A judge Friday declined a request by attorneys who once represented the widow of radio icon Casey Kasem to set aside a default judgment of more than $80,000 against her for unpaid legal bills, saying he was convinced a former personal assistant for the woman accepted notice of the lawsuit on her boss’ behalf.Haney & Young LLP’s breach-of-contract suit, filed in July 2014 in Los Angeles Superior Court, stated that the firm and Jean Kasem entered into a contract in June 2014 and that she ignored monthly bills sent to her.
Judge Terry Green awarded $87,395 to the firm on March 16.
Jean Kasem did not appear for the hearing. Her attorney, Kristin Ingulsrud, said her client no longer lives at the Holmby Hills mansion where the couple lived for decades. She said the proper way of notifying her of the suit would have been to put a notice in a legal newspaper and that therefore the default judgment should have been voided.
But Green said he did not believe Barbara Sanchez, a former aide to Jean Kasem, when she testified Friday that she was not served with the lawsuit and summons during a visit by a process server to the home last year.
“This is easy,” Green said. “I don’t feel Ms. Sanchez was credible. She was combative and was obviously protective of Ms. Kasem.”
Green said he found the process server, Pradip Kissoondyal, was truthful when he identified Sanchez in court as the person to whom he handed the papers. Kissoondyal testified he arrived at the home at the same time a pizza was being delivered and that Sanchez told him she could accept legal papers on Jean Kasem’s behalf.
Although Kissoondyal said he only obtained Sanchez’s first name, Green said the process server also gave a description of the personal assistant that matched how Sanchez looked in court.
“I believe the process server served Ms. Sanchez,” Green said.
Green said he believes Jean Kasem was deliberately staying away from her longtime residence.
“This has all the earmarks of evading service,” Green said.
The judge expressed sympathy with Jean Kasem given what she has gone through since the death of her husband last year, but said the woman also had the opportunity to come to court and testify on her own behalf.
He also said he does not think Jean Kasem has simply abandoned her former home, which he said was worth about $40 million.
Haney & Young represented Jean Kasem when Judge Daniel Murphy ordered that the former “America’s Top 40” host continue to be given food and medicine at a hospital in Washington state before he died. But the judge reversed himself two days later and authorized Casey Kasem’s daughter, Kerri, to remove her 82-year-old father from life support. Kerri Kasem was born during her father’s prior marriage.
“We’re very happy, we think the judge made the right decision,” said Steven Haney, a member of Haney & Young.
Haney said Jean Kasem was given good service and that it was disappointing that a client would try to “stiff” her lawyers.
Casey Kasem was the subject of a vitriolic legal battle between his wife and Kerri Kasem until he died in June 2014. Murphy named Kerri Kasem her father’s temporary guardian last May, but the appointment expired with her father’s death.
Casey Kasem suffered from dementia and Lewy body disease, which has symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.
— City News Service
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