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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 04/14/2021 at 00:53:52 (UTC).

SADDLETREE RANCH HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION VS GERALD EKPE

Case Summary

On 08/07/2020 SADDLETREE RANCH HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION filed a Contract - Business lawsuit against GERALD EKPE. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is JAMES E. BLANCARTE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******6628

  • Filing Date:

    08/07/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Business

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

JAMES E. BLANCARTE

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

SADDLETREE RANCH HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION

Defendant

EKPE GERALD

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

MEDIONI DANIEL

 

Court Documents

Supplemental Declaration (name extension) - Supplemental Declaration in Support of Motion to Set Aside Void Default

3/25/2021: Supplemental Declaration (name extension) - Supplemental Declaration in Support of Motion to Set Aside Void Default

Supplemental Declaration (name extension) - Supplemental Declaration IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO SET ASIDE VOID DEFAULT

3/26/2021: Supplemental Declaration (name extension) - Supplemental Declaration IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO SET ASIDE VOID DEFAULT

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons)

4/12/2021: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons)

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons) of 04/12/2021

4/12/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons) of 04/12/2021

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons)

2/8/2021: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons)

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

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

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

10/20/2020: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment - Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

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

10/21/2020: Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Notice of Lis Pendens - Notice of Lis Pendens

10/22/2020: Notice of Lis Pendens - Notice of Lis Pendens

Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment - Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment

12/1/2020: Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment - Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment

Summons - Summons on Complaint

8/7/2020: Summons - Summons on Complaint

Complaint - Complaint

8/7/2020: Complaint - Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

8/7/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

8/7/2020: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

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

3 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 08/11/2023
  • Hearing08/11/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 25 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 25 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 05/27/2021
  • Hearing05/27/2021 at 10:00 AM in Department 25 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons

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  • 04/12/2021
  • DocketHearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons scheduled for 05/27/2021 at 10:00 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

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  • 04/12/2021
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons)

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  • 04/12/2021
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons) of 04/12/2021; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/12/2021
  • DocketOn the Court's own motion, Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons scheduled for 04/12/2021 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 Held - Continued was rescheduled to 05/27/2021 10:00 AM

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  • 03/26/2021
  • DocketSupplemental Declaration IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO SET ASIDE VOID DEFAULT; Filed by: GERALD EKPE (Defendant)

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  • 03/25/2021
  • DocketSupplemental Declaration in Support of Motion to Set Aside Void Default; Filed by: GERALD EKPE (Defendant)

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  • 02/08/2021
  • DocketHearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons scheduled for 04/12/2021 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

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8 More Docket Entries
  • 10/20/2020
  • DocketDefault entered as to GERALD EKPE; On the Complaint filed by SADDLETREE RANCH HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION on 08/07/2020

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  • 10/13/2020
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by: SADDLETREE RANCH HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION (Plaintiff); As to: GERALD EKPE (Defendant); Proof of Mailing Date: 08/26/2020; Service Cost: 70.00; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: SADDLETREE RANCH HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION (Plaintiff); As to: GERALD EKPE (Defendant)

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: SADDLETREE RANCH HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION (Plaintiff); As to: GERALD EKPE (Defendant)

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: SADDLETREE RANCH HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION (Plaintiff); As to: GERALD EKPE (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
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 02/04/2022 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

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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 25

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  • 08/07/2020
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. James E. Blancarte in Department 25 Spring Street Courthouse

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STLC06628    Hearing Date: April 12, 2021    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Mon., April 12, 2021 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Saddletree Ranch HOA v. Ekpe COMPL. FILED: 08-07-20

CASE NUMBER: 20STLC06628 DEFAULT: 10-20-20

NOTICE: OK TRIAL DATE: 02-04-22

PROCEEDINGS: MOTION TO SET ASIDE VOID DEFAULT

MOVING PARTY: Defendant Gerald Ekpe

RESP. PARTY: None

MOTION TO SET ASIDE/VACATE DEFAULT

(CCP § 473(d); 473.5)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Gerald Ekpe’s Motion to Set Aside Void Default is CONTINUED TO MAY 27, 2021 AT 10:00 A.M. in Department 25 at the SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE. At least 16 court days before the next scheduled hearing, Defendant must file and serve supplemental papers as requested herein. Failure to do so may result in the Motion being placed off calendar or denied.

SERVICE:

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

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

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

OPPOSITION: None filed as of April 8, 2021 [ ] Late [X] None

REPLY: None filed as of April 8, 2021 [ ] Late [X] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On August 7, 2020, Plaintiff Saddletree Ranch Homeowners Association (“Plaintiff”) filed an action for breach of covenants, quantum meruit, account stated, and to foreclose lien against Defendant Gerald Ekpe (“Defendant”). Plaintiff filed a proof of service on October 13, 2020 purporting to show that Defendant was substitute served by J. Figueroa, a registered process server, on August 26, 2020 at 16133 Filbert Street, Sylmar CA 91342 (the “Filbert Address”). (10/13/20 Proof of Service.) The documents were left with Sarah Jeredini and were thereafter mailed to the Filbert Address.

Following Defendant’s failure to respond, default was entered against him on October 20, 2020.

On December 1, 2020, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Set Aside Void Default (the “Motion”). No opposition was filed.

At the initial February 8, 2021 hearing, the Court found that Defendant’s argument that he did not live at the Filbert Address lacked evidentiary support. (2/8/21 Minute Order.) Defendant was ordered to file and serve supplemental papers demonstrating he did not live at the Filbert Address at the time he was purportedly served. (Id.)

Defendant filed supplemental papers on March 26, 2021.

  1. Legal Standard

“A summons is the process by which a court acquires personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a civil action. The form of a summons is prescribed by law, and this form must be substantially observed. [Citation.] Service of a substantially defective summons does not confer jurisdiction over a party [citation] and will not support a default judgment. [Citation.]” (MJS Enterprises, Inc. v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 555, 557.) “Thus, a default judgment entered against a defendant who was not served with a summons in the manner prescribed by statute is void.’ [Citation.]” (Sakaguchi v. Sakaguchi (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 852, 858, emphasis added.)

A trial court has the inherent power to set aside a judgment void on its face at any time. (Connelly v. Castillo (1987) 190 Cal.App.3d 1583, 1588.) When considering the facial validity of ta judgment, the Court may only consider the contents of the judgment roll. (OC Interior Services, LLC v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC (2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 1318, 1327 (holding that “[t]o prove that the judgment is void, the party challenging the judgment is limited to the judgment roll, i.e., no extrinsic evidence allowed.”).) If the judgment is not void on its face, the time limitations of Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5 apply. (Trackman v. Kenney (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 175, 180-81; Schekel v. Resnik (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th Supp. 1, 3-4 (“[t]he Rogers court held that the time limitation set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5 applies by analogy to motions for relief from default judgment valid on its face but otherwise void for improper service” [citing Rogers v. Silverman (1989) 216 Cal.App.3d 1114, 1124.]).)

  1. Discussion

As noted at the previous hearing, the proof of service filed on October 13, 2020 is valid on its face. (2/8/21 Minute Order.) Defendant argues the default entered against him is void because he was never served with the Complaint. (Mot., p. 3:1-8.)

If the summons and complaint cannot be personally delivered with reasonable diligence, then a copy may be served at the person’s “dwelling house, usual place of abode, usual place of business, or usual mailing address other than a United States Postal Service post office box, in the presence of a competent member of the household or a person apparently in charge of his or her office, place of business, or usual mailing address other than a United States Postal Service post office box…who shall be informed of the contents thereof and by thereafter mailing a copy of the summons and complaint by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the person to be served…” (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.20, subd. (b).)

Defendant previously provided his declaration stating he was not served with the Summons and Complaint, in person or by mail because he does not live at the Filbert Address. (Mot., Ekpe Decl., ¶¶ 1-3.) He also stated that Sarah Jeredini is not a member of his family or household and that for the past eight years, he has resided at No. 17 Abakiliki Road GRA, Enugu, Nigeria. (Id.) The declaration attached to his moving papers was executed in Enugu, Nigeria but sworn under the laws of the State of California in accordance with Code of Civil Procedure section 2015.5. (See Id.)

Defendant provides an Affidavit of Facts issued by the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, Enugu Judicial Division Holden at Enugu, which states, (1) that Defendant is the deponent; (2) that Defendant “used to reside at the United States of America, at 16133, Filbert St., Sylmar, CA 91342 U.S.A.,” (3) that Defendant is a real estate broker by profession; and (4) that Defendant is “residing now in Nigeria”. (3/26/21 Supp. Ekpe Decl., Exh. 3.) However, because the affidavit does not include any dates, it, alone, does not confirm Defendant was not living at the Filbert Address on August 26, 2020 when he was purportedly served.

Defendant also states in his supplemental declaration that he left the United States in May 2012 and has been living in Nigeria ever since. (3/26/21 Supp. Ekpe Decl., ¶¶ 3-5.) As evidence, he provides a copy of two pages of his passport indicating he was issued a visa in February 2012 and entered Nigeria on May 6, 2012. (Id., Exh. 1.) He also provides a copy of a document titled National Identity Management System, Federal Republic of Nigeria, National Identification Number Slip with an issue date of December 6, 2014 and an illegible copy of what Defendant states is his Nigerian driver’s license issued on February 18, 2018. (Id., Exh. 2.) The supplemental declaration was executed in Enugu, Nigeria, but was not sworn under the laws of the State of California. (Id. at p. 2) Instead, the declaration states, “I make this solemn declaration sincerely and consistently believing same to be true and correct in accordance with the Oaths Act, 2004.” (Id.)

Code of Civil Procedure section 2015.5 requires declarations executed outside of California to set forth the date of execution and “that it is so certified or declared under the laws of the State of California.” Declarations that fail to comply with the requirements of Section 2015.5 have no evidentiary value. (ViaView, Inc. v. Retzlaff (2016) 1 Cal.App.5th 198, 217.)

The hearing is CONTINUED one final time to allow Defendant an opportunity to correct the errors noted above.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Defendant Gerald Ekpe’s Motion to Set Aside Void Default is CONTINUED TO MAY 27, 2021 AT 10:00 A.M. in Department 25 at the SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE. At least 16 court days before the next hearing, Defendant must file and serve supplemental papers as requested herein. Failure to do so may result in the Motion being placed off calendar or denied.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

Case Number: 20STLC06628    Hearing Date: February 08, 2021    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Mon., February 8, 2021 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Saddletree Ranch HOA v. Ekpe COMPL. FILED: 08-07-20

CASE NUMBER: 20STLC06628 DEFAULT: 10-20-20

NOTICE: OK TRIAL DATE: 02-04-22

PROCEEDINGS: MOTION TO SET ASIDE VOID DEFAULT

MOVING PARTY: Defendant Gerald Ekpe

RESP. PARTY: None

MOTION TO SET ASIDE/VACATE DEFAULT

(CCP § 473(d); 473.5)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Gerald Ekpe’s Motion to Set Aside Void Default is CONTINUED TO APRIL 12, 2021 AT 10:30 A.M. in Department 25 at the SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE. At least 16 court days before the next scheduled hearing, Defendant must file and serve supplemental papers as requested herein. Failure to do so may result in the Motion being placed off calendar or denied.

SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

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

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On August 7, 2020, Plaintiff Saddletree Ranch Homeowners Association (“Plaintiff”) filed an action for breach of covenants, quantum meruit, account stated, and to foreclose lien against Defendant Gerald Ekpe (“Defendant”). Default was entered against Defendant on October 20, 2020.

On December 1, 2020, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Set Aside Void Default (the “Motion”). To date, no opposition has been filed.

  1. Legal Standard

“A summons is the process by which a court acquires personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a civil action. The form of a summons is prescribed by law, and this form must be substantially observed. [Citation.] Service of a substantially defective summons does not confer jurisdiction over a party [citation] and will not support a default judgment. [Citation.]” (MJS Enterprises, Inc. v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 555, 557.) “Thus, a default judgment entered against a defendant who was not served with a summons in the manner prescribed by statute is void.’ [Citation.]” (Sakaguchi v. Sakaguchi (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 852, 858, emphasis added.)

A trial court has the inherent power to set aside a judgment void on its face at any time. (Connelly v. Castillo (1987) 190 Cal.App.3d 1583, 1588.) When considering the facial validity of ta judgment, the Court may only consider the contents of the judgment roll. (OC Interior Services, LLC v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC (2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 1318, 1327 (holding that “[t]o prove that the judgment is void, the party challenging the judgment is limited to the judgment roll, i.e., no extrinsic evidence allowed.”).) If the judgment is not void on its face, the time limitations of Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5 apply. (Trackman v. Kenney (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 175, 180-81; Schekel v. Resnik (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th Supp. 1, 3-4 (“[t]he Rogers court held that the time limitation set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5 applies by analogy to motions for relief from default judgment valid on its face but otherwise void for improper service” [citing Rogers v. Silverman (1989) 216 Cal.App.3d 1114, 1124.]).)

  1. Discussion

Plaintiff filed a proof of service on October 13, 2020 purporting to show that Defendant was substitute served on August 26, 2020 at 16133 Filbert Street, Sylmar CA 91342 (the “Filbert Address”). (10/13/20 Proof of Service.) The documents were left with Sarah Jeredini and were thereafter mailed to the Filbert Address. (Id.) This proof of service is valid on its face.

Defendant’s Motion is timely. He argues the default entered against him is void because he was never served with the Complaint. (Mot., p. 3:1-8.)

If the summons and complaint cannot be personally delivered with reasonable diligence, then a copy may be served at the person’s “dwelling house, usual place of abode, usual place of business, or usual mailing address other than a United States Postal Service post office box, in the presence of a competent member of the household or a person apparently in charge of his or her office, place of business, or usual mailing address other than a United States Postal Service post office box…who shall be informed of the contents thereof and by thereafter mailing a copy of the summons and complaint by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the person to be served…” (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.20, subd. (b).)

Defendant provides only his declaration stating that he was not served with the Summons and Complaint, in person or by mail, because he does not live at the Filbert Address and that for the past eight years, he has resided at No. 17 Abakiliki Road GRA, Enugu, Nigeria. (Mot., Ekpe Decl., ¶¶ 1-3.) He further states that Sarah Jeredini is not a member of his family or household. (Id.) However, the Court finds this insufficient. Defendant did not include any corroborating documentary evidence with his Motion. Thus, Defendant is ordered to file and serve supplemental papers demonstrating the Filbert Address was not his place of residence or usual mailing address on August 26, 2020.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Defendant Gerald Ekpe’s Motion to Set Aside Void Default is CONTINUED TO APRIL 12, 2021 AT 10:30 A.M. in Department 25 at the SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE. At least 16 court days before the next hearing, Defendant must file and serve supplemental papers as requested herein. Failure to do so may result in the Motion being placed off calendar or denied.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

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