On 05/08/2019 a Contract - Other Contract case was filed by BOLUN ALLEN DENG against JOSEPH LIU in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
JAMES E. BLANCARTE
DENG BOLUN ALLEN
JTNA MANAGEMENT INC. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION
JSL PLAZA PUENTE HILLS LLC A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
5/8/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet
5/8/2019: Complaint - Complaint
5/8/2019: Summons - Summons on Complaint
5/8/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case
5/8/2019: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order
Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 94 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of ServiceRead MoreRead Less
Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 94 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury TrialRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by: Bolun Allen Deng (Plaintiff); As to: Joseph Liu (Defendant); JSL Plaza Puente Hills, LLC, a California limited liability company (Defendant); JTNA Management, Inc., a California corporation (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Bolun Allen Deng (Plaintiff); As to: Joseph Liu (Defendant); JSL Plaza Puente Hills, LLC, a California limited liability company (Defendant); JTNA Management, Inc., a California corporation (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Bolun Allen Deng (Plaintiff); As to: Joseph Liu (Defendant); JSL Plaza Puente Hills, LLC, a California limited liability company (Defendant); JTNA Management, Inc., a California corporation (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 11/04/2020 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94Read MoreRead Less
DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 05/11/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94Read MoreRead Less
DocketCase assigned to Hon. James E. Blancarte in Department 94 Stanley Mosk CourthouseRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: 19STLC04480 Hearing Date: November 05, 2019 Dept: 94
DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT
(CCP § 430.10)
Defendants JSL Plaza Puente Hills, LLC, JTNA Management, Inc., and Joseph Liu’s Demurrer to Complaint is OVERRULED IN PART and SUSTAINED IN PART.
On May 8, 2019, Plaintiff Bolun Allen Deng (“Plaintiff”) brought this action against Defendants JSL Plaza Puente Hills, LLC (“JSL”), JTNA Management, Inc. (“JTNA”), and Joseph Liu (“Liu”) (collectively, “Defendants”) for (1) rescission of contract and (2) money had and received. In response, Defendants filed a Demurrer to the Complaint on September 16, 2019. Plaintiff opposed the Demurrer on October 18. Defendants have submitted proof of a meet of confer effort they made as required by CCP § 430.41(a), which Plaintiff does not dispute as insufficient.
II. Legal Standard
“A demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of the factual allegations in a complaint.” (Ivanoff v. Bank of America, N.A. (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 719, 725.) “The primary function of a pleading is to give the other party notice so that it may prepare its case [citation], and a defect in a pleading that otherwise properly notifies a party cannot be said to affect substantial rights.” (Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal.4th 203, 240.) The Court looks to whether “the complaint alleges facts sufficient to state a cause of action or discloses a complete defense.” (Id.) The Court does not “read passages from a complaint in isolation; in reviewing a ruling on a demurrer, we read the complaint ‘as a whole and its parts in their context.’ [Citation.]” (West v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 780, 804.) The Court “assume[s] the truth of the properly pleaded factual allegations, facts that reasonably can be inferred from those expressly pleaded and matters of which judicial notice has been taken.” (Harris, supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 240.) “The court does not, however, assume the truth of contentions, deductions or conclusions of law. [Citation.]” (Durell v. Sharp Healthcare (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1358.)
The Court liberally construes the pleading “with a view to substantial justice between the parties.” (CCP § 452.) “This rule of liberal construction means that the reviewing court draws inferences favorable to the plaintiff, not the defendant.” (Perez v. Golden Empire Transit Dist. (2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 1228, 1238.)
A. Rescission of Contract (1st Cause of Action)
Rescission of contract “is not a cause of action; it is a remedy.” (Nakash v. Superior Court (1987) 196 Cal.App.3d 59, 70.) Even though Plaintiff pleads rescission as a cause of action, “the nature of a cause of action does not depend on the label the plaintiff gives it or the relief the plaintiff seeks but on the primary right involved.” (Bird, Marella, Boxer & Wolpert v. Superior Court (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 419, 427.) Having reviewed the Complaint, the Court construes the Complaint as pleading a breach of contract claim for rescission as a remedy.
Plaintiff therefore must plead a cause of action for breach of contract. To do so, Plaintiff must plead “(1) the existence of the contract, (2) the plaintiff’s performance or excuse for nonperformance, (3) the defendant’s breach, and (4) resulting damages to the plaintiff. [Citation.]” (Maxwell v. Dolezal (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 93, 97-98.)
Plaintiff alleges that he executed a lease agreement with Defendants to rent a commercial property for the purpose of operating a Japanese fast food restaurant. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff allegedly paid Defendant $21,173.60 as deposit and first month rent, but he has not acquired possession of the commercial property. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 15.) The lease specifies, however, that “[k]ey delivery will be on or prior to 12/31/20. Landlord does not guarantee the delivery date of key.” (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff now claims that the stated term is ambiguous and unconscionable and seeks to rescind the lease agreement. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 15.) In the Demurrer, Defendant argues that “[h]ere we have the target date of the completion of the improvement and commencement of contract. If and only if, lessor is unable to deliver the possession due to events beyond lessor’s control by December 31, 2020, only then Plaintiff can seek rescission.” (Demurrer p. 4.) In essence, Defendants are contending that Plaintiff has failed to plead breach. The Court agrees.
“A party to a contract has two different remedies when it has been injured by a breach of contract or fraud and lacks the ability or desire to keep the contract alive. [Citation.] The party may disaffirm the contract, treating it as rescinded, and recover damages resulting from the rescission. [Citation.] Alternatively, the party may affirm the contract, treating it as repudiated, and recover damages for breach of contract or fraud. [Citation.]” (Wong v. Stoler (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 1375, 1384.) Plaintiff must first sufficiently plead a breach of contract claim; only upon establishing such claim, may Plaintiff elect his remedy of either rescission or damages. Because Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently plead the element of breach, the Demurrer to the first cause of action is SUSTAINED.
If Plaintiff is seeking, in the alternative, declaratory relief that the lease agreement is invalid because it is unconscionable or lack mutual assent, this Court has no jurisdiction to grant declaratory relief. Such relief is prohibited in limited jurisdiction court under CCP § 580(b)(4). Nonetheless, Plaintiff may amend the Complaint to add a declaratory relief claim then seek reclassification to unlimited jurisdiction court.
B. Money Had & Received (2nd Cause of Action)
Defendants argue in a conclusory manner, without any authority, the following: “This cause of action raises no new facts or legal theory. This is simply a parasitic claim to the rescission cause of action. As such, demurrer to this cause of actions should also be sustained.” (Demurrer p. 5.)
A cause of action for money had and received is not parasitic claim. “A cause of action for money had and received is stated if it is alleged [that] the defendant ‘is indebted to the plaintiff in a certain sum ‘for money had and received by the defendant for the use of the plaintiff.’’ . . .’ [Citation.]” (Avidor v. Sutter’s Place, Inc. (2013) 212 Cal.App.4th 1439, 1454.)
Moreover, “[a] point which is merely suggested by [a party’s] counsel, with no supporting argument or authority, is deemed to be without foundation and requires no discussion.” (Do It Urself Moving & Storage v. Brown, Leifer, Slatkin & Berns (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 27, 35.) As here, Defendants’ conclusory arguments without authority as to the second cause of action are, therefore, disregarded. It follows that the Demurrer to the second cause of action is OVERRULED.
C. Proper Defendants
Defendants then contend that the lease agreement is only between Plaintiff and Defendant JSL. (Demurrer p. 5.) Defendants JTNA and Liu are not parties to the agreement and, therefore, not proper Defendants in this action. (Id.) In opposition, Plaintiff cites to paragraph seven of the Complaint in which he alleges that JTNA and Liu were agents, servants, employees, and/or co-conspirator of JSL. (Demurrer, citing to Compl. ¶ 7.) This conclusory allegation, however, is insufficient.
Here, the first cause of action is based on a breach of contract. Since JTNA and Liu are not parties to the lease agreement, Plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show how JTNA and Liu would be liable for JSL’s breach of contract. Plaintiff has not alleged such facts here. As for the second cause of action based on money had or received, Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants accepted his $21,173.60, (Compl. ¶ 18), but this is contradicted by the lease agreement which provides that JSL is the sole landlord and beneficiary of Plaintiff’s rent payments, (id., Exh. A). (Brakke v. Economic Concepts, Inc. (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 761, 767-768 “‘[F]acts appearing in exhibits attached to the complaint will also be accepted as true and, if contrary to the allegations in the pleading, will be given precedence.”].) Plaintiff needs to allege more facts to explain this discrepancy. Accordingly, Defendants’ Demurrer to the Complaint based on JTNA and Liu A not being proper Defendants is SUSTAINED.
IV. Conclusion & Order
In light of the foregoing, the Demurrer to the second cause of action is OVERRULED, but it is SUSTAINED as to the first cause of action and JTNA and Liu not being proper Defendants. Plaintiff may amend his Complaint and file a new one within 20 days of this Order.
Moving party is ordered to give notice.
Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SMCdept94@lacourt.org as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. If the department does not receive an email and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion will be placed off calendar.