case.) The parents were unable to care for the baby, so the baby was placed in foster care with “P”. “P” on behalf of Baby Love, brought an action against hospital x. A substantial judgment was obtained for Baby Love. In 1989, an Alameda County court placed the recovered funds in a special needs trust for the care of Baby Love, with the proviso any balance of funds left in the trust at the death of Baby Love would go to Children’s Hospital (again unrelated to hospital x). Children’s Hospital had no relation to the case but the Court felt that it was a good place for the money to go. In essence, the Court did a Will for Baby Love. When Baby Love was 19 years of age, “P” who had cared for her all the intervening years legally adopted Love. Love then died at age 23, with a substantial amount of money still remaining in the trust. Defendant Children’s Hospital requested the remaining funds. “P” objected.
In a decision in the Los Angeles Probate Court “P” prevailed and received all the remaining funds. The 19-year-old decision of the Alameda County Superior Court was overruled. The decision was based on Sisco v. Cosgrove and California Probate Code §6100. The Los Angeles Court held that a minor cannot make a Will, and the Alameda County Court had no authority to create or authorize a Will for a minor. Since “P” was the parent by reason of adoption, she took the estate. What do you think?