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Heirs to Lucy’s El Adobe Café locked in legal fight

LOS ANGELES — The daughter of the late founders of the Hollywood landmark Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe is suing her brother, alleging he used their mother’s diminishing health and mental state to obtain complete control over the elderly woman’s finances before her 2017 death.

Patricia Anne Casado’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Jan. 8, targets Frank James Casado, saying he acquired control over the restaurant in April 2014 through a wrongfully acquired power of attorney and opened new accounts using money that belonged to their mother, Lucy, who died May 2 at age 91.

“Defendant Casado also closed Lucy’s bank accounts, which prevented Lucy from accessing her own funds,” the suit alleges.

Also named a defendant is Joaquin Garcia, who allegedly conspired with Frank Casado to misappropriate funds from Lucy. The lawsuit does not identify Frank Casado’s relationship to Garcia.

The suit’s allegations include financial elder abuse, international interference with prospective inheritance, conspiracy to defraud and conversion. Patricia Casado is seeking unspecified damages and an order directing her brother and Garcia to return all funds and properties the defendants allegedly wrongfully acquired from Lucy Casado from April 2014 until her death.

The assets at issue also include five other properties Frank Casado allegedly convinced his mother to turn over to him in July 2014 and for which she received nothing in return.

Frank Casado’s lawyer, Frank Sanzo, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Lucy Casado and her husband, Frank Casado, who died in 1990, established the Melrose Avenue cafe across the street from Paramount Pictures in 1964. By the early 1970s, it was known as a hangout for celebrities, politicians and rock stars.

The Casados had three children: Patricia, Frank James and Daryl Morrie Casado, who was mentally and physically disabled and died on June 18, according to the petition.

Their daughter worked at the restaurant from its inception until 2014, according to her lawsuit, which alleges that her brother canceled their mother’s private insurance in 2012, when she was 86 years old, and left her with Medicare coverage only. Two years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had tumors removed, her daughter’s lawsuit says.

“Although Lucy had accumulated substantial wealth during her lifetime, which is estimated to be approximately $9 million, she did not have sufficient funds to purchase her medicine,” according to the lawsuit.

After about four months of seeking treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Lucy Casado had to cease her medical care there because she could not afford it, the petition states.

During a call to her daughter in November 2014, Lucy Casado said that Frank James Casado “had thrown her out of her restaurant, saying that she was nobody and she was no longer in charge of her business; that he was the owner,” according to the lawsuit.

During one confrontation between Lucy Casado and her son, he “slapped his mother on her arm” to try and convince her to turn over the restaurant and four additional Los Angeles properties she owned — collectively valued at millions of dollars — to him, which she eventually did, the complaint alleges.

The family matriarch was 89 years old when she created the Lucy Casado Trust, allegedly due to pressures from her son, according to the petition.

“The purported trust provides [Frank James Casado] with the lion’s share of Lucy’s assets, which is inconsistent with Lucy’s wishes,” according to the petition, which alleges she signed the trust while she was “vulnerable to undue influence, lacked capacity, was physically and mentally frail and completely dependent on others.”

The trust also is “heavily one-sided and provides defendant Casado with unfettered discretion to do as he deems appropriate with Lucy’s assets,” the lawsuit said.

Lucy’s El Adobe was where a young Gov. Jerry Brown met singer Linda Ronstadt, launching a 1970s tabloid romance that put the famous pair on the cover of Newsweek.

Jackson Browne, Jimmy Webb, J.D. Souther, and Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles also stopped by frequently, while presidential hopefuls made it a point to visit when in town, including then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Sens. Robert Kennedy and Robert Dole and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

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