This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/07/2021 at 18:24:07 (UTC).

AKOP TOROSIAN ET AL VS ARUTYUN FITILCHYAN ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/18/2016 AKOP TOROSIAN filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against ARUTYUN FITILCHYAN. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are RALPH C. HOFER, LAURA A. MATZ, MICHAEL S. MINK and DAVID SOTELO. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7479

  • Filing Date:

    04/18/2016

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

RALPH C. HOFER

LAURA A. MATZ

MICHAEL S. MINK

DAVID SOTELO

 

Party Details

Petitioners and Plaintiffs

MADATYAN ELDA

TOROSIAN AKOP

TOROSIAN ROBERT

FERMANYAN MARINA

TOROSIAN JACK

Defendants and Respondents

TASHJIAN ARMEN

JERMAKYAN ARMEN (ARMENAK)

GASPARYAN HRACHYA

DOES 1 THROUGH 100

MKHITARYAN ASHOT

FITILCHYAN ARUTYUN

JERMAKYAN ARMEN ARMENAK

JERMAKYAN ARMEN AK

12 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant and Plaintiff Attorneys

GREENBLATT FREDRIC JAY

LAW OFFICES OF DANIEL V. BEHESNILIAN

DANEIL V. BEHISNILIAN LAW OFFICES OF

SHAGHZO ARMEN

Petitioner and Plaintiff Attorney

LAW OFFICES OF DANIEL V. BEHESNILIAN

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

NEMECEK & COLE

MIYAMOTO RICHARD T

COLE JONATHAN B. ESQ.

GREENBLATT FREDRIC JAY

GREENBLATTLOVERIDGE ATTORNEYS AT LAW

HIROTA MICHAEL N.

MIYAMOTO RICHARD

O'MEARA FRANCES MARY

TABATABAI & MIYAMOTO APC

TABATABAI FARZAD B. ESQ.

THOMPSON COE & O'MEARA

 

Court Documents

Notice of Ruling

3/19/2021: Notice of Ruling

Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF HEARING SET FOR APRIL 6, 2021 FROM 8:30 AM TO 11:00 AM

4/5/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF HEARING SET FOR APRIL 6, 2021 FROM 8:30 AM TO 11:00 AM

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: RE: FIVE-YEAR-RULE (GLOBAL); TRIAL SE...)

4/6/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: RE: FIVE-YEAR-RULE (GLOBAL); TRIAL SE...)

Reply - REPLY DEFENDANT TASHJIANS REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO STRIKE

7/29/2021: Reply - REPLY DEFENDANT TASHJIANS REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO STRIKE

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) FILED ON BEHALF ...)

7/30/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) FILED ON BEHALF ...)

Notice of Ruling

8/26/2021: Notice of Ruling

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION TO CONTINUE PLAINTIFF ARMEN T...)

6/20/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION TO CONTINUE PLAINTIFF ARMEN T...)

Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Miscellaneous-Other

9/12/2016: Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Miscellaneous-Other

Case Management Statement

7/7/2017: Case Management Statement

Minute Order - Minute order entered: 2018-07-19 00:00:00

7/19/2018: Minute Order - Minute order entered: 2018-07-19 00:00:00

Other - -

8/17/2018: Other - -

Challenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6)

8/17/2018: Challenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6)

Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment

2/1/2019: Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment

Objection - PLAINTIFF ROBERT TOROSIAN'S OBJECTIONS TO DEFENDANT TASHJIAN'S NOTICE OF NON-OPPOSITION

4/23/2019: Objection - PLAINTIFF ROBERT TOROSIAN'S OBJECTIONS TO DEFENDANT TASHJIAN'S NOTICE OF NON-OPPOSITION

Order - ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE, MABEL HAYEK, CSR NO. 11815 FOR 4/29/209 HEARING DEPARTMENT D

4/29/2019: Order - ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE, MABEL HAYEK, CSR NO. 11815 FOR 4/29/209 HEARING DEPARTMENT D

182 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/07/2022
  • Hearing03/07/2022 at 09:00 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Jury Trial

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/24/2022
  • Hearing02/24/2022 at 09:00 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Final Status Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 12/07/2021
  • Hearing12/07/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Status Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 12/07/2021
  • Hearing12/07/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Status Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 12/07/2021
  • Hearing12/07/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Order to Show Cause Re: Mandatory Settlement Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/30/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department D; Status Conference (Re Mediation and Discovery) - Held - Continued

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/30/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Status Conference Re Mediation and Discovery)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/26/2021
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by ARUTYUN FITILCHYAN (Defendant); HRACHYA GASPARYAN (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/06/2021
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department D; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer (Plaintiff's Complaint filed on behalf of Defendants Arutyun Fitilchyan and Hrachya Gasparyan) - Held - Motion Granted

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/06/2021
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department D; Status Conference (Re Mediation and Discovery) - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

    Read MoreRead Less
329 More Docket Entries
  • 05/31/2016
  • DocketMotion (ANTI-SLAPP SPECIAL MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT; ); Filed by Attorney for Defendant/Respondent

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/18/2016
  • DocketTASHJIAN'S NOTICE OF MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT DUE TO PLAINTIFFS' FAILURE TO OBTAIN THE MANDATORY CIVIL CODE SECTION 1714.10 ETC.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/18/2016
  • DocketMotion to Strike; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/18/2016
  • DocketMotion to Strike (PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT ); Filed by Attorney for Defendant/Respondent

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/18/2016
  • DocketComplaint

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/18/2016
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. ASSAULT AND BATTERY; ETC

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/18/2016
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/18/2016
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by AKOP TOROSIAN (Plaintiff); Robert Torosian (Plaintiff); Marina Fermanyan (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/18/2016
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/18/2016
  • DocketSUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

b'

Case Number: BC617479 Hearing Date: August 6, 2021 Dept: D

TENTATIVE RULING
Calendar:\t10\t\t\t\t\t
Date:\t\t8/6/2021
Case No:\t\tBC617479\t\t\t\tTrial Date:\tMarch 7, 2022
Case Name:\tTorosian, et al. v. Fitilchyan, et al.
MOTION TO STRIKE
Moving Party:\t\tDefendants Arutyun Fitilchyan and Hrachya Gasparyan
Responding Party:\tPlaintiffs Akop Torosian, Robert Torosian, Marina Fermanyan and Elda Madatyan (No Opposition)
RELIEF REQUESTED:
Order striking prayer for attorney fees
CAUSES OF ACTION: from Complaint
1)\tAssault and Battery
2)\tConspiracy to Commit Assault and Battery
3)\tNegligence
4)\tLoss of Consortium
5)\tAbuse of Process
6)\tExtortion and Blackmail
7)\tConspiracy to Commit Extortion and Blackmail
8)\tIIED
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
Plaintiffs Akop Torosian and Robert Torosian allege that in April of 2014, plaintiff Akop Torosian retained the services of defendant Arutyun Fitilchyan, a locksmith, to provide locksmith services at plaintiff’s residence in Glendale. When defendant failed to show up for a scheduled meeting, and plaintiff called defendant to find out his estimated time of arrival, defendant became upset, using profanity and abusive language. Plaintiff contacted defendant Ashot Mkhitaryan, defendant Fitilchyan’s apprentice, whom plaintiff knew, and informed him of the phone conversation with Fitilchyan. Defendant Mkhitaryan arranged for plaintiff to meet with defendant Fitilchyan that day, at the body shop owned by defendant Hrachya Gasparyan, where plaintiff was physically assaulted by defendants Gasparyan and Fitilchyan but was able to flee the shop.
The complaint alleges that defendant Mkhitaryan then lured plaintiff Akop Torosian to return to the body shop to resolve the dispute amicably. Plaintiff contacted his brother, plaintiff Robert Torosian, to accompany him.
Upon arrival at the body shop, defendant Fitilchyan charged at plaintiff Robert Torosian and attempted to strike him with his fists, while defendant Gasparyan produced a handgun and shot plaintiff Robert Torosian in the lower abdomen. Defendants Fitilchyan and Gasparyan, and possibly other shooters, continued shooting at plaintiffs. In defense of his brother and himself, plaintiff Akop Torosian produced a firearm and returned fire, and Fitilchyan and Gasparyan were shot in the crossfire. Plaintiff Akop Torosian called 911 and plaintiff Robert Torosian was transported to the hospital, while plaintiff Akop Torosian was detained pending a criminal investigation and released later that evening.
The complaint alleges that defendants Fitilchyan and Mkhitaryan, along with their counsel, defendant Armen Tashjian, and defendant Armen Jermakyan, conspired to extort money from plaintiff Akop Torosian, and used threats, intimidation and fear to force plaintiffs to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, and also came up with a plan to provide law enforcement officers with inaccurate statements which would result in criminal charges against plaintiffs, and force them to pay the sums demanded. Fitilchyan, with the counsel of defendant Tashjian, gave a false statement to law enforcement, which resulted in charges being filed against plaintiff Akop Torosian. No charges were filed against plaintiff Robert Torosian. Plaintiff Akop Torosian was released on bail. The complaint alleges that from November of 2014 through June of 2015, defendants continued to attempt to extort $2 million from plaintiffs, demanding this sum in exchange for defendants’ help in having the charges dropped against Akop Torosian.
The complaint alleges that plaintiffs informed the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office of the plot to extort money, and that after investigation, defendant Tashjian was arrested and charged with extortion, conspiracy, and other charges. The investigation against the remaining defendants is ongoing. In November 2015, the charges against plaintiff Akop Torosian were dropped.
Plaintiffs’ spouses, plaintiffs Marina Fermanyan and Elda Madatyan, bring a cause of action for loss of consortium against all defendants.
On August 17, 2016, the court, Judge Matz presiding, granted an ex parte application of moving defendant, Armen Tashjian, to stay this civil lawsuit for extortion until a criminal case against Tashjian for extortion was completed. At the time, a motion to strike plaintiff’s complaint filed by defendant Tashjian was pending, and the hearing on that motion was vacated. This matter, along with a related matter, BC616980, have been stayed.
On March 19, 2021, the court heard an unopposed motion filed by defendant Ashot Mkhitaryan to lift the stay and permitting discovery to proceed in this matter, which was granted. The minute order states, “The Court finds that the criminal proceedings have been resolved.” The stay was ordered to remain in place until April 6, 2021, and the court ordered short briefs regarding the five-year rule to be filed prior to that hearing. On April 7, 2021, the court ordered, “The stay in this action as to all parties is ordered lifted in its entirety.”
On May 21, 2021, defendants Fitilchyan and Gasparyan filed this motion to strike.
On July 30, 2021, the court heard a motion to strike brought by defendant Tashjian. The motion was granted as to the request for attorney’s fees.
ANALYSIS:
Defendants Fitilchyan and Tashjian brings this motion to strike, arguing that the complaint improperly seeks attorney’s fees.
Under CCP§ 436:
“The court may, upon a motion made pursuant to CCP § 435, or at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper:
(a) Strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading.
(b) Strike out all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of this state, a court rule, or an order of the court.”
With respect to the claims for attorneys’ fees, CCP section 1021 provides in pertinent part:
“Except as attorney’s fees are specifically provided for by statute, the measure and mode of compensation of attorneys and counselors at law is left to the agreement, express or implied, of the parties...”
Defendant argues that plaintiff have not in this case alleged any breach of contract providing for the right to recover such fees and have not alleged any cause of action that provides for statutory fees.
The complaint appears to seek fees only in the prayer, seeking, “For reasonable attorneys [sic] fees and costs.” [Complaint, prayer, para. 6]. There is no reference to an agreement for compensation of attorneys, and no statute alleged. The motion to strike accordingly is granted on this ground with one opportunity to amend to state the contractual or statutory basis upon which the prayer for attorney’s fees is based.
RULING:
Defendant Fitilchyan and Gasparyan’s Motion to Strike Plaintiff’s Complaint is GRANTED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND on the ground the complaint fails to sufficiently allege a contract or statute upon which the prayer for attorney’s fees is based. The prayer for costs is not stricken.
Ten days leave to amend the prayer for attorney’s fees only, if possible.
The parties are ordered to meet and confer in full compliance with CCP § 435.5 before any further motion to strike may be filed. The Court notes that the meet and confer declaration submitted shows that plaintiffs have failed to respond to meet and confer efforts as required under CCP § 435.5. The Court does not condone such conduct. The Court views the obligation to meet and confer in good faith to extend to both sides in connection with a motion to strike. See CCP § 435.41 (a)(1) (“The party who filed the pleading shall provide legal support for its position that the pleading is legally sufficient or, in the alternative, how the pleading could be amended to cure any legal insufficiency.”).
GIVEN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, AND TO ADHERE TO HEALTH GUIDANCE THAT DICTATES SAFETY MEASURES, DEPARTMENT D IS ENCOURAGING AUDIO OR VIDEO APPEARANCES
Please make arrangement in advance if you wish to appear via LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams by visiting www.lacourt.org to schedule a remote appearance. Please note that LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams offers audio and video appearance at a cost of $15.00. Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are encouraged not to personally appear. Anyone who appears in person for the hearing, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask over both the nose and mouth. If no appearance is set up through LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams, or otherwise, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative.
'b'

Case Number: BC617479 Hearing Date: July 30, 2021 Dept: D

TENTATIVE RULING
Calendar:\t19\t\t\t\t\t
Date:\t\t7/30/21
Case No:\t\tBC617479\t\t\t\tTrial Date:\tMarch 7, 2022
Case Name:\tTorosian, et al. v. Fitilchyan, et al.
MOTION TO STRIKE
Moving Party:\t\tDefendant Armen Tashjian
Responding Party:\tPlaintiffs Akop Torosian, Robert Torosian, Marina Fermanyan
\t\t\t\tand Elda Madatyan
RELIEF REQUESTED:
Order striking prayer for attorney fees
Order striking complaint due to failure to obtain mandatory Civil Code § 1714.10 pre-filing order before filing lawsuit
CAUSES OF ACTION: from Complaint
1)\tAssault and Battery
2)\tConspiracy to Commit Assault and Battery
3)\tNegligence
4)\tLoss of Consortium
5)\tAbuse of Process
6)\tExtortion and Blackmail
7)\tConspiracy to Commit Extortion and Blackmail
8)\tIIED
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
Plaintiffs Akop Torosian and Robert Torosian allege that in April of 2014, plaintiff Akop Torosian retained the services of defendant Arutyun Fitilchyan, a locksmith, to provide locksmith services at plaintiff’s residence in Glendale. When defendant failed to show up for a scheduled meeting, and plaintiff called defendant to find out his estimated time of arrival, defendant became upset, using profanity and abusive language. Plaintiff contacted defendant Ashot Mkhitaryan, defendant Fitilchyan’s apprentice, whom plaintiff knew, and informed him of the phone conversation with Fitilchyan. Defendant Mkhitaryan arranged for plaintiff to meet with defendant Fitilchyan that day, at the body shop owned by defendant Hrachya Gasparyan, where plaintiff was physically assaulted by defendants Gasparyan and Fitilchyan, but was able to flee the shop.
The complaint alleges that defendant Mkhitaryan then lured plaintiff Akop Torosian to return to the body shop to resolve the dispute amicably. Plaintiff contacted his brother, plaintiff Robert Torosian, to accompany him.
Upon arrival at the body shop, defendant Fitilchyan charged at plaintiff Robert Torosian and attempted to strike him with his fists, while defendant Gasparyan produced a handgun and shot plaintiff Robert Torosian in the lower abdomen. Defendants Fitilchyan and Gasparyan, and possibly other shooters, continued shooting at plaintiffs. In defense of his brother and himself, plaintiff Akop Torosian produced a firearm and returned fire, and Fitilchyan and Gasparyan were shot in the crossfire. Plaintiff Akop Torosian called 911 and plaintiff Robert Torosian was transported to the hospital, while plaintiff Akop Torosian was detained pending a criminal investigation and released later that evening.
The complaint alleges that defendants Fitilchyan and Mkhitaryan, along with their counsel, moving defendant Armen Tashjian, and defendant Armen Jermakyan, conspired to extort money from plaintiff Akop Torosian, and used threats, intimidation and fear to force plaintiffs to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, and also came up with a plan to provide law enforcement officers with inaccurate statements which would result in criminal charges against plaintiffs, and force them to pay the sums demanded. Fitilchyan, with the counsel of defendant Tashjian, gave a false statement to law enforcement, which resulted in charges being filed against plaintiff Akop Torosian. No charges were filed against plaintiff Robert Torosian. Plaintiff Akop Torosian was released on bail. The complaint alleges that from November of 2014 through June of 2015, defendants continued to attempt to extort $2 million from plaintiffs, demanding this sum in exchange for defendants’ help in having the charges dropped against Akop Torosian.
The complaint alleges that plaintiffs informed the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office of the plot to extort money, and that after investigation, defendant Tashjian was arrested and charged with extortion, conspiracy and other charges. The investigation against the remaining defendants is ongoing. In November 2015, the charges against plaintiff Akop Torosian were dropped.
Plaintiffs’ spouses, plaintiffs Marina Fermanyan and Elda Madatyan, bring a cause of action for loss of consortium against all defendants.
On August 17, 2016, the court, Judge Matz presiding, granted an ex parte application of moving defendant, Armen Tashjian, to stay this civil lawsuit for extortion until a criminal case against Tashjian for extortion was completed. At the time, a motion to strike plaintiff’s complaint filed by defendant Tashjian was pending, and the hearing on that motion was vacated. This matter, along with a related matter, BC616980, have been stayed.
On March 19, 2021, the court heard an unopposed motion filed by defendant Ashot Mkhitaryan to lift the stay and permitting discovery to proceed in this matter, which was granted. The minute order states, “The Court finds that the criminal proceedings have been resolved.” The stay was ordered the stay to remain in place until April 6, 2021, and the court ordered short briefs regarding the five-year rule to be filed prior to that hearing. On April 7, 2021, the court ordered, “The stay in this action as to all parties is ordered lifted in its entirety.”
On June 21, 2021, defendant Tashjian filed this motion to strike.
ANALYSIS:
Defendant Tashjian brings this motion to strike, first arguing that the complaint improperly seeks attorney’s fees.
Under CCP§ 436:
“The court may, upon a motion made pursuant to CCP § 435, or at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper:
(a) Strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading.
(b) Strike out all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of this state, a court rule, or an order of the court.”
With respect to the claims for attorneys’ fees, CCP section 1021 provides in pertinent part:
“Except as attorney’s fees are specifically provided for by statute, the measure and mode of compensation of attorneys and counselors at law is left to the agreement, express or implied, of the parties...”
Defendant argues that plaintiff have not in this case alleged any breach of contract providing for the right to recover such fees and have not alleged any cause of action that provides for statutory fees.
The complaint appears to seek fees only in the prayer, seeking, “For reasonable attorneys [sic] fees and costs.” [Complaint, prayer, para. 6]. There is no reference to an agreement for compensation of attorneys, and no statute alleged. The motion to strike accordingly is granted on this ground with one opportunity to amend to state the contractual or statutory basis upon which the prayer for attorney’s fees is based.
Defendant Tashjian also argues that the entire complaint against him is subject to being stricken based on plaintiffs’ failure to comply with pre-filing requirements set forth in Civil Code section 1714.10, which provides:
“(a) No cause of action against an attorney for a civil conspiracy with his or
her client arising from any attempt to contest or compromise a claim or dispute,
and which is based upon the attorney\'s representation of the client, shall be
included in a complaint or other pleading unless the court enters an order
allowing the pleading that includes the claim for civil conspiracy to be filed
after the court determines that the party seeking to file the pleading has
established that there is a reasonable probability that the party will prevail
in the action. The court may allow the filing of a pleading claiming liability
based upon such a civil conspiracy following the filing of a verified petition
therefor accompanied by the proposed pleading and supporting affidavits stating
the facts upon which the liability is based. The court shall order service of
the petition upon the party against whom the action is proposed to be filed and
permit that party to submit opposing affidavits prior to making its
determination. The filing of the petition, proposed pleading, and accompanying
affidavits shall toll the running of any applicable statute of limitations until
the final determination of the matter, which ruling, if favorable to the
petitioning party, shall permit the proposed pleading to be filed.
(b) Failure to obtain a court order where required by subdivision (a) shall
be a defense to any action for civil conspiracy filed in violation thereof. The
defense shall be raised by the attorney charged with civil conspiracy upon that
attorney\'s first appearance by… motion to strike.... Failure to timely raise the
defense shall constitute a waiver thereof.
(c) This section shall not apply to a cause of action against an attorney for
a civil conspiracy with his or her client, where (1) the attorney has an
independent legal duty to the plaintiff, or (2) the attorney\'s acts go beyond
the performance of a professional duty to serve the client and involve a
conspiracy to violate a legal duty in furtherance of the attorney\'s financial
gain.”
\t
Defendant argues that plaintiffs’ claims are subject to the statute because they arise out of claims that Tashjian conspired with his clients to help them resolve plaintiff’s dispute with his clients. [Complaint, paras. 12, 13, 18, 44 52, 57].
The allegations here are that moving defendant, referred to in the Complaint as “Armen,” conspired to extort money from plaintiff,” and that all defendants “used threats, intimidation and fear to force Plaintiffs…to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars.” [Complaint, para. 18]. It is alleged that all defendants devised a plan to provide law enforcement officers with inaccurate statements, and “continued to use threats, intimidation and fear in an attempt to extort $2,000,000 from Plaintiffs,” and demanded money “in exchange for their cooperation to have charges dropped against plaintiff….” [Complaint, paras. 18-20]. It is also alleged that moving defendant was arrested and charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for “extortion, conspiracy and other charges.” [Complaint, para. 21].
It is held that a special proceeding under section 1714.10, “operates like a demurrer or motion for summary judgment in reverse,” and that “since it involves only questions of law,” the court of appeal will review the trial court’s finding with respect to application of this statute de novo. Berg & Berg Enterprises, LLC v. Sherwood Partners, Inc. (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 802, 822.
As discussed above, there can be no dispute that the gravamen of the causes of action asserted here against Tashjian is that he conspired with his clients to extort money from plaintiffs and aided and participated in that endeavor.
\t
The opposition argues that this case falls within subdivision (c), as the attorney owed plaintiffs an independent legal duty not to extort money from them, based on case law which imposes a legal duty on attorneys not to defraud nonclients.
The opposition also argues that the attorney’s acts here involve a conspiracy to violate a legal duty in furtherance of the attorney’s financial gain.
A review of the pleading shows that it does not allege facts which would suggest that defendant’s involvement in the conspiracy was “in furtherance of the attorney’s financial gain.” \t
It is held that the phrase, “in furtherance of the attorney’s financial gain”
as used in this subsection “means that through the conspiracy, the attorney derived economic advantage over and above monetary compensation received in exchange for professional services actually rendered on behalf of a client.” Berg, at 836.
This leaves the issue of whether defendant owed plaintiffs an independent legal duty not to engage in extortion. Plaintiffs rely on Rickley v. Goodfriend (2013) 212 Cal.App.4th 1136, in which the Second District affirmed a trial court’s order permitting an amendment to add causes of action against defendant attorneys for conspiring with their clients to interfere with a judgment with respect to the court ordered remediation of contaminated debris on plaintiff’s property. The Second District found that the attorneys had breached an independent legal duty to abstain from injuring the property of another by interjecting themselves into the remediation process, interfering with the plan, contacting contractors without obtaining prior approval of the court, misdirected the work of contractor’s employees, and actively assisted the clients in continuing the nuisance. Rickley, at 1155-1156.
The Second District set forth the following summary of independent duties owed by attorneys:
“It is well established that an attorney has an independent legal duty to refrain from defrauding nonclients. For example, a conspiracy claim may be brought where a corporation and its attorney conspire to conceal from potential investors that other investors have threatened litigation against the venture. (See Pavicich v. Santucci, supra, 85 Cal.App.4th at pp. 397–398.) Similarly, a conspiracy claim is proper where an insurance company\'s coverage counsel misrepresents the policy limits to a party that has obtained a judgment against the company\'s insured. (See Shafer v. Berger, Kahn, Shafton, Moss, Figler, Simon & Gladstone (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 54, 84–85 [131 Cal. Rptr. 2d 777]; Weil & Brown, Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2012) ¶¶ 6:357 to 6:357.3, pp. 6-96 to 6-97 (rev. # 1, 2008, 2011).) And “where an ‘attorney gives his client a written opinion with the intention that it be transmitted to and relied upon by [a third party] in dealing with the client[,] … the attorney owes the [third party] a duty of care in providing the advice because [that party\'s] anticipated reliance upon [the opinion] is “the end aim of the transaction.” ’ ” (Pavicich v. Santucci, supra, 85 Cal.App.4th at p. 395.)
An independent legal duty may also arise when an attorney engages in conduct that goes “way beyond the role of [a] legal representative.” (Burtscher v. Burtscher (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 720, 727 [31 Cal. Rptr. 2d 682] (Burtscher).)”
Rickley, at 1151-1152.
The Second District noted that in Burtscher, the attorney owed a duty not to wrongly evict plaintiff, and did not follow any lawful procedure, but personally engaged in self-help. The Second District observed:
“When an attorney “actively participate[s] in conduct that [goes] way beyond the role of legal representative” (Burtscher, supra, 26 Cal.App.4th at p. 727), he or she may be liable for wrongdoing to the same extent as a nonattorney. A license to practice law does not shield an attorney from liability when he or she engages in conduct that would be actionable if committed by a layperson. An attorney who commits such conduct may be liable under a conspiracy theory when the attorney agrees with his or her client to commit wrongful acts….
As explained in one treatise: “Attorneys are expected to stay within the bounds of law in representing their clients and advising about an appropriate course of action … .Counsel who circumvent established legal channels to accomplish a desired result, participating with the client in a scheme to dispossess the other spouse of his or her claimed property or possessory rights, are not performing the ‘normal services of an attorney.’ Conduct of this sort exposes counsel to a host of tort claims—including a cause of action for attorney-client conspiracy.” (Hogoboom & King, Cal. Practice Guide: Family Law (The Rutter Group 2012) ¶ 1:444, pp. 1-119 to 1-120 (rev. # 1, 2012), original italics, citation omitted, citing Burtscher, supra, 26 Cal.App.4th at p. 727.)
We cannot overemphasize the statement by our Supreme Court: “ ‘The law imposes the obligation that “every person is bound … to abstain from injuring the person or property of another, or infringing upon any of his rights.” ’ ” (Applied Equipment Corp. v. Litton Saudi Arabia Ltd. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 503, 515 [28 Cal. Rptr. 2d 475, 869 P.2d 454], italics added (Applied Equipment); accord, Younan v. Equifax Inc. (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 498, 511 [169 Cal. Rptr. 478]; see §§ 1708 [“Every person is bound, without contract, to abstain from injuring the … property of another … .”], 3520 [No one [*1155] should suffer by the act of another.”].) “Attorneys may be liable for participation in tortious acts with their clients, and such liability may rest on a conspiracy.” (Doctors\' Co. v. Superior Court, supra, 49 Cal.3d at p. 46; see id. at p. 47.)
Rickley, at 1154-1155, italics in original.
Here, plaintiffs argue that the pleading alleges that the attorney engaged in conduct to injure them, illegal extortion, which would fall within this description of the legal duty of an attorney to refrain from engaging in such torts.
In Flatley v. Mauro (2006) 39 Cal.4th 299, the California Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court and the Second District denying a special motion to strike where the alleged conduct constituted criminal extortion as a matter of law, finding that since extortionate speech was not constitutionally protected, the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply. Flatley, at 328. (“Extortion is not a constitutionally protected form of speech.”).
The Court in Flatley, in fact, although not addressing this precise issue under section 1714.10, stated, in connection with its discussion of extortion:
“Attorneys are not exempt from these principles in their professional conduct. Indeed, the Rules of Professional Conduct specifically prohibit attorneys from "threaten[ing] to present criminal, administration, or disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute." (Rules of Prof. Conduct, rule 5-100(A).)”
Flatley, at 327.
The pleading sufficiently alleges conduct on the part of the attorney which could be recognized as in breach of an independent legal duty not to engage in extortion toward the plaintiffs. An evaluation of the pleading and the case law on the subject supports a finding that this matter falls within an exception to Civil Code § 1714.10, which relieves plaintiffs of the obligation to follow pre-filing requirements.
Again, the pleading asserts a claim for criminal extortion, and conspiracy to commit such tort. [Complaint, paras. 18, 20, 21, 48, 52]. Under subdivision (c) “This section shall not apply to a cause of action against an attorney for a civil conspiracy with his or her client, where (1) the attorney has an independent legal duty to the plaintiff…”
The motion accordingly is denied on this ground.
RULING:
Motion to Strike is GRANTED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND on the ground the complaint fails to sufficiently allege a contract or statute upon which the prayer for attorney’s fees is based. The prayer for costs is not stricken.
Motion to Strike on all other grounds is DENIED.
The Court cannot find that the pleading was not filed in conformity with the statutes governing this matter, as plaintiffs have established that the matter falls within Civil Code § 1714.10 (c): “This section shall not apply to a cause of action against an attorney for a civil conspiracy with his or her client, where (1) the attorney has an independent legal duty to the plaintiff…”
Here, the pleading alleges that the attorney engaged in criminal extortion when the attorney owed a duty to plaintiffs not to engage in such misconduct. See Complaint, paras. 18, 20, 21, 48, 52; Rickley v. Goodfriend (2013) 212 Cal.App.4th 1136, 1154-1155 (“We cannot overemphasize the statement by our Supreme Court: “ ‘The law imposes the obligation that “every person is bound … to abstain from injuring the person or property of another, or infringing upon any of his rights.” ’ ” (Applied Equipment Corp. v. Litton Saudi Arabia Ltd. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 503, 515 [28 Cal. Rptr. 2d 475, 869 P.2d 454], italics added (Applied Equipment); accord, Younan v. Equifax Inc. (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 498, 511 [169 Cal. Rptr. 478]; see §§ 1708 [“Every person is bound, without contract, to abstain from injuring the … property of another … .”], 3520 [No one [*1155] should suffer by the act of another.”].) “Attorneys may be liable for participation in tortious acts with their clients, and such liability may rest on a conspiracy.” (Doctors\' Co. v. Superior Court, supra, 49 Cal.3d at p. 46; see id. at p. 47.)”)(emphasis in original); See also Flatley v. Mauro (2006) 39 Cal.4th 299, 327 (stating, in connection with discussion of extortion, “Attorneys are not exempt from these principles in their professional conduct. Indeed, the Rules of Professional Conduct specifically prohibit attorneys from ‘threaten[ing] to present criminal, administration, or disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute.’ (Rules of Prof. Conduct, rule 5-100(A).)”
Ten days leave to amend the prayer for attorney’s fees only, if possible.
The parties are ordered to meet and confer in full compliance with CCP § 435.5 before any further motion to strike may be filed.
GIVEN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, AND TO ADHERE TO HEALTH GUIDANCE THAT DICTATES SAFETY MEASURES, DEPARTMENT D IS ENCOURAGING AUDIO OR VIDEO APPEARANCES
Please make arrangement in advance if you wish to appear via LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams by visiting www.lacourt.org to schedule a remote appearance. Please note that LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams offers audio and video appearance at a cost of $15.00. Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are encouraged not to personally appear. Anyone who appears in person for the hearing, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask over both the nose and mouth. If no appearance is set up through LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams, or otherwise, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative.
'

Case Number: BC617479    Hearing Date: March 19, 2021    Dept: D

TENTATIVE RULING
Calendar:    10
Date:          3/19/2021
Case No: BC617479 Trial Date:  None Set 
Case Name: Torosian, et al. v. Fitilchyan, et al. 
MOTION TO LIFT STAY
Moving Party:          Defendant Ashot Mkhitaryan  
Responding Party: Plaintiffs Akop Torosian, Robert Torosian  (No Opposition)       
RELIEF REQUESTED:
Order lifting stay and permitting discovery to proceed 
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
Plaintiffs Akop Torosian and Robert Torosian allege that in April of 2014, plaintiff Akop Torosian retained the services of defendant Arutyun Fitilchyan, a locksmith, to provide locksmith services at plaintiff’s residence in Glendale.  When defendant failed to show up for a scheduled meeting, and plaintiff called defendant to find out his estimated time of arrival, defendant became upset, using profanity and abusive language.  Plaintiff contacted defendant Ashot Mkhitaryan, defendant Fitilchyan’s apprentice, whom plaintiff knew, and informed him of the phone conversation with Fitilchyan.  Defendant Mkhitaryan arranged for plaintiff to meet with defendant Fitilchyan that day, at the body shop owned by defendant Hrachya Gasparyan, where plaintiff was physically assaulted by defendants Gasparyan and Fitilchyan, but was able to flee the shop.
The complaint alleges that defendant Mkhitaryan then lured plaintiff Akop Torosian to return to the body shop to resolve the dispute amicably. Plaintiff contacted his brother, plaintiff Robert Torosian, to accompany him.   
Upon arrival at the body shop, defendant Fitilchyan charged at plaintiff Robert Torosian and attempted to strike him with his fists, while defendant Gasparyan produced a handgun and shot plaintiff Robert Torosian in the lower abdomen.  Defendants Fitilchyan and Gasparyan, and possibly other shooters, continued shooting at plaintiffs.  In defense of his brother and himself, plaintiff Akop Torosian produced a firearm and returned fire, and Fitilchyan and Gasparyan were shot in the cross-fire.   Plaintiff Akop Torosian called 911 and plaintiff Robert Torosian was transported to the hospital, while plaintiff Akop Torosian was detained pending a criminal investigation and released later that evening.  
The complaint alleges that defendants Fitilchyan and Mkhitaryan, along with their counsel, moving defendant Armen Tashjian, and defendant Armen Jermakyan, conspired to extort money from plaintiff Akop Torosian, and used threats, intimidation and fear to force plaintiffs to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, and also came up with a plan to provide law enforcement officers with inaccurate statements which would result in criminal charges against plaintiffs, and force them to pay the sums demanded.   Fitilchyan, with the counsel of defendant Tashjian, gave a false statement to law enforcement, which resulted in charges being filed against plaintiff Akop Torosian.  No charges were filed against plaintiff Robert Torosian.  Plaintiff Akop Torosian was released on bail.   The complaint alleges that from November of 2014 through June of 2015, defendants continued to attempt to extort $2 million from plaintiffs, demanding this sum in exchange for defendants’ help in having the charges dropped against Akop Torosian.   
The complaint alleges that plaintiffs informed the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office of the plot to extort money, and that after investigation, defendant Tashjian was arrested and charged with extortion, conspiracy and other charges.  The investigation against the remaining defendants is ongoing.  In November 2015, the charges against plaintiff Akop Torosian were dropped. 
Plaintiffs’ spouses, plaintiffs Marina Fermanyan and Elda Madatyan, bring a cause of action for loss of consortium against all defendants. 
On February 27, 2019, the court stayed this matter and a related case, Case No. BC 616980, except for matters relating to a Special Motion to Strike set for hearing on April 29, 2019.  On April 29, 2019, the court granted defendant Armen Tashjian’s oral request to place the Special Motion to Strike off-calendar.  
On November 1, 2019, the court heard a motion brought by defendant Armen Tashjian to partially lift the discovery stay, which was fully briefed, and denied. 
On August 17, 2020, the heard various OSCs regarding lifting the stay in this and a related case and to reset motions.  The court’s minute order indicates that this case, as the lead case, was called for hearing with the other case, and the minute order states:
“Court is not inclined to order a partial lifting of the stay as it starts the Five Year Statute to begin running. 
Counsel in the related case BC617479 Akpo Torosian v. Arutyan Fitilchyan argue that the case is an extortion case and the Criminal Case has concluded with a plea taken. 
The Torsians represent to the Court that the District Attorney cautioned them that if further evidence is presented they may file additional charges and stand on their Fifth Amendment Constitutional Rights in the Lead Case.
Court informs counsel that they should seek either "Transactional Immunity", or "Use Immunity" by filing their motion, the Court could then approve same and lift the stay after the District Attorney approves same.”
The minute order notes that a motion for stay had been rescheduled to 1/27/2021, which was subsequently continued by stipulation to this date, according to a minute order of January 21, 2021.   There is reference to a Motion to Reopen Discovery, when such a motion does not appear in the court file.  All previous motions to lift the stay have been determined.
The minute order for January 21, 2021 on the other case, BC616980 states, in pertinent part, “Counsel for the Plaintiff (in that case Fitilchyan, et al.) reports that the extortion case was dismissed, however, the shooting case is still pending in the related criminal action.”    
ANALYSIS:
This motion was filed prior to the January 21, 2021 hearing, at which the court expressed its concern that lifting the stay in this matter at this juncture appeared to present difficulties with the five year rule, and at which there was a discussion concerning the pursuit of either "Transactional Immunity", or "Use Immunity" with respect to the criminal charges.  
There have been no further papers filed indicating the status of the criminal matters, and nothing further reported concerning efforts to seek immunity.   
The motion is brought by defendant Ashot Mkhitaryan, seeking that the stay of this matter be lifted immediately on the ground this defendant served the Torosian plaintiffs with discovery in September of 2018, and that it is believed that the responses to that discovery will result in Mkhitaryan being dismissed from this action.  The motion argues that it is unfair and prejudicial to defendant Mkhitaryan to be stuck in this lawsuit to which he is peripheral, and for him to continue incurring attorney’s fees in a lawsuit that under normal circumstances he would have been dismissed from long ago, by either the court or plaintiffs.  
The motion curiously argues that if defendant is not dismissed, he will be prejudiced by being required to take the depositions of plaintiffs to evidence that he had no involvement in this matter, and should not be part of the fight between plaintiffs and the other defendants.  However, if the stay continues to be in place, defendant will not be required to participate in such discovery, and will essentially be required to do nothing in this matter until the stay is lifted, and at that point can seek orders concerning the sequence of discovery going forward, if appropriate.  The motion argues that moving defendant is not a party to the criminal case or to the related extortion case.   However, it would appear that this case and moving defendant’s alleged involvement is intertwined with the proceedings concerning the shooting itself, which are evidently still pending in the criminal proceedings.   
Case law has recognized the power of the court to issue a stay in circumstances where parallel civil and criminal actions are proceeding:
“The Constitution does not require a stay of civil proceedings pending the outcome of criminal proceedings.  A court, however, has the discretion to stay civil proceedings, postpone civil discovery, or impose protective orders and conditions when the interests of justice seem to require such action, sometimes at the request of the prosecution, sometimes at the request of the defense.”
Avant! Corp. v. Superior Court (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 876, 886.
Since the determination does not involve constitutional issues, a trial court’s determination concerning whether to stay the discovery process or the civil action pending the disposition of the parallel criminal case is reviewed “on abuse of discretion grounds.”   Avant!, at 886.  The trial court’s determination will not be disturbed unless the appellate court finds the trial court exceeded the bounds of reason.   Avant!, at 889.
In making this determination, the trial court should consider the extent to which a party’s fifth amendment rights are implicated.  Avant!, at 885, citing Keating v. Office of Thrift Supervision (9th Cir. 1995) 45 F.3d 322, 324.  
There is no question here that the fifth amendment rights of the parties are implicated in this matter for the period during which a parallel criminal matter is pending against any of those parties.  The motion argues, however, that since the Torosians are plaintiffs in this matter, they are not as clearly entitled to protection as would be the case if they were defendants.  The argument is that plaintiffs are not involuntary defendants, and are not faced with the usual choice for such defendants between silence and avoiding monetary loss, but can choose to forego pursuing the civil action.  The motion cites Hartbrodt v. Burke (1996) 42 Cal.App.4th 168, 174-175, in which the Second District affirmed the dismissal of an action as a discovery sanction, where a plaintiff withheld discovery based on a claimed fifth amendment privilege, where a criminal investigation was underway, holding “a plaintiff cannot bring an action and then place it in limbo until it is safe for him to pursue it, requiring the adverse parties to accommodate his convenience while memories fade, witnesses disappear, and the pending litigation frustrates the futures of the defendants.”   Hartbrodt, at 174.  
However, we have a situation here where the matter has been related to a case arising from the same incidents, where the Torosian plaintiffs are in fact named as defendants by several of the defendants in this case, so that the situation essentially involves what amounts to a cross-complaint to this action pursuant to which the parties claiming the fifth amendment privilege are facing the same issues ordinarily faced by civil defendants, and which similarly implicate their fifth amendment rights.    
In any case, the issue will be discussed at the hearing, and it appears that the stay of these matters remains a case management issue, with the court particularly concerned that due to the most recent discussion of the issue with the parties, there was an understanding that time would be permitted to pursue immunity status.  This appears appropriate, and the court’s orders also may have lulled plaintiffs and the other parties into believing that there was no necessity to file written opposition to this motion to lift the stay, which, in any case, appears premature.   
The motion accordingly is denied as premature, without prejudice to pursuing such relief if necessary once the criminal matters are resolved or continued for a reasonable time to permit plaintiffs a reasonable opportunity to seek immunity.
 
RULING:
[No Opposition]
Motion for Order Lifting Stay and Permitting Discovery to Proceed is DENIED without prejudice.  If the criminal case regarding the shouting incident is concluded by verdict, plea deals, or is dismissed, the court will lift all stays.  Once the stay is lifted, the court will make 5-year rule determination unless a party needs such a 5-year rule determination earlier.  
Motion to Reopen Discovery was calendared in error.  There are no papers in the file seeking such relief other than the motion addressed above, which motions have not already been determined by the previous orders of the Court.  
 
GIVEN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, AND TO PROMOTE APPROPRIATE SOCIAL DISTANCING, UNTIL FURTHER ORDERED, DEPARTMENT D IS ENCOURAGING AUDIO OR VIDEO APPEARANCES 
Please make arrangements in advance if you wish to appear via LACourtConnect by visiting www.lacourt.org, and scheduling a remote appearance.  Please note that LACourtConnect offers an audio-only appearance option at a current cost of $15.00 and a video appearance option at a cost of $23.00.   Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are encouraged not to personally appear, unless they have obtained advance permission of the Court.  Anyone who appears in person for the hearing will be required to comply with strict social distancing measures, including, but not limited to, assigned seating, capacity limitations in the courtroom, designated waiting areas, and strictly enforced spacing in line to communicate with court staff.  If no appearance is set up through LACourtConnect, or otherwise, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative. 

Case Number: BC617479    Hearing Date: November 08, 2019    Dept: NCD

TENTATIVE RULING

MOTION FOR PARTIAL LIFTING OF DISCOVERY STAY

Calendar: 8

Date: 11/8/19

Case No: BC 617479 Trial Date: None Set

Case Name: Torosian, et al. v. Fitilichyan, et al.

Moving Party: Defendant Armen Tashjian

Responding Party: Plaintiff Robert Torosian (No Opposition)

RELIEF REQUESTED:

Order lifting present stay on discovery for limited purpose of seeking discovery and deposition testimony from plaintiff Robert Torasian

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

Plaintiffs Akop Torosian and Robert Torosian allege that in April of 2014, plaintiff Akop Torosian retained the services of defendant Arutyun Fitilchyan, a locksmith, to provide locksmith services at plaintiff’s residence in Glendale. When defendant failed to show up for a scheduled meeting, and plaintiff called defendant to find out his estimated time of arrival, defendant became upset, using profanity and abusive language. Plaintiff contacted defendant Ashot Mkhitaryan, defendant Fitilchyan’s apprentice, whom plaintiff knew, and informed him of the phone conversation with Fitilchyan. Defendant Mkhitaryan arranged for plaintiff to meet with defendant Fitilchyan that day, at the body shop owned by defendant Hrachya Gasparyan, where plaintiff was physically assaulted by defendants Gasparyan and Fitilchyan, but was able to flee the shop.

The complaint alleges that defendant Mkhitaryan then lured plaintiff Akop Torosian to return to the body shop to resolve the dispute amicably. Plaintiff contacted his brother, plaintiff Robert Torosian, to accompany him.

Upon arrival at the body shop, defendant Fitilchyan charged at plaintiff Robert Torosian and attempted to strike him with his fists, while defendant Gasparyan produced a handgun and shot plaintiff Robert Torosian in the lower abdomen. Defendants Fitilchyan and Gasparyan, and possibly other shooters, continued shooting at plaintiffs. In defense of his brother and himself, plaintiff Akop Torosian produced a firearm and returned fire, and Fitilchyan and Gasparyan were shot in the cross-fire. Plaintiff Akop Torosian called 911 and plaintiff Robert Torosian was transported to the hospital, while plaintiff Akop Torosian was detained pending a criminal investigation and released later that evening.

The complaint alleges that defendants Fitilchyan and Mkhitaryan, along with their counsel, moving defendant Armen Tashjian, and defendant Armen Jermakyan, conspired to extort money from plaintiff Akop Torosian, and used threats, intimidation and fear to force plaintiffs to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, and also came up with a plan to provide law enforcement officers with inaccurate statements which would result in criminal charges against plaintiffs, and force them to pay the sums demanded. Fitilchyan, with the counsel of defendant Tashjian, gave a false statement to law enforcement, which resulted in charges being filed against plaintiff Akop Torosian. No charges were filed against plaintiff Robert Torosian. Plaintiff Akop Torosian was released on bail. The complaint alleges that from November of 2014 through June of 2015, defendants continued to attempt to extort $2 million from plaintiffs, demanding this sum in exchange for defendants’ help in having the charges dropped against Akop Torosian.

The complaint alleges that plaintiffs informed the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office of the plot to extort money, and that after investigation, defendant Tashjian was arrested and charged with extortion, conspiracy and other charges. The investigation against the remaining defendants is ongoing. In November 2015, the charges against plaintiff Akop Torosian were dropped.

Plaintiffs’ spouses, plaintiffs Marina Fermanyan and Elda Madatyan, bring a cause of action for loss of consortium against all defendants.

ANALYSIS:

On February 27, 2019, the court stayed discovery in this and a related case, and permitted Fitilchyan and Gasparyan to file an anti-SLAPP motion.

Moving defendant Armen Tashjian previously filed a motion seeking to have the discovery stay lifted in this matter as to all parties with the exception of Armen Tashjian, Hrachya Gasparian and Arutyun Fitilchyan. The motion was heard on July 26, 2019, and was denied, the court observing that moving party had failed to show that he needed discovery “for any particular purpose, or what discovery he is proposing to conduct.”

The motion indicates that the court denied the motion, but did so without prejudice to a party bringing a more narrowly-tailored motion to lift discovery as to particular individual parties, although this is not reflected in the court’s minute order.

The motion argues that plaintiff Robert Torosian is not in a situation where he has fifth amendment rights implicated in the pending criminal action against Tashjian, and that Torosian he has been giving statements to the police in connection with the criminal matter, and is providing electronically stored information and documents in his possession to the prosecution. Defendant argues that further delay in reviewing and producing such documents, in particular the electronically-stored documents and the metadata pertaining thereto, could be lost, destroyed, or overwritten prior to production in the present matter, so that a deposition of Robert Torosian is necessary to avoid spoliation of evidence. There is also an argument that Robert Torosian had previously represented at Tashjian’s preliminary hearing in June of 2019 that he was in possession of the cellular phone used to record defendant Tashjian, and phones subpoenaed by Tashjian, and that Robert Torosian was ordered by the judge to preserve phones and turn them over for imaging. The motion seems to argue that since the hearing on the previous motion in this action, at a continued preliminary hearing on September 16, 2019, Robert Torosian appeared and reneged on his agreement to permit imaging of his phone. [Tashjian Decl. ¶¶ 9, 11-13]. The argument is that there is doubt as to whether Torosian is still in possession of these phones or can produce them if necessary.

The motion seeks that the court order that moving party be permitted to take the deposition of Robert Torosian, and also propound special interrogatories, form interrogatories, requests for production of documents and requests for admissions. None of this proposed discovery is submitted to the court.

The preliminary hearing transcripts suggest that there was some sort of informal agreement that phones would be turned over, the court ordered that they not be destroyed, stating to Torosian, “So make sure you know, preserve that phone. Do not destroy it. Do not do anything to erase it.” [Ex 4, p. 53: 18-24]. It appears that the matter was left with Tashjian to submit a proposed order on the examination of that phone, non-invasive, by an expert with Torosian present. The argument seems to be that at the continued hearing, Torosian withdrew his agreement, but the transcript submitted is again from the June 17, 2019 hearing, not the continued September hearing, and the court seemed to conclude that a subpoena would be necessary. [Ex. 5, p. 64]. It does not appear that there has been some recent change of heart, but that this developed at the June hearing, and there was never any order by the other court to turn over the phones.

In any case, it would appear that permitting discovery without moving party submitting the exact discovery requests and deposition topics to be covered remains overly broad, and does not narrowly address the specific issue here, which apparently could be addressed by an order of the court prohibiting any destruction or erasure of evidence in this matter, and potentially permitting a discovery request for telephones alleged to have recorded the incident giving rise to this matter. In addition it is highly likely that the police have obtained and preserved the plaintiff’s cell phone records.

It is not clear why there is no opposition to this motion, and it might be discussed at the hearing if the parties agree that it is time for some limited discovery to begin in this matter in connection with witnesses such as Robert Torosian without fifth amendment concerns. The court will permit the submission of a proposed protective order with respect to the preservation of evidence for the court’s signature in this matter, and to include cell phones and electronically stored information pertaining to this matter, and to include cell phones and electronically stored information pertaining to this matter. Also, there is no evidence to spoliation of evidence or any threat of spoliation of evidence.

RULING:

[No Opposition]

Defendant Armen Tashjian’s Motion for Partial Lifting of Discovery Stay is DENIED.

The motion again fails to submit the exact discovery sought to be propounded, to permit the court to determine if the proposed discovery will address the issues of concern raised by the motion, in effect, that evidence which should be preserved for use in this action may not be appropriately preserved.

related-case-search

Dig Deeper

Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases


Latest cases represented by Lawyer GREENBLATT FREDRIC J