Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, May 6, 2019


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Fifth District Affirms Attorney Fee Award of More Than $1.8 Million in Probate Case


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Fifth District Court of Appeal on Friday affirmed an attorney fee award of more than $1.8 million in a probate case in which the judge provided but a terse explanation for applying a multiplier of 1.5.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Timothy W. Salter merely commented:

“[T]his was not a ‘run of the mill’ probate case…but rather a very complex case, both factually and legally.”

He awarded $1,831,642.90 plus expenses in the amount of $36,340, bringing the award to $1,867,982.90.

The will contest involved the estate of Lonnie Lamont Ashlock, a multimillionaire real estate investor and convicted swindler, who died in 2013 at the age of 63.

The principal combatants in the probate case were his son, Gabriel Ashlock, and real estate broker Stacey Carlson with whom he became romantically involved in 2004 or thereabouts.

In an 88-page decision filed March 1, the Fifth District affirmed an interim decision in favor of the son.

Agreeing with Salter’s assessment of the legal work done in the case, Acting Presiding Justice Rosendo Peña Jr. wrote, in Friday’s unpublished opinion:

“The will contest and trust petition were multifaceted. With millions of dollars at stake, Gabriel understandably presented every possible theory to support his claims. Stacey and her attorney fought him at every turn, injecting unusual (and likely unforeseeable) issues into the case….Given the objective complexity and hard-fought nature of the litigation, the trial court’s decision to apply a 1.5 multiplier is unremarkable, and we are by no means convinced it was clearly wrong.”

The case is Estate of Ashlock, F076941.


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