This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 04/04/2021 at 06:22:37 (UTC).

CHRISTOPHER MARTINEZ VS GOOD OEL INC.

Case Summary

On 11/20/2019 CHRISTOPHER MARTINEZ filed a Civil Right - Other Civil Right lawsuit against GOOD OEL INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is JAMES E. BLANCARTE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******0690

  • Filing Date:

    11/20/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Civil Right - Other Civil Right

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

JAMES E. BLANCARTE

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

MARTINEZ CHRISTOPHER

Defendants

GOOD OEL INC.

STILPHEN CHARLES

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

MEHRBAN MORSE

Defendant Attorney

EHLERS WESLEY

 

Court Documents

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration Ehlers Declaration in Support of Motion to Set Aside

1/27/2021: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration Ehlers Declaration in Support of Motion to Set Aside

Declaration of Mailing - Declaration of Mailing

1/27/2021: Declaration of Mailing - Declaration of Mailing

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default and Default Jud...)

2/22/2021: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default and Default Jud...)

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default and Default Jud...) of 02/22/2021

2/22/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default and Default Jud...) of 02/22/2021

Notice of Posting of Jury Fees - Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

11/20/2020: Notice of Posting of Jury Fees - Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

11/20/2020: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Memorandum of Points & Authorities - Memorandum of Points & Authorities

7/27/2020: Memorandum of Points & Authorities - Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Proof of Service - No Service - Proof of Service - No Service

7/27/2020: Proof of Service - No Service - Proof of Service - No Service

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of Ashley West

7/27/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of Ashley West

Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default - Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default

7/27/2020: Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default - Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default

Answer - Answer

5/26/2020: Answer - Answer

Declaration Pursuant to 585 CCP in Support of Default Judgment - Declaration Pursuant to 585 CCP in Support of Default Judgment

5/18/2020: Declaration Pursuant to 585 CCP in Support of Default Judgment - Declaration Pursuant to 585 CCP in Support of Default Judgment

Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

5/18/2020: Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name) - Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

2/11/2020: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name) - Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

11/20/2019: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

11/20/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Complaint - Complaint

11/20/2019: Complaint - Complaint

Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court) - Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court)

11/20/2019: Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court) - Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court)

19 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 09/27/2021
  • Hearing09/27/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 25 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 03/02/2021
  • DocketNotice to Attend Trial; Filed by: Christopher Martinez (Plaintiff); As to: Charles Stilphen (Defendant)

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketJury Trial scheduled for 09/27/2021 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketOn the Complaint filed by Christopher Martinez on 11/20/2019 Default entered on 05/18/2020, Vacated as to Charles Stilphen - .

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketUpdated -- On the Complaint filed by Christopher Martinez on 11/20/2019, judgment entered on 06/16/2020 is vacated

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketOn the Complaint filed by Christopher Martinez on 11/20/2019, judgment entered on 06/16/2020 as to Good Oel Inc. is

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketOn the Complaint filed by Christopher Martinez on 11/20/2019, judgment entered on 06/16/2020 as to Charles Stilphen is

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default and Default Jud...)

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default and Default Jud...) of 02/22/2021; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketHearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default and Default Judgment (CCP 473.5) scheduled for 02/22/2021 at 11:00 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 updated: Result Date to 02/22/2021; Result Type to Held - Motion Granted

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32 More Docket Entries
  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Christopher Martinez (Plaintiff); As to: Good Oel Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. James E. Blancarte in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by: Christopher Martinez (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Christopher Martinez (Plaintiff); As to: Good Oel Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Christopher Martinez (Plaintiff); As to: Good Oel Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketOrder on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court); Signed and Filed by: Clerk; As to: Christopher Martinez (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 05/19/2021 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 11/20/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 11/23/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STLC10690    Hearing Date: February 22, 2021    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Mon., February 22, 2021 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Martinez v. Good OEL, Inc., et al. COMPL. FILED: 11-20-19

CASE NUMBER: 19STLC10690 DEFAULT: 05-18-20

NOTICE: OK DEF. JUDGMENT: 06-16-20

PROCEEDINGS: MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT AND VACATE DEFAULT JUDGMENT

MOVING PARTY: Defendants Good OEL, Inc. and Charles Stilphen

RESP. PARTY: Plaintiff Christopher Martinez

MOTION TO SET ASIDE/VACATE DEFAULT

(CCP § 473(b))

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendants Good OEL, Inc. and Charles Stilphen’s Motion to Set Aside Default and Vacate Default Judgment is GRANTED. The default entered on May 18, 2020 and default judgment entered on June 16, 2020 are HEREBY VACATED.

SERVICE:

[X] Proof of Service Timely Filed (CRC, rule 3.1300) OK

[X] Correct Address (CCP §§ 1013, 1013a) OK

[X] 16/21 Court Days Lapsed (CCP §§ 12c, 1005(b)) OK

OPPOSITION: Filed on January 28, 2021 [ ] Late [ ] None

REPLY: Filed on February 10, 2021 [ ] Late [ ] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On November 20, 2019, Plaintiff Christopher Martinez (“Plaintiff”) filed an action for violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act against Defendant Good OEL, Inc. (“Good OEL”). Plaintiff filed an amendment to the Complaint on February 11, 2020 substituting Defendant Charles Stilphen (“Stilphen”) for Doe 1. Defendant Stilphen was personally served, individually and as Defendant Good OEL’s registered agent, on April 9, 2020. (5/18/20 Proof of Service.)

Following Defendants’ failure to respond, default was entered against them on May 18, 2020 and a default judgment was entered on June 16, 2020.

On July 27, 2020, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Set Aside Default and Vacate Default Judgment (the “Motion). No opposition was filed. At the initial January 6, 2021 hearing, the Court found that Defendants were not entitled to relief from the default and default judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (d), on the basis they were never properly served because they had filed a late Answer without objecting to the Court’s jurisdiction. (1/6/21 Minute Order; 1/6/21 Tentative Ruling.)

The Court also noted that Defendants timely sought relief under Section 473, subdivision (b). (Id.) In the moving papers, Defendant Stilphen explained that after he received the Summons and Complaint, he contacted his corporate counsel who helped him search for litigation counsel to respond to the Complaint. (Id.) However, due to office closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, many attorneys and their staff did not respond to inquiries regarding representation. (Id.) Default was entered on May 18, 2020, days before Defendant Stilphen retained attorney Wesley Ehlers (“Mr. Ehlers”) on May 22, 2020. (Id.) The Court found that although Defendant Stilphen took responsibility for the default, Mr. Ehlers, as counsel of record at the time default judgment was entered did not expressly accept fault for the default judgment. (Id.) For this reason, the hearing was continued. (Id.)

Mr. Ehlers filed a supplemental declaration on January 27, 2021. Plaintiff filed an opposition on January 28, and Defendants filed a reply on February 10.

  1. Legal Standard & Discussion

  1. CCP 473(b)

“Section 473(b) provides for both discretionary and mandatory relief. [Citation.]” (Pagnini v. Union Bank, N.A. (2018) 28 Cal.App.5th 298, 302.) An application for relief under the discretionary provision must be made no more than six months after entry of the judgment, dismissal, order or other proceeding from which relief is sought and must be accompanied by an affidavit of fault attesting to the mistake, inadvertence, surprise or neglect of the moving party or its attorney. (Code Civ. Proc., § 473, subd. (b); English v. IKON Business Solutions (2001) 94 Cal.App.4th 130, 143.) Under the mandatory provision, “the court shall, whenever an application for relief is made no more than six months after entry of judgment, is in proper form, and is accompanied by an attorney’s sworn affidavit attesting to his or her mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect, vacate any (1) resulting default entered by the clerk against his or her client, and which will result in entry of a default judgment, or (2) resulting default judgment or dismissal entered against his or her client, unless the court finds that the default or dismissal was not in fact caused by the attorney’s mistake, inadvertence, surprise or neglect.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 473, subd. (b).) An application for relief under this section “shall be accompanied by a copy of the answer or other pleading proposed to be filed herein, otherwise the application shall not be granted.” (Id.)

In his supplemental declaration, Mr. Ehlers states that he did not check the Court’s docket before attempting to file Defendants’ Answer. (1/27/20 Supp. Ehlers Decl., ¶ 4.) Indeed, it appears that before being officially retained on May 22, 2020, Mr. Ehlers did not check the Court docket to ensure no default had yet been entered. He also states he mistakenly attempted to meet and confer with Plaintiff’s counsel at the onset of his representation instead of filing a responsive pleading. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Mr. Ehlers further states that if he had checked the docket, he would have discovered Plaintiff’s counsel had requested the entry of default and the default judgment, would not have filed an Answer, and would have sought to set aside the default and default judgment for lack of proper service. (Id. at ¶ 6.)

In Opposition, Plaintiff argues the Court lacks the jurisdiction to set aside the default and default judgment because the default was not caused by Mr. Ehlers. (Oppo., pp. 1-2.) However, relief under the discretionary provision of Section 473, subdivision (b), is not conditioned on counsel being responsible for both the default and default judgment. Defendant Stilphen’s declaration accepting fault for the default and Defendants’ counsel’s declaration accepting fault for the default judgment are sufficient to grant relief under the discretionary provision of Section 473, subdivision (b). Importantly, the law favors judgments on the merits and any doubts must be resolved in favor of relief. (Lasalle v. Vogel (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 127, 134.)

Thus, Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Defendants Good OEL, Inc. and Charles Stilphen’s Motion to Set Aside Default and Vacate Default Judgment is GRANTED. The default entered on May 18, 2020 and default judgment entered on June 16, 2020 are HEREBY VACATED.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

Case Number: 19STLC10690    Hearing Date: January 06, 2021    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Wed., January 6, 2021 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Martinez v. Good OEL, Inc., et al. COMPL. FILED: 11-20-19

CASE NUMBER: 19STLC10690 DEFAULT: 05-18-20

NOTICE: OK DEF. JUDGMENT: 06-16-20

PROCEEDINGS: MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT AND VACATE DEFAULT JUDGMENT

MOVING PARTY: Defendants Good OEL, Inc. and Charles Stilphen

RESP. PARTY: None

MOTION TO SET ASIDE/VACATE DEFAULT

(CCP § 473(b), (d))

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendants Good OEL, Inc. and Charles Stilphen’s Motion to Set Aside Default and Vacate Default Judgment is CONTINUED TO FEB 22, 2021 AT 11:00 A.M. in Department 25 at the SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE. At least 16 court days before the next scheduled hearing, Defendants must file and serve supplemental papers addressing the deficiencies noted herein. Failure to do so may result in the Motion being placed off calendar or denied.

SERVICE:

[X] Proof of Service Timely Filed (CRC, rule 3.1300) OK

[X] Correct Address (CCP §§ 1013, 1013a) OK

[X] 16/21 Court Days Lapsed (CCP §§ 12c, 1005(b)) OK

OPPOSITION: None filed as of January 4, 2021 [ ] Late [X] None

REPLY: None filed as of January 4, 2021 [ ] Late [X] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On November 20, 2019, Plaintiff Christopher Martinez (“Plaintiff”) filed an action for violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act against Defendant Good OEL, Inc. (“Good OEL”). Plaintiff filed an amendment to the Complaint on February 11, 2020 substituting Defendant Charles Stilphen (“Stilphen”) for Doe 1. Defendant Stilphen was personally served, individually and as Defendant Good OEL’s registered agent, on April 9, 2020. (5/18/20 Proof of Service.)

Following Defendants’ failure to respond, default was entered against them on May 18, 2020 and a default judgment was entered on June 16, 2020.

On July 27, 2020, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Set Aside Default and Vacate Default Judgment (the “Motion). To date, no opposition has been filed.

  1. Legal Standard & Discussion

  1. CCP 473(d)

“‘A summons is the process by which a court acquires personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a civil action’ [citation], and a defendant has an absolute right to demand that process be issued against him in a manner prescribed by law.” (Mannesmann DeMag, Ltd. v. Superior Court (1985) 172 Cal.App.3d 1118, 1122.) “Constitutional due process requirements are satisfied where the form of service provided and employed is reasonably calculated to give a litigant actual notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard.” (Crescendo Corp. v. Shelted, Inc. (1968) 267 Cal.App.2d 209, 213.) “‘[C]ompliance with the statutory procedures for service of process is essential to establish personal jurisdiction. [Citation.] Thus, a default judgment entered against a defendant who was not served with a summons in the manner prescribed by statute is void. [Citation.]’” (Ellard v. Conway (2001) 94 Cal.App.4th 540, 544.) The Court may set aside any void judgment or order at any time. (Code Civ. Proc., § 473, subd. (d); Strathvale Holdings v. E.B.H. (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 1241, 1249.)

Defendants first argue the default and default judgment are void because they were not properly personally served and thus no personal jurisdiction was established. (Mot., p. 4:3-19.) However, Defendants filed an Answer, albeit after default was entered, on May 26, 2020. Filing an answer constitutes a general appearance. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1014.) “[A] defendant who makes a general appearance without objecting to personal jurisdiction acquiesces in the court’s exercise of jurisdiction and forfeits any future challenge to the court’s power over him or her. [Citation.]” (Mt. Holyoke Homes, LP v. California Coastal Com. (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 830, 844.)

As Defendants filed an Answer without objecting to the Court’s jurisdiction, they cannot raise jurisdictional arguments now.

  1. CCP 473(b)

Under Section 473, subdivision (b), an application for relief must be made no more than six months after entry of the judgment, dismissal, order or other proceeding from which relief is sought and must be accompanied by an affidavit of fault attesting to the mistake, inadvertence, surprise or neglect of the moving party or its attorney. (Code Civ. Proc., § 473, subd. (b); English v. IKON Business Solutions (2001) 94 Cal.App.4th 130, 143.) (Emphasis added.)

In the alternative, Defendants timely seek relief from default based on their excusable neglect stemming from delays attributed to COVID-19 workplace closures. (Mot., pp. 4:20-5:14.) Specifically, Defendant Stilphen explains that after he received the Summons and Complaint, he contacted his corporate counsel who helped him search for litigation counsel to respond to the Complaint. (Id., Stilphen Decl., ¶¶ 3-4.) However, due to office closures, many attorneys and their staff did not respond to inquiries regarding representation. (Id.) During this time, Defendants’ corporate counsel attempted to contact Plaintiff’s counsel to obtain a short extension but was unsuccessful. (Id., West Decl., ¶¶ 4-7.) Default was entered on May 18, 2020, before Defendant Stilphen retained attorney Wesley Ehlers (“Mr. Ehlers”) on May 22, 2020. (Id., Ehlers Decl., ¶ 3.)

Although Defendant Stilphen takes responsibility for the default, Mr. Ehlers, as counsel of record at the time the default judgment was entered, does not expressly accept fault for the default judgment. Rather Mr. Ehlers states he was unaware of the default judgment until after the July 4th weekend and that Plaintiff’s counsel did not respond to his attempts to contact him. (Id. at ¶¶ 4-6.) However, relief under Section 473, subdivision (b), requires that the Motion be accompanied by an affidavit of fault. Thus, Defendants are ordered to file supplemental papers addressing this issue.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Defendants Good OEL, Inc. and Charles Stilphen’s Motion to Set Aside Default and Vacate Default Judgment is CONTINUED TO FEB 22, 2021 AT 11:00 A.M. in Department 25 at the SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE. At least 16 court days before the next scheduled hearing, Defendants must file and serve supplemental papers addressing the deficiencies noted herein. Failure to do so may result in the Motion being placed off calendar or denied.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.