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Marriage of Duffy

Court of Appeal of California
91 Cal. App. 4th 923 (2001)


Vincent (defendant) and Patricia (plaintiff) Duffy were married in 1962. In 1983, Vincent left his employment with MCA Records. Vincent received a severance package, including cash from a profit-sharing plan and 3,901 shares of MCA stock. Vincent deposited the cash into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Patricia was present for this deposit. Vincent subsequently opened an IRA brokerage account and sold the MCA stock. Over the course of several years, Vincent engaged in stock purchases and sales without consulting Patricia. During this time, several brokerage-account statements came to the family residence, and Patricia saw these statements. Patricia noticed that the MCA stock was not listed on the statements, but Patricia never asked Vincent about the MCA stocks. In 1997, Vincent and Patricia separated. At trial, Patricia testified that she participated in, attended, or had information regarding purchases of real estate, brokerage accounts, and other ventures involving community property. Patricia claimed, however, that when she asked Vincent about financial matters, he was dismissive or gave her short answers. Expert testimony at trial indicated that Vincent’s investments were too risky. The trial court found that Vincent breached his fiduciary duty to Patricia. Vincent appealed the trial court’s ruling.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Spencer, J.)

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