Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, September 24, 2015


Page 3


Man, 85, Isn’t an ‘Elder,’ Under Statute, C.A. Rules


By a MetNews Staff Writer


An 85-year-old man who bobs between residences in Australia the State of Washington is not an “elder” for purposes of California’s Elder Abuse Law, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled, rejecting his bid for a new trial in an action against Wells Fargo Bank for allegedly causing a $13 million loss through mismanagement of his trust.

The opinion, by Justice Steven Perren of Div. Six, affirms a judgment by Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Donna D. Geck. Following a bench trial on plaintiff Randolph Galt’s sole cause of action that survived demurrers, she held that he lacks standing to pursue his action for financial elder abuse in light of his non-residency.

Perren noted that Health and Welfare Code §15610.27 defines an “elder” as “any person residing in this state, 65 years of age or older.” He wrote:

“By his own admission, Galt does not reside in this state; consequently, under the plain meaning of the statute, he is not an elder.”

The jurist went on to say, in Tuesday’s unpublished opinion:

“Galt argues the definition of ‘elder’ must be liberally construed to promote the Elder Abuse Act’s salient goals, but the only way to reach the result he advocates is to ignore the unequivocal statutory requirement that, to qualify as an elder, the person must ‘reside in this state.’…This would be no different than ignoring the requirement that the person be at least 65 years of age.  Just as we cannot broadly interpret the statute to encompass persons under age 65, we cannot interpret it to include non-residents.”

The trust is situated in California. That, however, is an insufficient basis for permitting the action, Perren said, explaining:

“That the Trust has ties to California is irrelevant. Galt cites no statutory or decisional authority suggesting his position as a Trust beneficiary or manager grants him residency status.”

The case is Galt v. Wells Fargo Bank,  B261792.

Roland Wrinkle of the Woodland Hills law firm of Grassini, Wrinkle & Johnson represented Galt. Arguing for Wells Fargo, and the account representative Galt also sued, were Philip W. Marking, Michael D. Hellman, Gamble T. Parks of the Santa Barbara law firm of Fell, Marking, Abkin, Montgomery, Granet & Raney, LLP.


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