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Kumaraperu v. Feldsted

California Court of Appeals, Second District, First Division

May 26, 2015

SONDRA WISE KUMARAPERU, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
JOHN FELDSTED et al., Defendants and Respondents.

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles. No. BC503228 Susan Bryant-Deason, Judge.

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COUNSEL

Sylvester, Oppenheim & Linde, Richard D. Oppenheim, Jr., and David A. Seeley, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Jacks & Maybaum, Bradley W. Jacks and Russell W. Clampitt, for Defendants and Respondents.

OPINION

CHANEY, Acting P. J.

In this legal malpractice action, plaintiff Sondra Wise Kumaraperu alleges her attorneys negligently advised her to draw a check on an account that she owned but on which she was not a signatory and deposit the funds into another account she owned, which she alleges exposed her to a criminal forgery prosecution. The trial court sustained the attorneys’ demurrer without leave to amend on the grounds that Kumaraperu bore unclean hands and failed to allege she had been found factually innocent of forgery. We affirm, but on a different ground: Transferring one’s own funds from one account to another cannot be the basis of a forgery prosecution absent intent to defraud, even if the transfer is effected by means of a false signature. Therefore, plaintiffs criminal prosecution could not reasonably have been foreseen by defendants, and any damages she incurred defending against it were not caused by them.

BACKGROUND

We take the facts from plaintiff’s first amended complaint, which is operative. Plaintiff and her husband, Neil Kumaraperu, owned a private daycare center and school in Montrose, California known as the Pennsylvania Avenue Montessori Infant Care and Preschool (the school). At one point,

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Neil had conveyed an interest in the school to Ananda and Ranjini Niyarapola, but when they defaulted on payments the interest reverted to the Kumaraperus.

The school maintained a checking account and an operating account. Neil and the Niyarapolas were the only signatories on the checking account, the latter remaining so even after their interest in the school reverted to the ...


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