Recent Case Alert: Katzenstein v. Chabad of Poway

Filed June 15, 2015, Fourth District, Division One

Cite as D066340

The trustee petitioned for an order confirming that the proceeds of two life insurance policies belonged to the trust. Chabad of Poway, a charity, filed an “Objection and Counterclaim” to the trustee’s petition in which it alleged that the settlor had irrevocably pledged the proceeds to the charity, and also sought affirmative relief against the trustee for unjust enrichment and breach of contract. The trial court, in an unsigned minute order, struck the Objection and Counterclaim on the basis that a party may not seek affirmative relief in an answer or objection, and the charity appealed.

The court of appeal dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the order appealed from was not signed. The court noted that under the Code of Civil Procedure an order striking an answer and counterclaim is not an appealable order, and the same is true in equivalent proceedings under the Probate Code. Probate Code section 1300(d) did not make the order appealable because the order did not deny the payment of a claim. Code of Civil Procedure section 581d’s requirement that a dismissal “be in the form of a written order signed by the court” applied in proceedings under the Probate Code, and mandated dismissal of the appeal because there was no signed order of dismissal to appeal from.

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