This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 09/13/2021 at 14:58:56 (UTC).

NATHANAEL CADE, ET AL. VS MINNIE L DOUGLAS

Case Summary

On 08/07/2020 NATHANAEL CADE filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against MINNIE L DOUGLAS. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is SERENA R. MURILLO. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******6638

  • Filing Date:

    08/07/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

SERENA R. MURILLO

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

CADE NATHANAEL

SHARMA PRIYANKA

Defendant

DOUGLAS MINNIE L

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

CADE NATHANAEL

Defendant Attorney

SANDS THOMAS

 

Court Documents

Answer - Answer

4/14/2021: Answer - Answer

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

4/15/2021: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Notice (name extension) - Notice of Order on Demurrer and Motion to Strike

3/15/2021: Notice (name extension) - Notice of Order on Demurrer and Motion to Strike

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

1/11/2021: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Strike

Request for Judicial Notice - Request for Judicial Notice

1/11/2021: Request for Judicial Notice - Request for Judicial Notice

Reply (name extension) - Reply TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

1/15/2021: Reply (name extension) - Reply TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Notice (name extension) - Notice NOTICE OF DEMURRER AND DEMURRER OF DEFENDANT MINNIE DOUGLAS TO PLAINTIFFS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS OF AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF THOMAS D. SANDS

11/18/2020: Notice (name extension) - Notice NOTICE OF DEMURRER AND DEMURRER OF DEFENDANT MINNIE DOUGLAS TO PLAINTIFFS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS OF AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF THOMAS D. SANDS

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

11/20/2020: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment - Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

10/9/2020: Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

Amended Complaint - Amended Complaint (1st)

10/13/2020: Amended Complaint - Amended Complaint (1st)

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

10/13/2020: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

9/4/2020: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Ex Parte Application (name extension) - Ex Parte Application To Request an Order Striking Defendant's Declaration ISO Automatic Extension

9/11/2020: Ex Parte Application (name extension) - Ex Parte Application To Request an Order Striking Defendant's Declaration ISO Automatic Extension

Clerks Certificate of Service By Electronic Service - Clerks Certificate of Service By Electronic Service

9/11/2020: Clerks Certificate of Service By Electronic Service - Clerks Certificate of Service By Electronic Service

Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

8/24/2020: Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

8/13/2020: Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service

Complaint - Complaint

8/7/2020: Complaint - Complaint

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

8/7/2020: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

20 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 08/11/2023
  • Hearing08/11/2023 at 08:30 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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  • 02/04/2022
  • Hearing02/04/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 04/15/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant); As to: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/14/2021
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant); As to: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/15/2021
  • DocketNotice of Order on Demurrer and Motion to Strike; Filed by: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff); As to: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant)

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  • 03/08/2021
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10))

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  • 03/08/2021
  • DocketHearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) scheduled for 03/08/2021 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 updated: Result Date to 03/08/2021; Result Type to Held - Motion Denied

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  • 01/21/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff); As to: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant)

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  • 01/15/2021
  • DocketReply TO PLAINTIFFS? OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT?S MOTION TO STRIKE; Filed by: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant)

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  • 01/15/2021
  • DocketReply TO PLAINTIFFS? OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; Filed by: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant)

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24 More Docket Entries
  • 08/13/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff); As to: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant); Service Date: 08/12/2020; Service Cost: 65.00; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 02/04/2022 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 08/11/2023 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff); As to: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant)

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff); As to: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant)

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff); As to: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant)

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Nathanael Cade (Plaintiff); Priyanka Sharma (Plaintiff); As to: Minnie L Douglas (Defendant)

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Serena R. Murillo in Department 26 Spring Street Courthouse

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STLC06638    Hearing Date: March 8, 2021    Dept: 26

NATHANAEL CADE, et al. vs MINNIE L DOUGLAS

Defendant Minnie L. Douglas’ Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint is SUSTAINED AS TO THE FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION FOR FRAUD WITH 20 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND AND OVERRULED AS TO THE REMAINING CAUSES OF ACTION.

Defendant Minnie L. Douglas’ Motion to Strike Portions of the First Amended Complaint is GRANTED AS TO THE PUNITIVE DAMAGES ALLEGATIONS AT PARAGRAPHS 43, 50, 56, 66, 76, 87 AND p. 14:18, AND DENIED AS TO THE REQUEST FOR ATTORNEY FEES.

ANALYSIS:

On August 7, 2020, Plaintiffs Priyanka Sharma and Nathanael Cade (“Plaintiffs”) filed the Complaint in this action against Defendant Minnie L. Douglas (“Defendant”). Defendant filed a demurrer to the Complaint on October 9, 2020. On October 13, 2020, Plaintiffs filed the operative First Amended Complaint, which alleges causes of action for (1) breach of implied warranty of tenantability; (2) breach of written contract; (3) negligence; (4) conversion; (5) fraud; (6) bad faith withholding of security deposit; and (7) invasion of privacy.

Defendant filed the instant Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint and Motion to Strike Portions of the First Amended on November 18, 2020. Plaintiffs filed oppositions on January 11, 2021 and Defendant replied on January 15, 2021.

Discussion

Demurrer to First Amended Complaint

The Demurrer is accompanied by a meet and confer declaration as required by Code of Civil Procedure section 430.41. (Demurrer, Sands Decl., ¶¶3-4.) Defendant demurs to the entire Complaint for failure to allege sufficient facts to state a cause of action. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (e).) The Court will consider each cause of action in turn, but initially notes that the Demurrer relies heavily on facts outside of the pleadings and outside of matters that may be judicially noticed. Such reliance is improper and the Court will not consider those matters in ruling on the Demurrer. (Thorburn v. Department of Corrections (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 1284, 1287.)

The Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs entered into a lease agreement with Defendant for a one-bedroom apartment (“the Premises”) in exchange for rent of $1,850.00 per month. (FAC, ¶¶8-9 and Exh. 1.) Plaintiffs also paid Defendant a security deposit of $2,000.00 upon execution of the lease. (Id. at ¶10.) Plaintiffs took possession of the Premises on June 22, 2019 and noted in their move-in inspection sheet that certain items were in disrepair or unclean. (Id. at ¶12.) One of the items Plaintiffs noted was the sink drain of the Premises’ only bathroom, which was not draining properly. (Id. at ¶14.) Despite informing Defendant of the problem with the sink drain on multiple occasions, Defendant refused to repair it. (Id. at ¶¶16-17.) Plaintiffs repaired the drain at their own expense. (Id. at ¶18.) The Premises also suffered from a cockroach infestation for several months that Defendant’s agent said was caused by a moldy and rotten baseboard under the kitchen sink. (Id. at ¶¶19-20.) Defendant’s agent also informed Plaintiffs that the drain for the automatic dishwasher was not working properly; this problem was not remedied for the duration of Plaintiffs’ stay. (Id. at ¶¶21-22.)

The parties scheduled a move-out inspection for July 2, 2020 at 10:00 am, the date and time which were confirmed multiple times. (Id. at ¶¶23-25.) Defendant arrived an hour early for the inspection unannounced and demanded that Plaintiffs sign the move-out inspection sheet by 9:30 am. (Id. at ¶¶26, 32.) Defendant marked every item on the move-out inspection sheet “OK” except for one complaint about odor. (Id. at ¶34.) Defendant only returned $900.00 of the security deposit, failed to provide an itemization of the amount deducted and failed to provide documentation showing the charges incurred. (Id. at ¶¶35-36.)

a. 1st Cause of Action for Breach of Implied Warranty of Habitability

The first cause of action for breach of the implied warranty of habitability must allege: (1) a materially defective condition affecting habitability; (2) that was unknown to the tenant at time of occupancy; (3) nor was its effect on habitability apparent on reasonable inspection; (4) notice given to landlord within a reasonable time after the tenant discovered or should have discovered the breach of warranty; and (5) damages. (Quevedo v. Braga (1977) 72 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1, 7-8, overruled on other grounds by Knight v. Hallsthammar (1981) 29 Cal. 3d 46, 55.) For the first element, the Court looks to “those applicable building and housing code standards which materially affect health and safety” to determine if the landlord substantially complied with its obligation to provide habitable premises. (Green v. Superior Court (1974) 10 Cal.3d 616, 637-638.)

The First Amended Complaint cites to Civil Code section 1941.1, subdivision (a)(2) for the proposition that plumbing facilities must conform to applicable laws in effect at the time of installation and be maintained in good working order in order for the Premises to be deemed untenantable. (FAC, ¶39.) It likewise cites to subdivision (a)(6) for the Premises to be “free of pests” at time the lease commenced. (Ibid.) The First Amended Complaint sufficiently alleges that the Premises violated these standards based on the defective bathroom sink and dishwasher drains. The allegation of cockroaches infesting the Premises for months also supports the habitability cause of action. Plaintiffs allege that they either gave notice to Defendants of these conditions or that Defendant’s agents had notice following repairs at the Premises, which were not repaired for the duration of the lease.

The first cause of action, therefore, sufficiently alleges a violation of the implied warranty of habitability and the demurrer to the same is overruled.

b. 2nd Cause of Action for Breach of Written Contract

Defendant argues that the First Amended Complaint does not sufficiently allege facts showing the date that she breached the lease agreement. The elements of a breach of contract claim are (1) existence of contract; (2) plaintiffs’ performance or excuse for nonperformance; (3) defendants’ breach; and (4) resulting damage. (Wall Street Network, Ltd. v. N. Y. Times Co. (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 1171, 1178.)

Plaintiffs, however, have alleged that Defendant breached the agreement for the duration of the lease term—June 22, 2019 to July 1, 2020—by failing to provide tenantable premises. (FAC, ¶46.) They also allege that Defendant violated the lease by failing to return or account for the security deposit within 21 days of the end of the tenancy, as required by Civil Code section 1950.5. (Id. at ¶47-48.) The basis for the demurrer to the second cause of action is overcome by the allegations in the First Amended Complaint.

The demurrer to the second cause of action is overruled.

c. 3rd Cause of Action for Negligence

A cause of action for negligence must allege duty, breach, causation and damages. (County of Santa Clara v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2006) 137 Cal. App. 4th 292, 318.) Defendant demurs to the third cause of action on the grounds that no negligent acts or omission are alleged against her, and that the First Amended Complaint instead simply refers to Defendant “doing things.”

To the contrary, Plaintiffs have alleged that Defendant had a duty to inspect the Premises prior to leasing to ensure it was in a tenantable condition and that by failing to do so, Defendant breached her duty of care. (FAC, ¶¶52-54.) The failure to do so specifically resulted in the untenantable conditions described in the First Amended Complaint, thereby causing Plaintiffs’ damages. (Id. at ¶¶54-56.)

The First Amended Complaint states a cause of action for negligence and the demurrer to the third cause of action is overruled.

d. 4th Cause of Action for Conversion

Conversion is defined as defendant’s disposition of the property inconsistent with plaintiff's rights resulting in damages. (Fremont Indemnity Co. v. Fremont General Corp. (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 97, 119.) Defendant’s argument on demurrer seems to be that Plaintiffs cannot allege conversion of the security deposit because Defendant was entitled to use part of the deposit to clean and repair the Premises. This is not related to the sufficiency of the allegations in the First Amended Complaint and seeks to argue Defendant’s defense to the cause of action. Plaintiffs have specifically alleged that they were entitled to return of the entire security deposit because the Premises were clean and undamaged, and because Defendant did not account for any deductions to the deposit as required by Civil Code section 1950. (FAC, ¶¶59-62.) The First Amended Complaint sufficiently alleges a cause of action for conversion.

The demurrer to the fourth cause of action is overruled.

e. 5th Cause of Action for Fraud

The fraud cause of action is based on the allegation that Defendant represented no portion of the security deposit would be withheld. This misrepresentation was allegedly made when Defendant marked “OK” on the items of the move-out inspection sheet. (FAC, ¶¶69-70.) Fraud must be alleged based on specific facts showing a misrepresentation Defendant knew was false, made with the intent to defraud Plaintiffs based on their justifiable reliance, which resulted in damages. (Conroy v. Regents of Univ. of Cal. (2009) 45 Cal. 4th 1244, 1255.) The Court finds that the First Amended Complaint does not sufficiently allege a false representation by Defendant.

Plaintiffs allege that Defendant marked every item on the move-out list “OK,” but made a complaint on the sheet about odor. (FAC, ¶34.) Given the complaint about odor in the premises, the First Amended Complaint does not sufficiently allege that the statements on the move-out list assured Plaintiffs would receive their full deposit.

Without a sufficient allegation to support the first element of fraud, the demurrer to the fifth cause of action is sustained.

f. 6th Cause of Action for Bad Faith Withholding of Security Deposit

Civil Code section 1950.7 dictates what conduct by a landlord constitutes a bad faith withholding of the security deposit. (Civ. Code, § 1950.7, subd. (f).) Specifically, any violation of that section, which allows the landlord to “claim of the payment or deposit only those amounts as are reasonably necessary to remedy tenant defaults in the payment of rent, to repair damages to the premises caused by the tenant, or to clean the premises upon termination of the tenancy, if the payment or deposit is made for any or all of those specific purposes.” (Civ. Code, § 1950.7, subd. (c).) Plaintiffs allege that Defendant’s bad faith withholding resulted from Defendant’s failing to return Plaintiffs full security; failing to account for any deduction from the security; failing to provide Plaintiffs with copies of invoices for “repairs” purportedly made; and by withholding monies for items marked “OK” on the move-out inspection sheet.” (FAC, ¶78.) The allegation that Defendant withheld money for items marked “OK” on the move-out list states a violation of subdivision (c) of Civil Code section 1950.7.

Therefore, the demurrer to the sixth cause of action is overruled.

g. 7th Cause of Action for Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of privacy based can be based on intrusion into a private place, conversation or matter in a manner highly offensive to a reasonable person. (Huntingdon Life Sciences, Inc. v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA, Inc. (2005) 129 Cal. App. 4th 1228, 1259.) Again, Defendant’s demurrer does not address the allegations made in the First Amended Complaint so much as argue why her conduct should not be construed as an invasion of privacy. Plaintiffs, however, have alleged that Defendant intentionally arrived prior to the scheduled inspection time at the Premises without invitation. (FAC, ¶¶82-83.) As their home, the intrusion into the Premises would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. (Id. at ¶¶82-84.) This is sufficient to allege a claim for invasion of privacy based on intrusion.

The demurrer to the seventh cause of action is overruled.

Motion to Strike Portions of the First Amended Complaint

Defendant moves to strike the punitive damages allegations set forth at the end of every cause of action and the request for attorney fees.

Punitive damages are authorized by Civil Code section 3294 in non-contract cases “where the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, express or implied . . . .” (Civil Code, § 3294, subd. (a).) Typically, negligence cannot support a request for punitive damages and there is nothing alleged in the First Amended Complaint to indicate otherwise. A cause of action for conversion can support a request for punitive damages, but the pleading must still include sufficient factual allegations to support the request. (Krusi v. Bear, Stearns & Co. (1983) 144 Cal.App.3d 664, 678.)

Under Civil Code section 3294, subdivision (c) “malice” means conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. That section also defines “oppression” as despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights. (Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (c).) Here, the allegations of conversion of Plaintiffs’ security deposit and invasion of privacy, without more, do not support a claim for punitive damages. The First Amended Complaint does not demonstrate that Defendant intended to injure Plaintiffs or that her conduct was despicable. To the extent Plaintiffs suggests that Defendant’s conduct was due to racial animus, there are insufficient allegations in the First Amended Complaint to suggest such a motive by Defendant. (See FAC, ¶17.) Finally, the fraud cause of action did not survive demurrer and cannot support the request for punitive damages.

Attorney fees are only recoverable when authorized by contract, statute or law. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 10221, 1033.5, subd. (a)(10).) The First Amended Complaint sufficiently states a basis for the attorney’s fees in the lease agreement attached thereto and incorporated by reference. (FAC, ¶8 and Exh. 1 at Art. 15.)

The Motion to Strike, therefore, is granted as to the punitive damages allegations at paragraphs 43, 50, 56, 66, 76, 87 and p. 14:18. The Motion to Strike is denied as to the request for attorney fees.

Conclusion

Defendant Minnie L. Douglas’ Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint is SUSTAINED AS TO THE FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION FOR FRAUD WITH 20 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND AND OVERRULED AS TO THE REMAINING CAUSES OF ACTION.

Defendant Minnie L. Douglas’ Motion to Strike Portions of the First Amended Complaint is GRANTED AS TO THE PUNITIVE DAMAGES ALLEGATIONS AT PARAGRAPHS 43, 50, 56, 66, 76, 87 AND p. 14:18, AND DENIED AS TO THE REQUEST FOR ATTORNEY FEES.

Plaintiffs to give notice.

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