Court Issues DVPA and Elder Abuse Restraining Orders Against Elderly Divorced Couple!
Paul and Alicja dissolved their marriage effective November 28, 2007. Since then, Alicja has been “living rent free” in the building located at 123 24th Street in Hermosa Beach; said building is owned by Paul. She lived on the 2nd floor of this building, while Paul lived on the 3rd floor. According to Paul, Alicja “continue[d] to harass [him] with outrageously excessive litigation,” and was declared a “vexatious litigant.” There have been many instances since their divorce where Paul was “ambushed” or “blocked” by Alicja on the 2nd floor when going to and from his place of residence on the 3rd floor. Paul described being “slammed [with] an iron door” by Alicja while he was walking up the stairs to his apartment unit. Living in such close proximity to Alicja has filled Paul’s life with “abuse, stress and anxiety of on-going harassment.”
There have also been issues between Alicja and Paul’s brother Parker, who lives less than a block away from them. Parker serves as trustee of Paul’s trust, and is also one of Paul’s caregivers. According to Paul, Alicja repeatedly blocks Parker from going up the stairs to Paul’s apartment. According to Alicja, however, she hardly ever spoke with Paul or Parker, let alone physically and/or verbally abused them, and that her only interactions with Paul were to help him in emergency situations. She described one such instance where she had no choice but “to turn off the water for [the] whole building” because she realized Paul left his home having forgotten to turn off the “water running in [his] shower.” She also stated that she has never gone to Paul’s apartment, and only went once or twice to help Paul when she heard a “noise of [a] big object falling to the floor” from his apartment above her floor, and would find him “laying on the bad [sic] in the big paddle [sic] of blood.” It appears there has been a repeated pattern of “he said, she said” scenarios between the parties, resulting in the police being called many times, protracted litigation, and Alicja being declared a “vexatious litigant.”
On November 16, 2017, Paul filed his request for an elder abuse restraining order (hereinafter EARO) against Alicja, and listed both himself and Parker as persons to be protected. Paul alleged Alicja “regularly screams, yells, calls names, threatens, prevents his movement, attacks him physically, wrongfully enters his home and takes his property.” Paul described multiple instances of physical and emotional abuse that he suffered from Alicja; she “has previously attacked [him] with scissors,” “punched him,” and “slammed a heavy wrought-iron door into him,” which “almost knocked [him] down . . . [and] caus[ed] injury to his face, mouth, ribs, leg and foot.” He “has been taken to the hospital multiple times due to high blood pressure from the stress and mental abuse by Alicja and for physical injuries inflicted,” “required medical treatment for injury to his foot from [being slammed with] the iron gate” and was “diagnosed [with] broken ribs.”
In his request for an EARO, Paul explained how Alicja previously had financially abused him when she “intentionally intercepted a rent check made payable to [him] for the operation of his property,” “deposited said rent check . . . and kept the funds.” Additionally, Paul described an instance where the paramedics were called for him because of a medical emergency, and Alicja told the police not to allow Parker to come through to see Paul, because “she owns [the] building.” Paul also described another instance, in “Spring 2016,” where Alicja “harass[ed] [Paul’s tenants], called the police, falsely claimed that [the tenants] were wrongfully occupying the apartment unit, and ultimately drove them out of the unit, all while [Paul] was away from [his] property having medical treatment for the injuries she caused [him].”
On December 5, 2017, Alicja filed her request for domestic violence restraining order (hereinafter DVRO) against Paul. She described the “most recent abuse” as having occurred on November 3, 2017, where Paul came to her apartment to “salve [sic] [a] dispute between” their son, Adam, and daughter, Paula. Paul “didn’t help the situation but he yelled at [their] daughter [Paula] with derogatory language” including “hooker, druggie[,] and telling her to take drugs and go to Hollywood Blvd to sale [sic] herself.” As a result, Alicja asked Paul to leave, but he refused and instead “demanded [Alicja] leave and [said] he is going to take [Alicja] to . . . court.” Alicja also described another instance of “abuse” that took place on October 16 and 17, 2017, where Paul “walk[ed] by [Alicja’s] back door [and] slam[med] the iron gate at [Alicja’s] door.” Paul “yell[ed] at [Alicja] outside the door and br[ought] up personal issues of the divorce for the public to hear.” Alicja recalled an instance where Paul and/or one of his employees opened the electric fuse box for her unit and turned the electricity on “for [the] area outside [Alicja’s] responsibility,” which caused an “increase[e] [in her] monthly electrical bills up to 80%, and annoy[ed] [her] without legitimate purpose but harassment.”
Alicja described another instance of abuse that took place on October 23, 2015, where Paul’s employee, Ruben, painted the steps outside of her apartment and left them “unmarked,” causing Alicja to slip and fall and “permanently injure [her] lower back and the neck spinal [sic].” A temporary DVRO was granted against Paul, ordering him to stay “at least 20 yards away” from Alicja.
On December 8, 2017, Alicja filed her response to Paul’s request for EARO. She denied having caused any “physical, verbal, [or] financial abuse” toward Paul, and stated that “[a]ll the accusation[s] are false and malicious with intend [sic] to harm and prosecute” her. Alicja also responded to Paul’s accusation that she intercepted a rent check for $1200, stating that she “has no key to his mailbox” and that the rent check was made only to the name “Herriott,” and did not specify which Herriott, implying that her depositing the rent check was an innocent mistake. She explained that the bank rectified the mistake since then and refunded the funds.
The parties appeared in court on December 11, 2017. The trial court issued an EARO against Alicja on December 12, 2017. The court also issued a DVRO against Paul on December 12, 2017.
The trial court stated: “This sounds like this is really a horrible set of circumstance[s]…”
The appeal followed.
Paul, in propria persona, appealed from the restraining order issued against him, and argued the trial court erred in granting same. He also appealed from the restraining order issued against Alicja arguing the trial court incorrectly interpreted the relevant statute in rendering its decision. And finally, Paul argued the court failed to make the required detailed finding of fact as to who—Paul or Alicja—was the “primary aggressor” in the dispute after issuing what Paul argues were mutual restraining orders. The California Court of Appeal disagreed with all three of Paul’s positions. Affirmed.
If you are involved in an acrimonious type divorce, harassment and domestic violence, or family law matter, you need an experienced and capable attorney on your side. Contact the Law Office of Robert Rodriguez!
Robert Rodriguez has litigated well over 100 family law cases and civil litigation matters including personal injury motor vehicle cases, dog bite and slip & fall cases, breach of contract, defamation & invasion of privacy, fraud, unfair business practice, malicious prosecution, wrongful termination, workplace and employment matters including sexual harassment, wage & hour violations, discrimination pursuant to the FEHA, Gov’t Code §§ 12940 et seq., violations of the FMLA & Pregnancy Leave, Civil Rights discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the State of California and California federal district courts.
* Disclaimer – Robert Rodriguez is licensed to practice only in the State of California & this analysis is applied only under State of California law. Robert D. Rodriguez is also admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts, Central, Northern & Eastern Districts of California. Robert Rodriguez has practiced in the State of California Court of Appeal.