This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/14/2021 at 11:45:35 (UTC).

STACEY KING VS WESTLAKE SERVICES, LLC

Case Summary

On 01/21/2020 STACEY KING filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against WESTLAKE SERVICES, LLC. 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 Disposed - Judgment Entered.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******0599

  • Filing Date:

    01/21/2020

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Judgment Entered

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

SERENA R. MURILLO

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Appellant

KING STACEY

Defendant and Respondent

WESTLAKE SERVICES LLC

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorneys

FIROUZNAM-HEIDARI JENOS

SIFERS JAMES STEVEN

 

Court Documents

Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal - Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal BV033555

8/31/2021: Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal - Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal BV033555

Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal - Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal BV033555

8/31/2021: Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal - Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal BV033555

Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103 - Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103

8/16/2021: Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103 - Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

8/16/2021: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Appeal - Notice of Default Issued - Appeal - Notice of Default Issued BV033555 NOA 6/23/21

8/11/2021: Appeal - Notice of Default Issued - Appeal - Notice of Default Issued BV033555 NOA 6/23/21

Answer - Answer

9/24/2020: Answer - Answer

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration declaration in support of demurrer

10/5/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration declaration in support of demurrer

Demurrer - without Motion to Strike - Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

10/5/2020: Demurrer - without Motion to Strike - Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

Motion for Leave (name extension) - Motion for Leave Motion to Amend Complaint

1/8/2021: Motion for Leave (name extension) - Motion for Leave Motion to Amend Complaint

Opposition (name extension) - Opposition Opposition to Demurrer to Answer to Complaint

1/12/2021: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition Opposition to Demurrer to Answer to Complaint

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike)

1/26/2021: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike)

Notice (name extension) - Notice of Ruling Re: Plaintiff's Demurrer to Answer to Complaint filed by Defendant

2/4/2021: Notice (name extension) - Notice of Ruling Re: Plaintiff's Demurrer to Answer to Complaint filed by Defendant

Answer - Answer

2/16/2021: Answer - Answer

Motion to Continue Trial Date - Motion to Continue Trial Date

2/22/2021: Motion to Continue Trial Date - Motion to Continue Trial Date

Demurrer - without Motion to Strike - Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

2/22/2021: Demurrer - without Motion to Strike - Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration DECLARATION OF DEMURRING PARTY REGARDING MEET AND CONFER

2/22/2021: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration DECLARATION OF DEMURRING PARTY REGARDING MEET AND CONFER

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

2/25/2021: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Motion for Summary Judgment - Motion for Summary Judgment

3/10/2021: Motion for Summary Judgment - Motion for Summary Judgment

50 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 09/17/2021
  • DocketAppeal Record Delivered; Issued by: Clerk

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  • 09/15/2021
  • DocketAppeal - Original Clerk's Transcript 1 - 5 Volumes Certified 1 VOL 130 PAGES; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 09/14/2021
  • DocketUpdated -- Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal BV033555: As To Parties: removed

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  • 09/13/2021
  • DocketUpdated -- Appeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal BV033555: As To Parties: removed

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  • 09/13/2021
  • DocketAppeal - Clerk's Transcript Fee Paid APPELLANT PAID $219.42; Filed by:

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  • 08/31/2021
  • DocketAppeal - Notice of Fees Due for Clerk's Transcript on Appeal BV033555; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 08/16/2021
  • DocketAppeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103; Filed by: Stacey King (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/16/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by: Stacey King (Plaintiff); As to: Westlake Services, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 08/11/2021
  • DocketAppeal - Notice of Default Issued BV033555 NOA 6/23/21; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 07/12/2021
  • DocketAppeal - Notice of Filing of Notice of Appeal; Filed by: Clerk

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73 More Docket Entries
  • 04/07/2020
  • DocketNotice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 04/01/2020
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by: Stacey King (Plaintiff); As to: Westlake Services, LLC (Defendant); Proof of Mailing Date: 03/04/2020; Service Cost: 65.00; Service Cost Waived: No

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  • 01/21/2020
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 07/20/2021 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 01/21/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 01/24/2023 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 01/21/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 01/21/2020
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 01/21/2020
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Stacey King (Plaintiff); As to: Westlake Services, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 01/21/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Stacey King (Plaintiff); As to: Westlake Services, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 01/21/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Stacey King (Plaintiff); As to: Westlake Services, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 01/21/2020
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Serena R. Murillo in Department 26 Spring Street Courthouse

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STLC00599    Hearing Date: May 27, 2021    Dept: 26

King v. Westlake Services, LLC, et al

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR ADJUDICATION

(CCP § 437c)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Westlake Service, LLC’s Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the alternative, Summary Adjudication, is GRANTED.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiff Stacey King (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty against Westlake Services, LLC (“Defendant”) on January 21, 2020. Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the alternative, Summary Adjudication (“the Motion”) on March 10, 2021. Plaintiff filed an opposition on April 19, 2021.

Legal Standard

A defendant seeking summary judgment must show either (1) that one or more elements of the cause of action cannot be established; or (2) that there is a complete defense to that cause of action. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).) Plaintiff is under no evidentiary burden to produce rebuttal evidence until Defendants meet their initial moving burden. (Binder v. Aetna Life Insurance Company (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 832, 839-840.) Additionally, in ruling on the Motion, the Court must view the “evidence [citations] and such inferences [citations], in the light most favorable to the opposing party.” (Intrieri v. Superior Court (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 72, 81 [citing Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843].)

Procedural Requirements

Plaintiff contends that Defendant has not satisfied the service requirements for a motion for summary judgment and/or adjudication under Code of Civil Procedure section 437c. The Motion was served to Plaintiff’s address in Las Vegas, Nevada by mail and to Plaintiff’s email address by electronic mail on March 10, 2021.

Service under the summary judgment statute must be made on all other parties to the action at least 75 days prior to the hearing date. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (a)(2).) If service is by mail to an address outside of the state, the notice period shall be increased by ten days. (Ibid.) While the summary judgment statute does not address service by electronic mail, Code of Civil Procedure 1010.6 extends the notice period for service by electronic mail by two court days. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1010.6, subd. (a)(4)(B).)

March 10, 2021 was 78 days prior to the hearing on May 27, 2021. Service by mail did not comply with the statutory requirements because it was not 85 days prior to the hearing date. Service by electronic mail, however, was timely under Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (a)(2).

Plaintiff also argues that service by electronic mail was improper because he never consented to such service. Consent to electronic service is expressly made by electronically filing documents with the Court through an electronic filing service provider and agreeing to that that service provider’s terms of service. (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 2.251, subd. (b)(1)(B).) Plaintiff has been electronically filing documents in this action since its commencement and therefore, has expressly consented to electronic service. The service requirements of Code of Civil Procedure 437c are satisfied.

Allegations in the Complaint

The Complaint alleges causes of action for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. (Compl., ¶8.) The breach of contract cause of action alleges that Defendant agreed to provide Plaintiff with financing for a 2015 Chevrolet Cruze (“the vehicle”) in exchange for monthly payments pursuant to a Retail Installment Sales Contract (“the RISC”). (Id. at BC-1.) Defendant allegedly breached the agreement by failing to take possession of the vehicle and selling it to satisfy the outstanding loan. (Id. at BC-2.) The cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty is similarly based on allegations that Defendant failed to take possession of the vehicle and to sell it to offset the loan. (Id. at IT-1.).

Defendant’s Initial Burden of Proof

The elements of a cause of action for breach of contract are (1) existence of contract; (2) plaintiff’s performance or excuse for nonperformance; (3) defendant’s breach (or anticipatory breach); and (4) resulting damage. (Wall Street Network, Ltd. v. N. Y. Times Co. (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 1171, 1178.)

Defendant argues that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate it breached the RISC because he himself did not perform under the RISC and was not excused from such performance. In support of the Motion, Defendant presents evidence that Plaintiff became delinquent on the RISC in April 2016. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact No. 5; Schwartz Decl., ¶4 and Exh. 2.) Plaintiff was obligated to make payments under the RISC and was never excused from doing so. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact Nos. 8-9; Schwartz Decl., ¶¶5-6 and Exh. 1, p. 2.) Additionally, Defendant presents evidence that it never breached the RISC because it was under no obligation to repossess the vehicle and sell it to cover the outstanding amount. The RISC provides that Defendant may repossess the vehicle and sell it but creates no obligation to do so. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact Nos. 6-7; Schwartz Decl., ¶5 and Exh. 1, p. 2.) This evidence demonstrates that Plaintiff cannot prove two necessary elements of the breach of contract claim: (1) that he performed under the RISC or was excused from performance; or (2) Defendant’s breach of the agreement.

Regarding the cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty, Defendant argues there is no evidence of a fiduciary relationship between the parties. (See City of Hope Nat’l Med. Ctr. v. Genentech (2008) 43 Cal.4th 375, 386 [“before a person can be charged with a fiduciary obligation, he must either knowingly undertake to act on behalf and for the benefit of another, or must enter into a relationship which imposes that undertaking as a matter of law.’”].) Defendant presents evidence that it is simply an indirect financing source for vehicle purchase agreements, which are conducted at arms’ length. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact Nos. 1, 11; Schwartz Decl., ¶¶2, 7.) Nothing in the RISC or any law obligates Defendant to look out for Plaintiff’s interests over its own interests. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact No. 12; Schwartz Decl., Exh. 1.) Defendant, therefore, has shown that Plaintiff lacks evidence of the first element of a cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty: the existence of a fiduciary relationship.

Defendant has carried its initial burden of proof to demonstrate that Plaintiff cannot prove all the elements of the two causes of action in the Complaint. The burden now shifts to Plaintiff to demonstrate the existence of triable issues of material fact regarding the elements of these causes of action.

Plaintiff’s Burden to Demonstrate the Existence of Triable Issues of Material Fact

In opposition, Plaintiff first argues that Defendant’s obstruction of discovery has kept him from obtaining evidence about Defendant’s business. Plaintiff asks for a continuance of the Motion to allow for upcoming hearings on his discovery motion. In fact, Plaintiff has multiple upcoming hearings scheduled, as follows: Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint on June 7, 2021; Motion to Continue Trial Date on June 7, 2021; and Motion to Compel Further Responses on June 10, 2021.

The standard for continuing a summary judgment hearing based on the possibility of further opposition evidence is set forth in the summary judgment/adjudication statute: “If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication, or both, that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, be presented, the court shall deny the motion, order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had, or make any other order as may be just.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (h).)

Plaintiff has not demonstrated that facts essential to opposing the Motion exist but remain to be obtained through discovery. In the opposing separate statement, Plaintiff does not dispute that the RISC does not obligate Defendant to repossess and sell the vehicle upon default. Instead, Plaintiff contends that this fact is “undisputed and irrelevant.” (Opp., Separate Statement, Fact No. 6.) Yet this is the central issue in Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant.

The outstanding discovery sought by Plaintiff includes Defendant’s deposition and responses to certain requests for production. (Opp., King Decl., ¶¶2-7, 12-18.) Plaintiff, however, does not explain what about Defendant’s deposition and the document demands will prove the elements of the claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. (Id. at ¶¶8, 19.) Specifically, how will the additional discovery demonstrate the existence of Defendant’s alleged contractual and fiduciary obligations to repossess the vehicle and apply proceeds from its sale to the outstanding loan amount? Because the opposition has not demonstrated that the discovery sought is relevant to these issues, Plaintiff’s request for a continuance of the hearing on the Motion is denied.

Also, as noted, the opposition concedes that the crucial facts in this case are undisputed. The language in the RISC regarding repossession of the vehicle is permissive, not mandatory. Any facts that Plaintiff does dispute offer no citation to any evidence (Opp., Separate Statement, Fact No. 8) or rely entirely on Plaintiff’s declaration (Opp., Separate Statement, Fact Nos. 5, 7, 10, 12-16). Plaintiff’s self-serving declaration is not sufficient to demonstrate the existence of triable issues of material fact. Plaintiff declares that he “trusted Defendant to sell the subject vehicle in satisfaction of my debt” without offering any authority that Plaintiff’s belief alone imposes a legal obligation on Defendant. (See Opp., King Decl., ¶10.) Likewise, declaring that “[t]he contractual agreement between the parties included Defendant’s obligation to sell the subject vehicle upon my request” does not demonstrate an enforceable contractual obligation without citation to the applicable contract provision.

Therefore, Plaintiff has not demonstrated the existence of a triable issue of material fact as to either cause of action, nor shown that evidence of such a triable issue can be obtained through discovery.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Defendant Westlake Service, LLC’s Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the alternative, Summary Adjudication, is GRANTED.

Moving party to give notice.

Case Number: 20STLC00599    Hearing Date: March 24, 2021    Dept: 26

King v. Westlake Services, LLC, et al.

DEMURRER

(CCP §§ 430.31, et seq.)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Stacey King’s Demurrer to the Amended Answer is SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE 2ND, 3RD, 4TH, 6TH, 13TH, 15TH, 16TH, 19TH, 22ND, 23RD, 24TH, 25TH, 26TH, 27TH, 30TH AND 31ST AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES. THE DEMURRER IS OVERRULED AS TO THE REMAINING CAUSES OF ACTION.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiff Stacey King (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty against Westlake Services, LLC (“Defendant”) on January 21, 2020. The Court overruled Defendant’s demurrer to the Complaint on September 14, 2020 and it filed an Answer to the Complaint ten days later. On January 26, 2021, the Court sustained Plaintiff’s demurrer to the Answer with 20 days’ leave to amend. Defendant filed its First Amended Answer (“the Amended Answer”) on February 16, 2021.

Plaintiff filed the instant Demurrer to the Amended Answer on February 22, 2021. Defendant filed an opposition on March 11, 2021.

Discussion

A meet and confer declaration was filed in support of the instant Demurrer to the Answer on February 22, 2021. (King Decl., filed 2/22/21.) The Court finds that the requirements under Code of Civil Procedure section 430.41 are satisfied.

The Demurrer is brought for failure to allege sufficient facts as to each affirmative defense (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (e)) and uncertainty as to the 2nd, 4th, 8th, 9th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st and 32nd defenses (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (f)). Demurrers for uncertainty are not permitted in courts of limited jurisdiction. (Code Civ. Proc., § 92, subd. (c).) Therefore, the Court will not rule on the demurrers for uncertainty.

In ruling on the demurrer to the Answer, the Court previously set forth the law regarding the extent of allegations required on answer: In order to sufficiently allege an affirmative defense in the Answer, the same pleading of “ultimate facts” rather than evidentiary matter or legal conclusions is required as when pleading the Complaint. (FPI Development, Inc. v. Nakashimi (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 367, 384.) In other words, the Answer must aver facts as carefully and with as much detail as the facts which constitute the cause of action and which are alleged in the Complaint. (Ibid.) Also, the various affirmative defenses must be separately stated and must refer to the causes of action to which they relate “in a manner by which they may be intelligently distinguished.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 431.30, subd. (g).)

The Complaint alleges causes of action for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. (Compl., ¶8.) The breach of contract cause of action alleges that Defendant agreed to provide Plaintiff with financing for a 2015 Chevrolet Cruze in exchange for monthly payments. (Id. at BC-1.) Defendant allegedly breached the agreement by failing to take possession of the vehicle and to sell it to satisfy the outstanding lien. (Id. at BC-2.) The cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty is similarly based on allegations that Defendant failed to take possession of the vehicle and to sell it to offset the lien. (Id. at IT-1.).

In demurring to the Amended Answer, Plaintiff does not point out why any particular affirmative defense is inadequate. Instead, Plaintiff broadly argues that the affirmative defenses rely on vague, conclusory and boilerplate allegations that lack specificity. Neither the Demurrer, nor the opposition to the Demurrer, set forth the elements necessary to allege any particular affirmative defense.

The Court finds that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 30th and 31st affirmative defenses fail to allege facts sufficient to state a defense. Each of these defenses relies on a generic recitation of the defense without facts or repeats the allegations in the first affirmative defense. (Amended Answer, ¶¶3, 4, 5, 7, 17, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 36.) The first affirmative defense alleges that the cause of action for breach of fiduciary is not sufficient because there are no allegations demonstrating the existence of a fiduciary relationship between the parties. (Id. at ¶2.) Repeating that the cause of action breach of fiduciary duty in inadequate makes no sense with respect to certain defenses, like the 3rd defense of waiver or the 6th cause of action for laches. (Id. at ¶4 and 7.) Nor has Defendant demonstrated that the Answer can be amended to state these affirmative defenses.

The demurrer to these causes of action, therefore, is sustained without leave to amend. The demurrer to the remaining causes of action is overruled.

Conclusion

Plaintiff Stacey King’s Demurrer to the Amended Answer is SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE 2ND, 3RD, 4TH, 6TH, 13TH, 15TH, 16TH, 19TH, 22ND, 23RD, 24TH, 25TH, 26TH, 27TH, 30TH AND 31ST AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES. THE DEMURRER IS OVERRULED AS TO THE REMAINING CAUSES OF ACTION.

Moving party to give notice.

MOTION TO CONTINUE TRIAL

(CRC RULE 3.1322)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Stacey King’s Motion to Continue Trial Date is CONTINUED TO JUNE 7, 2021 AT 10:00 AM IN DEPARTMENT 26 OF THE SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiff Stacey King (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty against Westlake Services, LLC (“Defendant”) on January 21, 2020. Defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint on September 24, 2020. On January 26, 2021, the Court sustained Plaintiff’s demurrer to the Answer with 20 days’ leave to amend. Defendant filed its First Amended Answer (“the Amended Answer”) on February 16, 2021.

Plaintiff’s Demurrer to the Amended Answer is set to be heard concurrently with the instant Motion to Continue Trial, which was filed on February 22, 2021. Defendant filed an opposition on March 11, 2021.

Discussion

“Although continuances of trials are disfavored, each request for a continuance must be considered on its own merits. The Court may grant a continuance only on an affirmative showing of good cause requiring the continuance.” (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1332, subd. (c).) The Court may look to the following factors in determining whether a trial continuance is warranted: (1) proximity of the trial date; (2) whether there was any previous continuance of trial due to any party; (3) the length of the continuance requested; (4) the availability of alternative means to address the problem that gave rise to the motion; (5) the prejudice that parties or witnesses will suffer as a result of the continuance; and (6) whether trial counsel is engaged in another trial. (See generally, Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1332, subd. (d)(1)-(11).) Additionally, factors for the Court to consider include: a party’s excused inability to obtain essential testimony, documents, or other material evidence despite diligent efforts; whether all parties have stipulated to a continuance; and any other fact or circumstance relevant to the fair determination of the motion or application. (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1332, subds. (c), (d).)

Plaintiff argues that good cause exists for a continuance of the trial date, which is currently set for July 20, 2021, because of the pending Demurrer to the Amended Answer and Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint. (Motion, King Decl., p 5:6-8). The Court notes that the Demurrer to the Amended Answer is being heard concurrently with the instant Motion. Therefore, any investigation and discovery arising from the ruling on the Demurrer can begin promptly. The Court additionally notes that Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint specifically claims an amendment would not delay the trial. (Motion for Leave to Amend, filed 1/8/20, p. 4:20-21.) Plaintiff’s contradictory positions detract from the claim that investigation and discovery cannot be completed in the four months until trial. If Plaintiff has new causes of action to add to the Complaint, the Motion should address the timeline for related investigation and discovery. Yet the Motion does not do so, nor does it indicate the length of the continuance sought. Nor does Plaintiff demonstrate that investigation and discovery have been prevented by any particular circumstance over the past 13 months since this action was filed.

These factors weigh against a finding that good cause exists for a trial continuance. On the other hand, there has been no prior continuance of the trial date and it does not appear that Defendant would be prejudiced by a trial continuance. (See Opp., Sirey Decl.) Based on consideration of all these factors, the Court finds Plaintiff has not demonstrated good cause for a trial continuance at this time. Defendant has a Motion for Summary Judgment set to be heard on May 27, 2021, which is a dispositive motion if granted. Plainitff’s Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint will be heard two weeks later.

Therefore, it would appropriate to finally decided the instant Motion to Continue Trial on the same date as Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint. Anytime until May 27, 2021, Plaintiff may file and serve a supplemental/reply brief addressing the factors discussed in this order. The supplemental/reply brief is limited to five pages of argument, plus any supporting declarations and exhibits.

Conclusion

Plaintiff Stacey King’s Motion to Continue Trial Date is CONTINUED TO JUNE 7, 2021 AT 10:00 AM IN DEPARTMENT 26 OF THE SPRING STREET COURTHOUSE.

Moving party to give notice.

Case Number: 20STLC00599    Hearing Date: January 26, 2021    Dept: 26

King v. Westlake Services, LLC, et al

DEMURRER

(CCP §§ 430.31, et seq.)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Stacey King’s Demurrer to the Answer is SUSTAINED WITH 20 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiff Stacey King (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty against Westlake Services, LLC (“Defendant”) on January 21, 2020. The Court overruled Defendant’s demurrer to the Complaint on September 14, 2020 and it filed the Answer to the Complaint ten days later.

Plaintiff filed the instant Demurrer to the Answer on October 5, 2020. Defendant filed its opposition on January 12, 2021.

Discussion

A meet and confer declaration was filed in support of the instant Demurrer to the Answer on October 5, 2020. (King Decl., filed 10/5/20.) The Court finds that the requirements under Code of Civil Procedure section 430.41 are satisfied.

The Demurrer is brought for failure to allege sufficient facts as to each affirmative defense (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (e)) and uncertainty as to the 31st and 32nd defenses (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (f)). Demurrers for uncertainty are not permitted in courts of limited jurisdiction. (Code Civ. Proc., § 92, subd. (c).) Therefore, the Court will not rule on the demurrers for uncertainty.

In order to sufficiently allege an affirmative defense in the Answer, the same pleading of “ultimate facts” rather than evidentiary matter or legal conclusions is required as when pleading the Complaint. (FPI Development, Inc. v. Nakashimi (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 367, 384.) In other words, the Answer must aver facts as carefully and with as much detail as the facts which constitute the cause of action and which are alleged in the Complaint. (Ibid.) Also, the various affirmative defenses must be separately stated and must refer to the causes of action to which they relate “in a manner by which they may be intelligently distinguished.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 431.30, subd. (g).)

The determination of the sufficiency of the answer requires an examination of the complaint because its adequacy is with reference to the complaint it purports to answer. (Chadbourn, Grossman, Van Alstyne, Cal. Pleading, § 1334, pp. 490, 491; Miller & Lux, Inc., v. San Joaquin Light & Power Corp., 120 Cal.App. 589, 600, 8 P.2d 560.) This requirement, however, does not mean that the allegations of the complaint, if denied, are to be taken as true, the rule being that the demurrer to the answer admits all issuable facts pleaded therein and eliminates all allegations of the complaint denied by the answer. (Miller & Lux, Inc., v. San Joaquin Light & Power Corp., supra, 120 Cal.App. p. 600, 8 P.2d 560; Sheward v. Citizens' Water Co., 90 Cal. 635, 639, 27 P. 439; Chadbourn, Grossman, Van Alstyne, Cal. Pleading, § 1334, p. 489.)

(South Shore Land Co. v. Petersen (1964) 226 Cal.App.2d 725, 733.)

The Complaint alleges causes of action for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. (Compl., ¶8.) The breach of contract cause of action alleges that Defendant agreed to provide Plaintiff with financing for a 2015 Chevrolet Cruze in exchange for monthly payments. (Id. at BC-1.) Defendant allegedly breached the agreement by failing to take possession of the vehicle and to sell it to satisfy the outstanding lien. (Id. at BC-2.) The cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty is similarly based on allegations that Defendant failed to take possession of the vehicle and to sell it to offset the lien. (Id. at IT-1.).

The affirmative defenses do not allege facts to the extent set forth in the Complaint. The Answer only broadly alleges the nature of the affirmative defense without any mention of the terms of the contract between the parties. The Answer, therefore, does not aver facts as carefully and with as much detail as the Complaint. Additionally, none of the affirmative defenses indicate to which cause of action they respond, as required by Code of Civil Procedure section 430.30, subdivision (g).

Based on these inadequate allegations, the Answer fails to sufficiently allege facts to state the affirmative defenses.

Conclusion

Plaintiff Stacey King’s Demurrer to the Answer is SUSTAINED WITH 20 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND.

Moving party to give notice.

Case Number: 20STLC00599    Hearing Date: September 14, 2020    Dept: 26

DEMURRER

(CCP §§ 430.31, et seq.)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Conclusion

Defendant Westlake Services, LLC’s Demurrer to the Complaint is OVERRULED.

Court clerk to give notice. 

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