This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/26/2020 at 04:03:34 (UTC).

WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION VS JAMES IRWIN, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 03/08/2019 WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against JAMES IRWIN. 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:

    *******2439

  • Filing Date:

    03/08/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

JAMES E. BLANCARTE

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Cross Defendant

WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Defendants and Cross Defendants

IRWIN LORRAINE

IRWIN JAMES

WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff

IRWIN JAMES

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Cross Defendant and Plaintiff Attorneys

RUDMAN BRUCE D.

BRASH CHARLES

Cross Plaintiff Attorney

SPERLING MITCHELL

 

Court Documents

Notice (name extension) - Notice of Hearing

10/13/2020: Notice (name extension) - Notice of Hearing

Minute Order - Minute Order (Status Conference Re: Status of the Case)

10/14/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Status Conference Re: Status of the Case)

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

8/28/2019: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

8/28/2019: Proof of Service by Mail - Proof of Service by Mail

Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt - Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt

9/24/2019: Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt - Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt

Answer - Answer

9/27/2019: Answer - Answer

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration OF DEMURRING OR MOVING PARTY REGARDING CASE NUMBER: MEET AND CONFER

10/22/2019: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration OF DEMURRING OR MOVING PARTY REGARDING CASE NUMBER: MEET AND CONFER

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration OF TAMARA L. GRAVES IN SUPPORT OF REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

10/22/2019: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration OF TAMARA L. GRAVES IN SUPPORT OF REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Opposition (name extension) - Opposition Western Pacific Roofing Corporation's Opposition to Demurrer

11/5/2019: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition Western Pacific Roofing Corporation's Opposition to Demurrer

Reply (name extension) - Reply LORRAINE IRWIN'S REPLY TO OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

11/12/2019: Reply (name extension) - Reply LORRAINE IRWIN'S REPLY TO OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

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

11/19/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike)

Opposition (name extension) - Opposition Plaintiff Western Pacific Roofing Corporation's Opposition to Demurrer

3/16/2020: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition Plaintiff Western Pacific Roofing Corporation's Opposition to Demurrer

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration OF TAMARA L. GRAVES RE: FURTHER BRIEFING IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT, LORRAINE IRWIN'S DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

3/17/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration OF TAMARA L. GRAVES RE: FURTHER BRIEFING IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT, LORRAINE IRWIN'S DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

3/17/2020: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Notice (name extension) - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

3/20/2020: Notice (name extension) - Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

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

3/8/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

3/8/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Complaint - Complaint

3/8/2019: Complaint - Complaint

20 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 02/17/2021
  • Hearing02/17/2021 at 09:30 AM in Department 25 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Status Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/14/2020
  • DocketStatus Conference Re: Status of the Case scheduled for 02/17/2021 at 09:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/14/2020
  • DocketMinute Order (Status Conference Re: Status of the Case)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/14/2020
  • DocketPursuant to oral stipulation, Status Conference Re: Status of the Case scheduled for 10/14/2020 at 10:00 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 Held - Continued was rescheduled to 02/17/2021 09:30 AM

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/13/2020
  • DocketNotice of Hearing; Filed by: Lorraine Irwin (Defendant); As to: Western Pacific Roofing Corporation, a California corporation (Plaintiff); James Irwin (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/05/2020
  • DocketStatus Report; Filed by: Western Pacific Roofing Corporation, a California corporation (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/17/2020
  • DocketStatus Conference Re: Status of the Case scheduled for 10/14/2020 at 10:00 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/17/2020
  • DocketThe case is placed in special status of: Stay - Entire Action/Case

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/17/2020
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/17/2020
  • DocketHearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike scheduled for 08/17/2020 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 updated: Result Date to 08/17/2020; Result Type to Held

    Read MoreRead Less
32 More Docket Entries
  • 08/09/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by: WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION, a California corporation (Plaintiff); As to: JAMES IRWIN (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/15/2019
  • DocketDeclaration DECLARATION OF MAILING ON NOTICE OF LIS PENDENS; Filed by: WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION, a California corporation (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/11/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 03/11/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/11/2019
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 09/04/2020 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/11/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. James E. Blancarte in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/08/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/08/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/08/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION, a California corporation (Plaintiff); As to: JAMES IRWIN (Defendant); LORRAINE IRWIN (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/08/2019
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION, a California corporation (Plaintiff); As to: JAMES IRWIN (Defendant); LORRAINE IRWIN (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/08/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: WESTERN PACIFIC ROOFING CORPORATION, a California corporation (Plaintiff); As to: JAMES IRWIN (Defendant); LORRAINE IRWIN (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STLC02439    Hearing Date: August 17, 2020    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Mon., August 17, 2020 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Western Pacific Roofing Corporation v. Irwin, et al.

CASE NUMBER: 19STLC02439 DISC. C/O: 08-05-20

NOTICE: OK DISC. MOT. C/O: 08-20-20

TRIAL DATE: 09-04-20

PROCEEDINGS: DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

MOVING PARTY: Defendant Lorraine Irwin

RESP. PARTY: Plaintiff Western Pacific Roofing Corporation

DEMURRER

(CCP §430.10, et seq.)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Lorraine Irwin’s Demurrer is OVERRULED.

In addition, because the Court finds that Plaintiff’s claims should be adjudicated by the family law court, which has jurisdictional priority over the Subject Property, the Court enters a STAY in this action. Within thirty (30) days of notice of this order, the parties must confer to decide whether (1) Defendants will file a motion for joinder of Plaintiff in the marital dissolution action, or (2) Plaintiff will file a motion to intervene in that action.

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: Filed on November 11, 2019 [ ] Late [ ] None

REPLY: Filed on November 12, 2019 [ ] Late [ ] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On March 8, 2019, Plaintiff Western Pacific Roofing Corporation (“Plaintiff”) filed an action for breach of contract, foreclosure of mechanic’s lien, foreclosure of mechanic’s lien release bond, and quantum meruit against Defendants James Irwin (“James”) and Lorraine Irwin (“Lorraine”) (collectively, “Defendants”). Defendant James filed an Answer on August 26, 2019 and a Cross-Complaint against Plaintiff and Defendant Lorraine on August 28, 2019.

On October 22, 2019, Defendant Lorraine filed the instant Demurrer to Complaint (the “Demurrer”). She argued this department lacked jurisdiction over the subject property, which is at issue in Defendants’ marital dissolution proceeding currently pending in family law court, Department 7 at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Plaintiff filed an Opposition on November 5, 2019 and Defendant Lorraine filed a Reply on November 12, 2019.

The Court continued the initial hearing because Defendant Lorraine did not comply with the service requirements of Code of Civil Procedure section 1005, subdivision (b). (11/19/19 Minute Order.) The Court also noted that, because a dissolution action had been filed by Defendant James on February 5, 2019, before Plaintiff filed the instant action, family law court had jurisdictional priority. (Id.) Further briefing from the parties was requested regarding how to proceed with the instant action in light of the dissolution proceedings. (Id.)

  1. Legal Standard

“The primary function of a pleading is to give the other party notice so that it may prepare its

case [citation], and a defect in a pleading that otherwise properly notifies a party cannot be said to

affect substantial rights.” (Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal.4th 203, 240.)

“A demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of the factual allegations in a complaint.” (Ivanoff v. Bank of

America, N.A. (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 719, 725.) The Court looks to whether “the complaint alleges

facts sufficient to state a cause of action or discloses a complete defense.” (Id.) The Court does not

“read passages from a complaint in isolation; in reviewing a ruling on a demurrer, we read the

complaint ‘as a whole and its parts in their context.’ [Citation.]” (West v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,

N.A. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 780, 804.) The Court “assume[s] the truth of the properly pleaded

factual allegations, facts that reasonably can be inferred from those expressly pleaded and matters of

which judicial notice has been taken.” (Harris, supra, 56 Cal.4th p. 240.) “The court does not,

however, assume the truth of contentions, deductions or conclusions of law. [Citation.]” (Durell v.

Sharp Healthcare (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1358.)

Leave to amend must be allowed where there is a reasonable possibility of successful amendment. (Goodman v. Kennedy (1976) 18 Cal.3d 335, 348.) The burden is on the complainant to show the Court that a pleading can be amended successfully. (Id.)

Finally, Code of Civil Procedure section 430.41 requires that “[b]efore filing a demurrer pursuant to this chapter, the demurring party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to demurrer for the purpose of determining whether an agreement can be reached that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41, subd. (a).) The parties are to meet and confer at least five days before the date the responsive pleading is due. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41, subd. (a)(2).) Thereafter, the demurring party shall file and serve a declaration detailing their meet and confer efforts. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41, subd. (a)(3).)

  1. Discussion

A. Meet and Confer Requirement

As an initial matter, the Court notes that Defendant Lorraine’s meet and confer efforts are insufficient. Specifically, Defendant Lorraine’s attorney sent Plaintiff’s counsel a written request to meet and confer, detailing her factual and legal arguments. (Dem., Graves Decl., ¶ 2, MC-031.) Section 430.41, subdivision (a), requires the demurring party to meet and confer in person or by telephone. However, based on the issues raised in the Demurrer, it would be an idle act to direct the parties to make a further meet and confer effort. Thus, it is in the interest of judicial economy to proceed and make a ruling on the merits.

B. Demurrer

Plaintiff’s Complaint seeks, in part, to foreclose on a mechanic’s lien filed against Defendants’ property located at 3728 Nickels Ave., Acton, CA 93510 (the “Subject Property”). (Compl., ¶¶ 3, 17-25.) Defendant James Irwin filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage on February 5, 2019, before Plaintiff filed the instant action. The Court previously noted that the marital dissolution petition and response (filed on April 8, 2019), establish Defendants’ assets, including the Subject Property, are at issue in the family law case. (11/19/19 Minute Order.)

Defendant Lorraine demurs to the Complaint on the basis that this Court has no jurisdiction over the Subject Property because it was already within the exclusive jurisdiction of the family law court when Plaintiff filed its action. (Dem., p. 5:4-15.) As a result, Defendant Lorraine argues, the Demurrer should be sustained without leave to amend. (Id. at p. 10:4-5.)

However, as noted by the Court in its November 19, 2019 Order, “despite the division of a superior court into branches or departments, each county has only one superior court and jurisdiction is therefore vested in that court, not any particular judge or department.” (11/19/19 Minute Order; Cal. Practice Guide – Family Law § 3:22.) A demurrer based on lack of subject-matter jurisdiction challenges the power of a particular court to grant relief, not the power of a particular department within a court. (See Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (a).) (Italics added.) Defendant Lorraine herself states Department 7 acquired jurisdiction over the Subject Property when the marriage dissolution petition was filed in February 2019. (Dem., p. 6:1-4.) Both this Department and Department 7 are parts of one superior court, namely the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles. As this Superior Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the Subject Property, Defendant Lorraine’s Demurrer is OVERRULED.

C. Effect of Pending Marital Dissolution Proceedings on the Instant Action

Defendant Lorraine maintains the Demurrer should be sustained without leave to amend. (3/17/20 Supp. Briefing, p. 6:21-22.) She also argues that a stay is not practical in this matter, as facts and issues will overlap in this action and in the marital dissolution action, but agrees that a transfer of this case to Department 7 “seems like the best resolution of the issues raised in the demurrer.” (Id., Graves Decl., ¶¶ 7, 10.)

Defendant James argues that both this action and the marital dissolution action can proceed simultaneously without interference with one another. (4/1/20 Supp. Brief, ¶ 2.) He further argues that even an adverse judgment in this action against Defendants would not affect the overall characterization of the property in the dissolution matter, and the effect of the judgment could easily be incorporated into the marital dissolution action. (Id., at ¶ 4.)

Plaintiff argues that the Court in this civil action would not render orders that are contrary to any other Department’s orders and that family law court is not equipped to handle a mechanic’s lien action. (3/16/20 Plf. Supp. Oppo., p. 4:3-6.) However, Plaintiff does not explain why family law court is not equipped to handle such matters. Indeed, the court of appeals recognized in Glade v. Glade (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1441, 1451, that “[b]oth the Family Code and the California Rules of Court grant the family law court broad powers to determine and characterize community property and join third parties with an interest in such property.

In addition, in Elms v. Elms (1935) 4 Cal.2d 681, 683-84, the Supreme Court noted:

“There are strong reasons in policy why the court in an action for divorce should be permitted to adjudicate the rights of third parties in property alleged by one or both of the spouses to be community property….If property alleged by one of the spouses to be community property is in fact in whole or in part claimed by third persons, the court should determine as between the spouses whether the property is community or owned by third persons. If a third party claimant cannot be made a party and his rights adjudicated, it may be held in a separate action brought by or against such claimant that he is the owner of the property with the result that a division of all community property made between the spouses in the divorce action, based on a determination that certain property was owned by them, will be rendered inequitable as between them.”

Thus, family law court is equipped, and in fact should, handle third-party claims, such as Plaintiff’s, to ensure the division of community property is equitable between the spouses.

Given that family law court has jurisdictional priority and the ability to determine third-party rights and that issues related to the ownership of the Subject Property in both this action and the marital dissolution action are likely to overlap, the Court finds that it is in the interest of justice and judicial economy to STAY this civil limited action. (Freiberg v. City of Mission Viejo (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 1484, 1489 [“Trial courts generally have the inherent power to stay proceedings in the interests of justice and to promote judicial economy.].)

Plaintiff suggests the Court may, on its own motion, transfer this case to family law court pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 392. (3/16/20 Plf. Supp. Oppo., p. 5:13-16.) However, Section 392 deals with the Court’s power to transfer cases to superior courts in different counties (Code Civ. Proc., § 392, subd. (a)), not between departments within the same superior court, as is the case here.

Having entered the stay, Plaintiff must file a motion for intervention in the marital dissolution case or, alternatively, Defendants must file a motion for joinder in Department 7. (Elms v. Elms, supra, 4 Cal.2d 681, 683 [confirming that spouses may join third parties claiming an interest in the alleged community property or, alternatively, third parties claiming an interest in community property have a right to intervene if not joined by the spouses].)

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Defendant Lorraine Irwin’s Demurrer is OVERRULED.

In addition, because the Court finds that Plaintiff’s claims should be adjudicated by the family law court, which has jurisdictional priority over the Subject Property, the Court enters a STAY in this action. Within thirty (30) days of notice of this order, the parties must confer to decide whether (1) Defendants will file a motion for joinder of Plaintiff in the marital dissolution action, or (2) Plaintiff will file a motion to intervene in that action.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

Case Number: 19STLC02439    Hearing Date: November 19, 2019    Dept: 94

DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

(C.C.P. §430.10)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant’s demurrer to the complaint is CONTINUED TO MARCH 24, 2020 AT 10:30 AM IN DEPT. 94. Defendant must serve Plaintiff with the Demurrer not less than 16 days before the above-referenced hearing date. The parties shall, within 5 days of the continued hearing date, provide the court with further briefing addressing how to proceed with the instant action in light of the dissolution proceeding (i.e. should the court stay the instant action pending a judgment in the dissolution action, should Plaintiff join the dissolution action, etc.).

OPPOSITION: Filed on November 5, 2019.

REPLY: Filed on November 12, 2019.

ANALYSIS:

I. Background

On March 8, 2019, Plaintiff Western Pacific Roofing Corporation (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendants James Irwin and Lorraine Irwin (collectively “Defendants”), asserting causes of action for breach of contract, foreclosure of mechanic’s lien, foreclosure of mechanic’s lien release bond, and quantum meruit. Plaintiff alleged it entered into a contract with Defendants on July 16, 2018, under which Plaintiff would install a new roof on the subject property (3728 Nickels Avenue, Acton, California) for the amount of $11,200.00, plus the cost of permits and plywood sheeting. (Complaint ¶¶3, 9; Exhibit A.) Plaintiff alleged Defendants did not pay the initial deposit required by the contract and, in fact, never made a single payment for the work performed on the project. (Complaint ¶10.) Plaintiff alleged that, during the course of work on the project, a copper plumbing pipe, which was installed contrary to the Building Code, was punctured by the construction operations. Plaintiff alleged the concealed condition was expressly the responsibility of Defendants under the terms of the agreement, Plaintiff engaged a plumber and a water specialist to correct the issues, and Defendants did not pay for the repairs. (Complaint ¶¶11-12.) Plaintiff alleged Defendants are liable in the amount of $13,079.74, plus interest. ( Complaint ¶¶12-14.) Plaintiff alleged it recorded a mechanic’s lien on December 13, 2018, Defendants claim an interest in the subject property, and the property is subject to the mechanic’s lien. (Complaint ¶¶21-25.)

II. Legal Standard

C.C.P. §430.10(a) provides that the party against whom a complaint is filed may object, by demurrer, on the ground that the “court has no jurisdition of the subject of the cause of action alleged in the pleading.”

“‘A demurrer reaches only to the contents of the pleading and such matters as may be considered under the doctrine of judicial notice’ [Citations]; The allegations of the pleading demurred to must be regarded as true [Citations]; a demurrer does not, however, admit contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law alleged in the pleading [Citations], or the construction placed on an instrument pleaded therein [Citation], or facts impossible in law [Citation], or allegations contrary to facts of which a court may take judicial knowledge. [Citations]” (South Shore Land Co. v. Peterson (1964) 226 Cal.App.2d 725, 732.)

“The following basic principle is also applicable to general demurrers, to wit: all that is

necessary against a general demurrer is that upon a consideration of all the facts stated, it appears that the party whose pleading is attacked by such a demurrer is entitled to any relief at the hands of the court against his adversary, notwithstanding the facts may not be clearly stated, or may be intermingled with a statement of other facts irrelevant to the cause of action or defense shown, or although the plaintiff, in his complaint, or the defendant, in his answer, may demand relief to which he is not entitled under the facts alleged. [Citation]” (Id. at 732-733.)

III. Analysis

Defendant Lorraine Irwin (“Defendant”) demurs to the complaint of Plaintiff Western Pacific Roofing Corporation (“Plaintiff’). Defendant argues the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject property and assets which are necessarily at issue in this action.

Defendant did not timely serve all parties with the demurrer and supporting documents. Defendant’s proof of service indicates Plaintiff and Defendant James Irwin were served with the demurrer and supporting documents via mail on October 22, 2019, which is less than 16 court days plus 5 regular days (for mail) before the November 19, 2019 hearing, in violation of C.C.P. §1005(b).

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s demurrer to the complaint is CONTINUED for proper service.

This court notes the family law court has jurisdictional priority. Defendant James Irwin filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (“Petition”) on February 5, 2019,[1] before Plaintiff filed the instant action. The Petition and Defendant’s Response (filed on April 8, 2019), establish Defendants’ assets, including the subject property, are at issue in the family law case.

“The State Constitution preserves the integrity of each department of a superior court by providing that the judgments, orders and proceedings of any one ‘session’ of the court held by any one or more judges of the court shall be equally effectual as though all of the superior court judges presided at the ‘session.’ [Citation]” (California Practice Guide – Family Law §3:22.) “This effectively means that, despite the division of a superior court into branches or departments, each county has only one superior court and jurisdiction is therefore vested in that court, not in any particular judge or department. Because a county's superior court is one tribunal, the department first to properly exercise jurisdiction over a matter has ‘exclusive’ jurisdiction until the matter is finally disposed of; and orders and judgments made by that department during the progress of a case are binding on all other departments of the court unless and until the judgment is overturned on appeal. [Citations]” (California Practice Guide – Family Law §3:22.)

“It follows that it is beyond the jurisdictional authority of any other superior court department to interfere with or invalidate a ruling made by the department first to acquire jurisdiction over the matter until judgment in that matter has become final. [Citation] Consequently, for so long as a Family Code dissolution proceeding is pending in the family court, no other superior court department may act to interfere with the family court's exercise of its powers in that proceeding. [Citation]” (California Practice Guide – Family Law §3.22.)

Assuming the dissolution action is still pending, this court cannot interfere with or invalidate any rulings made by the family law court. (California Practice Guide – Family Law §§3:22-3:22.1.) (See Askew v. Askew (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 942, 961-962 (“After a family law court acquires jurisdiction to divide community property in a dissolution action, no other department of a superior court may make an order adversely affecting that division. [Citations] Obviously, the actual division of community property is affected by the characterization of specific assets, so the issue of characterization also reposes in the family law court. [Citations]”) and Glade v. Glade (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1441, 1456 (“Judge Pirosh stayed the foreclosure action (except for discovery) to avoid a multiplicity of actions, and the Trust does not contend that his reasoning was improper. Given that the Trust sought to foreclose on Carla's community property house, that Carla intended to seek a deferred sale order under section 3800, and that community property allegedly held by the Trust and the Glades might have to be offset against the amounts due under the note and trust deed, we agree there was a threat of multiple actions and inconsistent verdicts which could undermine the family law court's ability to characterize and dispose of Roger and Carla's community property. Since Carla's marital dissolution action was the first one pending, vesting the family law court with jurisdiction over alleged community property before the foreclosure action commenced, the family law court had priority of jurisdiction and its order staying the foreclosure action was proper. Assuming Judge Schacter had advance knowledge of the stay, he was bound to respect it. [Citations]”).) A ruling on the merits of Plaintiff’s breach of contract, foreclosure of mechanic’s lien, and quantum meruit claims against Defendants would, at this time, interfere with the family law court’s exercise of powers in the dissolution proceeding.

The court requests further briefing from the parties regarding how to proceed with the instant action in light of the dissolution proceeding (i.e. should the court stay the instant action pending a judgment in the dissolution action, should Plaintiff join the dissolution action under Family Code §2021 and CRC 5.24, etc.).[2] (See Glade at 1451-1452 (“Both the Family Code and the California Rules of Court grant the family law court broad powers to determine and characterize community property and join third parties with an interest in such property.”).)

IV. Conclusion & Order

Defendant’s demurrer to the complaint is CONTINUED TO March 24, 2020, at 10:30 am in dept. 94. The parties shall, within 5 days of the continued hearing date, provide the court with further briefing addressing how to proceed with the instant action in light of the dissolution proceeding (i.e. should the court stay the instant action pending a judgment in the dissolution action, should Plaintiff join the dissolution action, etc.).

Defendant 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.