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Uzyel v. Kadisha
California Court of Appeal
188 Cal. App. 4th 866 (2010)
Dafna Uzyel (plaintiff) relied on a family friend, Neil Kadisha (defendant), to help her with financial matters after her husband died. Uzyel created two trusts, placed her assets in them, and named Kadisha as the trustee to manage the trusts for the benefit of Uzyel and her two young children. At one point, a significant portion of one trust’s assets was tied up in Qualcomm stock, which was a risky investment. Kadisha sold some of the trust’s Qualcomm stock. At that time, a prudent investor could have sold the stock in order to diversify the trust’s assets and reduce the trust’s risk exposure. However, Kadisha sold the stock in order to raise cash for his own use and then transferred the cash to himself using a fictitious loan. Qualcomm’s stock price later increased dramatically. Uzyel filed a surcharge action against Kadisha, seeking damages for Kadisha’s breach of his trustee duties in several transactions, including the Qualcomm-stock sale. The trial court found that Kadisha had breached his duties and awarded Uzyel millions of dollars in damages to compensate for the profits that the trust lost due to the early stock sale. On appeal, Kadisha argued that because a prudent investor could have made the same stock sale, Kadisha had acted prudently and could not be held liable for damages regardless of his actual motive.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Croskey, J.)
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