Maloney Firm Attorneys Secure Victory as California Court of Appeal Upholds Demurrer in Fiduciary Duty Case

Jan 19, 2024

On January 18, 2024, The Maloney Firm’s attorneys Carl Mueller and Gary Varnavides achieved a resounding victory for their client before the California Court of Appeal, resolving a multi-year litigation entirely in their client’s favor.

The case involved their client’s receipt of approximately $1.2 million in cash and securities held in Wells Fargo brokerage accounts from the client’s lifelong friend after the friend died in 2018. In 2020, the plaintiff, the friend’s grandson, filed suit against The Maloney Firm’s client, Wells Fargo, and others asserting claims for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of constructive trust in a bid to obtain a share of the brokerage accounts. In the suit, the plaintiff claimed that he was entitled to the assets in the brokerage accounts because they were held in trust for him and other unspecified beneficiaries.

At the trial court level, The Maloney Firm successfully obtained a dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims, following multiple demurrers. Plaintiff appealed. The complex appeal touched on issues involving California’s probate and banking laws and fiduciary duties.

The Court of Appeal denied plaintiff’s appeal in its entirety and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal, with prejudice. In its Opinion, the Court of Appeal found that plaintiff’s claims wholly failed to properly allege the nature and existence of specified trust beneficiaries and, therefore, plaintiff’s claims failed in their entirety.

The Maloney Firm is pleased to achieve such a complete victory for their client so he can finally put years of litigation behind him.

The case is Stordahl vs. Johnson, Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, et al., Appeal No. B324765, B326356 (CA Ct. of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Four).

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