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Orange County, CA

In this wrongful retention matter, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants wrongfully withheld and denied the plaintiff possession of a motor vehicle belonging to him causing him to incur damages. The defendants denied the allegations and maintained that the vehicle did not belong to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff claimed that his father acquired the ________ split widow Corvette in question in ________ and drove that car on his honeymoon with the plaintiff’s mother. From ________ until ________ the plaintiff alleged his father maintained the Corvette in the family garage, but occasionally performed work or stored the vehicle in one of the barns on his grandparents’ ranch which was located next to the plaintiff’s parents’ home. In ________, the plaintiff’s father transferred ownership of the Corvette to the plaintiff and the plaintiff sought to obtain possession of the vehicle from his grandparents’ barn on their ranch.

The defendants, the plaintiffs’ aunt and uncle, who were trustees of the grandparents’ trust, refused to deliver possession of the Corvette to the plaintiff. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendants for wrongful retention. The plaintiff alleged that he was entitled to damages in the amount of the fair rental rate for another vehicle. The plaintiff also sought punitive damages against the defendants, both individually and as trustees of the grandparents’ trust.

The defendants denied that the plaintiff was the owner of the vehicle. The defendants contended that the plaintiff’s uncle purchased the vehicle from his sister’s husband and was the owner of the vehicle. Both defendants denied that the plaintiff was entitled to possession of the vehicle, claiming that it did not belong to him.The matter proceeded to trial over a period of six days. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury deliberated and returned a verdict finding that the plaintiff was the owner of the ________ Corvette vehicle and that the defendants, both individually and in their capacity as trustees, refused to allow the plaintiff to take possession of his vehicle and acted with malice, oppression and fraud, triggering an award of punitive damages. The jury awarded a total of $________ including $________ in punitive damages against the individual trustees and the trust.

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