Winning Appeal Sets New Standard in Contract Law

LOS ANGELESFeb. 25, 2021 /As published in PRNewswire/ — Appellants challenging the removal of a trust manager have prevailed in a first-of-its-kind decision that sets new standards in California contract law.

The defendant successfully asked the Second Appellate District to overturn an order from Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Gregory W. Alarcon that allowed plaintiff and co-trustee Harry Roussos to hand select a replacement in favor of the proper fund-appointed director. The dispute was between several entities and trusts that invest in residential real estate.

The decision marks a major victory for RMO LLP – counsel to beneficiaries of the trust filing as amicus. RMO Attorney David Greco, amicus’ counsel, said the decision blocks the plaintiff’s improper attempt to skirt the court system.

“The opposition argued that a years-old contract bound Ted to arbitrate all issues, forever into the future, in front of a specific arbitrator,” Greco said. “We’re thrilled the panel saw through this deception.”

The successful appeal, brought by Harry’s brother and co-trustee Theodosios Roussos, seemingly invalidates the newly installed director’s actions, which include the selling of properties below market value to the detriment of the business and the beneficiaries of the trusts where the business keeps its profits. The panel found the lower court improperly granted an arbitrator’s award favoring the plaintiff and conflicted with state mandatory disqualification provisions. The defendant’s request to qualify the arbitrator was timely filed and disclosed.

The case holds that a party may not sign a contract that purports to waive a party’s right to challenge an arbitrator before arbitration commences. The opinion—which is the first published opinion to rule on this specific issue—held that such a contract is void because it violates California’s public policy of ensuring arbitrator neutrality.


RMO LLP provides personal and efficient inheritance dispute services to individual and institutional clients. The firm’s attorneys focus on probate litigation involving contested trust, estate, probate, and conservatorship matters. Serving California and Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, the Bay Area, Dallas, and Houston. For more information, please visit

Share on:

Most Popular

Search Topics

Read More

About the Author

Scott Rahn, Founding Partner

Scott Rahn resolves contests, disputes and litigation related to trusts, estates and conservatorships, creating a welcome peace of mind for clients. He represents heirs, beneficiaries, trustees and executors. He utilizes his experience to develop and implement strategies that swiftly and efficiently address the financial issues, fiduciary duties and emotional complexities underlying trust contests, estates conflicts and probate litigation.

Related Articles