Resolution of Litigation in California

As I stated in my last post, my client’s half-sister disputed whether my client and the half-sister were even related; DNA tissue was found at a hospital where my client’s natural father had been treated for cancer. The results from the DNA laboratory came back and, as expected, the half-sisters had the same natural father. Now that the DNA issue had been done away with, I could concentrate on the trial.

Trial was scheduled for Superior Court of Los Angeles County Northeast District (Pasadena) in a few weeks. The issue to be resolved at trial was whether my client qualified as an heir under California Probate Code §6451. The other side argued that my client had never lived with her natural father as parent and child; I argued that the “at any time” language in the statute meant just that (i.e. a literal interpretation), at any time (meaning overnight visits with the natural mother while my client was an infant should count).

The other side blinked … counsel for my client’s half-sister called to make a deal.
This is not unusual, given the uncertainty associated with the outcome of trials (there is no such thing as a “slam-dunk” case in my experience; if there was, there would be no dispute). I made a demand on behalf of my client, the other side countered, and so it went until a number had been reached that was satisfactory to my client.

By the way, I don’t recall who told this to me, but I was told and have often said that the definition of a compromise is when both parties walk away equally unhappy at the result. In this case, I would have to say that my client was happy; the money was paid, the case was dismissed, and life went on.