September 15, 2020

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Every so often an appellate opinion, whether published or unpublished, will have portions that are worth mentioning in terms of less-than-stellar behavior. 

Here are some excerpts:

"Two weeks before their meeting, Lovett learned through his own research that Ruby was entitled to a share of the real property owned by her grandmother's trust. The record is silent as to whether he informed Ruby about his discovery. Instead, Lovett prepared an "Agreement" which purported to give him as a fee 85 percent of the value of any real property "left behind" in Yvonne's name which he recovered for Ruby." 

An 85% finder's fee was unconscionably high as determined by the probate court. 

I am baffled that the agent would think that this was proper. Their rationale, presumably, was that this sort of "arrangement" had worked in the past without retribution.

"(b) If any interest in real property is found, and that real property is found to have any equity value, I agree for services rendered on my behalf that I ask for the first 15% of any value, if any value is found, come to me Ruby R. Revell as beneficiary, and I relinquish any right to any percentage of value up to and above 15% in any real property found to have any equitable value for services rendered on my behalf."

A very crafty way of drafting such an arrangement to put it charitably. 

Large numbers capture one's attention when reading. So instead of using a large number to reflect his fee, 85%, the agent used a small number, 15%, to reflect her fee. This drafting style can hardly be seen as laudable. The proper way to draft an agreement is to make the terms clear and understandable, not opaque and misleading.

"On December 29, 2011, Lovett drafted another letter to Gary Ryan on BLG's letterhead. He forged Burlison's name on the letter and copied himself on the letter to make it look like the letter was really been written by Burlison."

Succinctly stated, forgery is never good. 

"He falsely told Ryan that Ruby was not entitled to information and that she had to wait for her money from the State, when all along he had it in his possession not subject to any court or state order."

When a litigant acts in such a cavalier fashion, a bad result is almost a certainty. This case was no different.

Revell v. Burlison Law Group, APC et al., Los Angeles County Superior Court, case #
The above quoted language is from the unpublished appellate opinion regarding this case.