This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/22/2020 at 03:56:43 (UTC).

LATOYIA G. FURLOW VS RODERICK CULPEPPER, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 04/08/2019 LATOYIA G FURLOW filed a Property - Other Property Fraud lawsuit against RODERICK CULPEPPER. 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:

    *******3391

  • Filing Date:

    04/08/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Property Fraud

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

WENDY CHANG

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

FURLOW LATOYIA G.

Defendants

A & M FINANCIAL SERVICES

CULPEPPER RODERICK

CAH FINANCIAL SERVICES

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

BOWEN CHUMAHAN

Defendant Attorney

BUTLER LTANYA MATILDE

 

Court Documents

Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

9/4/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

11/7/2019: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Notice (name extension) - Notice To Preserve the Right to Punitive Damages on a Default Judgement

11/21/2019: Notice (name extension) - Notice To Preserve the Right to Punitive Damages on a Default Judgement

Answer - Answer

12/20/2019: Answer - Answer

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

2/10/2020: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing - Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing for Publication re: Roderick

2/21/2020: Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing - Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing for Publication re: Roderick

RETURNED MAIL - RETURNED MAIL

3/4/2020: RETURNED MAIL - RETURNED MAIL

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment - Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

6/4/2020: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment - Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

6/4/2020: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Answer - Answer

6/16/2020: Answer - Answer

Motion to Vacate (name extension) - Motion to Vacate MOTION TO VACATE DEFAULT

6/18/2020: Motion to Vacate (name extension) - Motion to Vacate MOTION TO VACATE DEFAULT

Opposition (name extension) - Opposition PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT; DECLARATION OF ATTORNEY CHUMAHAN BOWEN; DECLARATION OF LATOYIA FURLOW

9/9/2020: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT; DECLARATION OF ATTORNEY CHUMAHAN BOWEN; DECLARATION OF LATOYIA FURLOW

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5); Tr...) of 09/23/2020

9/23/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5); Tr...) of 09/23/2020

Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

6/3/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

6/3/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Amended Complaint - Amended Complaint

6/26/2019: Amended Complaint - Amended Complaint

Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

4/8/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

Summons - Summons on Complaint

4/8/2019: Summons - Summons on Complaint

19 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/11/2022
  • Hearing04/11/2022 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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  • 07/21/2021
  • Hearing07/21/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 09/23/2020
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 07/21/2021 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 09/23/2020
  • DocketOn the Amended Complaint (1st) filed by Latoyia G. Furlow on 06/26/2019, Default entered on 06/04/2020, Vacated - .

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  • 09/23/2020
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5); Tr...)

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  • 09/23/2020
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5); Tr...) of 09/23/2020; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 09/23/2020
  • DocketHearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5) scheduled for 09/23/2020 at 09:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 updated: Result Date to 09/23/2020; Result Type to Held - Motion Granted

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  • 09/23/2020
  • DocketTrial Setting Conference scheduled for 09/23/2020 at 09:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 updated: Result Date to 09/23/2020; Result Type to Held

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  • 09/09/2020
  • DocketOpposition PLAINTIFF?S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT?S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT; DECLARATION OF ATTORNEY CHUMAHAN BOWEN; DECLARATION OF LATOYIA FURLOW; Filed by: Latoyia G. Furlow (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/09/2020
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by: Latoyia G. Furlow (Plaintiff); As to: Cah Financial Services (Defendant); A & M Financial Services (Defendant)

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30 More Docket Entries
  • 06/03/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by: Latoyia G. Furlow (Plaintiff); As to: Cah Financial Services (Defendant); Proof of Mailing Date: 05/15/2019; Service Cost: 39.11; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 06/03/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by: Latoyia G. Furlow (Plaintiff); As to: A & M Financial Services (Defendant); Proof of Mailing Date: 05/14/2019; Service Cost: 69.21; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 04/08/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/08/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/08/2019
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Latoyia G. Furlow (Plaintiff); As to: Roderick Culpepper (Defendant); Cah Financial Services (Defendant); A & M Financial Services (Defendant)

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  • 04/08/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Latoyia G. Furlow (Plaintiff); As to: Roderick Culpepper (Defendant); Cah Financial Services (Defendant); A & M Financial Services (Defendant)

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  • 04/08/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Latoyia G. Furlow (Plaintiff); As to: Roderick Culpepper (Defendant); Cah Financial Services (Defendant); A & M Financial Services (Defendant)

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  • 04/08/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 04/11/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 04/08/2019
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 10/05/2020 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 04/08/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Wendy Chang in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STLC03391    Hearing Date: September 23, 2020    Dept: 26

Furlow v. A&M Financial Services, et al

MOTION TO VACATE ENTRY OF DEFAULT

(CCP § 473(b))

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant A&M Financial Services’ Motion to Vacate Default is GRANTED. THE DEFAULT ENTERED ON JUNE 4, 2020 IS HEREBY VACATED. DEFENDANT A&M FINANCIAL SERVICES TO FILE AND SERVE HIS ANSWER WITHIN 20 DAYS’ SERVICE OF THIS ORDER.

ANALYSIS:

On April 8, 2019, Plaintiff Latoyia G. Furlow (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for breach of contract against Defendants A&M Financial Service (“Defendant A&M”), Cah Financial Services, and Roderick Culpepper. According to the proof of substitute service, Defendant A&M was served effective May 25, 2019. (Proof of Service, filed 6/3/19.)

On June 26, 2019, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint and re-served Defendant A&M personally on July 8, 2019. When Defendant A&M failed to respond to the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff entered its default on June 4, 2020. Defendant A&M sought to file an Answer on June 12, 2020 and then filed the instant Motion to Vacate Entry of Default on June 18, 2020. Plaintiff filed an opposition on September 9, 2020.

Discussion

Defendant A&M Financial moves for relief from the default judgment pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure, section 473, subdivision (b), under which an application for relief must be made no more than six months after entry of the order 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.) The Motion must also be accompanied by a copy of the moving party’s responsive pleading. (Code Civ. Proc., § 473, subd. (b).)

The Motion was initially filed less than six months after entry of default, making it timely under the moving statute. It is also accompanied by a declaration from Defendant A&M Financial’s principal, Jerry Anderson, who states that upon learning of this action, he questioned Defendant Culpepper. (Motion, Anderson Decl., ¶¶1-3.) Defendant Culpepper explained to Anderson that Plaintiff was his client and that he would handle the situation. (Id. at ¶3.) Anderson checked in with Defendant Culpepper periodically and was assured that the action was being handled. (Id. at ¶4.) Anderson, who is 81 years old, has never been involved in a lawsuit and believed Defendant Culpepper would take care of the situation without his involvement. (Id. at ¶5.) Upon receipt of the request for entry of default, Anderson realized Defendant Culpepper had not informed the Court A&M Financial was not involved with Plaintiff and retained counsel to vacate the entry of default. (Id. at ¶6.)

In opposition, Plaintiff argues that Defendant A&M Financial’s reliance on Defendant Culpepper was unreasonable and inexcusable because Anderson had notice of the action but continued to speak only to Defendant Culpepper about it. Plaintiff’s counsel also declares he sought to speak to Defendant A&M Financial directly about this case, but his calls were not returned. (Motion, Bowen Decl., ¶9.) Additionally, Plaintiff’s tax returns for 2016 and 2017, on which this action is based, are signed for by Defendant Culpepper on behalf of A&M Financial. (Motion, Furlow Decl., Exhs. A and B.)

“Excusable neglect” is generally defined as an error “ ‘ “a reasonably prudent person under the same or similar circumstances might have made.” ’ ” (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1354 (citing Zamora v. Clayborn Contracting Group, Inc. (2002) 28 Cal.4th 249, 258.) Anderson declares that he was rented office space to Defendant Culpepper and they had no employer-employee relationship. (Motion, Anderson Decl., ¶2.) Anderson further states that Defendant Culpepper handles his own clients and informed Anderson that Plaintiff was Culpepper’s client. (Id. ¶3.)

The parties’ evidence is in conflict regarding the extent of Defendant A&M Financial involvement in the preparation of Plaintiff’s tax returns. Plaintiff’s opposition, however, raises crucial discrepancies. Despite Defendant Culpepper’s declaration that he never worked for A&M Financial and has never done business as A&M Financial, Plaintiff’s 2016 and 2017 tax returns bear his name as working for the firm “A&M Financial Services.” Plaintiff’s counsel also disavows Defendant Culpepper’s contention that they were making progress towards a resolution of the case. (Motion, Culpepper Decl., ¶4.) According to Plaintiff’s counsel, it was a struggle to get ahold of either Defendant. (Id. at ¶¶8-11.) After Culpepper provided a false address he has been evading Plaintiff’s counsel’s attempts at communication. (Id. at ¶¶11-14.) The Court has since denied Plaintiff’s application to serve Defendant Culpepper by publication. (Id. at ¶14.)

The discrepancies in the parties’ accounts seem to originate from Defendant Culpepper. He signed the 2016 and 2017 tax returns for Plaintiff with A&M Financial Services listed as the firm, but now disavows any relationship with Defendant A&M Financial. Similarly, Defendant Culpepper stated that the parties were working towards a settlement, which is contradicted by Plaintiff’s counsel. This supports the idea that Anderson was reassured by Defendant Culpepper that he would take care of the action. Defendant Culpepper expressly admits to making these reassurances.

Under these circumstances, the Court finds A&M Financial had demonstrated excusable neglect in failing to respond to the Complaint.

Conclusion

Defendant A&M Financial Services’ Motion to Vacate Default is GRANTED. THE DEFAULT ENTERED ON JUNE 4, 2020 IS HEREBY VACATED. DEFENDANT A&M FINANCIAL SERVICES TO FILE AND SERVE HIS ANSWER WITHIN 20 DAYS’ SERVICE OF THIS ORDER.

Court clerk to give notice.