This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/13/2020 at 13:49:51 (UTC).

R&G DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION VS PFL INVESTMENT GROUP LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Case Summary

On 02/14/2019 R G DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against PFL INVESTMENT GROUP LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY. 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 Disposed - Judgment Entered.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******1569

  • Filing Date:

    02/14/2019

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Judgment Entered

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

WENDY CHANG

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

R&G DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION DBA WESTERN MAGNESITE

R&G DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION DBA WESTERN MAGNESITE A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Defendant

PFL INVESTMENT GROUP LLC A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

PLUMTREE A. MARIA

Defendant Attorney

HESS MATTHEW

 

Court Documents

Answer - Answer

8/5/2019: Answer - Answer

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

8/29/2019: Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default - Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default

Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to Motion for Relief from Entry of Default

10/23/2019: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to Motion for Relief from Entry of Default

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5))

11/5/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5))

Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

11/6/2019: Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

Brief (name extension) - Brief Plaintiff's Supplemental Brief in Support of Opposition to Motion for Relief from Entry of Default

12/3/2019: Brief (name extension) - Brief Plaintiff's Supplemental Brief in Support of Opposition to Motion for Relief from Entry of Default

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5))

12/17/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default (CCP 473.5))

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration Declaration of A. Maria Plumtree in Support of Application for Default Judgment

1/28/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration Declaration of A. Maria Plumtree in Support of Application for Default Judgment

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

1/28/2020: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment - Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration Declaration Re Interest

1/28/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration Declaration Re Interest

Reply (name extension) - Reply to Objection to Proposed Judgment

2/19/2020: Reply (name extension) - Reply to Objection to Proposed Judgment

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

3/12/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

2/14/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Complaint - Complaint

2/14/2019: Complaint - Complaint

Summons - Summons on Complaint

2/14/2019: Summons - Summons on Complaint

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

2/14/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

2/14/2019: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

16 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/26/2020
  • DocketDefault judgment by Court entered for Plaintiff R&G Development Corporation DBA Western Magnesite, a California Corporation against Defendant PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company on the Complaint filed by R&G Development Corporation, a California Corporation on 02/14/2019 for the principal amount of $9,025.00, attorney fees of $930.75, interest of $2,599.64, and costs of $844.20 for a total of $13,399.59.; Other: See court order for terms and conditions of the judgment.

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  • 03/26/2020
  • DocketJudgment Judgment by Court After Default for Money and Mechanic's Lien; Signed and Filed by: R&G Development Corporation (Plaintiff); As to: PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 03/26/2020
  • DocketUpdated -- Judgment Judgment by Court After Default for Money and Mechanic's Lien: As To Parties changed from PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant) to PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 03/26/2020
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 08/13/2020 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 03/26/2020

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  • 03/26/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 02/17/2022 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 03/26/2020

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  • 02/25/2020
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by: R&G Development Corporation (Plaintiff); As to: PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 02/21/2020
  • DocketDefault Judgment - Rejected; Submitted by: R&G Development Corporation (Plaintiff); As to: PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 02/21/2020
  • DocketNotice of Rejection - Application for Default Judgment by Court - Contract or Tort; Filed by:

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  • 02/19/2020
  • DocketReply to Objection to Proposed Judgment; Filed by: R&G Development Corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/06/2020
  • DocketObjection to Proposed Judgment; Filed by: PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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27 More Docket Entries
  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketUpdated -- Notice Notice of Pendency of Action: As To Parties changed from PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant) to PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 02/15/2019
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 08/13/2020 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 02/15/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 02/17/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 02/15/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Wendy Chang in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 02/14/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: R&G Development Corporation, a California Corporation (Plaintiff); As to: PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 02/14/2019
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: R&G Development Corporation, a California Corporation (Plaintiff); As to: PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 02/14/2019
  • DocketNotice Notice of Pendency of Action; Filed by: R&G Development Corporation, a California Corporation (Plaintiff); As to: PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 02/14/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: R&G Development Corporation, a California Corporation (Plaintiff); As to: PFL Investment Group LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (Defendant)

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  • 02/14/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 02/14/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STLC01569    Hearing Date: December 17, 2019    Dept: 94

MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM ENTRY OF DEFAULT

(CCP § 473(b))

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant PFL Investment Group, LLC’s Motion to For Relief from Entry of Default is GRANTED.

OPPOSITION: Filed on October 23, 2019 [ ] Late [ ] None

REPLY: Filed on October 29, 2019 [ ] Late [ ] None

Background

On February 14, 2019, Plaintiff R&G Development Corporation dba Western Magnesite (“Plaintiff”) brought this action against Defendant PFL Investment Group, LLC (“Defendant”) for breach of contract and related causes of action. Harout Kozian (“Kozian”) is the managing member of Defendant entity. (Kozian Decl., ¶ 8.) On or around June 7, the parties reached “basic parameters” on the settlement agreement, but details of the agreement still needed to be drafted and finalized. (Id., Plumtree Decl. ¶¶ 7-8.) Plaintiff admits that the parties agreed to pause the negotiation at least until June 24, 2019. (Id., Plumtree Decl. ¶ 79, citing to Exh. 6.) Plaintiff was not able to speak with Defendant from June 24, 2019 to July 3, 2019. (Oppo., Fainstein Decl. ¶ 12.) Inferring that Defendant’s non-responsiveness as a delaying tactic, Plaintiff sought and obtained default against Defendant on July 22. (Id., Fainstein Decl. ¶ 14.) Upon learning about the default, Defendant hired an attorney and filed the instant Motion to Vacate Default (the “Motion”) based on its mistake under the discretionary provision of CCP § 473(b) on August 29, 2019. Plaintiff filed an Opposition on October 23, 2019 and Defendant replied on October 19, 2019.

On November 5, 2019, the Court held a hearing for this Motion. The Court was not persuaded that Defendant’s mistake caused the entry of default. (11/5/19 Minute Order.) The Court noted that the “cause of entry of default here was not Plaintiff’s lack of giving notice to Defendant, but rather because Kozian was non-responsive to Plaintiff’s multiple efforts to contact him.” (Id.) The Court further noted that Defendant [provided] no explanation for when Kozian returned from the U.S. from his trips abroad and why he was not able to respond to Plaintiff’s communications.” (Id.) The Court ordered Defendant to brief the Court no later than November 19, 2019 as to what evidence it has to establish mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect caused the default. (Id.)

Defendant filed Supplemental Declaration of Harout Kozian on November 19, 2019. (“Kozian Supp. Decl.”) Plaintiffs filed a Supplemental Brief in Support of Opposition to Defendant’s Motion on December 3, 2019.

II. Legal Standard

  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.) Plaintiff seeks relief under the mandatory provision of the statute based on its counsel’s mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect. The mandatory provision states in pertinent part:

“[W]henever 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).)

“The purpose of this mandatory relief provision is to alleviate the hardship on parties who lose their day in court due to an inexcusable failure to act by their attorneys. [Citation.]” (Rodriguez v. Brill (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 715, 723, emphasis added.) Relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473 subdivision (b) is also available to plaintiffs because dismissal is the “practical equivalent of a default judgment.” (Aldrich v. San Fernando Valley Lumber Co., Inc. “Section 473 is a remedial statute to be ‘applied liberally’ in favor of relief if the opposing party

will not suffer prejudice. [Citation.]” (Minick v. City of Petaluma (2016) 3 Cal.App.5th 15, 24.)

III. Discussion

Kozian’s Supplemental Declaration states that he returned to the United States on June 24, 2019 (Kozian Supp. Decl., ¶ 13), that he never received any calls or voicemails from Plaintiff after June 24 (Id., ¶ 14), and that while he did receive an email from Plaintiff’s attorney, Kozian believed Plaintiff would send him a written settlement agreement (Id., ¶ 15.) Kozian also states that he “was not in a hurry because [Plaintiff] was never in a hurry.” (Id., ¶ 17.)

The Court finds that the additional explanations Kozian provides still do not establish mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect because they do not demonstrate that he acted diligently. “‘In order to qualify for [discretionary] relief under section 473, the moving party must act diligently in seeking relief and must submit affidavits or testimony demonstrating a reasonable cause for the default.’ [Citation.]” (Huh v. Wang (2007) 158 Cal.App.4th 1406, 1419.) Additionally, the acts which brought about the default are not acts a reasonably prudent person under the same circumstances would have taken. A reasonable person under the circumstances would have promptly responded to communications from Plaintiff if it were serious about entering into a settlement or would have initiated communication himself to avoid any adverse consequences. “To entitle [a party] to relief the acts which brought about the default must have been the acts of a reasonably prudent person under the same circumstances.” (Jackson v. Bank of America (1983) 141 Cal.App.3d 55, 58.)

Thus, the Court remains unpersuaded.

III. Conclusion & Order

Defendant PFL Investment Group, LLC’s Motion to For Relief from Entry of Default is GRANTED.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SMCdept94@lacourt.org as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. If the department does not receive an email and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion will be placed off calendar.

Case Number: 19STLC01569    Hearing Date: November 05, 2019    Dept: 94

MOTION TO VACATE DEFAULT

(CCP § 473(b), mandatory)

TENTATIVE RULING:

There is no tentative ruling on Defendant PFL Investment Group, LLC’s Motion to Vacate Default at this time. The Court requires further briefing from the parties at the hearing.

ANALYSIS:

I. Background

On February 14, 2019, Plaintiff R&G Development Corporation dba Western Magnesite (“Plaintiff”) brought this action against Defendant PFL Investment Group, LLC (“Defendant”) for breach of contract and related causes of action. In that same month, Plaintiff began to negotiate a settlement agreement with Defendant; the parties appear to be negotiating directly with each other without attorneys at the time. (Oppo., Plumtree Decl. ¶ 5.) On or around June 7, the parties reached “basic parameters” on the settlement agreement, but details of the agreement still needed to be drafted and finalized. (Id., Plumtree Decl. ¶¶ 7-8.) Plaintiff admits that the parties agreed to pause the negotiation at least until June 24. (Id., Plumtree Decl. ¶ 79, citing to Exh. 6.)

According to Plaintiff, he contacted Defendant to restart the negotiation between June 24 and July 3. (Oppo., Fainstein Decl. ¶ 12.) Inferring that Defendant’s non-responsiveness as a delaying tactic, Plaintiff sought and obtained default against Defendant on July 22. (Id., Fainstein Decl. ¶ 14.)

Upon learning about the default, Defendant hired an attorney and filed the instant Motion to Vacate Default (the “Motion”) based on its mistake under the discretionary provision of CCP § 473(b) on August 29, 2019. Plaintiff filed an Opposition on October 23. Defendant replied on October 29.

II. Legal Standard

“Section 473(b) provides for both discretionary and mandatory relief. [Citation.]” (Pagnini v. Union Bank, N.A. (2018) 28 Cal.App.5th 298, 302.) Defendant seeks relief under the discretionary provision of the statute based on its mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. The discretionary provision states in pertinent part:

The court may, upon any terms as may be just, relieve a party or his or her legal representative from a judgment, dismissal, order, or other proceeding taken against him or her through his or her mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. Application for this relief shall be accompanied by a copy of the answer or other pleading proposed to be filed therein, otherwise the application shall not be granted, and shall be made within a reasonable time, in no case exceeding six months, after the judgment, dismissal, order, or proceeding was taken.

(CCP § 473(b).)

“Section 473 is a remedial statute to be ‘applied liberally’ in favor of relief if the opposing party will not suffer prejudice. [Citation.]” (Minick v. City of Petaluma (2016) 3 Cal.App.5th 15, 24.)

III. Discussion

A. Timeliness of Motion

The six-month limitation period for mandatory relief under CCP § 473(b) commences at the time a default judgment is rendered, rather than earlier when a default is entered. (Sugasawara v. Newland (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 294.)

Here, because Defendant brought the instant Motion within one month of the entry of default judgment, the six-month time limitation is satisfied. The discretionary provision of Section 473(b) also states that the Motion ‘shall be made within a reasonable time . . . .” (Huh v. Wang (2007) 158 Cal.App.4th 1406, 1420.) “Numerous courts have found no abuse of discretion in granting relief where the section 473 motions at issue were filed seven to 10 weeks after entry of judgment. [Citations.] A delay is unreasonable as a matter of law only when it exceeds three months and there is no evidence to explain the delay. [Citations.]” (Minick, supra, 3 Cal.App.5th at p. 34.) Because the Motion was made less than 10 weeks after the entry of default, it has also been made within a reasonable time.

B. Merits of Motion

Defendant contends that when the parties reached a tentative settlement on June 7, 2019, he it a partial payment of $9,000 to Plaintiff. (Motion, Kozian Decl. ¶ 7.) Because the parties were negotiating and Defendant had made a partial payment of settlement, Defendant mistakenly assume that Plaintiff would notify Defendant before seeking an entry of default. (Id., Kozian Decl. ¶¶ 10-12.) Defendant also states that its managing member, Harout Kozian (“Mr. Kozian”), who was negotiating the settlement on its behalf, was in Mexico and Europe after the parties reached a tentative settlement on June 7, but Mr. Kozian does not state when he returned to the U.S. (Id., Kozian Decl. ¶¶ 8-9.) The Court is not persuaded that Defendant’s mistake caused the entry of default. “‘In order to qualify for [discretionary] relief under section 473, the moving party must act diligently in seeking relief and must submit affidavits or testimony demonstrating a reasonable cause for the default.’ [Citation.]” (Huh v. Wang (2007) 158 Cal.App.4th 1406, 1419, emphasis added.)

Here, Plaintiff attests that the parties agreed to pause the settlement negotiation until June 24, 2019 in exchange for Defendant’s $9,000 payment. (Oppo., Plumtree Decl. ¶ 9; id., Exh. 4.) Defendant made the $9,000 payment to Plaintiff on June 10. (Id., Plumtree Decl. ¶ 9.) These terms were specified in an email sent on June 7, and contrary to Defendant’s contention, the Court is not persuaded that the terms are unambiguous as to when the parties would restart their negotiation. From June 24 to July 3, Plaintiff’s Chief Executive Officer called Mr. Kozian to restart the settlement negotiation, but Mr. Kozian was non-responsive. (Id., Fainstein Decl. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff emailed Mr. Kozian one final time on July 3, but Mr. Kozian was still non-responsive. (Id., Fainstein Decl. ¶ 13.) The cause of the entry of default here was not Plaintiff’s lack of giving notice to Defendant, but rather because Mr. Kozian was non-responsive to Plaintiff’s multiple efforts to contact him. “To entitle [a party] to relief the acts which brought about the default must have been the acts of a reasonably prudent person under the same circumstances.” (Jackson v. Bank of America (1983) 141 Cal.App.3d 55, 58.) Defendant provides no explanation for when Mr. Kozian returned to the U.S. from his trips abroad and why he was not able to respond to Plaintiff’s communications. For this reason, the Court finds that Defendant has failed to establish a mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect to justify relief under the discretionary provision of Section 473(b). The Court, however, is open to giving Defendant an opportunity to provide supplemental brief to demonstrate a mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.

IV. Conclusion & Order

Defendant to brief the Court at the hearing as to what evidence it has to establish a mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect that caused the default. If the Court is persuaded, the Court will continue the Motion for further briefing.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SMCdept94@lacourt.org as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. If the department does not receive an email and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion will be placed off calendar.