This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/09/2019 at 22:30:22 (UTC).

WEIJING ZHAO ET AL VS GLOBAL VALLEY LLC ET AL

Case Summary

On 10/08/2015 WEIJING ZHAO filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against GLOBAL VALLEY LLC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are DEBRE K. WEINTRAUB and RANDOLPH M. HAMMOCK. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7103

  • Filing Date:

    10/08/2015

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

DEBRE K. WEINTRAUB

RANDOLPH M. HAMMOCK

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

ZHAO JASSIE

ZHAO WEIJING

Defendants and Respondents

DOES 1-10

GLOBAL VALLEY LLC

KUO DAVID

LAW OFFICES OF JACK G. CAIRL - DOE 1

Not Classified By Court

KAM P LEE & ASSOCIATES CORP.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

LAW OFFICES OF HELEN WONG APC

GONZALEZ ROSENDO

NEACH BRIAN

Defendant Attorney

LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL S. MAGNUSON

 

Court Documents

PLAINTIFF'S EX PARTE MOTION TO APPROVE STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE APRIL 16, 2018 TRIAL AND APRIL 8, 2018 FINAL STATUS CONFERENCE; ETC.

2/22/2018: PLAINTIFF'S EX PARTE MOTION TO APPROVE STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE APRIL 16, 2018 TRIAL AND APRIL 8, 2018 FINAL STATUS CONFERENCE; ETC.

Minute Order

2/22/2018: Minute Order

DECLARATION OF ROSENDO GONZALEZ IN SUPPORT OF MOTION OF PLAINTIFF FOR: (I) THE IMPOSITION OF MONETARY SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,600 AGAINST DEFENDANTS DAVID KUO AND GLOBAL VALLEY, LLC AND ETC

2/23/2018: DECLARATION OF ROSENDO GONZALEZ IN SUPPORT OF MOTION OF PLAINTIFF FOR: (I) THE IMPOSITION OF MONETARY SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,600 AGAINST DEFENDANTS DAVID KUO AND GLOBAL VALLEY, LLC AND ETC

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION OF PLAINTIFF FOR: (I) THE IMPOSITION OF MONETARY SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,600 AGAINST DEFENDANTS DAVID KUO AND GLOBAL VALLEY, LLC AND THEIR COUNSEL, MICHAEL S. MAGNUSO

2/23/2018: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION OF PLAINTIFF FOR: (I) THE IMPOSITION OF MONETARY SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,600 AGAINST DEFENDANTS DAVID KUO AND GLOBAL VALLEY, LLC AND THEIR COUNSEL, MICHAEL S. MAGNUSO

RULING

5/1/2018: RULING

Minute Order

7/27/2018: Minute Order

Minute Order

4/26/2019: Minute Order

Request for Judicial Notice

6/5/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Minute Order

6/10/2019: Minute Order

SUMMONS

10/14/2015: SUMMONS

Minute Order

1/25/2016: Minute Order

NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

1/27/2016: NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR JO[NDER OF DEFENDANT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF HELEN WONG

2/18/2016: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR JO[NDER OF DEFENDANT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF HELEN WONG

Minute Order

2/24/2016: Minute Order

ANSWER OF DEFENDANTS GLOBAL VALLEY, LLC AND DAVID KUO TO PLAINTIFF WEIIJING ZHAO'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

3/4/2016: ANSWER OF DEFENDANTS GLOBAL VALLEY, LLC AND DAVID KUO TO PLAINTIFF WEIIJING ZHAO'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Minute Order

5/16/2016: Minute Order

Minute Order

8/22/2016: Minute Order

NOTICE OF REASSIGNMENT

1/9/2017: NOTICE OF REASSIGNMENT

90 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/19/2019
  • Notice (of Involuntary Bankruptcy Filing Against Defendant David Kuo); Filed by WeiJing Zhao (Plaintiff); Jassie Zhao (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/11/2019
  • Order ([Proposed] Order Re Defendants' Ex Parte Application for Order Advancing Hearing on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment); Filed by Global Valley, LLC (Defendant); David Kuo (Defendant)

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  • 06/10/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 47, Randolph M. Hammock, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application ( for Order Advancing Hearing on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment; Memorandum of Points and Authorities; Declaration of Michael S. Magnuson) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 06/10/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Defendants Global Valley, LLC and David Kuo's Ex Parte Applic...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/06/2019
  • Ex Parte Application (for Order Advancing Hearing on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment); Filed by Global Valley, LLC (Defendant); David Kuo (Defendant)

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  • 06/05/2019
  • Declaration (of Michael S. Magnuson in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment); Filed by Global Valley, LLC (Defendant); David Kuo (Defendant)

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  • 06/05/2019
  • Motion for Summary Judgment; Filed by Global Valley, LLC (Defendant); David Kuo (Defendant)

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  • 06/05/2019
  • Declaration (of David Kuo in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment); Filed by Global Valley, LLC (Defendant); David Kuo (Defendant)

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  • 06/05/2019
  • Separate Statement; Filed by Global Valley, LLC (Defendant); David Kuo (Defendant)

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  • 06/05/2019
  • Request for Judicial Notice; Filed by Global Valley, LLC (Defendant); David Kuo (Defendant)

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190 More Docket Entries
  • 01/08/2016
  • FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT 1. BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY, 2. BREACH OF OBLIGATION OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING; 3. VIOLATION OF CORPORATION CODE SECTION 17704.7; ETC.

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  • 01/08/2016
  • First Amended Complaint; Filed by WeiJing Zhao (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/08/2016
  • CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

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  • 01/08/2016
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by WeiJing Zhao (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/02/2015
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 11/02/2015
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 10/14/2015
  • SUMMONS

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  • 10/14/2015
  • Summons; Filed by WeiJing Zhao (Plaintiff); Jassie Zhao (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/08/2015
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY; ETC

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  • 10/08/2015
  • Complaint; Filed by WeiJing Zhao (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC597103    Hearing Date: July 06, 2020    Dept: 47

Weijing Zhao a.k.a. Jessie Zhao v. Global Valley, LLC, et al.

 

 

GIVEN THE RECENT CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, THE COURT STRONGLY ENCOURAGES APPEARENCES BY COURT CALL. PLEASE MAKE SUCH ARRANGEMENTS IF YOU WISH TO APPEAR VIA COURT CALL AT (888) 882-6878 (OR WWW.COURTCALL.COM). IF YOU APPEAR IN PERSON AT THE HEARING, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO ALL SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES, INCLUDING THE WEARING OF AN APPROPRIATE FACE MASK/COVERING (ABSENT ANY EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES) AS CONTAINED IN THE APPLICABLE GENERAL ORDERS ISSUED BY THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE L.A.S.C.

MOTION TO STRIKE OR TAX COSTS

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Weijing Zhao aka Jessie Zhao

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Defendants Global Valley, LLC and David Kuo

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

Plaintiff alleged that Defendant David Kuo had failed to account to Plaintiff for her 50% interest in Defendant Global Valley, LLC. The Court granted summary judgment to the Defendants.

Plaintiff now moves to strike or tax costs.

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Weijing Zhao aka Jessie Zhao’s motion to strike the entire cost memorandum is DENIED.

Plaintiff’s alternative motion to tax costs is GRANTED as to Item No. 12 in the amount of $69.60, GRANTED IN PART as to Item No. 16 in the amount of $246.35 ($105.35 for postage and $141.00 for parking), and otherwise DENIED.

DISCUSSION:

Motion to Strike or Tax Costs

Timeliness of Motion

“Any motion to strike or to tax costs must be served and filed 15 days after service of the cost memorandum.” (CRC 3.1700(b)(1).) If served electronically, this period is extended by five calendar days. (CCP § 1013(a).)

Here, Defendants’ memorandum of costs was served by mail on February 5, giving Plaintiff until February 25 to file her motion. Plaintiff’s motion was filed February 18, 2020. Thus, it is timely.

Motion to Strike Entire Cost Memorandum

Plaintiff argues that the entire cost memorandum should be stricken because (1) it is untimely; and (2) it was not verified as required by CRC Rule 3.1700(a).

“A prevailing party who claims costs must serve and file a memorandum of costs within 15 days after the date of service of the notice of entry of judgment or dismissal by the clerk under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.5 or the date of service of written notice of entry of judgment or dismissal, or within 180 days after entry of judgment, whichever is first.” (CRC Rule 3.1700(a), bold emphasis added.)

Defendants served their “Notice of Entry of Judgment or Order” by mail on January 15, 2020. That is the second option in Rule 3.1700(a): a party’s service of written notice. The notice need not come from the clerk. (William E. Wegner, et al., Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Trials & Evidence (The Rutter Group 2019) ¶ 17:505 [“The costs memorandum must be served and filed within the earlier of: 15 days after the clerk’s service of notice of entry of judgment or dismissal . . . ; or 15 days after any party’s service of such noticeor 180 days after entry of judgment.”] bold emphasis added.) Service by mail extends the time for filing the cost memorandum by five days. (CCP § 1013(a).) Thus, Defendants had until February 4, 2020 to file their cost memorandum. Defendants did not do so until February 5, 2020, and therefore the cost memorandum is untimely.

“The time provisions relating to the filing of a memorandum of costs, while not jurisdictional, are mandatory.” (Hydratec, Inc. v. Sun Valley 260 Orchard & Vineyard Co. (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 924, 929.) The Court “does not have discretion to disregard noncompliance.” (Russell v. Trans Pacific Group (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 1717, 1726.) The court does, however, have “discretion to excuse the untimeliness” under CCP § 473 “upon a proper showing of mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.” (Russell, supra, 19 Cal.App.4th at 1728; see also Jones v. John Crane, Inc. (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 990, 1012 [holding that the court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to excuse the untimeliness of a cost memorandum, where the plaintiffs failed to offer any “explanation . . . for this neglect”].)

Based on Defendants’ opposition, they had the mistaken view that their “Notice of Entry of Judgment or Order” did not qualify as a “Notice of Entry of Judgment” under CRC 3.1700(a). That is hard to fathom, but if Defendants explained that “mistake” in a CCP § 473(b) motion, the Court would likely excuse them from their one-day delay in filing the memorandum. Accordingly, the Court will not strike it on that basis. Had Defendants not offered any explanation of the timing of their filing, however, the Court would have been required to strike the cost memorandum, and Defendants would have had to file a separate § 473 motion. Defendants’ counsel are urged to read the applicable rules a little more carefully.

As for the verification requirement, the “memorandum of costs must be verified by a statement of the party, attorney, or agent that to the best of his or her knowledge the items of cost are correct and were necessarily incurred in the case.” (CRC Rule 3.1700(a).) Here, the verification within the cost memorandum is signed, and though the signature is illegible, it is also identical to Attorney Max Yueh’s illegible signatures on other documents. Thus, the memorandum of costs was verified as required.

Alternative Motion to Tax Costs

A motion to tax costs “must refer to each item objected to by the same number and appear in the same order as the corresponding cost item claimed on the memorandum of costs and must state why the item is objectionable.” (CRC 3.1700(b)(2), bold emphasis added.) This procedure “provides an orderly and efficient way of placing disputed costs at issue on a line item basis.” (612 South LLC v. Laconic Limited Partnership (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 1270, 1285.)

Although Plaintiff was quick to point out procedural deficiencies in Defendants’ cost memorandum, Plaintiff did not comply with the procedural requirements for a motion to tax costs. Plaintiff buries all references to the numbers of the cost items, and those references are wildly out of order, making it impossible for the Court to consider the motion in an orderly and efficient way.

Nevertheless, having overlooked Defendants’ procedural error based on their mistaken reading of the applicable rule, the Court will overlook Plaintiff’s utter failure to follow the same rule in her motion.

Item No. 1 (Filing and Motion Fees).

After pages of discussion of other, later items, Plaintiff appears to argue that Defendants’ filing costs should be taxed “in the amount of at least $2,206.45.” Plaintiff argues that these are “missing the required correlation to the matters in question” and that Defendants have failed to show that these are “related to this action.”

Defendants listed the specific documents filed and their individual filing fees in their Memorandum of Costs. (Memorandum of Costs, Attachment 1g.) Given that these fees appear proper on their face, the burden is on Plaintiff to show that they were unreasonable or unnecessary. (Ladas v. California State Auto Ass’n (1993) 19 Cal.4th 761, 774-776.) Plaintiff has not done so.

Accordingly, the motion is DENIED as to Item No. 1.

Item No. 4 (Deposition Costs).

Plaintiff does not identify this cost item by number and buries it in the middle of other items that should have come before and after it, but Plaintiff argues that these should be taxed in the amount of $1,213.65 because Defendants did not identify the depositions by date.

The prevailing party is entitled to recover the costs of taking, video recording, and transcribing “necessary” depositions. (CCP § 1033.5(a)(3).) The deposition costs claimed relate to Plaintiff’s own deposition and that of Quan Zhao, and Plaintiff has not shown that these costs were not “reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation.” (CCP § 1033.5(c)(2).) Nor has Plaintiff cited any authority for the proposition that depositions must be identified by date in a cost memorandum.

Accordingly, the motion is DENIED as to Item No. 4.

Item No. 12 (Court Reporter Fees).

Plaintiff appears to seek to tax the entire $843.35 sought by Defendants in Item No. 12, which consists of $773.75 for a deposition transcript and $69.60 for a certified copy of a transcript of a court hearing. Defendants concede that the $69.60 is not recoverable absent a court order but argue that the $773.75 was a “necessary deposition cost.” (Oppo., at p. 5.)

Costs for transcripts not ordered by the court are allowable only when expressly authorized by law. (CCP § 1033.5(b)(5).) The challenged transcript of the deposition of Rena Lee was not ordered by this Court, but the costs associated with it are “otherwise authorized” as necessary deposition costs, as discussed in connection with Item No. 4 above. Defendants should have included this expense in Item No. 4, not Item No. 12, but given that Plaintiff did not follow any rhyme or reason in discussing each of the challenged cost items, the failure to claim this cost in the correct category is not fatal.

Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED as to Item No. 12 in the amount of $69.60.

Item No. 13 (Interpreter Fees)

Plaintiff moves to tax these costs in their entirety in the amount of $1,290.00.

Interpreter fees are recoverable in the following circumstances:

(a) The following items are allowable as costs under Section 1032:

. . .

(3)(B) Fees of a certified or registered interpreter for the deposition of a party or witness who does not proficiently speak or understand the English language.

. . .

(12) Court interpreter fees for a qualified court interpreter authorized by the court for an indigent person represented by a qualified legal services project, as defined in Section 6213 of the Business and Professions Code, or a pro bono attorney, as defined in Section 8030.4 of the Business and Professions Code.

(CCP § 1033.5(a)(3)(B), (12).)

Plaintiff argues that these are not recoverable absent a court order. Yet Plaintiff specifically points out that one of the two cost items in this category was for an interpreter at her deposition – an allowable cost under CCP § 1033(a)(3)(B), without a court order.

As to the other cost item in this category, Plaintiff has made no showing that the challenged fees were incurred for interpreter services at trial or otherwise not recoverable. They are listed under the category of fees of a certified or registered interpreter for the deposition of a party or witness, and therefore they appear proper on their face. As noted above, on a motion to tax costs, “the verified memorandum of costs is prima facie evidence of their propriety, and the burden is on the party seeking to tax costs to show they were not reasonable or necessary.” (Ibid.) Where the fees listed in the Memorandum of Costs appear proper on their face, the burden is on the party challenging those costs to show that they were unreasonable or unnecessary. (Ladas v. California State Auto Ass’n (1993) 19 Cal.4th 761, 774-776.) Plaintiff has not presented any evidence that these costs were incurred at trial or were not incurred in connection with a deposition of a witness who is not proficient in English.

Accordingly, the motion is DENIED as to Item No. 13.

Item No. 16 (Other Costs).

Finally, in scattered parts of her motion, Plaintiff challenges various “other” costs.

Defendants concede that their postage costs in the amount of $105.35 are not recoverable.

Other than the postage costs, Plaintiff also appears to challenge (1) $172 for telephone appearance fees, (2) $2,251.87 in attorney service charge-copy-scan and print jobs, (3) $416.60 for copies of court filings, (4) $38 for Premium Escrow records, (5) $38 for attorney service charge-pickup-boxes, (6) $67 for Premium Escrow copies of records, and (7) $141 for parking unrelated to depositions (or as to which Defendants have “not specified” whether they were related to depositions).

Even items that are not mentioned specifically in CCP § 1033.5 “may be allowed or denied in the court’s discretion.” (CCP § 1033.5(c)(4).)

Although Plaintiff is correct that “telephone . . . charges” are not allowed under CCP § 1033.5(b)(3), CourtCall fees are not fees for the use of a telephone. Section 1033.5 does not expressly prohibit CourtCall appearance fees, and thus the Court has discretion to award them under § 1033.5(c)(4). Here, the Court finds that these costs were reasonable and necessary to the conduct of the litigation.

As for parking, Plaintiff is correct that parking costs are generally not recoverable, as “[r]outine expenses for local travel by attorneys or other firm employees are not reasonably necessary to the conduct of litigation.” (Ladas, supra, 19 Cal.App.4th at 775–76.) Parking expenses for attending depositions would be allowable, but Defendants made no attempt to show that these parking expenses were in connection with depositions. Accordingly, these costs are taxed in their entirety in the amount of $141.00.

Otherwise, Plaintiff has not shown that Defendants’ photocopying and other costs are unreasonable. Of course, Defendants did not come forward with any evidence that these costs were necessary and reasonable, relying only on argument with no supporting declaration. (Oppo., at p.4.) Nevertheless, Defendants’ do not have the burden to show reasonableness, and their exhibits do support their assertion that these costs were reasonable and necessary given the various substitutions of attorneys in the case. Thus, the Court finds that these costs were reasonably necessary to the litigation and exercises its discretion under CCP § 1033.5(c)(4) to allow these fees.

Conclusion

The alternative motion to tax costs is GRANTED as to Item No. 12 in the amount of $69.60, GRANTED IN PART as to Item No. 16 in the amount of $246.35 ($105.35 for postage and $141.00 for parking), and otherwise DENIED.

Moving party to give notice, unless waived.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: July 6, 2020 ___________________________________

Randolph M. Hammock

Judge of the Superior Court

Any party may submit on the tentative ruling by contacting the courtroom via email at Smcdept47@lacourt.org by no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the hearing.  All interested parties must be copied on the email.  It should be noted that if you submit on a tentative ruling the court will still conduct a hearing if any party appears. By submitting on the tentative you have, in essence, waived your right to be present at the hearing, and you should be aware that the court may not adopt the tentative, and may issue an order which modifies the tentative ruling in whole or in part.

Case Number: BC597103    Hearing Date: December 19, 2019    Dept: 47

Weijing Zhao a.k.a. Jessie Zhao v. Global Valley, LLC, et al.

 

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE,

SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

MOVING PARTY: Defendants Global Valley, LLC and David Kuo

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Plaintiff Weijing Zhao aka Jessie Zhao

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant David Kuo has failed to account to Plaintiff for her 50% interest in Defendant Global Valley, LLC.

Defendants Global Valley, LLC and David Kuo move for summary judgment or, in the alternative, summary adjudication.

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendants Global Valley, LLC and David Kuo’s motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

DISCUSSION:

Motion For Summary Judgment

As discussed in connection with Defendants’ motion for summary adjudication below, Defendants have demonstrated that they are entitled to prevail as to each cause of action asserted against them. Accordingly, the motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

Motion for Summary Adjudication

Requests for Judicial Notice

Defendants request judicial notice of the following records from Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC612154: (1) Complaint in Interpleader, filed February 29, 2016; (2) Weijing Zhao’s Notice of Demurrer and Demurrer to Complaint, filed June 10, 2016; (3) Ruling on Court Trial Taken Under Submission and attached Statement of Decision, entered February 23, 2018; (4) Judgment on Complaint in Interpleader, entered May 10, 2018; (5) Notice of Appeal, filed July 6, 2018; (6) Abandonment of Appeal, filed October 31, 2018; and (7) Los Angeles Superior Court Case Access page listing documents filed in the case, dated May 21, 2019.

These requests are GRANTED per Evidence Code § 452(d) (court records).

Additionally, in reply, Defendants request judicial notice of the following records from the same case: (8) Defendant Weijing Zhao’s trial exhibit list, filed September 26, 2017; (9) Defendant Weijing Zhao’s trial closing brief, filed January 16, 2018; and (10) Defendant Weijing Zhao’s reply to Defendant Jennifer Faye Tan’s closing argument, filed January 31, 2018.

These requests are also GRANTED per Evidence Code § 452(d) (court records).

Plaintiff’s Evidentiary Objections

Pursuant to CCP § 437c (q), the Court rules only upon objections to evidence that the Court deems material to the disposition of this motion.

Declaration of David Kuo

No. 1: OVERRULED. Sufficient foundation and basis in personal knowledge; does not assume facts not in evidence; not unduly prejudicial, confusing, or misleading.

Motion for Summary Judgment

No. 2: OVERRULED. See No. 1. The motion itself is not “evidence,” and the statement objected to is the same as that in No. 1.

Defendants’ Evidentiary Objections

Nos. 1-23: OVERRULED. Sufficient foundation and basis in personal knowledge; other objections go to weight.

Analysis

The purpose of a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication “is to provide courts with a mechanism to cut through the parties’ pleadings in order to determine whether, despite their allegations, trial is in fact necessary to resolve their dispute.” (Aguilar v. Atl. Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843.) “Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (c), requires the trial judge to grant summary judgment if all the evidence submitted, and ‘all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence’ and uncontradicted by other inferences or evidence, show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” (Adler v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1110, 1119.)

When deciding whether to grant summary judgment or adjudication, the Court must consider all of the evidence set forth in the papers, except evidence to which the Court has sustained an objection, as well as all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from that evidence, in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. (Ibid.)

Defendants did not separately number and list the issues for summary adjudication in their notice as is recommended: the “preferred practice is to state [each] claim or defense” as to which summary adjudication is sought “in language appropriate for adoption by the court if the motion is granted,” rather than simply stating, as Defendants did, that they are seeking summary adjudication as to each cause of action. (Weil & Brown, Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2019) ¶ 10:87.1.) Nevertheless, given that they did include their request for summary adjudication in their notice and then state the individual issues in their separate statement, they will be discussed below as stated in the separate statement.

Issue No. 1: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the first cause of action – breach of fiduciary duty.”

In this issue and all of the others, Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary adjudication based on collateral estoppel.

Collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, “prevents relitigation of previously decided issues.” (DKN Holdings LLC v. Faerber (2015) 61 Cal.4th 813, 824.) It applies “(1) after final adjudication (2) of an identical issue (3) actually litigated and necessarily decided in the first suit and (4) asserted against one who was a party in the first suit or one in privity with that party.” (Id. at 825.) When those requirements are met, “the propriety of preclusion depends upon whether application will further the public policies of ‘preservation of the integrity of the judicial system, promotion of judicial economy, and protection of litigants from harassment by vexatious litigation.’” (Castillo v. City of Los Angeles (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 477, 481 (citation omitted).)

“Summary judgment is an appropriate remedy when the doctrine of res judicata in its subsidiary form of collateral estoppel refutes all triable issues of fact suggested by the pleading and supporting documents.” (County of Alameda v. Sampson (1980) 104 Cal.App.3d 584, 589-590.)

Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty is barred by collateral estoppel because another department of the Los Angeles Superior Court found, in a previous action, that Plaintiff had no interest in Defendant Global Valley, LLC and therefore was not entitled to repayment of any alleged investment in Global Valley.

In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant David Kuo owed Plaintiff a fiduciary duty as the Operating Manager of Global Valley, LLC. (1AC ¶ 30.) Plaintiff alleges that he breached that duty by “his failure and refusal to allow Plaintiff the access to the Company business and financial records, by competing with the Company and dealing with the Company as or on behalf of someone who has an interest adverse to that of the Company, by inducing Plaintiff to assign her 50% interest in the Company to himself in an unlawful and fraudulent manner, and by transferring the Company Property to a third party without Plaintiff’s knowledge and consent.” (¶ 33.) In other words, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Kuo owed her a fiduciary duty as someone who had “50% interest in the Company.” (Ibid.) She also alleges, in the common allegations of the 1AC, that she contributed $2,250,000 to Global Valley and had a 50% interest in the company. (¶¶ 11, 19.) Plaintiff does not allege a fiduciary duty to her based on anything other than her alleged interest in Global Valley. Indeed, it is undisputed that this cause of action is “premised on Plaintiff’s being a member of Global Valley.” (Defendants’ Separate Statement (“SS”) No. 1; 1AC ¶¶ 30-33.)

Based on these allegations, if Plaintiff is barred from relitigating whether she had any interest in Global Valley, then her cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty would have no basis in law or fact, and Defendants would be entitled to summary adjudication of it in their favor. (Hodges v. County of Placer (2019) 41 Cal.App.5th 537, 547 [noting that “[t]raditional examples of fiduciary relationships in the commercial context include trustee/beneficiary, directors and majority shareholders of a corporation, business partners, joint adventurers, and agent/principal” and concluding that the trial court properly sustained a demurrer where no such relationship existed].) Thus, the question is whether the previous findings of another department of this Court meet the requirements for collateral estoppel or whether there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether collateral estoppel applies.

  1. Final Adjudication

    The previous action at issue was entitled Law Offices of Jack G. Cairl, APC v. Weijing Zhao, et al., Case No. BC612154, in Los Angeles Superior Court, Department 39. (Defendants’ SS No. 2; Declaration of Michael S. Magnuson, Exh. 1.) That action ended in a judgment following a bench trial, and Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal that was later abandoned. (SS Nos. 7-9; Magnuson Decl., Exhs. 4-6.) Plaintiff does not dispute any of these facts. (Plaintiff’s Statement of Controverted and Uncontroverted Facts (“SCUF”) Nos. 2, 4-6.)

    Perhaps in an attempt to argue that the relevant issue was not resolved through a final adjudication, Plaintiff presents evidence that the actual “resolution” of the interpleader action was a series of settlement agreements. (Oppo., at pp. 9-11.) Plaintiff points out that Jennifer Tan, who prevailed in the previous action, agreed in settlement to waive “the right to any money, lien, interest, claim and/or cause of action in Weijing Zhao, etc. v. Global Valley, et al., LASC BC597103, as well as the right to any money, lien, interest, claim and/or cause of action against and/or as to Global Valley, LLC.” (SCUF No. 18; Declaration of Rosendo Gonzalez, Exh. 22 ¶ 1.) This does not, however, render the judgment in the interpleader action less than final. Indeed, the same settlement agreement states that Plaintiff “agrees to waive any rights she may have to contest or appeal the judgment entered in the Interpleader [Action], including any rights which she may claim in the funds awarded to Jennifer.” (Gonzalez Decl., Exh. 22 ¶ 3.)

    Thus, the previous action resulted in a final adjudication.

  2. Identical Issue

    The “identical issue” requirement addresses whether “‘identical factual allegations’ are at stake in the two proceedings.” (Castillo v. City of Los Angeles (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 477, 481.)

    In the previous interpleader action, it is undisputed that Plaintiff claimed entitlement to disputed funds received by Global Valley from its sale of the Crowne Plaza Hotel based on her alleged ownership interest in Global Valley. (SS Nos. 2-3; Magnuson Decl., Exh. 1 ¶ 13, Exh. 2, Exh. 3, at p. 7; SCUF Nos. 2-3.)

    Likewise, in this action, Plaintiff’s alleged ownership interest in Global Valley is the basis for her breach of fiduciary duty cause of action. (1AC ¶ 33.) Plaintiff also argued in the interpleader action that the issue of her entitlement to the funds based on her ownership interest in Global Valley was the same issue being litigated in this case. (SS No. 4; Magnuson Decl., Exh. 2; SCUF No. 4.)

    Plaintiff argues that the issues are not the same because the “claims or causes of action that were adjudicated in the Interpleader action were not the same causes of action or claims that are asserted in this lawsuit.” (Oppo., at p. 9.) The causes of action need not be identical to apply collateral estoppel, however. “Issue preclusion prohibits the relitigation of issues argued and decided in the previous case, even if the second suit raises different causes of action.” (DKN Holdings, supra, 61 Cal.4th at 824 (bold emphasis added).)

    Thus, the “identical issue” from the previous interpleader proceeding is involved in this proceeding.

  3. Actually Litigated and Necessarily Decided

    “When an issue is properly raised, by the pleadings or otherwise, and is submitted for determination, and is determined, the issue is actually litigated.” (Murphy v. Murphy (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 376, 802.] “A party urging collateral estoppel must prove that the issue was actually litigated and that the evidence was not restricted, but need not establish that oral testimony, or any particular type of evidence was presented.” (Id. at 803.) As for whether an issue was “necessarily decided,” that requirement is met when “the issue was not ‘entirely unnecessary’ to the judgment in the prior proceeding.” (Id. at 802.)

    Here, it is undisputed that Plaintiff raised the issue of her ownership interest in Global Valley in the previous action. (SS No. 3; SCUF No. 3.) Thus, the issue was “actually litigated” in the previous action.

    In addition, given that the previous action was an interpleader action in which the court was tasked with determining which of many parties, including Plaintiff, was entitled to the proceeds received by Global Valley from its sale of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Plaintiff’s alleged ownership interest in Global Valley was “necessarily decided” when that court determined that Plaintiff did not invest in Global Valley and awarded the proceeds of the sale to another individual. (SS Nos. 2, 6; Magnuson Decl., Exh. 3, at pp. 7-10; SCUF Nos. 2, 6.)

    Accordingly, the question of Plaintiff’s ownership interest in Global Valley was “actually litigated” and “necessarily decided” in the previous action.

  4. Asserted Against a Party or One in Privity

    Here, it is undisputed that Plaintiff was a party in the previous action. (SS No. 2; Magnuson Decl., Exh. 1; SCUF No. 2.)

    Plaintiff argues that collateral estoppel does not apply because “different parties were involved in that lawsuit.” (Oppo., at p. 9.) For purposes of collateral estoppel, however, “it is not necessary that the earlier and later proceedings involve the identical parties or their privies.” (Vandenberg v. Superior Court (1999) 21 Cal.4th 815, 828.) Accordingly, “the collateral estoppel doctrine may allow one who was not a party to prior litigation to take advantage, in a later unrelated matter, of findings made against his current adversary in the earlier proceeding.” (Id. at 828-829.)

    Thus, in this action, collateral estoppel is being asserted against a party in the previous action.

    Conclusion

    As discussed above, it is undisputed that all of the requirements for the application of collateral estoppel are met as to Plaintiff’s claimed interest in Defendant Global Valley. This claimed interest also forms the basis for Plaintiff’s first cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty.

    Before the Court determines that Plaintiff’s first cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty is barred by collateral estoppel, it must consider whether the doctrine’s “application will further the public policies of ‘preservation of the integrity of the judicial system, promotion of judicial economy, and protection of litigants from harassment by vexatious litigation.’” (Castillo, supra, 92 Cal.App.4th at 481.) Here, given that another department of this Court already expended resources to determine the factual issue that Plaintiff attempts to relitigate here, the Court finds that the application of the doctrine of collateral estoppel to this issue will promote judicial economy and the integrity of the judicial system.

    While not particularly raising any public policy reasons the doctrine of collateral estoppel should not be applied here, Plaintiff does raise an additional argument: that the doctrine should not apply due to “extrinsic fraud” allegedly committed by Defendant Kuo in the interpleader action. Plaintiff does not, however, point to new evidence that was not considered in the interpleader action. (Declaration of Max Yueh, Exh. 8-10.) Thus, these arguments do not justify a refusal to accord the fully litigated issues in that action their collateral estoppel effect.

    Accordingly, Defendants’ motion for summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue 1.

    Issue No. 2: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the second cause of action – breach of obligation of good faith and fair dealing.”

    Having determined that the issue of Plaintiff’s ownership interest in Global Valley as decided in the interpleader action has preclusive effect in this action, the only question remaining as to each of Plaintiff’s causes of action is whether they are based on Plaintiff’s alleged ownership interest. If so, they are barred by collateral estoppel along with her cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty.

    In her second cause of action for breach of the obligation of good faith and fair dealing, Plaintiff again bases her claims on her alleged ownership interest in Global Valley. (1AC ¶¶ 38, 39.) Plaintiff does not dispute that this is the basis for her second cause of action. (SS Issue 2, No. 1[1]; SCUF Issue 2, No. 1.)

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in connection with Issue No. 1, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue No. 2.

    Issue No. 3: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the third cause of action – violation of California Corporations Code § 17704.07.”

    In her third cause of action for violation of Corporations Code § 17704.07, Plaintiff again bases her claims on being a member of Global Valley. (1AC ¶ 44.) Plaintiff does not dispute that this is the basis for her third cause of action. (SS Issue 3, No. 1; SCUF Issue 3, No. 1.)

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in connection with Issue No. 1, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue No. 3.

    Issue No. 4: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the fourth cause of action – violation of California Corporations Code § 17704.10.”

    In her fourth cause of action for violation of Corporations Code § 17704.10, Plaintiff again bases her claims on being a member of Global Valley. (1AC ¶¶ 49-50.) Plaintiff does not dispute that this is the basis for her third cause of action. (SS Issue 4, No. 1; SCUF Issue 4, No. 1.)

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in connection with Issue No. 1, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue No. 4.

    Issue No. 5: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the fifth cause of action – fraud.”

    In her fifth cause of action for fraud, Plaintiff again bases her claims on her alleged ownership interest in Global Valley, in that she alleges that Defendant Kuo defrauded her so that she would “agree to assign her 50% interest in the Company to him.” (1AC ¶ 59.) Given that the court in the interpleader action determined that Plaintiff never had any interest in the company, this cause of action must fail.

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in connection with Issue No. 1, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue No. 5.

    Issue No. 6: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the sixth cause of action – rescission of contract.”

    In her sixth cause of action for rescission of contract, Plaintiff requests rescission of the document in which she allegedly assigned her ownership interest in Global Valley to Defendant Kuo. (1AC ¶ 67.) Given that the court in the interpleader action determined that she never had any interest in the company, however, this cause of action must fail.

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in connection with Issue No. 1, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue No. 6.

    Issue No. 7: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the seventh cause of action – constructive trust.”

    In her seventh cause of action for constructive trust, Plaintiff again bases her claims on her alleged ownership interest in Global Valley. (1AC ¶¶ 69, 70.) In addition, a constructive trust is a remedy, not a cause of action. (Stansfield v. Starkey (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 59, 76.)

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in connection with Issue No. 1 and because a constructive trust is not a separate cause of action, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue No. 7.

    Issue No. 8: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the eighth cause of action – accounting.”

    In her eighth cause of action for breach of the obligation of good faith and fair dealing, Plaintiff again bases her right to an accounting on her alleged ownership interest in Global Valley. (1AC ¶ 73.)

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in connection with Issue No. 1, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue No. 8.

    Issue No. 9: “Kuo is entitled to a judgment on the ninth cause of action – judicial dissolution.”

    Finally, in her ninth cause of action for dissolution of the company, Plaintiff again bases her claims on her alleged ownership interest in Global Valley. (1AC ¶¶ 76, 77.)

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in connection with Issue No. 1, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Issue No. 9.

    Moving party to give notice, unless waived.

    IT IS SO ORDERED.

    Dated: December 19, 2019 ___________________________________

    Randolph M. Hammock

    Judge of the Superior Court

    Any party may submit on the tentative ruling by contacting the courtroom via email at Smcdept47@lacourt.org


[1] The parties should keep in mind that all facts in the separate statement should be “in numerical sequence.” (CRC 3.1350(d)(3).) Beginning each new issue with “1” makes it impossible for the Court to refer to particular disputed or undisputed facts with any clarity.

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