On 07/25/2016 ROIAL T DOUGLAS filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against JORGE AURELIO GARCIA. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is JON R. TAKASUGI. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
JON R. TAKASUGI
DOUGLAS ROIAL T.
GARCIA JORGE AURELIO
GARCIA MAYRA M.
DOES 1 TO 100
DOUGLAS KEIARA M.
DOUGLAS KEIANE A.
LAW OFFICES OF LEE C. ARTER
TALMOR ORLY SHERY
SALLEY ROBERT B. ESQ.
1/8/2018: Minute Order
2/14/2018: NOTICE OF REJECTION APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM
2/14/2018: NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM
2/14/2018: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM-CIVIL
3/9/2018: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM?CIVIL
3/14/2018: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM CIVIL EX PARTE
4/9/2018: Minute Order
6/7/2018: ANSWER TO COMPLAINT
6/13/2018: ANSWER TO COMPLAINT
8/15/2018: Minute Order
8/16/2018: NOTICE OF RULING
5/7/2019: Notice of Settlement
5/7/2019: Minute Order
5/15/2019: Request for Dismissal
7/25/2016: COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)
6/27/2017: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM?CIVIL
7/10/2017: NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM
Request for Dismissal (Filed but not Entered); Filed by Roial T. Douglas (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
at 10:23 AM in Department 3, Jon R. Takasugi, Presiding; Non-Appearance Case ReviewRead MoreRead Less
Certificate of Mailing for (Minute Order (Non-Appearance Case Review Re Notice of Settlement) of 05/07/2019); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Minute Order ( (Non-Appearance Case Review Re Notice of Settlement)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Notice of Settlement; Filed by Roial T. Douglas (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
at 08:30 AM in Department 3, Jon R. Takasugi, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - StipulationRead MoreRead Less
at 10:00 AM in Department 3, Jon R. Takasugi, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - StipulationRead MoreRead Less
Stipulation and Order (TO CONTINUE TRIAL); Filed by Jorge Aurelio Garcia (Defendant); Mayra M. Garcia (Defendant); Mayra Mejia (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Partial Dismissal (with Prejudice); Filed by Roial T. Douglas (Plaintiff); Keiara M. Douglas (Legacy Party); Keiane A. Douglas (Legacy Party)Read MoreRead Less
NOTICE OF RULINGRead MoreRead Less
Ord Apptng Guardian Ad Litem; Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM CIVILRead MoreRead Less
Application ; Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
Application ; Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM CIVILRead MoreRead Less
ORDER ON COURT FEE WAIVERRead MoreRead Less
Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Roial T. Douglas (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Request to Waive Court Fees; Filed by Roial T. Douglas (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)Read MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC628126 Hearing Date: November 05, 2020 Dept: 31
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT
ROIAL T DOUGLAS, ET AL.,
JORGE AURELIO GARCIA, ET AL.,
CASE NO: BC628126
[TENTATIVE] ORDER DENYING PETITION TO APPROVE MINOR’S COMPROMISE WITHOUT PREJUDICE
November 5, 2020
Plaintiffs, Roial (“Petitioner”), Kieane, and Keira Douglas filed this action against Defendants, Jorge Aurelio Garcia, et al. for damages arising out of an automobile accident. Kieane and Keira are both minors and are appearing in the action through their mother and guardian ad litem (“GAL”), Petitioner.
This matter has been confounded by Plaintiffs’ counsel’s failure to comply with the applicable laws concerning this matter, and the court’s previous orders. Petitioner first filed expedited petitions for Keira and Kieane on 4/7/20, which were denied on 6/10/20. Petitioner filed a second set of expedited petitions on 8/21/20, which were again denied for the same reasons as the previous petitions on 9/29/20. On 10/8/20, Petitioner filed the instant noticed petitions to approve compromise of pending actions.
On 6/10/20, the court issued the following order denying Petitioner’s first set of expedited petitions:
Petitioner indicates the proceeds of the settlement have already been paid to her, without bond, and prior to court approval of the settlement. Notably, Plaintiffs filed a request for dismissal of the action on August 12, 2019; the Clerk rejected the dismissal because there was no proof of payment of waived fees. On August 28, 2019, the Court held an OSC re: dismissal. The Court asked Counsel to file a new request for dismissal but, unfortunately, did not instruct Counsel that a petition to approve minor’s compromise was necessary. On September 27, 2019, the Court held an OSC re: dismissal. The Court’s minute order states, “The Court notes that the plaintiff is a minor. The written Request for Dismissal lodged on September 6, 2019 will not be processed at this time. Counsel for plaintiff is to file an Expedited Petition to Approve a Minor’s Compromise or a regular Petition to Approve a Minor’s Compromise and schedule a hearing on the petition.” On December 12, 2019, the Court held another OSC re: dismissal. The Court again advised the parties that minor’s comp petitions were necessary prior to dismissal of the action.
On March 11, 2020, Petitioner filed two documents entitled “Declaration of Written Assurance.” The declarations are signed by Petitioner, who declares her children’s estate does not exceed $5,000.00, and she will keep the funds for the children in their best interest. The same day, Petitioner lodged proposed orders approving the settlements. Petitioner did not, however, file actual expedited petitions to approve the compromises until April 7, 2020.
In connection with the petitions, Petitioner includes the Declaration of Counsel, which explains that “Defendant’s carrier did not request the plaintiff complete a Minor’s Compromise as a prerequisite to settlement and tendered payment on May 3, 2019. Our office obtained a signed written assurance from Guardian Ad Litem/Custodian parents pursuant to Probate Code Section 3401 and disbursed the minors’ settlement funds to Guardian Ad Litem/custodian parents Roial Douglas later in May 2019.” At ¶9 of his declaration, Counsel makes the patently false statement that he has been attempting to have a request for dismissal processed repeatedly, and “not once has the court indicated to our office or to defense counsel…that the cause for rejecting the Request for Dismissal is that the court wants Minor’s Compromises to be filed.” As noted above, this information was in both the September 27, 2019 minute order and also the December 12, 2019 minute order.
Also at ¶9, Counsel makes the patently false statement that “The minors’ settlement proceeds had permissibly been disbursed to the custodian parent six months ago.” An enforceable settlement of a minor's claim or that of a person lacking the capacity to make decisions can only be consummated with court approval. Prob.C. §§ 2504 , 3500 , 3600 et seq.; CCP § 372; see Pearson v. Superior Court (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1333, 1337.
For this purpose, a petition for approval must be presented to the court. Until it is granted (signed), there is no final settlement, and any settlement agreement therefore is voidable. Scruton v. Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1596, 1603-1605. However, while the petition for court approval is pending, the settlement agreement is voidable only at the election of the minor or minor's guardian or guardian ad litem; defendant or its insurer has no right to repudiate the settlement. Pearson, supra, at 1339.
A petition for court approval of a compromise or covenant not to sue under CCP § 372 must comply with CRC (Probate Rules) 7.950 , 7.951 and 7.952 . An order for deposit of funds of a minor or person lacking decision-making capacity and a petition for the withdrawal of such funds must comply with CRC (Probate Rules) 7.953 and 7.954; CRC 3.1384 ; see L.A. Sup.Ct. Rules 4.115-4.118.
These rules are not new, and Counsel is charged with knowledge of these rules. The Court finds Counsel’s disbursement of the settlement funds without approval, and attempt to dismiss the case without approval, to be objectively unreasonable. The Court will not grant these petitions on an expedited basis. Petitioner must re-submit the petitions with a noticed hearing date. The Court will require Petitioner and the minor children to appear and testify in connection with the proceedings, as required by CRC 7.952. The Court notes that Keira is seventeen years old, and it is particularly troubling that her settlement proceeds were given to her mother without her personal testimony to the Court in this regard.
When Petitioner files the petitions with noticed hearing dates, she must ensure the exhibits to the petitions are tabbed using the outlines feature of eCourt. Tabs on exhibits render them easier to review. She must also ensure all of the parties’ names are spelled correctly throughout the petitions; the Court notes that the names are not spelled consistently in the petitions, which rendered review of the petitions confusing.
The Court also advises Petitioner and Counsel that three issues must be addressed at the noticed hearing. First, Counsel seeks to recover a 33% fee in connection with the settlement. The Court typically limits fees to 25% in connection with minors’ settlements. The Court is not inclined to award Counsel with a higher fee where, as here, Counsel failed to properly undertake his duties in connection with the settlement. Second, at ¶13 of the petition, Petitioner was required to provide information about how the gross settlement was apportioned. Either box 13b(4) or 13b(5) was required to be checked. This must be cured in the noticed petition. Finally, Petitioner seeks to have the costs of suit apportioned 1/3 each to the three plaintiffs. Their settlements, however, are not equal. When costs are not apportioned on a pro rata basis, Attachment 15c is required to state why the costs are not apportioned per the gross settlement amount.
(Min. Order 6/10/20.)
On 9/29/20, the court issued the following order denying Petitioner’s second set of expedited petitions:
Petitioner again filed two Declarations of Written Assurance pursuant to Probate Code § 3401. Petitioner asserts the total estate of Keira’s and Kieane’s does not exceed $5,000.00 in value. Further, Petitioner acknowledges she is required to hold to money in the minors’ estates in trust for minors’ benefit and account to each of them for the management of the money when they reach the age of majority.
Probate Code § 3401 states:
(a) Where a minor does not have a guardian of the estate, money or other property belonging to the minor may be paid or delivered to a parent of the minor entitled to the custody of the minor to be held in trust for the minor until the minor reaches majority if the requirements of subdivision (c) are satisfied.
(c) This section applies only if both of the following requirements are satisfied:
(1) The total estate of the minor, including the money and other property to be paid or delivered to the parent, does not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) in value.
(2) The parent to whom the money or other property is to be paid or delivered gives the person making the payment or delivery written assurance, verified by the oath of such parent, that the total estate of the minor, including the money or other property to be paid or delivered to the parent, does not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) in value.
The expedited petitions are denied without prejudice for the following reasons:
As explained in the court’s 6/10/20 Minute Order, the petitions will not be granted on an expedited basis.
In the court’s 6/10/20 Minute Order, the court informed Petitioner it was not inclined to award more than a 25% attorney’s fee award in connection with the settlement. Petitioner requests an attorney’s fee award of $1,081.25 in connection with Keira’s settlement; however, 25% of $4,108.95 is $1,027.24. Similarly, Petitioner requests an attorney’s fee award of $356.25 in connection with Kieane’s settlement; however, 25% of $1,384.08 is $346.02.
Petitioner failed to fill-out paragraph 20 on Keira’s petition.
The exhibits to the petition are not tabbed using the “outlines” feature of eCourt; the Court cannot meaningfully review the voluminous exhibits without tabs.
Petitioner must re-submit the petitions with a noticed hearing date. The Court will require Petitioner and the minor children to appear and testify in connection with the proceedings, as required by CRC 7.952.
(Min. Order 9/29/20.)
The Instant Petitions to Approve Minors’ Compromises
The petitions provide that Keira and Kieane were passengers in Petitioner’s vehicle when it was rear ended by Defendant. Keira was treated for right knee pain, and Kieane complained of a headache after the incident. Both Keira and Kieane have recovered completely from their injuries. The parties have agreed to a global settlement of the action. Kieane is to receive $1,384.08, Keira is to receive $4,108.95, and Roial is to receive $8,288.45.
As to Keira, if settlement is approved, $618.56 will be used for medical expenses, $1,027.24 for attorney’s fees, and $415 for costs. The net balance of $2,450.71 will be paid to Petitioner without bond.
As to Kieane, if settlement is approved, $40.92 will be used for medical expenses, $346.02 will be used for attorney’s fees, and $415 for costs. The net balance of $582.14 will be paid to Petitioner without bond.
As previously ordered, and per CRC 7.952, Petitioner, Keira and Kieane must appear at the hearing unless the court finds good cause to excuse their appearance. Keira is 17 years old and Kieane is 10 years old; the court will thus require their appearance. The Court wishes to hear from the minor children and also from their mother concerning payment of the funds to the mother, without bond. The court wishes to know how the mother plans to use the funds in order to determine whether this is an appropriate arrangement. Despite Plaintiffs’ counsel failure to comply with the correct procedure and premature disbursement of funds without court approval, if the court is satisfied with their testimony at the hearing, the court will approve the petitions.
The court notes that counsel’s repeated disregard of prior court orders has caused considerable delay and waste of court resources. The court is considering setting an OSC to sanction counsel under CCP Section 177.5 and will decide at the hearing. Petitioner may not submit on the tentative but must attend the hearing, preferably remotely through LA Court Connect.
Dated this 5th day of November, 2020
Hon. Thomas D. Long
Judge of the Superior Court