On 11/13/2006 FANNIE MARIE GAINES filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against JOSHUA TORNBERG. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are ROLF M. TREU, LEE SMALLEY EDMON, BARBARA A. MEIERS, REX HEESEMAN, CHARLES C. LEE and GEORGE H. WU. The case status is Disposed - Judgment Entered.
Disposed - Judgment Entered
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
ROLF M. TREU
LEE SMALLEY EDMON
BARBARA A. MEIERS
CHARLES C. LEE
GEORGE H. WU
GAINES FANNIE MARIE
AURORA LOAN SERVICES LLC
COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS
DOES 1 TO 30
FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY
GMAC MORTGAGE COMPANY
GREENPOINT MORTGAGE FUNDING INC
LEHMAN BROTHERS HOLDINGS INC. DOE 31
RAY MANAGEMENT GROUP INC.
RYBICKI BOBBIE JO
MOES 1 TO 50 INCLUSIVE
RAY MANAGEMENT GROUP INC.
KOMOROSKI CONSTANCE M.
TOWNSLEY NORTON R.
GARCIA LEGAL APC
TEST PARTY FOR TRUST CONVERSION
GEFFEN DAVID G. ESQ.
WYATT W. KEITH ESQ.
HILL GREGORY CHARLES
KNAPP PETERSEN & CLARKE
GARCIA STEVEN RAY ESQ.
CHANG MICHAEL H
BUELL EDWARD R. III ESQUIRE
BOOCK TODD A. ATTORNEY AT LAW
WOLFE & WYMAN LLP
KLEIN KEITH D. ESQ.
1/26/2018: Minute Order -
3/26/2018: ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE
5/23/2018: OBJECTIONS TO PROPOSED AMENDED JUDGMENT
6/21/2011: NOTICE OF RULING AND OF FURTHER STATUS CONFERENCE
9/28/2011: Minute Order -
5/16/2012: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A CROSS-COMPLAINT ON BEHALF OF LEHMAN BROTHERS HOLDINGS, INC.; ETC
7/2/2012: PLAINTIFF?S REPLY TO DEFENDANTS? OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF?S MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 2
10/9/2012: DEFENDANTS FIDFLITV NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY AND BOBBIE J0 RYIBICKI?S OPPOSITION TO MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
10/9/2012: LEHMAN BROTHERS HOLDINGS, INC. AND AURORA LOAN SERVICES LLC?S REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF THEIR OPPOSITION TO MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF ORDER DISMISSING ACTION
10/22/2012: MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
11/30/2017: Minute Order -
Hearing04/23/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 58 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Conference Re: Court of Appeal's OrderRead MoreRead Less
DocketBrief (on Remand); Filed by Fannie Marie Gaines (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketDeclaration (IN SUPPORT OF INTEREST RATE CALCULATION FILED IN SUPPORT ON LEHMAN BROTHERS HOLDINGS INC.); Filed by GARCIA LEGAL, APC (Non-Party)Read MoreRead Less
DocketDeclaration (OF STEVEN RAY GARCIA IN SUPPORT OF LEHMAN BROTHER HOLDINGS INC.'S POST APPEAL BRIEF RE: CALCULATION OF LEGAL INTEREST); Filed by GARCIA LEGAL, APC (Non-Party)Read MoreRead Less
DocketBrief (POST APPEAL BRIEF RE: 1) CONFERENCE RE COURT OF APPEAL REMAND (8:30 A.M.); AND (2) HEARING RE AMOUNT ON MONETARY JUDGMENT FOLLOWING REMAND (1:30 P.M.)); Filed by GARCIA LEGAL, APC (Non-Party)Read MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 58; Court OrderRead MoreRead Less
DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Court Order) of 02/28/2020); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Court Order)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketAppeal Record Delivered; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketAppeal - Notice Court Reporter to Prepare Appeal Transcript; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketPoints and Authorities; Filed by Fidelity National Title Insurance Company (Legacy Party); Bobbie Jo Rybicki (Legacy Party)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCERead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketFirst Amended Complaint; Filed by Fannie Marie Gaines (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSummons; Filed by Fannie Marie Gaines (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by Fannie Marie Gaines (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. FRAUD; ETC.Read MoreRead Less
DocketOrder; Filed by CourtRead MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC361768 Hearing Date: January 22, 2021 Dept: 58
Judge John P. Doyle
Hearing Date: January 22, 2021
Case Name: Gaines v. Tornberg, et al.
Case No.: BC361768
Matter: Motion to Toll/Extend Payment Date and Amend Judgment to Add Alter
Moving Party: Plaintiff Milton Howard Gaines
Responding Party: (1) Defendant Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.
(2) Non-party Longwood 18, LLC
Tentative Ruling: The Motion is granted in part.
On September 16, 2020, the Court entered the Second Amended Judgment (“SAJ”) which was in favor of Plaintiff but provided that Plaintiff was to tender $567,995.96 to Lehman within six months or else judgment would be entered for Lehman.
Plaintiff Milton Howard Gaines seeks (1) an order extending/tolling the deadline for tendering payment to Lehman and (2) to add non-party Longwood 18, LLC (“L18”) to the SAJ as an alter ego of Lehman.
L18 claims an interest in the subject property. Tornberg apparently quitclaimed his interest to L18 on July 13, 2016, which was before the bench trial in this matter. The quitclaim deed was thereafter recorded while trial was pending.
Plaintiff contends “Defendant Lehman – by, through, and in concert with Longwood 18 – is now challenging the Judgment in probate court proceedings by which plaintiff seeks to confirm the sale of the subject property to a buyer for $1,070,000. Counsel for Lehman and counsel for Longwood 18 appeared in Department 11 of the Probate Court on December 14, 2020 and presented objections to the court’s approval of the sale of the property. As a result of the court appearance and objections by Lehman/Longwood 18, the Probate Court continued the hearing to confirm the sale of the subject property” to February 2021.
Plaintiff seeks the aforementioned relief to neutralize the delay caused by Lehman and L18 contesting the sale of the subject property in the probate proceedings.
(a) Alter Ego
“The authority of a court to amend a judgment to add a nonparty alter ego as a judgment debtor has long been recognized. (See Mirabito v. San Francisco Dairy Co. (1935) 8 Cal.App.2d 54, 60, 47 P.2d 530.) ‘The ability under [Code Civ. Proc. §] 187 to amend a judgment to add a defendant, thereby imposing liability on the new defendant without trial, requires both (1) that the new party be the alter ego of the old party and (2) that the new party had controlled the litigation, thereby having had the opportunity to litigate, in order to satisfy due process concerns’ ” (Toho-Towa Co. Ltd. v. Morgan Creek Productions, Inc. (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 1096, 1106.)
The alter ego doctrine is a rationale for disregarding a corporation’s separate legal existence. The general formulation consists of two components—a unity of interest and ownership between the corporation and individual such that the corporation’s separate personality no longer exists, and an inequitable result if the individual were not held liable. “Before a corporation’s obligations can be recognized as those of a particular person, the requisite unity of interest and inequitable result must be shown.” (Leek v. Cooper (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 399, 411.) To analyze alter ego liability, courts consider a number of factors, including the commingling of funds and other assets, the holding out by one entity that it is liable for the debts of the other, identical equitable ownership, use of the same offices and employees, use of one as a mere shell or conduit for the affairs of the other, inadequate capitalization, disregard of corporate formalities, lack of segregation of corporate records, and identical directors and officers. (Sonora Diamond Corp. v. Superior Court (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 523, 538-539.)
Here, Plaintiff merely points to the fact that Lehman and L18 have an aligned interest in this action relative to Plaintiff. The Court cannot currently add L18 as an alter ego because there is not sufficient evidence of a unity of interest/ownership between L18 and Lehman such as commingled assets and identical ownership. Indeed, alter ego “is an extreme remedy, sparingly used.” (Sonora Diamond Corp. v. Superior Court (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 523, 539.) “ ‘The standards for the application of alter ego principles are high, and the imposition of [alter ego] liability ... is to be exercised reluctantly and cautiously.’ ” (Mesler v. Bragg Management Co. (1985) 39 Cal.3d 290, 306 (dis. opn. of Lucas, J.).)
(b) Extend/Toll Payment Date
On December 17, 2020, at the hearing for the ex parte application underlying this Motion, the Court ordered “the 6 month period, within which Gaines was previously ordered to pay Lehman Brothers $567,995.96, tolled from today's date (12/17/2020) through 01/22/2021.”
In the interests of equity, the Court is inclined to further toll the period of payment until a ruling is issued in the probate matter, which should be in February 2021.
Tolling is equitable as (1) Lehman never informed Plaintiff or the Court of L18’s interest the subject property and (2) Lehman does not deny it had knowledge of L18’s interest during the trial in this action. Lehman merely argues,“The deed to Longwood was a public record. Lehman’s counsel had no obligation to discuss ownership of the property beyond that. In any case, the property interest belonged to Tornberg, not Lehman. Lehman had no duty to disclose the transfer of the property against which it merely holds a lien, not an ownership interest.”
While there was no statute that required Lehman to disclose L18’s interest, this does not preclude the Court from considering, for equitable purposes, whether Lehman was partly the cause of this current situation.
L18 argues, “Plaintiff admits that he received a notice from counsel for Lehman in November of 2019, that also should have put Plaintiff on notice of Longwood’s interest in the property. [Pl.’s Exh., B.] In an attachment to an email from counsel for Lehman to Plaintiff’s counsel dated November 20, 2019, Lehman’s counsel provided an invoice from a debt collector on behalf of the Los Angeles Housing Department. Id. The debt collector’s notice concerning the Subject Property is directed Longwood. Id. Such a notice should have put Plaintiff’s counsel on notice of Longwood’s interest in the property.”
While it could be said that Plaintiff was not totally diligent in discovering L18’s identity/relevance, this also does not detract from the fact that Lehman’s communication with Plaintiff was fairly opaque with respect to L18.
Lehman argues, “Given the nature of the judgment [Plaintiff] obtained, any such order [re: tolling] would be useless, because until [Plaintiff] obtains a quiet title judgment/decree declaring that he is the legal owner of the property, no reputable buyer or lender will pay him anything for his defective title. Courts are not bound to make futile orders. (Civil Code §3532 (‘The law neither does nor requires idle acts.’).)”
This might be true, but the Court will not make guesses about probable outcomes.
The Court will toll the payment period until a ruling in the probate matter. At that time, the situation can be further assessed.
In sum, the Motion is granted in part as set forth herein.
 “Tornberg and the other defendants were dismissed for Gaines’s failure to bring the case to trial within five years.” (Gaines v. Lehman Bros. Holdings, Inc. (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2020) No. B292497, 2020 WL 467799, at *1.)
Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases