Unclaimed Property Law-Audits and Litigation

Unclaimed Property is generally defined as any financial asset that has been left inactive by the owner for a period of time specified in the law, generally three (3) years. The California Unclaimed Property Law does NOT include real estate. Unused gift certificates are also generally excluded from unclaimed property and are not sent to the State as unclaimed property. The most common types of Unclaimed Property are:

  • Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Uncashed cashier’s checks and money orders
  • Estate work and Litigation
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments

Mr. Palmer has prevailed in federal cases that challenge the Constitutionality of California’s Unclaimed Property Law. These Federal and State cases challenged California’s mishandling of public and private funds. The litigation resulted in the issuance of a federal injunction for violations of the United States Constitution that forced the California Legislature to rewrite and to “reform” the California Code of Civil Procedure sections 1300, et seq., which were then signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on August 23, 2007.

Samples of Published Decisions in the area of Unclaimed Property

Suever v. Westly, 439 F. 3d 1142 (9th Cir. 2006) (“Suever I”)

Taylor v. Westly 402 F.3d 924 (9thCir. 2005) (Kleinfeld, J.), reh’g denied, reh’g en banc denied (May13, 2005) (“Taylor I”) (The Ninth Circuit denied the Controller’s petition forrehearing and rehearing en banc with the added comment that the panel circulated the petition to all the 58-judges of the Ninth Circuit and “not a single judge” wished to rehear the case);

Taylor v. Westly, 488 F.3d 1197 (9th Cir. 2007) (“Taylor II”) (Directing the District Court to enter a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants from accepting property under color of the UPL until Controller satisfies Due Process Clause.);

Taylor v. Westly, Order Re: Preliminary Injunction, No. Civ. 01-2407 WBS (E.D. Cal. June 1, 2007)(Enjoining the California Controller from taking possession of or title to any additional property under color of the Unclaimed Property Law until the Court has approved regulations satisfying the Due Process Clause in accordance with directive of Taylor II);

Taylor v. Westly, Consolidated Appeals 07-16902 and 07-2 June 1, 2017 17223, Slip Op. at 5313-14, published as 525 F.3d 1288, 1291 (9th Cir. May 12, 2008) (“Taylor III”) (This decision awarded Mr. Palmer’s law firm interim fees for the work on the Taylor case);

Taylor v. Chiang, 405 F.App’x 167 (9th Cir. 2010)(“Taylor IV”); Taylor v. Yee U.S. Supreme Court Docket No. 15-169; Suever v. Westly, 579 F.3d 1047, 1057 (9th Cir. 2009) (“Suever II”);

Suever v. Connell, 484 F. App’x 187 (9th Cir. 2012) (“Suever III”);

Suever v. Connell, 133 S. Ct. 1243, 185 L. Ed. 2d 178 (2013) (“Suever IV”);

Harris, et. al. v. Westly (2004) 116 Cal. App. 4th 214; and see Fong v. Westly (2004) 117 Cal. App. 4th 841; Harris v. Verizon (2006) 141 Cal. App. 4th 573.

Prevailed in one of the leading published decisions involving shareholder stock rights during the Unclaimed Property transfer process in Vondjidis v. Hewlett Packard Corp. (2008) 168 Cal. App. 4th 921, affirmed and remanded by Supreme Court at 100 Cal. Rptr. 3d 447; see also Azure, Ltd.v. IFlow