This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/07/2019 at 01:14:24 (UTC).

CARL JAMES SOHN VS ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/19/2016 CARL JAMES SOHN filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are DALILA CORRAL LYONS and RITA MILLER. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7429

  • Filing Date:

    04/19/2016

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

DALILA CORRAL LYONS

RITA MILLER

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

SOHN CARL JAMES

LAW OFFICES OF CARL JAMES SOHN

SOHN CARL JAMES DBA LAW OFFICES OF CARL JAMES SOHN A SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP LAW FIRM

Defendants and Respondents

CHAI HONG IN

UM MOON SUP

AN KWANG SUK

PARK JAMES

NOH SOO JUNG

JUNG YOUNG SIK

ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH

PARK HYUNG JIM BOB

LEE SEOUNG RAE

CHOI SOO NAM

LEE YOUNG SE

PARK HWAN

UM CHANG WOONG

LEE SAE HOON

LEE HUBERT HYO

LEE YOUNG SONG

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

LAW OFFICES OF CARL JAMES SOHN

CARL JAMES SOHN LAW OFFICES OF

SOHN CARL JAMES

Defendant Attorneys

THE MORRISON LAW GROUP

HOWARD B. KIM PC

MORRISON EDWARD F JR

CHA ALEX

 

Court Documents

JUDGMENT OF DISMISSAL IN FAVOR OF THE ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH AND HYUNG JIM BOB PARK

9/21/2016: JUDGMENT OF DISMISSAL IN FAVOR OF THE ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH AND HYUNG JIM BOB PARK

ORDER SUSTAINING DEFENDANTS ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH'S AND PASTOR HYUNG JIM BOB PARK'S DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT ACTION FILED: ANNI 19.2016

9/21/2016: ORDER SUSTAINING DEFENDANTS ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH'S AND PASTOR HYUNG JIM BOB PARK'S DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT ACTION FILED: ANNI 19.2016

NOTICE OF STATUS OF APPEAL

3/23/2018: NOTICE OF STATUS OF APPEAL

Minute Order

4/19/2018: Minute Order

NOTICE OF CONTFNUENCE OF STATUS CONFERENCE RE: APPEAL

4/23/2018: NOTICE OF CONTFNUENCE OF STATUS CONFERENCE RE: APPEAL

REMITTITUR

5/21/2018: REMITTITUR

Minute Order

6/12/2018: Minute Order

STATUS CONFERENCE BRIEF OF ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH AND HYUNG JIM BOB PARK RE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE SET FOR AUGUST 16, 2018

7/10/2018: STATUS CONFERENCE BRIEF OF ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH AND HYUNG JIM BOB PARK RE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE SET FOR AUGUST 16, 2018

Unknown

8/14/2018: Unknown

NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBERS

8/14/2018: NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBERS

Minute Order

8/16/2018: Minute Order

COURT ORDER - STATUS CONFERENCE RE APPEAL

8/16/2018: COURT ORDER - STATUS CONFERENCE RE APPEAL

NOTICE OF RULING AND COURT ORDER RE: REMOVAL OF STAY; COURT'S INTENTION TO RULE OF TWO CAUSES OF ACTION NOT PREVIOUSLY RULED UPON BY THE COURT; CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; OSC RE: PROOF OF SERVICE AS

8/24/2018: NOTICE OF RULING AND COURT ORDER RE: REMOVAL OF STAY; COURT'S INTENTION TO RULE OF TWO CAUSES OF ACTION NOT PREVIOUSLY RULED UPON BY THE COURT; CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; OSC RE: PROOF OF SERVICE AS

NOTICE OF RULING AND COURT ORDER RE: REMOVAL OF STAY; COURT?S INTENTION TO RULE OF TWO CAUSES OF ACTION NOT PREVIOUSLY RULED UPON BY THE COURT; CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; OSC RE: PROOF OF SERVICE AS

8/24/2018: NOTICE OF RULING AND COURT ORDER RE: REMOVAL OF STAY; COURT?S INTENTION TO RULE OF TWO CAUSES OF ACTION NOT PREVIOUSLY RULED UPON BY THE COURT; CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; OSC RE: PROOF OF SERVICE AS

Minute Order

9/6/2018: Minute Order

1. NOTICE OF HEARING ON DEMURRER; 2. NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; ETC

9/13/2018: 1. NOTICE OF HEARING ON DEMURRER; 2. NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; ETC

Unknown

10/29/2018: Unknown

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

11/6/2018: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

155 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/30/2019
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 20, Dalila Corral Lyons, Presiding; Informal Discovery Conference (IDC) - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 05/23/2019
  • Notice (of Hearing Dates Change Regarding Demurrers); Filed by Kwang Suk An (Defendant); James Park (Defendant); Soo Nam Choi (Defendant) et al.

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Demurrer - without Motion to Strike (CRS# 759168751124); Filed by Soo Nam Choi (Defendant)

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Declaration (of Alex Cha Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 430.41 in Support of Demurrer of Defendant; CRS#759168751124); Filed by Soo Nam Choi (Defendant)

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Demurrer - without Motion to Strike (CRS# 067254371733); Filed by Chang Woong Um (Defendant)

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Declaration (of Alex Cha Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 430.41 in Support of Demurrer of Defendant; CRS#036248865992); Filed by James Park (Defendant)

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Declaration (of Alex Cha Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 430.41 in Support of Demurrer of Defendant; CRS#115177648148); Filed by Young Song Lee (Defendant)

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Declaration (of Alex Cha Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 430.41 in Support of Demurrer of Defendant; CRS#067254371733); Filed by Chang Woong Um (Defendant)

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Declaration (of Alex Cha Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 430.41 in Support of Demurrer of Defendant; CRS9790437904174); Filed by Kwang Suk An (Defendant)

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Demurrer - without Motion to Strike (036248865992); Filed by James Park (Defendant)

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259 More Docket Entries
  • 06/30/2016
  • Declaration; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 06/30/2016
  • Demurrer; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 06/30/2016
  • Declaration; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 06/30/2016
  • NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR PEREMPTORY DISQUALIFICATION OF ASSIGNED JUDGE PURSUANT TO CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 170.6 BY ORIENTAL MISSION CHURCH AND HYUNG JIM BOB PARK; DECLARATION OF EDWARD F. MORRISON, JR. IN SUPPORT THEREOF

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  • 06/30/2016
  • Demurrer; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 04/22/2016
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/22/2016
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 04/19/2016
  • SUMMONS

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  • 04/19/2016
  • COMPLAINT FOR 1. BREACH OF CONTRACT; ETC

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  • 04/19/2016
  • Complaint; Filed by Carl James Sohn (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC617429    Hearing Date: July 23, 2020    Dept: 20

Tentative Ruling

Judge David J. Cowan

Department 20


Hearing Date: Thursday, July 23, 2020

Case Name: Carl Sohn v. Oriental Mission Church et al.

Case No.: BC617429

Motion: Summary Judgment

Moving Party: Defendants Oriental Mission Church and Hyung Park

Responding Party: Plaintiff Carl Sohn

Notice: OK


Ruling: The Motion is DENIED.

Plaintiff to give notice.

If counsel do not submit on the tentative, they are strongly encouraged to appear by Court Call rather than appearing in person due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.


 

DISCUSSION

 

On April 19, 2016, Plaintiff Carl Sohn filed a Complaint against Defendants Oriental Mission Church (“OMC”) and Hyung Park (“Park”), and several other individual defendants connected with OMC. Sohn states claims for breach of written and oral contract in seeking to recover attorney’s fees from former clients OMC and Park. The complaint alleges defendants owe Sohn both for services performed between 2006 and September 2010 (with a balance remaining of $428,042.68) (i.e., before Sohm and OMC entered into the February 2011 attorney client fee agreement at issue here) and fees incurred thereafter (with a balance remaining of $309,791.62). Sohn alleges he misplaced the retainer agreement he reached with defendants on February 8, 2007.

On January 28, 2020, OMC and Park filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court has reviewed the motion, the Opposition filed April 15, 2020, as well as the Reply filed July 15, 2020, and accompanying documents. The Court grants the requests for judicial notice filed by each side.

By way of background, this case is here post remittitur following a Court of Appeal decision reversing a prior order of this Court dismissing the action on statute of limitations grounds, finding that defendants might have been estopped to assert the statute of limitation by allegedly promising to pay Sohn and further making periodic payments towards amounts Sohn asserts were owed.

The services in question relate in part to the successful efforts by Sohn on behalf of Park and others (“the ousted elders”) to regain control of OMC from other persons who were exercising control. The ousted elders regained control in 2011. It is for this reason that Sohn’s work for OMC itself commenced in 2011. Sohn contends that his services for the ousted elders was essentially on behalf of OMC because they should have been in control and not the others. OMC, in his view at least, was not itself an adverse party; it was the persons who were asserting control of it.

The 2011 retainer agreement states that Client affirms it owes $428,042.68 in fees and costs to lawyer, that those are overdue and that Client will pay. This paragraph is however deleted and the deletion is initialed. Sec. 3.5 of the agreement also contained a lawyer lien for fees. It also stated Client may seek independent counsel concerning this provision. Defendants contend Sohn did not give them that advise. The lien provision also has a space to initial and Client did not initial. Five individuals signed the agreement on behalf of the Church, but not Park.

Defendants move for summary judgment on the basis that the 2011 agreement is null and void. They contend the agreement is void and unenforceable for several reasons:

On the first point: It is undisputed that Park did not sign the agreement; however, as discussed below, it disputed whether he was the Senior Pastor when the 2011 agreement was executed. In addition, the cited provisions of the Constitution do not appear to require that the Senior Pastor have signed this agreement for it to be valid: Article 77 defines the organization of the Session, which includes the Senior Pastor. Article 78 defines the authority of the Session relating to spiritual matters. Article 79 provides for the Senior Pastor to be the Moderator of the Session and provides for what happens when the Senior Pastor is unable to attend, including for a designee. Article 80 sets forth the duties and responsibilities of the Session, including oversight of finances, governance and administration and management of properties and assets. Article 80 does not state specifically that the Session is responsible for approving agreements, but even assuming this sort of agreement might be contemplated, still does not state who is authorized to enter into an agreement on behalf of the Church or mandate that the Senior Pastor do so. Defendants did not file any declaration of Park or other of the clients in support of their motion to provide context. By contrast, Sohn states in para. 6 of his declaration that the Pastor’s consent was not required. Moreover, there is also no foundation laid for the Court to consider the OMC Constitution in any event. It is not clear if the Court can take judicial notice of this document – though no objection is made to the Court doing so. Even assuming the Court can take notice of its provisions, the Court still does not know if those who did sign for the Church are members of the Session and if they are whether that would constitute a quorum making Park’s signature unnecessary. Defendants also rely on Sohn’s deposition testimony to support their contention that Park’s signature was required; however, even if he admitted that it still would not be the best evidence of its provisions. In addition, in response to Fact 19 in the Separate Statement, Sohn inconsistently asserts that he now believes Park did not become Pastor until July 2011 (after the agreement was entered into.) Sohn Decl., para. 2 In summary, Defendants do not meet their burden. Facts 18, 19 and 23 are disputed.

On the second point: The Court does not find Sohn had a conflict in 2011 in taking on representation of OMC by reason of his having represented the ousted elders previously – thereby putting Facts 20, 21 and 22 in the Separate Statement into dispute. Defendants have not established that Sohn sued OMC as opposed to those persons who were then in control of OMC. Moreover, in representing the ousted elders, it appears they were aligned with the true interests of the OMC where they were apparently wrongfully ousted. Defendants have not shown how there was either a  “directly adverse” client or a situation where the ability of Sohn to carry out his intended duties was “materially limited.” Hence, there was no cause for Sohn to secure any waiver. In turn, Defendants have not shown that they did not in fact owe Sohn what he had initially made part of the proposed agreement so as to indicate that he was improperly taking advantage of the client. Again, Defendants did not submit any evidence in this regard.

On the third point: Where, according to Sohn, Client deleted what was stated concerning what was owed in fees and initialed that deletion (Sohn Decl., para. 4), there was no resulting lien for those prior fees and hence no need to consult with independent counsel for that reason. In turn, where Client did not initial the provision for a lien, as to any future fees, no lien resulted for those either and hence avoided any need to have consulted with independent counsel. Regardless, there is still a conflict in the evidence where Sohn asserts (in para. 5 of his declaration) he did advise the clients of their right to seek independent counsel. Facts 14 and 16 are also therefore in dispute.

Summary judgment could also not be granted in any event here where even if the 2011 agreement was void, for sake of argument, so as to preclude Sohn recovering for services beforehand, that does not address whether defendants would still be liable for fees thereafter. In this regard, the complaint is as against both OMC and park. No evidence is offered that Park is not individually responsible. In addition, the claim the 2007 agreement is unenforceable is not established either. That Sohn does not now have it does not mean he cannot testify to its having been entered into – as he does in para. 3 of his declaration. Defendants do not deny there was such agreement. Also, the claim that the claim for fees deriving from the 2007 agreement are now time barred as a matter of law has already been rejected by the Court of Appeal. Further, the motion does not address whether even if the 2007 and 2011 agreements were unenforceable whether Sohn is precluded from recovery based on the alleged oral agreements. Defendants did not move for summary adjudication.

The Court does not now need to reach the issue whether OMC itself can be liable for attorney’s fees before 2011 when OMC itself did not sign the retainer agreement until 2011. Whether the ousted elders were authorized to act on behalf of OMC, as allegedly improperly ousted elders, and or are estopped to assert they were not acting on its behalf in hiring Sohn, will be an issue for trial. Likewise, the Court does not reach the issue Sohn asserts in opposition to the motion that defendants are estopped to assert there was a conflict where they continued to accept his services on their behalf. As discussed above, the Court finds that defendants have not established their burden of proving there was a conflict in the first place.

CONCLUSION

 

For the foregoing reasons, the Motion is DENIED.

Plaintiff to give notice.

If counsel do not submit on the tentative, they are strongly encouraged to appear by Court Call rather than appearing in person due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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