This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/06/2020 at 05:23:31 (UTC).

EDWARD LEON GUY, III VS CRYSTAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, INC.,, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 03/06/2019 EDWARD LEON GUY, III filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against CRYSTAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, 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 WENDY CHANG. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******2257

  • Filing Date:

    03/06/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

WENDY CHANG

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

GUY EDWARD LEON III

Los Angeles, CA 90008

Defendants

CRYSTAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT INC.

THE HENRY FAMILY TRUST

MELVILLE APARTMENTS

HENRY MANLEY

HENRY GAYNELLE

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorney

BRENNAN MICHAEL A.

 

Court Documents

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

7/23/2020: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Opposition (name extension) - Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Demurrer to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (SAC)

6/29/2020: Opposition (name extension) - Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Demurrer to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (SAC)

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of ron betty re: compliance with code of civil procedure

5/6/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of ron betty re: compliance with code of civil procedure

Notice (name extension) - Notice motion and motion to strike portions of plaintiffs first amended complaint

5/6/2020: Notice (name extension) - Notice motion and motion to strike portions of plaintiffs first amended complaint

Notice (name extension) - Notice Demurrer and demurrer to plaintiff's second amended complaint

5/6/2020: Notice (name extension) - Notice Demurrer and demurrer to plaintiff's second amended complaint

Amended Complaint - (Amended)

3/16/2020: Amended Complaint - (Amended)

Notice (name extension) - Notice of Demurrer and Demurrer

12/20/2019: Notice (name extension) - Notice of Demurrer and Demurrer

Ex Parte Application (name extension) - Ex Parte Application notice

1/9/2020: Ex Parte Application (name extension) - Ex Parte Application notice

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Ex Parte Application notice)

1/9/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Ex Parte Application notice)

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for [Minute Order (Court Order)]

1/14/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for [Minute Order (Court Order)]

Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to declaration

9/6/2019: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to declaration

Amended Complaint - (Amended)

7/11/2019: Amended Complaint - (Amended)

Notice (name extension) - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing

6/7/2019: Notice (name extension) - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of William Fitch Re: Compliance with Code of Civil Procedure 430.41

6/7/2019: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of William Fitch Re: Compliance with Code of Civil Procedure 430.41

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10))

5/21/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10))

Notice (name extension) - Notice OF RULING; NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE

5/22/2019: Notice (name extension) - Notice OF RULING; NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE

Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Strike

5/10/2019: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Strike

44 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/09/2022
  • Hearing03/09/2022 at 10:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service

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  • 03/04/2021
  • Hearing03/04/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 08/27/2020
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by: Crystal Property Management, Inc., (Defendant); As to: Edward Leon Guy, III (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/27/2020
  • DocketAmended Amended Complaint (THIRD) (3rd); Filed by: Edward Leon Guy, III (Plaintiff); As to: Crystal Property Management, Inc., (Defendant); Manley Henry (Defendant); Gaynelle Henry (Defendant) et al.

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  • 08/12/2020
  • DocketNotice of ruling; Filed by: Crystal Property Management, Inc., (Defendant); As to: Edward Leon Guy, III (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/10/2020
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10))

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  • 08/10/2020
  • DocketHearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) scheduled for 08/10/2020 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 updated: Result Date to 08/10/2020; Result Type to Held

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  • 07/29/2020
  • DocketReply to plaintiff's opposition to motion to strike portions of the second amended complaint; Filed by: Crystal Property Management, Inc., (Defendant)

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  • 07/29/2020
  • DocketReply to plaintiffs opposition to demurrer of the second amended complaint; Filed by: Crystal Property Management, Inc., (Defendant)

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  • 07/23/2020
  • DocketUpdated -- Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order: As To Parties: removed

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67 More Docket Entries
  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketOrder on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court); Signed and Filed by: Clerk; As to: Edward Leon Guy, III (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by: Edward Leon Guy, III (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Edward Leon Guy, III (Plaintiff); As to: Crystal Property Management, Inc., (Defendant)

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketUpdated -- Melville Apartments, (Defendant): Organization Name changed from Melville Apartment, to Melville Apartments,

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 03/09/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 09/02/2020 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Wendy Chang in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STLC02257    Hearing Date: August 10, 2020    Dept: 26

Guy v. Crystal, et al.

DEMURRER; MOTION TO STRIKE

(CCP §§ 430.10, et seq; 435, 436)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Crystal Property Management, Inc.’s Demurrer to the Second Amended Complaint is OVERRULED AS TO THE FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION AND SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION.

Defendant Crystal Property Management, Inc.’s Motion to Strike Portions of the Second Amended Complaint is DENIED AS TO THE REFERENCES TO THE PARTIES’ EARLIER ACTION AND GRANTED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES ALLEGATIONS.

ANALYSIS:

On January 2, 2019, Plaintiff Edward Leon Guy III (“Plaintiff”), a former tenant, brought this action to recover his security deposit from his former landlords and management company, Defendants Crystal Property Management, Inc. (“Defendant CPM”), Manley Henry, Gaynelle Henry, Melville Apartments, and the Henry Family Trust (collectively, “Defendants”). On July 16, 2019, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint for (1) conversion; (2) intentional misrepresentation; (3) violation of Cal. Civil Code § 1950.05, et seq.; (4) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress. On February 24, 2020, the Court sustained Defendant CPM’s demurrer to the causes of action for conversion, intentional misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional distress with 20 days’ leave to amend.

Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on March 16, 2020 alleging causes of action for (1) conversion; (2) intentional misrepresentation; (3) violation of Cal. Civil Code § 1950.05, et seq.; (4) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (5) negligent infliction of emotional distress. Defendant CPM filed the instant Demurrer and Motion to Strike on May 6, 2020. Plaintiff filed oppositions on June 29, 2020 and July 21, 2020. Defendant CPM filed replies on July 29, 2020.

Demurrer

The Demurrer to the Second Amended Complaint complies with the meet and confer requiement set forth at Code of Civil Procedure section 430.41. (Demurrer, Betty Decl., ¶¶3-6.) The Demurrer is brought as to the first, second and sixth causes of action for failure to state sufficient facts and uncertainty under Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10, subdivisions (e) and (f). (Notice, ¶¶1-3.) As an initial point, special demurrers are not permitted in a court of limited jurisdiction. (Code Civ. Proc., § 92, subd. (c).) Therefore, the Court will not rule on the demurrers for uncertainty. Secondly, there is no sixth cause of action or cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress in the Second Amended Complaint. The Court will address the demurrer to the remaining causes of action.

1st Cause of Action for Conversion

A conversion is “any act of dominion wrongfully exerted over the personal property of another

inconsistent with the owner’s rights.” (Plummer v. Day/Eisenberg, LLP (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 38, 50.) The Court previously ruled that the first cause of action for conversion was sufficiently alleged with respect to Defendant CPM’s improper retention of Plaintiff’s security deposit beyond what is permitted by Civil Code section 1950.5. (Minute Order, 2/24/20.) That remains true for the Second Amended Complaint. (SAC, ¶¶11-15.) The failing in the First Amended Complaint was that Plaintiff had not alleged an identifiable sum of money. (Minute Order, 2/24/20.) The Court therefore sustained the demurrer to the first cause of action in the First Amended Complaint with leave to amend. The Second Amended Complaint now alleges an identifiable sum in the amount of $580.50. (SAC, ¶13.)

Therefore, the demurrer to the first cause of action for conversion is overruled.

2nd Cause of Action for Intentional Misrepresentation

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant CPM falsely reported the amount of money Defendant CPM spent repairing the unit after Plaintiff left, and failed to include money from the government payable on behalf of Plaintiff to subsidize his rent in the Refund Report. (SAC, ¶25.) The Court previously sustained Defendant CPM’s demurrer to the second cause of action for Plaintiff’s failure to adequately allege reliance on these representations. (Minute Order, 2/24/20.)

The Second Amended Complaint still fails to allege detrimental reliance on these representations. “[T]here are two causation elements in a fraud cause of action. First, the plaintiff’s actual and justifiable reliance on the defendant’s misrepresentation must have caused him to take a detrimental course of action. Second, the detrimental action taken by the plaintiff must have caused his alleged damage.” (Beckwith v. Dahl (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1062.) Plaintiff alleges that he was forced to file for bankruptcy due to the misrepresentations in the Refuund Report. (SAC, ¶¶27-28.) It is clear from the allegations, however, that it was not the misrpresentations in the Refund Report that caused Plaintiff’s bankruptcy filing. Rather, it was Defendant CPM’s failure to refund the security deposit that caused Plaintiff to default on his loans and, as a result, forced him into bankruptcy. (Ibid.)

The demurrer to the second cause of action for intentional misrepresentation, therefore, is sustained without leave to amend.

Motion to Strike Portions of Second Amended Complaint

California law authorizes a party’s motion to strike matter from an opposing party’s pleading if it is irrelevant, false, or improper. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 435; 436, subd. (a).) Motions may also target pleadings or parts of pleadings which are not filed or drawn in conformity with applicable laws, rules or orders. (Code Civ. Proc., § 436, subd. (b).)

CPM moves the strike portions of the Second Amended Complaint on three grounds. First, the allegations regarding a prior action are improper under the doctrine of res judicata. Second, the request for punitive damages is unsupported by the allegations. And third, the request for attorney’s fees is unsupported by the allegations. The Motion to Strike is accompanied by an adequate meet and confer declaration as required by Code of Civil Procedure section 435.5 (Motion, Betty Decl., ¶¶3-4.)

Allegations of a Prior Action

Defendant CPM moves to strike allegations at paragraphs 7, 8, and 9, which pertain to a prior action between the parties, on the grounds that they are barred by res judicata. The request to strike these paragraphs is not proper. First, motions to strike in limited jurisdiction courts may only challenge pleadings on the basis that “the damages or relief sought are not supported by the allegations of the complaint.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 92, subd. (d).) The challenge to allegations about an earlier action do not show how the relief sought in the Second Amended Complaint is unsupported.

Furthermore, “[r]es judicata, or claim preclusion, prevents relitigation of the same cause of action in a second suit between the same parties or parties in privity with them.... [Citation.] Under the doctrine of res judicata, ... a judgment for the defendant serves as a bar to further litigation of the same cause of action.” (Mycogen Corp. v. Monsanto Co. (2002) 28 Cal.4th 888, 896-897 (emphasis added).) Defendant CPM does not state in its Motion to Strike what claims in the Second Amended Complaint are purportedly barred by res judicata. Res judicata is not an appropriate doctrine under which to simply strike references to earlier litigation between the parties. Therefore, the Motion to Strike is denied as to paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of the Second Amended Complaint.

Punitive Damages

“In order to state a prima facie claim for punitive damages, a complaint must set forth the elements as stated in the general punitive damage statute, Civil Code section 3294. [Citation.] These statutory elements include allegations that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud or malice. [Citation.]” (Turman v. Turning Point of Central Calif., Inc. (2010) 191 Cal.App.4th 53, 63.) Punitive damages against a corporate defendant, furthermore, must allege that it authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct. (White v. Ultramar, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 563, 572.)

The gravamen of this action is Defendant CPM’s failure to return Plaintiff’s security deposit following the termination of the lease agreement. (SAC, ¶¶6-15.) However, there are also allegations in connection with the causes of action for infliction of emotional distress that Defendants used “gang bangers” to physically and sexually harass Plaintiff and physically batter Plaintiff and his guests. (Id. at ¶¶8, 9, 48-51.) As a result of this conduct, Plaintiff alleges he was constructively evicted from the subject property, lost the security deposit, unable to pay his bills, and forced into bankruptcy. (Id. at ¶¶9-12.) The Motion to Strike is correct to point out that there are no specific allegations as to who harassed and battered Plaintiff, such that the Court cannot find support for punitive damages against Defendant CPM as a corporation. The request to strike the punitive damages allegations, therefore, is granted without leave to amend.

Attorney’s Fees

Finally, Defendant CPM seeks to strike Plaintiff’s allegations for attorney’s fees. “‘Under the American rule, each party to a lawsuit ordinarily pays its own attorney fees.’ [Citation.] This default rule can be modified by contract, statute, or rule. [Citation.]” (N.S. v. D.M. (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 1040, 1046–1047.) Plaintiff alleges no facts under a contract, statute, or rule to justify his request for attorney’s fees. (SAC, ¶58.) The request to strike the request for attorney’s fees, therefore, is also granted without leave to amend.

Conclusion

Defendant Crystal Property Management, Inc.’s Demurrer to the Second Amended Complaint is OVERRULED AS TO THE FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION AND SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION.

Defendant Crystal Property Management, Inc.’s Motion to Strike Portions of the Second Amended Complaint is DENIED AS TO THE REFERENCES TO THE PARTIES’ EARLIER ACTION AND GRANTED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES ALLEGATIONS.

Moving party to give notice.

Case Number: 19STLC02257     Hearing Date: February 24, 2020    Dept: 26

Guy v. Crystal Property Management

DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT AND MOTION TO STRIKE

(CCP §§ 430.10, 435.)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s Demurrer to First, Second, and Fifth Causes of Action in the First Amended Complaint is SUSTAINED with leave to amend. The remainder of the Demurrer is OVERRULED.

Based on the history of Defendant’s failure to meet and confer, the Court takes the motion to strike OFF-CALENDAR.

Plaintiffs are to file an amended complaint within 20 days of the date of this order.

I. ANALYSIS

A. Background

On July 11, 2019, Plaintiff Guy filed the operative first amended complaint against Defendants Crystal Property Management, Inc., Manley Henry, Gaynelle Henry, Melville Apartments, The Henry Family Trust, and Does 1 to 50, for causes of action: (1) conversion, (2) intentional misrepresentation, (3) violation of Civ. Code § 1950.05, et seq., (4) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (5) IIED, and (6) NIED.

B. Legal Standard

A demurrer tests the sufficiency of the pleading at issue as a matter of law. City of Chula Vista v. County of San Diego (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1713, 1719. A demurrer may be sustained where the complaint fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. CCP § 430.10(e). The ultimate facts alleged in the complaint must be deemed true, as well as all facts that may be implied or inferred from those expressly alleged. Marshall v. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 1397, 1403; see also Shields v. County of San Diego (1984) 155 Cal.App.3d 103, 133 (“On demurrer, pleadings are read liberally and allegations contained therein are assumed to be true.”) However, the Court does not assume the truth of allegations expressing conclusions of law or allegations contradicted by the exhibits to the complaint or by matters of which judicial notice may be taken. Vance v. Villa Park Mobilehome Estates (1995) 36 Cal.App.4th 698, 709.

Additionally, special demurrers are not permitted in courts of limited jurisdiction. (Code Civ. Proc., § 92, subd. (c).) Therefore, the Court will not consider the special demurrer for uncertainty.

If the demurrer is sustained, plaintiff “has the burden of proving the possibility of cure by amendment.” Czajkowski v. Haskell & White, LLP (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 166, 173 (citing Grinzi v. San Diego Hospice Corp. (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 72, 78-79.) Leave to amend must be allowed where there is a reasonable possibility of successfully stating a cause of action. Schulz v. Neovi Data Corp. (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 86, 92.

II. DEMURER

Defendant Crystal Property Management, Inc. (“Defendant”) demurs to the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth causes of action. Plaintiff opposes. The Court finds Defendant satisfies the meet and confer requirement. (Dem., Fitch Decl. ¶¶ 3-17.)

A. First Cause of Action – Conversion

Defendant contends it did not wrongfully exert dominion over Plaintiff’s property when it allegedly kept some of Plaintiff’s security deposit because a landlord, under Civil Code section 1950.5(e), may keep money from a security deposition to repair damages to the premises after a tenant leaves.

“[A]ny act of dominion wrongfully exerted over the personal property of another

inconsistent with the owner’s rights thereto constitutes conversion.” (Plummer v. Day/Eisenberg, LLP (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 38, 50.)

 

“The landlord may claim of the security only those amounts as are reasonably necessary for the purposes specified in subdivision (b). The landlord may not assert a claim against the tenant or the security for damages to the premises or any defective conditions that preexisted the tenancy, for ordinary wear and tear or the effects thereof, whether the wear and tear preexisted the tenancy or occurred during the tenancy, or for the cumulative effects of ordinary wear and tear occurring during any one or more tenancies.” (Civ. Code, § 1950.5(e).) Subdivision (b) of section 1950.5 provides in general that a landlord may withhold security deposit for repair of damages.

Here, Plaintiff alleges: “Plaintiff committed no waste on the Premises and owed the defendants no money to be taken from the security deposit….” (FAC ¶ 17.)

Reading the FAC liberally in favor of Plaintiff, the Court finds Plaintiff sufficiently alleges that Defendant kept money from Plaintiff’s security deposit in excess of what Defendant could withhold under section 1950.5.

Next, Defendant contends the cause of action is insufficiently pled because it does not allege an identifiable sum of money.

“ ‘Money cannot be the subject of a cause of action for conversion unless there

is a specific, identifiable sum involved, such as where an agent accepts a sum of

money to be paid to another and fails to make the payment.’ A ‘generalized

claim for money [is] not actionable as conversion.’ ” (PCO, Inc. v. Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro, LLP (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 384, 395.)

Here, the subject of Plaintiff’s conversion cause of action is money. (FAC ¶ 22.) But, Plaintiff does not allege a specific, identifiable sum. Thus, the cause of action is insufficiently pled. (CCP § 430.10(e).)

Therefore, the demurrer is sustained with leave to amend.

B. Second Cause of Action – Intentional Misrepresentation

Defendant contends the cause of action is insufficiently pled because Plaintiff does not adequately allege he took action in justifiable and reasonable reliance on Defendant’s alleged false report that concerned how much Defendant spent on repairs after Plaintiff left unit.

“[T]here are two causation elements in a fraud cause of action. First, the plaintiff’s actual and justifiable reliance on the defendant’s misrepresentation must have caused him to take a detrimental course of action. Second, the detrimental action taken by the plaintiff must have caused his alleged damage.” (Beckwith v. Dahl (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1062.)

Here, Plaintiff attempts to allege these causation elements in paragraph 27. But, the allegations do not amount to Plaintiff’s actual and justifiable reliance on Defendant’s misrepresentation that caused Plaintiff to take a detrimental course of action. Plaintiff only alleges that any person would rely on the allegedly false report as being true and alleges if Plaintiff had accepted the report as true he would not have filed this action. These allegations do not show a detrimental course action. Further, Plaintiff apparently did not rely on the report being true because this action was filed.

Accordingly, the demurrer is sustained with leave to amend.

C. Fourth Cause of Action - Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

Defendant contends Plaintiff does not allege what obligation under the contract was interfered with, and thus, the cause of action is inadequately pled.

“ ' ”Every contract imposes upon each party a duty of good faith and fair dealing in its performance and its enforcement.“ ... This duty has been recognized in the majority of American jurisdictions, the Restatement, and the Uniform Commercial Code....' ... [¶] The covenant of good faith finds particular application in situations where one party is invested with a discretionary power affecting the rights of another. Such power must be exercised in good faith.” (Carma Developers (Cal.), Inc. v. Marathon Development California, Inc. (1992) 2 Cal.4th 342, 371-372 [6 Cal.Rptr.2d 467, 826 P.2d 710], citations omitted.) In general, the covenant imposes a duty upon a party to a contract not to deprive the other party of the benefits of the contract. (Floystrup v. City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Bd. (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 1309, 1318 [268 Cal.Rptr. 898].) The covenant “ '... not only imposes upon each contracting party the duty to refrain from doing anything which would render performance of the contract impossible by any act of his own, but also the duty to do everything that the contract presupposes that he will do to accomplish its purpose.' ” (Ibid.)

(Sutherland v. Barclays American/Mortgage Corp. (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 299, 314.)

Here, Plaintiff alleges: Defendant “acted with the purpose, intent, and desire to thwart the contractual agreement to return Plaintiffs security deposit when he terminated his tenancy at the Premises.” (FAC ¶ 41.)

Defendant states it was already under a statutory obligation to provide an accounting (Civ. Code, § 1950.4.) and states the obligation is not a term of the rental agreement. Further, Defendant contends the accounting was performed as required, so therefore no contractual obligation was interfered with.

The Court is not persuaded by Defendant’s points. First, the FAC alleges a “contractual agreement to return Plaintiffs security deposit when he terminated his tenancy”, which is distinct from performing an accounting. Second, Defendant appears to reference facts outside the pleadings when it asserts the accounting was performed as required.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff sufficiently identifies a contractual obligation that Defendant interfered with, resulting in Plaintiff not receiving the benefits of the contract.

Thus, the demurrer is overruled.

D. Fifth Cause of Action – Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Defendant contends Plaintiff fails to allege outrageous conduct.

“ ‘Behavior may be considered outrageous if a defendant (1) abuses a relation or

position that gives him power to damage the plaintiff’s interests; (2) knows the plaintiff is susceptible to injuries through mental distress; or (3) acts intentionally or unreasonably with the recognition that the acts are likely to result in illness through mental distress. . . .’ ” (Molko v. Holy Spirit Ass’n (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1092, 1122.)

Here, Plaintiff alleges two sets of conduct by Defendant: campaign of harassment (FAC ¶ 48) and withhold security deposit (FAC ¶ 49).

The campaign of harassment could involve an abuse of position that Defendant used to damage Plaintiff’s interests. But, the IIED cause of action does not sufficiently allege what harassment occurred. “[L]iability ‘does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances,

petty oppressions, or other trivialities. . . . There is no occasion for the law to intervene . . . where someone’s feelings are hurt.’ ” (Agarwal v. Johnson (1979) 25 Cal.3d 932, 946.)

The withhold of security deposit also falls short because, while Plaintiff alleges Defendant knew Plaintiff needed the deposit to secure the next residence, Plaintiff does not sufficiently allege Defendant carried out this conduct with recognition that the acts are likely to result in illness through mental distress. The alleged fact that “took joy in the actions they took against Plaintiff which went beyond the realm of human decency[,]” is not sufficient.

Accordingly, the demurrer is sustained with leave to amend.

E. Sixth Cause of Action – Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

“ ‘[The] negligent causing of emotional distress is not an independent tort but the tort of negligence . . . .’ ‘The traditional elements of duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages apply. Whether a defendant owes a duty of care is a question of law. Its existence depends upon the foreseeability of the risk and upon a weighing of policy considerations for and against imposition of liability.’ ” (Marlene F. v. Affiliated Psychiatric Medical Clinic, Inc. (1989) 48 Cal.3d 583, 588.)

Here, Plaintiff alleges Defendant breached its duty as “ordinary Premises Owner, management company and Premises manager”. (FAC ¶ 55.)

Defendant contends no such duty exists. But, Defendant does not provide legal authority for the contention. It is Defendant’s burden on demurrer to show the cause of action fails to state sufficient facts as a matter of law.

Defendant has not met that burden here. Plaintiff alleges a duty, breach, causation and damages. Accordingly, the demurrer for this cause of action is overruled.

III. MOTION TO STRIKE

Defendant does not show compliance with the meet and confer requirement for this motion. (CCP § 435.5.) Defendant attaches the declaration for showing meet and confer attempts in relation to the demurrer. Although the declaration is captioned as the “CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE §435.5” meet and confer declaration, the content of the declaration substantively refers to the substance of the demurrer and the demurrer meet and confer statute, CCP § 430.41. (See e.g., Fitch Decl. ¶ 3 [“I attempted to meet and confer regarding the concerns I had with his complaint, I attempted identified all of the specific allegations I believe were subject to a demurrer and identified with legal support the basis of those deficiencies. (CCP § 430.41(a)(1))”] emphasis added.) This motion is separate and requires a separate meet and confer.

Based on the history of Defendant’s failure to meet and confer, the Court takes the motion to strike OFF-CALENDAR because Defendant has failed to meet and confer with Plaintiff on the motion, despite ample opportunity instruction.

IV. CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s Demurrer to First, Second, and Fifth Causes of Action in the First Amended Complaint is SUSTAINED with leave to amend. The remainder of the Demurrer is OVERRULED. Plaintiffs are to file an amended complaint within 20 days of the date of this order.

Defendant’s Motion to Strike Portions of the First Amended Complaint is TAKEN OFF-CALENDAR.

Moving party to give notice.

Case Number: 19STLC02257    Hearing Date: January 16, 2020    Dept: 94

MOTION TO STRIKE

(CCP §§ 435, 436)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Crystal Property Management, Inc.’s Motion to Strike Portions of the First Amended Complaint is DENIED AS TO THE REFERENCES TO THE PARTIES’ EARLIER ACTION AND GRANTED WITH 20 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES ALLEGATIONS.

SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT: Action for conversion and fraud with respect to retention of security deposit following termination of lease agreement.

REQUEST FOR RELIEF: Strike portions of First Amended Complaint that refer to a prior action between the parties on the grounds that claims resolved in that prior action are barred by res judicata. Strike requests for attorneys’ fees and punitive damages as unsupported by the allegations.

ANALYSIS:

On January 2, 2019, Plaintiff Edward Leon Guy III (“Plaintiff”), a former tenant, brought this action to recover his security deposit from his former landlords and management company, Defendants Crystal Property Management, Inc. (“CPM”), Manley Henry, Gaynelle Henry, Melville Apartments, and the Henry Family Trust (collectively, “Defendants”). On July 16, 2019, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint for (1) conversion; (2) intentional misrepresentation; (3) violation of Cal. Civil Code § 1950.05, et seq.; (4) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress.

CPM filed a demurrer and motion to strike as to the First Amended Complaint that was eventually placed off calendar for failure to demonstrate an adequate meet and confer effort. CPM then filed the instant Motion to Strike Portions of the First Amended Complaint (“the Motion”) on December 20, 2019.

Legal Standard

California law authorizes a party’s motion to strike matter from an opposing party’s pleading if it is irrelevant, false, or improper. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 435; 436, subd. (a).) Motions may also target pleadings or parts of pleadings which are not filed or drawn in conformity with applicable laws, rules or orders. (Code Civ. Proc., § 436, subd. (b).) Motions to strike in limited jurisdiction courts may only challenge pleadings on the basis that “the damages or relief sought are not supported by the allegations of the complaint.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 92, subd. (d).)

A motion to strike is used to address defects that appear on the face of a pleading or from judicially noticed matter but that are not grounds for a demurrer. (Pierson v. Sharp Memorial Hospital (1989) 216 Cal.App.3d 340, 342; see also City & County of San Francisco v. Strahlendorf (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1911, 1913 (motion may not be based on a party's declaration or factual representations made by counsel in the motion papers).) In particular, a motion to strike can be used to attack the entire pleading or any part thereof – in other words, a motion may target single words or phrases, unlike demurrers. (Warren v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co. (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 24, 40.) California’s policy of liberal construction applies to motions to strike. (Code Civ. Proc., § 452; see also Duffy v. Campbell (1967) 250 Cal.App.2d 662, 666 (noting that courts must resolve all reasonable doubts in favor of the pleading when considering a motion to strike).) The Code of Civil Procedure also authorizes the Court to act on its own initiative to strike matters, empowering the Court to enter orders striking matter “at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 436.)

Finally, Code of Civil Procedure section 435.5 requires that “[b]efore filing a motion to strike pursuant to this chapter, the moving party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to the motion to strike for the purpose of determining whether an agreement can be reached that resolves the objections to be raised in the motion to strike.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 435.5(a).)

Discussion

CPM moves the strike portions of the First Amended Complaint on three grounds. First, the allegations of a prior action are improper under the doctrine of res judicata. Second, the request for punitive damages is unsupported by the allegations. And third, the request for attorney’s fees is unsupported by the allegations. The Motion to Strike is accompanied by an adequate meet and confer declaration as required by Code of Civil Procedure section 435.5 (Motion, Fitch Decl., ¶¶2-16.) To date, no opposition has been filed.

Allegations of a Prior Action

CPM moves to strike allegations at paragraphs 7, 8, and 9, which pertain to a prior action between the parties, on the grounds that they are barred by res judicata. The request to strike these paragraphs is not proper as they do not assert a cause of action. “Res judicata, or claim preclusion, prevents relitigation of the same cause of action in a second suit between the same parties or parties in privity with them.... [Citation.] Under the doctrine of res judicata, ... a judgment for the defendant serves as a bar to further litigation of the same cause of action.” (Mycogen Corp. v. Monsanto Co. (2002) 28 Cal.4th 888, 896-897 (emphasis added).)

Indeed, CPM does not state in its Motion what claims in the First Amended Complaint are purportedly barred by res judicata. Such a challenge should be properly raised by demurrer. Res judicata is not an appropriate doctrine under which to simply strike references to earlier litigation between the parties. To strike the references to the earlier litigation, CPM must show how the allegations in paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 are either irrelevant, false, or improper. As the Motion to Strike makes no such showing, it is denied as to paragraphs 7, 8 and 9.

Punitive Damages

“In order to state a prima facie claim for punitive damages, a complaint must set forth the elements as stated in the general punitive damage statute, Civil Code section 3294. [Citation.] These statutory elements include allegations that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud or malice. [Citation.]” (Turman v. Turning Point of Central Calif., Inc. (2010) 191 Cal.App.4th 53, 63.) Punitive damages against a corporate defendant, furthermore, must allege that it authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct. (White v. Ultramar, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 563, 572.)

The gravamen of this action is CPM’s failure to return Plaintiff’s security deposit following the termination of the lease agreement. (FAC, ¶¶6-15.) However, there are also allegations in connection with the causes of action for infliction of emotional distress that Defendants used “gang bangers” to physically and sexually harass Plaintiff and physically batter Plaintiff and his guests. (Id. at ¶¶8, 9, 48, 52.) As a result of this conduct, Plaintiff alleges he was constructively evicted from the subject property, lost the security deposit, unable to pay his bills, and forced into bankruptcy. (Id. at ¶9.) The Motion to Strike is correct to point out that there are no specific allegations as to who harassed and battered Plaintiff, such that the Court cannot find support for punitive damages against CPM as a corporate defendant. The request to strike the punitive damages allegations, therefore, is granted with leave to amend.

Attorney’s Fees

Finally, CPM seeks to strike Plaintiff’s allegations for attorney’s fees. “‘Under the American rule, each party to a lawsuit ordinarily pays its own attorney fees.’ [Citation.] This default rule can be modified by contract, statute, or rule. [Citation.]” (N.S. v. D.M. (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 1040, 1046–1047.) Plaintiff alleges no facts under a contract, statute, or rule to justify his request for attorney’s fees. (FAC, ¶58.) The request to strike the request for attorney’s fees, therefore, is also granted with leave to amend.

Conclusion

Defendant Crystal Property Management, Inc.’s Motion to Strike Portions of the First Amended Complaint is DENIED AS TO THE REFERENCES TO THE PARTIES’ EARLIER ACTION AND GRANTED WITH 20 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES ALLEGATIONS.

Moving party to give notice.

Case Number: 19STLC02257    Hearing Date: December 05, 2019    Dept: 94

DEMURRER TO AND MOTION TO STRIKE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

(CCP § 430.10)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Crystal Property Management, Inc.’s Demurrer to and Motion to Strike First Amended Complaint are PLACED OFF CALENDAR.

 

OPPOSITION: Filed on Sept. 6, 2019 [ ] Late [ ] None

REPLY: None filed as of Dec. 2, 2019 [ ] Late [X] None

ANALYSIS:

I. Background

On January 2, 2019, Plaintiff Edward Leon Guy, III (“Plaintiff”), a former tenant, brought this action to recover his security deposit from his former landlords and their property management company, Defendants Crystal Property Management, Inc. (“CPM”), Manley Henry, Gaynelle Henry, Melville Apartments, and the Henry Family Trust (collectively, “Defendants”). Approximately six months later, Plaintiff filed the operative First Amended Complaint (the “FAC”) for (1) conversion, (2) intentional misrepresentation, (3) violation of Civ. Code § 1950.50 set seq., (4) breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress, and (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress.

In response, CPM filed a Demurrer to and Motion to Strike the FAC on August 12. Plaintiff filed an Opposition on September 6.

At the initial hearing on the Demurrer and Motion to Strike on September 17, 2019, the Court found CPM’s meet and confer effort inadequate and continued the hearing to allow CPM to meet and confer in good faith with Plaintiff and in compliance with CCP § 430.41(a)(1), file and serve a proof of such effort in the time and manner prescribed by CCP § 1005.

To date, CPM has not filed proof of such meet and confer effort as ordered by the Court. Accordingly, the hearing on the Demurrer and Motion to Strike is PLACED OFF CALENDAR.

Court clerk 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.