This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/14/2019 at 09:06:09 (UTC).

GOLTHA GREEN ET AL VS GILFERT JACKSON ET AL

Case Summary

On 06/16/2014 GOLTHA GREEN filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against GILFERT JACKSON. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are MARK A. BORENSTEIN, EMILIE H. ELIAS, KEVIN C. BRAZILE, GERALD ROSENBERG, RICHARD A. STONE, MITCHELL L. BECKLOFF, LAWRENCE CHO, ROBERT L. HESS, CRAIG D. KARLAN and LISA HART COLE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****8724

  • Filing Date:

    06/16/2014

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

MARK A. BORENSTEIN

EMILIE H. ELIAS

KEVIN C. BRAZILE

GERALD ROSENBERG

RICHARD A. STONE

MITCHELL L. BECKLOFF

LAWRENCE CHO

ROBERT L. HESS

CRAIG D. KARLAN

LISA HART COLE

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

ALKEBULAN SHAQEAL

CHATMAN DEBENAMBI

CHATMAN JEHLALI

GREEN GOLTHA

GREEN MARIA

Defendants

GASTON LAVELL

JACKSON GILFERT

JPMORGAN CHASE BANK N.A.

MUHAMMAD JAYSON

THE EVERGREEN ADVANTAGE LLC

DOES 1 THROUGH 500

LOPEZ JR. JESUS C.

T. D. SERVICE COMPANY INC.

PREFERRED REALITY ADVISORS INC.

FCI LENDER SERVICES INC.

JABREEL EBRAHIM

OPUS BANK

WILSHIRE FUND 54TH STREET LLC

LING EDYTHE I-TZE

SWEENEY RICHARD

36 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

FLETCHER FREDDIE

FREDDIE FLETCHER LAW OFFICES OF

Defendant Attorneys

FISKE WILLIAM S.

GARRETT & TULLY

GREEN & HALL

HILL FARRER & BURRILL

JACKSON DEMARCO & PECKENPAUGH

KNAPP PETERSEN & CLARKE

LEVINSON ARSHONSKY & KURTZ

NAHAI LAW GROUP

REBACK MCANDREWS KJAR WARFORD STOCKAPLER

BLACKLER MIA S

APC BUCHALTER

HALL HUGUENIN

BUCHALTER APC

ANDERSON MCPHARLIN AND CONNERS

MOLINA JESSE

HUGUENIN HALL

BLACKLER MIA S.

TORRE PAUL R.

7 More Attorneys Available

 

Court Documents

Request for Judicial Notice

7/15/2016: Request for Judicial Notice

Case Management Statement

9/16/2016: Case Management Statement

Request for Judicial Notice

9/22/2016: Request for Judicial Notice

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

10/4/2016: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Cross-Complaint

10/11/2016: Cross-Complaint

Motion for Reconsideration

10/17/2016: Motion for Reconsideration

Legacy Document

3/17/2017: Legacy Document

Legacy Document

5/5/2017: Legacy Document

Request for Judicial Notice

6/19/2017: Request for Judicial Notice

Legacy Document

10/5/2017: Legacy Document

Legacy Document

10/5/2017: Legacy Document

Minute Order

10/16/2017: Minute Order

Substitution of Attorney

10/25/2018: Substitution of Attorney

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

4/22/2019: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Notice of Joinder

5/10/2019: Notice of Joinder

Reply

8/12/2019: Reply

AMENDED PROOF OF SERVICE OF REQUEST TO CLERK TO ADD OMITTED ITEM TO RECORD ON APPEAL.

10/28/2016: AMENDED PROOF OF SERVICE OF REQUEST TO CLERK TO ADD OMITTED ITEM TO RECORD ON APPEAL.

NOTICE OF FEES DUE FOR CLERK'S TRANSCRIPT ON APPEAL

11/14/2017: NOTICE OF FEES DUE FOR CLERK'S TRANSCRIPT ON APPEAL

293 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 08/19/2019
  • Hearingat 09:30 AM in Department 86 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion - Other (name extension)

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  • 08/19/2019
  • Hearingat 10:00 AM in Department 86 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Order (name extension)

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  • 08/19/2019
  • Hearingat 09:30 AM in Department 86 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 08/12/2019
  • DocketReply ( Brief of Defendant Ridgeley Drive Apartments, LLC in Support of Motion to Reconsider Ruling on Motion to Dismiss and Objection to Request for Judicial Notice); Filed by Ridgeley Drive Apartments, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 08/12/2019
  • DocketReply (Defendants JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.'s and California Reconveyance Company's Reply Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion for Reconsideration of Their Statutory Motion to Dismiss); Filed by California Reconveyance Company (Defendant); JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Defendant)

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  • 08/12/2019
  • DocketObjection (JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and California Reconveyance Company's Objections to Plaintiff's Request for Judicial Notice); Filed by California Reconveyance Company (Defendant); JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Defendant)

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  • 08/09/2019
  • DocketRequest for Court Reporter Services by Party with Fee Waiver; Filed by Goltha Green (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/06/2019
  • DocketRequest for Judicial Notice; Filed by Goltha Green (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/06/2019
  • DocketOpposition (Defendant Jesus C. Lopez, Jr.s Opposition to Plaintiffs Motion for Order Setting Trial on Third Theory of Liability for Wrongful Foreclosure); Filed by Jesus C. Jr. Lopez (Defendant); San Miguel Irrevocable Trust (Defendant)

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  • 08/06/2019
  • DocketOpposition ( to Defendants? Motions for Reconsideration of Order Denying Motion to Dismiss For Failure to Join Indispensable Parties); Filed by Goltha Green (Plaintiff)

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1,818 More Docket Entries
  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by Jehlali Chatman (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Shaqeal Alkebulan (Plaintiff); Debenambi Chatman (Plaintiff); Jehlali Chatman (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketCOMPLAINT 1. DAMAGES FOR CONSPIRACY TO MALICIOUSLY FORECLOSE AND UNLAWFULLY SALE WITHOUT A RIGHT (TORT); ETC

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketMiscellaneous-Other; Filed by Jehlali Chatman (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketComplaint Filed

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Shaqeal Alkebulan (Plaintiff); Debenambi Chatman (Plaintiff); Jehlali Chatman (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 06/16/2014
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC548724    Hearing Date: January 22, 2021    Dept: 86

GREEN v. JPMORGAN CHASE BANK

Case Number: BC548724

Hearing Date: January 22, 2021

[Tentative] ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT JPMORGAN CHASE’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES


Defendant, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase), moves the court for an award of attorneys’ fees in the amount of $1,263,839.66 pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1032 and Civil Code section 1717. In a supplemental declaration, Defendant Chase requests additional attorneys’ fees in the amount of $1,768.90 that were incurred since October 1, 2020 and not otherwise encompassed in the motion.

Despite proper notice, Plaintiff did not file an opposition.

The motion is GRANTED.

APPLICABLE LAW

Code of Civil Procedure “Section 1032 is the fundamental authority for awarding costs in civil actions. It establishes the general rule that ‘[e]xcept as otherwise expressly provided by statute, a prevailing party is entitled as a matter of right to recover costs in any action or proceeding.’” (Scott Co. v. Blount, Inc. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1103, 1108.) “Code of Civil Procedure section 1033.5 provides, in subdivision (a)(10), that attorney fees are ‘allowable as costs under Section 1032’ when they are ‘authorized by’ either ‘Contract,’ ‘Statute,’ or ‘Law.’ Thus, recoverable litigation costs do include attorney fees, but only when the party entitled to costs has a legal basis, independent of the cost statutes and grounded in an agreement, statute, or other law, upon which to claim recovery of attorney fees.” (Santisas v. Goodin (1998) 17 Cal.4th 599, 606.) “Attorney's fees awarded pursuant to Section 1717 of the Civil Code are allowable costs under Section 1032 as authorized by subparagraph (A) of paragraph (10) of subdivision (a).” (Code Civ. Proc. § 1033.5, subd. (c)(5)(B).)

Civil Code section 1717 provides in pertinent part: “(a) In any action on a contract, where the contract specifically provides that attorney's fees and costs, which are incurred to enforce that contract, shall be awarded either to one of the parties or to the prevailing party, then the party who is determined to be the party prevailing on the contract, whether he or she is the party specified in the contract or not, shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees in addition to other costs. [¶] . . . [¶] (b)(1) The court, upon notice and motion by a party, shall determine who is the party prevailing on the contract for purposes of this section, whether or not the suit proceeds to final judgment. Except as provided in paragraph (2), the party prevailing on the contract shall be the party who recovered a greater relief in the action on the contract.”

ANALYSIS

Defendant Chase is Entitled to Attorneys’ Fees Pursuant to Civil Code section 1717 and Code of Civil Procedure section 1032:

Defendant Chase argues it is the prevailing party under Civil Code section 1717 and Code of Civil Procedure section 1032. The court agrees.

As noted by Defendant Chase in its moving papers, the history of this case is as long as it is litigious. This court has presided over the action nearly since its inception. The litigation spans from October 2014 when Plaintiff served Defendant Chase with the 215-page complaint to October 2020 when Defendant Chase prevailed in this matter following a three-part trial on the fifth amended complaint over a span of years. (Blackler Decl., ¶¶ 20-21.) Plaintiff’s claims all arise in some form from Plaintiff’s wrongful foreclosure claims.

Relevant to the prevailing party determination, Defendant Chase notes Plaintiff obtained six commercial loans, secured by four apartment buildings. Section 10 of each the promissory provides:

“In the event of any Default, or in the event that any dispute arises relating to the interpretation, enforcement, or performance of this Note, Lender shall be entitled to collect from Borrower on demand all fees and expenses incurred in connection therewith, including but not limited to fees of attorneys, accountants, appraisers, environmental inspectors, consultants, expert witnesses, arbitrators, mediators, and court reporters. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, Borrower shall pay all such costs and expenses incurred in connection with: (a) arbitration or other alternative dispute resolution proceedings, trial court actions, and appeals; (b) bankruptcy or other insolvency proceedings of Borrower, any guarantor or other party liable for any of the obligations of this Note or any party having any interest in any security for any of those obligations; (c) judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure on, or appointment of a receiver for, any property securing this Note; (d) postjudgment collection proceedings; (e) all claims, counterclaims, cross-claims, and defenses asserted in any of the foregoing whether or not they arise out of or are related to this Note or any security for this Note; (f) all preparation for any of the foregoing; and (g) all settlement negotiations with respect to any of the forgoing.”

(St. Pierre Decl., Ex. A.) As noted by Defendant Chase, Section 14 of the deeds of trust contain similar attorney fee entitlement language. (St. Pierre Decl., Ex. B.)

Defendant Chase argues the attorney fee recovery provisions are broad enough to include the claims asserted by Plaintiff in this litigation. Specifically, Defendant argues “all of the fees [Defendant Chase] seeks to recover were incurred in connection with proceedings covered by the promissory notes’ and deeds of trust’s fee-shifting provisions because they were incurred in (i) a “trial court action,” (ii) defenses asserted in” the foregoing, and/or (iii) preparation for the foregoing.” (Motion 14:19-22.)

Defendant Chase additionally contends it is the prevailing party as defined by the relevant statute.

Civil Code section 1717, subdivision (b) defines “prevailing party” as “the party” who recovered a greater relief in the action on the contract.” When the results of the litigation are “purely good news for one party and purely bad news for the other,” the trial court has “no discretion to deny attorney fees to the successful litigant.” (Hsu v. Abbara (1995) 9 Cal.4th 863, 875-877.)

Here, on August 28, 2020, the court entered judgment in this action. The judgment states: “Judgment shall be entered in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff. Plaintiff shall take nothing on his Fifth Amended Complaint. Defendants are deemed the prevailing and successful parties as against Plaintiff for purposes of an award of costs and attorneys’ fees as authorized by statute or law.”

The court agrees Defendant Chase clearly obtained the greater relief in this action—Plaintiff recovered nothing. Moreover, by electing not to oppose Defendant Chase’s motion, Plaintiff provides no counterargument to Defendant Chase’s assertion it is the prevailing party. Accordingly, the court finds Defendant Chase is the prevailing party for purposes of Civil Code 1717 and Code of Civil Procedure 1032.

Defendant Chase’s Attorneys’ Fees Are Reasonable:

Defendant Chase requests a lodestar amount of $1,263,839.66 with no adjustment or multiplier included. In fact, Defendant Chase represents it has incurred a total of $1,710,484.85 in fees but has reduced its fees by 25 percent to account for the notion some of its work may have benefited Chase-related entities—like CRP, Properties, Inc. and California Reconveyance Company—not entitled to recover fees. (Motion 14, fn. 4.)

  1. Lodestar Fees

When assessing the amount of any attorneys’ fee award, whether made under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 or otherwise, courts typically determine what is reasonable through the application of the “lodestar” method with adjustments for those hours and rates that are reasonable given the expertise of counsel and difficulty of the matter presented. (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1136; see also Mann v. Quality Old Time Service, Inc. (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 328, 342 [concerning apportionment of fees for partially successful actions].)

Under the lodestar method, a base amount is calculated from a compilation of (1) time reasonably spent and (2) the reasonable hourly compensation of each attorney. (Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 48; see also Meister v. Regents of University of California (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 437, 448-449.)

Normally, a “reasonable” hourly rate is the prevailing rate charged by attorneys of similar skill and experience in the relevant community. (PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095.) That amount may then be adjusted through the consideration of various factors, including “(1) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, (2) the skill displayed in presenting them, (3) the extent to which the nature of the litigation precluded other employment by the attorneys, and (4) the contingent nature of the fee award.” (Ketchum v. Moses, supra, 24 Cal.4th at 1132.) The Court is vested with discretion to determine which claimed hours were reasonably spent, and what an attorney’s reasonable hourly rate is. (Dover Mobile Estates v. Fiber Form Products, Inc. (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 1494, 1501; see also Flannery v. California Highway Patrol (1987) 61 Cal.App.4th 629, 644. [“We readily acknowledge the discretion of the trial judge to determine the value of professional services rendered in his or her court.”])

Defendant Chase’s attorneys’ hourly rates: Three law firms represented Defendant Chase during the years of litigation. (Blackler Decl., ¶ 39.)

Knapp, Petersen & Clarke, P.C. (Knapp Petersen) represented Defendant Chase from the inception of this action through November 2016, at which point Buchalter Nemer, PC (Buchalter) took on the representation of Defendant Chase as lead counsel; Defendant Chase’s lead trial counsel, Mia Blackler, left Buchalter to join Lubin Olson & Niewiadomski LLP (Lubin Olson), which took on the representation of Defendant Chase from October 2018 through the present. (Blackler Decl., ¶ 2.)

Mitchell B. Ludwig served as lead counsel and supervised all work performed as well as the preparation of all legal services for Defendant Chase by Knapp Petersen. (Ludwig Decl., ¶ 5.) As an attorney at Knapp Petersen, Ludwig attests his hourly rate increased from $275 to $282. (Ludwig Decl., ¶ 4, Ex. A.) Ludwig represents has been practicing law since 1984. (Ludwig Decl., ¶ 7.) Attorney Ludwig further attests to the background and positions of the other attorneys and paralegals with Knapp Peterson who provided services in this litigation. (Ludwig Decl., ¶ 7.) Attorney Ludwig represents that based on his practice and experience, these rates are reasonable. (Ludwig Decl., ¶¶ 8-9.)

Blackler is the current lead counsel for Defendant Chase and remains responsible for the supervision of all work performed, and the preparation of all invoices for legal services submitted to Defendant Chase by both Buchalter and Lubin Olson. (Blackler Decl., ¶¶ 2-3.)

As an attorney at Buchalter, Blackler attests to an hourly rate of $410 that increased to $460 in 2015. (Blackler Decl., ¶ 39.) Blackler has been practicing law since 1997. (Blackler Decl., ¶ 39.) As a partner with Lubin Olson, Blacker’s standard hourly rate went from $525 in 2018 to $540 in 2019. (Blackler Decl., ¶ 41.)

Blackler’s declaration also provides the background and position of the other attorneys and paralegals with Buchaler and Lubin Olson who provided services in this litigation. (Blackler Decl., ¶¶ 39-41; see also Blackler Supp. Decl., ¶ 8.) Further, Blackler represents based on her practice and experience, the rates sought are reasonable. (Blackler Decl., ¶¶ 43-44; Blackler Supp. Decl., ¶ 10.)

As Plaintiff has elected not to file an opposition to the motion, Plaintiff has not challenged the reasonableness of Defendants’ counsels’ hourly rates.

Given the experience, education and skills of the attorneys and paralegals for whom fees are sought, the court finds the rates sought and charged are reasonable and well within the range of reasonable rates in Los Angeles County. (Flannery v. California Highway Patrol, supra, 61 Cal.App.4th at 644.)

Hours expended: Defendant Chase represents it incurred $1,710,484.85 in attorneys’ fees litigating this matter. (Ludwig Decl., Ex. A; Blackler Decl., ¶ 38, Exs. 1 and 2.)

To put this number in context, the court notes the litigation spanned 6 years. Thus, attorneys’ fees in this matter averaged about $285,000 a year.

To justify these fees, Defendant Chase provides numerous examples where Plaintiff’s litigation tactics drove up the fees and costs in this case. (Blackler Decl., ¶¶ 5-27.) Defendant Chase notes Plaintiff filed six different versions of his complaint, requiring Defendant Chase to file successive demurrers and motions to strike. Additionally, Plaintiff’s failure to produce adequate discovery responses forced Defendant Chase to file motions to compel. Defendant Chase also notes from November 20 to December 20, 2017, Plaintiff noticed and cancelled seven ex parte hearings to stay or continue the trial date based on Plaintiff’s desire to amend his operative pleading. Between January 2 and January 16, 2018 Plaintiff noticed and cancelled seven ex parte hearings for an order shortening time on his motion for leave to amend his fifth amended complaint. A more detailed and extensive list of litigation activity is set forth in the moving papers. (Mot., 8:16-12:19.) As this court presided over all of the litigation over the years, the court knows well the tenor of the litigation as well as the issues raised in the courtroom.

The court has reviewed the evidence submitted in support of Defendant Chase’s motion, including Defendant Chase’s attorneys’ declarations and billing records. The fees—which contain an adequate description of the nature of work as well as the time incurred—all appear reasonable and appropriate. Moreover, by electing not to file an opposition, Plaintiff has not disputed any of the evidence.

Finally, the court notes by electing not to file an opposition to the motion, Plaintiff has not offered any objection as to the reasonableness of the fees sought. By failing to oppose Defendant Chase’s motion, he has not met his burden of demonstrating the attorneys’ fees sought should be reduced because the rates charged or time expended for services is unreasonable. (Lunada Biomedical v. Nunez (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 459, 488. [“In challenging attorney fees as excessive because too many hours of work are claimed, it is the burden of the challenging party to point to the specific items challenged, with a sufficient argument and citations to the evidence. General arguments that fees claimed are excessive, duplicative, or unrelated do not suffice. Failure to raise specific challenges in the trial court forfeits the claim on appeal.”])

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the motion for attorneys’ fees.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

January 21, 2021 ________________________________

Hon. Mitchell Beckloff

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC548724    Hearing Date: November 10, 2020    Dept: 86

GREEN v. JACKSON

Case Number: BC548724

Hearing Date: November 10, 2020

[Tentative] ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL

[Tentative] ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE AND ENTER DIFFERENT JUDGMENT


Plaintiff, Goltha Green, moves for a new trial pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure[1] section 657. Plaintiff also moves to vacate and enter a different judgment pursuant to section 663.

Defendant JPMorgan opposes the motion. The opposition is joined by the other Defendants.

Defendant JPMorgan’s request for judicial notice is granted.

The motion for a new trial is DENIED. The motion to vacate the judgment is DENIED.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

New Trial Motion Standard:

Plaintiff seeks relief from the court pursuant to section 657. Section 657 authorizes a trial court to grant a motion for a new trial on seven specific enumerated grounds. (§ 657.)

Section 657 provides with authority for the court to grant a new trial where an error “materially affect[s] the substantial rights” of a party, including as applicable here:

[¶] 6. Insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict or other decision, or the verdict or other decision is against law. [and]

[¶] 7. Error in law, occurring at the trial and excepted to by the party making the application.”

Motion to Vacate and Enter New Judgment Standard:

A motion to vacate a judgment under section 663 “ ‘empowers a trial court, on motion of “[a] party . . . entitl[ed] . . . to a different judgment” from that which has been entered, to vacate its judgment and enter “another and different judgment.” ’ ” (Garibotti v. Hinkle (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 470, 476; see also Forman v. Knapp Press (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 200, 202-203.) The motion “ ‘lies only where a “different judgment” is compelled by the facts found. [Citation.] A motion to vacate under section 663 may only be brought when “the trial judge draws an incorrect legal conclusion or renders an erroneous judgment upon the facts found by it to exist.” ’ [Citation.]” (Garibotti v. Hinkle, supra, 243 Cal.App.4th at 477.)

ANALYSIS

As an initial matter, the court notes in its statement of decision, the court is “not required to provide specific answers to . . . questions so long as the statement of decision fairly disclosed its determination of [the] issues.” (In re Marriage of Williamson (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1303, 1319.)[2] The court must “fairly disclose[] the determinations as to the ultimate facts and material issues in the case” in its statement of decision. (Central Valley General Hospital v. Smith (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 501, 513.) A request for a statement of decision requesting detailed evidentiary findings is “defective.” (Olen Commercial Realty Corp. v. County of Orange (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 1441, 1452.)

  1. New Trial Motion

Plaintiff appears to argue grounds for a new trial exist based on (1) an error in law and (2) the court’s decision was against the law.

Based on an error in law (Plaintiff’s first alleged ground for relief), a trial court may grant a new trial if “its original ruling, as a matter of law, was erroneous.” (Ramirez v. USAA Casualty Ins. Co. (1991) 234 Cal.App.3d 391, 397.) The moving party must also demonstrate that the court's error in law was prejudicial. (Bristow v. Ferguson (1981) 121 Cal.App.3d 823, 826.)

Based on a judgment against law (Plaintiff’s second alleged ground for relief), a new trial “is authorized only where there is no substantial evidence to sustain the verdict.” (Musgrove v. Ambrose Properties (1978) 87 Cal.App.3d 44, 56.) To sustain the motion, the evidence must be without conflict in any material point and insufficient as a matter of law to support the verdict. (Id.) However, “[a] new trial shall not be granted upon the ground of insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict . . . unless after weighing the evidence the court is convinced from the entire record, including reasonable inferences therefrom, that the court or jury clearly should have reached a different verdict or decision.” (§ 657.)

As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff suggests the court—in its statement of decision—failed to address a number of issues Plaintiff raised at trial and specifically requested be address in the Statement of Decision.

The court disagrees; the court addressed all the material issues in its statement of decision. Defendant JPMorgan recognizes a statement of decision is ‘against the law’ if the trial court fails to find on material issues, but argues this rule is limited. As the Court in Schmeltzer v. Gregory (1968) 266 Cal.App.2d 420, held:

“This rule, of course, does not apply where the fact is implied by law, where the fact is immaterial, where the fact is admitted by the pleadings, where the situation is such that it can be said that if the court had found on a material issue it would have been in such a way as to support the judgment, or where the correction of defective or omitted findings, or findings outside the issue, would not change the result.” (Id. at 423.)

For the reason identified below and upon review of the statement of decision, the court finds Plaintiff fails to identify any material issue not address in the court’s statement of decision.

“N” Hold Code

Plaintiff argues he requested a statement of decision on the following issues related to the 2419 Ridgeley-1 Loan:

(1) Whether Chase's error in uploading the $8,162.49 payment of the July 2010 installment for the 2419 Ridgeley-1 loan which plaintiff made by telephone on July 30, 2010 using Chase's Quick Pay service caused the six days delay in Chase processing the payment and there being insufficient funds in plaintiff’s bank account to cover the payment, resulting in Chase rejecting the payment for insufficient funds.

(2) Whether any term of the loan agreement gave Chase a right to place a 'N' hold code on plaintiff's loan accounts because the loan was in default.

(3) Whether Chase breached the loan agreements by placing an "N" hold code on plaintiff’s loan accounts on August 3, 2010.

(4) Whether the "N" hold code which Chase placed on plaintiff’s loan accounts on August 3, 2010 caused branch tellers to refuse payments on plaintiffs loans.

(5) Whether Chase refused the $8,162.49 cashier's check plaintiff tendered on August 6, 2010 to pay the July installment for the 2419 Ridgeley-1 loan.

(6) Whether Chase's management policies and practices, and operating procedures were terms of plaintiff's loan agreements.

Plaintiff argues the court’s statement of decision does not address any of these issues. Further, Plaintiff argues the evidence introduced at trial shows Plaintiff was not in default of the 2419 Ridgeley-1 deed of trust when the loan was accelerated, undermining the statement of decision’s finding that "[t]here is no evidence the Bank refused to accept any full reinstatement amount on any loan which would have prevented plaintiff from becoming current on a specific loan." (Statement of Decision, p. 16.) Plaintiff argues the issue is whether the Bank had the right to place an N code on Plaintiff’s loan account.

The court finds that Plaintiff’s arguments are essentially the same arguments made and rejected at trial and in the court’s subsequent request for statement of decision.

The “N” code issue has been addressed extensively by the court; the court found Plaintiff was not prevented from paying as result of this code, but rather “where a hold code is in place, the defaulting borrower could not make payments on the loan in the ordinary course of business at a branch of the Bank. Instead, such payments would have to be coordinated with the assigned representative.” (Statement of Decision, p. 12.) Plaintiff does not prevail on this issue.

Tate Richard July Letter

Plaintiff also argues the court failed to provide a statement of decision on the issue of the demand in Tate Richard’s July 26, 2010 letter. Specially, Plaintiff requested a statement of decision on the issue of: "Whether the demand in Tate Richard's July 26, 2010 letter to plaintiff demanding the ‘additional amount due of $26,052.39 by August 4, 2010’ [Plaintiffs Exhibit: Vol. 4 p. 93] superseded the July 20, 2010 delinquency notice for the 2425 Ridgeley-1 loan and breached the terms of the 2425 21 Ridgeley-1 loan agreement," and "whether the conflicting and ambiguous statements in Tate Richard's July 26, 2010 letter to plaintiff [Plaintiffs Exhibit: Vol. 4 p. 93] should be construed against Chase and interpreted to supersede the July 20, 2010 delinquency notice for 2425 Ridgeley-1 loan and to demand payment of the August installment by August 4, 2011.”

Plaintiff asserts the court’s statement of decision did not address this issue. Further, Plaintiff suggests the Tate Richard’s letter contains “conflicting demands.” (Motion 11:2.) Plaintiff also argues the letter superseded the July 20 delinquency notice. In opposition, Defendant JPMorgan argues the opposite; importantly, the court addressed the letter noting that the Tate Richard demand “was consistent with the amount necessary to reinstate the loan.” (Statement of Decision, p. 7-8.)

Plaintiff also suggests the letter created a new condition that constituted a breach of the loan agreement and excused Plaintiff’s performance of the loan agreement. Plaintiff cites Civil Code section 1511 as the basis for this excused performance. The court disagrees that Plaintiff’s performance was excused. The statute does not support excuse for a “new condition.” Moreover, court has repeatedly found Plaintiff was not prevented from performing. Plaintiff does not prevail on this issue. (Statement of Decision, p. 15-16.)

Cross-Default

With respect to the 2425 Ridgely-2 loan, Plaintiff argues that because the court incorrectly found Plaintiff was in default on the 2425 Ridgely-1 loan, the court also incorrectly found that there was a cross-default on the 2425 Ridgely-2 loan. As discussed, the court correctly found that there was a default in 2425 Ridgely-1 loan such that Plaintiff’s new trial arguments are insufficient to cause the court to reconsider this finding. The court also found a separate, independent breach on the 2425 Ridgely-2 loan. (Statement of Decision, p. 8.)

Lastly, Plaintiff makes an argument there was an error in the processing of Plaintiff’s “quick pay” transaction. Defendant JPMorgan demonstrates Plaintiff’s argument fails to show that Plaintiff was not in default. In particular, Defendant JPMorgan notes that, although the July 30 payment was not reversed until August 5, 2010, another monthly payment became due and owing in the interim (August 2010), so Plaintiff then owed both the July and August 2010 payments as of August 5, 2010, which were not paid and served as the basis for acceleration of the 2419 Ridgeley-1 loan. Plaintiff does not prevail on this issue.

Set Off Based on Mutual of Indebtedness

Again, Plaintiff argues he requested a statement of decision on the following issues:

“ (1) Whether Chase was indebted to plaintiff for at least $ 19,166 as of July 1, 2010 for plaintiffs payment of forced placed insurance charges.

(2) Whether, based on the mutuality of indebtedness, the court in this action could have effected a setoff of Chase's debt to plaintiff without any requirement that plaintiff request Chase to allow a setoff.

(3) Whether the mutuality of indebtedness extinguished by setoff the $ 15,068.16 balance plaintiff owed Chase on the July 20, 2010 delinquency notice for the 2425 Ridgeley-1 loan upon plaintiffs July 23, 2010 payment of $ 10,955.72 of the $26,023.88 Chase demanded.

(4) Whether the mutuality of indebtedness extinguished by setoff the $2,966.03 balance plaintiff owed Chase on the July 23, 2010 delinquency notice for the 54th Street loan upon plaintiffs July 30, 2010 payment of $ 13,475.44 of the $ 16,441.47 which Chase demanded for July delinquencies.

(5) Whether there is a legal requirement that one entitled to a setoff must make a request to the debtor to allow the setoff.

(6) Whether the fact Chase's debt to plaintiff for plaintiff’s payment of erroneous forced placed insurance charges derived from one loan account limited a setoff to that account as if it were a recoupment.

(7) Whether at any time before the June 15, 2011 trustee's sale Chase refunded to plaintiff or credited to any of plaintiff’s loan accounts any of the $19,166 plaintiff paid for erroneous forced placed insurance charges.

(8) Whether Chase ever refunded or credited to any of plaintiff’s loan accounts the $19,166 which plaintiff had paid for erroneous forced placed insurance charges.

(9) Whether a creditor loses his right to setoff if he fails to make a setoff request to the debtor before filing suit.”

Plaintiff argues the right of setoff, unlike recoupment, does not require the debts derive from the same loan or transaction. As the right of setoff arises when two parties are mutually debtor and creditor, the evidence warrants a finding that Plaintiff’s right to setoff arose when Plaintiff paid each installment of Defendant JPMorgan’s erroneous forced placed insurance charge from February 2009 through October 2009.

The court’s statement of decision—addressing the material questions—adequately explained why Plaintiff’s setoff arguments were insufficient to cure Plaintiff’s default. (Statement of Decision, p. 16-18.) Plaintiff does not prevail on this issue.

Cashier’s Check

Plaintiff argues he requested a statement of decision on the issue of whether Defendant JPMorgan received a $6,095.68 cashier's check on August 19, 2010 from Plaintiff for the 2419 Ridgeley-1 loan, but the court purportedly made no finding on this issue. Plaintiff further argues the evidence warranted finding that Defendant JPMorgan received the $6,095.68 cashier's check whether or not Defendant JPMorgan has a record of receiving it.

The court addressed this issue in its statement of decision. The court recognized that an envelope was delivered to Defendant JPMorgan but argues there was no evidence that these funds were converted by Defendant JPMorgan for its own use (the funds were returned) and Plaintiff never made any further payments on the 2419 Ridgley loan. (Statement of Decision, p. 10.)

  1. Motion to Vacate and Enter a New Judgment

Plaintiff argues he is entitled to a different judgment than the judgment entered by the court based on eight separate grounds.

First, Plaintiff argues the notices of default upon which the foreclosure is based were void. The court found that the notices of default were not void. (Statement of Decision, p. 21.) Also, importantly, the court concluded—with respect to the wrongful foreclosure claim—Plaintiff did not suffer any prejudice from Defendant JPMorgan’s purported failure set forth the reinstatement amount required to be paid to cure the default in the notices of default. (Statement of Decision, p. 21.)

Second, Plaintiff argues the court improperly imposed a duty on the trustor (Plaintiff), requiring the trustor seek from the beneficiary the “correct amount” to reinstate when the notices of default demanded the full accelerated principal. Plaintiff contends the court has no authority to impose on the trustor additional duties not authorized by statute or case law as a condition for reinstating his loans. Here, the court did not impose a duty on Plaintiff to seek out the “correct amount” to reinstate his loans; instead, the court simply reiterated that it was Defendant JPMorgan’s duty to provide the correct reinstatement amount to Plaintiff “upon inquiry.” (Statement of Decision, p. 20, n. 5 [citing Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn. (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 202, 216].) Indeed, the Court found Plaintiff could have tendered the undisputed amounts due to meet his obligation to tender—evidencing no obligation for Plaintiff to seek out the “correct amount due” from Defendant JPMorgan. (Statement of Decision, p. 21-22.)

Third, Plaintiff suggests the foreclosure bid approval memoranda in this case (which was admitted into evidence during the Phase 2 trial for the “limited” purpose of showing the amount of rents held by the receiver of plaintiff’s properties) was improperly used by the court in its statement of decision of the Phase 3 trial (and without notice to Plaintiff) for “some other, purportedly, non-hearsay purpose.” Plaintiff provides no legal authority that this evidence—which was admitted at trial—could only be considered for one portion of the trial. Moreover, Plaintiff understood this evidence could/would be used for Phase 3 and did not object. (Blackler Decl., Ex. 1 [Aug. 19, 2019 Trial Transcript, at 155:7-19].) Thus, the court properly relied on this evidence.

Fourth, Plaintiff argues the court “drew the incorrect legal conclusion that CRC conducted the trustee's sale at the instruction of the Bank based on the foreclosure bid approval memorandum.” (Motion, 6:2-4.) The instruction stated that "title should be taken in the name of . . . CRP Properties" "[i]n the event Bank is the successful bidder at the time of sale." Plaintiff contends, however, CRP—not Defendant JPMorgan—was the highest bidder and purchaser.

Again, the court rejected this argument. The June 10, 2011 Foreclosure Bid Approval Memoranda expressly instructed CRC to take title in CRP’s name, Defendant JPMorgan’s subsidiary, if Defendant JPMorgan was the successful bidder at the trustee’s sales; there is no dispute that Defendant JPMorgan was the beneficiary under all of the deeds of trusts at the time the trustee’s sales took place and, pursuant to each of the Foreclosure Bid Memoranda, CRC properly conducted the trustee’s sales on behalf of Defendant JPMorgan. (Trial Exs. 1036, 1063, 1101, 1155, 1194, and 1232.) Thus, the court properly found that the “evidence before the court demonstrates CRC conducted the trustee’s sale of the properties at the instruction of the Bank not CRP Properties, Inc.” (Statement of Decision, p. 27.)

Fifth, Plaintiff argues: “The statement of decision finds that [Defendant JPMorgan] was the beneficiary at the time of the foreclosure sale. The court took judicial notice of the trustee's deeds which designate CRP as the purchaser by credit bid. These facts state a wrongful foreclosure claim on the theory the foreclosure sale was void for want of consideration because the consideration allegedly paid by a non-beneficiary, a credit bid, did not, by definition, legally exist.” Plaintiff provides no legal authority or evidence for this argument. Moreover, the court specifically rejected the argument.

Sixth, Plaintiff argues the notice of default on the Imperial Loan was incorrect as it falsely stated Plaintiff failed to pay the June and July loan installments; thus, it was irrelevant to the foreclosure that Plaintiff failed to pay the August payment. Plaintiff fails to show any prejudice to Plaintiff from this purported error by Defendant JPMorgan where the evidence clearly shows Plaintiff was in default on the Imperial Loan. (Statement of Decision, p. 4-5, 27.)

Seventh, Plaintiff argues the notice of default for the 2419 Ridgeley-2 loan fails to identify the cross-default on the 2419 Ridgely-1 loan as the basis for the default. The court did not find that Plaintiff was in default on the 2419 Ridgeley-2 loan exclusively because of the default on the 2419 Ridgeley-1 loan; rather, the court also concluded that Plaintiff failed to pay his August loan installment on this loan. (Statement of Decision, p. 8.) Thus, Plaintiff’s argument is not material to vacating the court’s judgment.

Finally, eighth, Plaintiff argues the court’s judgment must be vacated because the mutually of indebtedness arising from Plaintiff’s payment of his forced place insurance extinguished the loan amounts owed to Defendant JPMorgan. Plaintiff—as he did at trial and in motion practice before trial—attempts to distribute $19,166 in the forced placed insurance payment amongst the various defaulted loans to establish Plaintiff was somehow current on some of his loan obligations. The court has repeatedly rejected this argument and did so again in its statement of decision. (Statement of Decision, p. 16-18.)

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the motions are denied.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

November 10, 2020 ________________________________

Hon. Mitchell Beckloff

Judge of the Superior Court


[1] All further statutory references are to this Code unless otherwise stated.

[2] “There were seven controverted issues before the trial court. Mary Kate’s request for a statement of decision was 14 pages and included 147 questions.” (Ibid.)

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