This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/18/2021 at 04:09:42 (UTC).

AMALIA CARMINDA PINEDA DE CASTELLANOS, ET AL. VS MEILOON IMPERIAL, LLC, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 04/24/2020 AMALIA CARMINDA PINEDA DE CASTELLANOS filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against MEILOON IMPERIAL, LLC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is GREGORY W. ALARCON. The case status is Other.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******5867

  • Filing Date:

    04/24/2020

  • Case Status:

    Other

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

GREGORY W. ALARCON

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

MENJIVAR PINEDA TIFFANY S. A MINOR CHILD

MENJIVAR ACOSTA NAHUM A. A MINOR CHILD

MENJIVAR GARCIA ADOLFO NAHUM

AMALIA CARMINDA PINEDA DE CASTELLANOS

JONES KEVIN

JONES SALLY

JONES MYLES ANTHONY

JONES ANDRE ANTHONY

CASTELLANOS ASHLEY D. A MINOR CHILD

JONES LARRY M. JR.

DUNN JUDY ANN

Defendants

MEILOON IMPERIAL LLC

MEILOON INVESTMENT & DEVELOPMENT LLC

YANG JOHNSON

MEILOON INVESTMENTS INC.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

SHAKHNIS PHILIP

MITCHELTREE TARA

RILEY GRANT K.

Defendant Attorney

DUNKIN CRAIG

 

Court Documents

Notice of Ruling - NOTICE OF RULING ON PLAINTIFFS' FOUR (4) PETITIONS FOR APPROVAL OF COMPROMISE OF CLAIM OR ACTION

5/26/2021: Notice of Ruling - NOTICE OF RULING ON PLAINTIFFS' FOUR (4) PETITIONS FOR APPROVAL OF COMPROMISE OF CLAIM OR ACTION

Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim

5/11/2021: Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim

Notice of Change of Firm Name

4/28/2021: Notice of Change of Firm Name

Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim

4/28/2021: Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim

Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF PLAINTIFFS' EX PARTE APPLICATION

3/1/2021: Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF PLAINTIFFS' EX PARTE APPLICATION

Order - ORDER GRANTING MTN FOR TRIAL PREFERENCE

12/11/2020: Order - ORDER GRANTING MTN FOR TRIAL PREFERENCE

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (RULING ON SUBMITTED MATTER) OF 12/11/2020

12/11/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (RULING ON SUBMITTED MATTER) OF 12/11/2020

Declaration - DECLARATION OF AMALIA CARMINDA PINEDA DE CASTELLANOS

11/4/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION OF AMALIA CARMINDA PINEDA DE CASTELLANOS

Notice - STIPULATION AND CONSENT TO ELECTRONIC SERVICE

11/5/2020: Notice - STIPULATION AND CONSENT TO ELECTRONIC SERVICE

Notice of Ruling

11/5/2020: Notice of Ruling

Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM FOR SALLY

10/15/2020: Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM FOR SALLY

Notice of Rejection Of Electronic Filing

10/15/2020: Notice of Rejection Of Electronic Filing

Case Management Statement

10/19/2020: Case Management Statement

Joinder to Motion - JOINDER TO MOTION JOINDER IN MOTION TO STRIKE

7/9/2020: Joinder to Motion - JOINDER TO MOTION JOINDER IN MOTION TO STRIKE

Declaration - DECLARATION OF CRAIG L. DUNKIN RE: MEET AND CONFER

6/26/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION OF CRAIG L. DUNKIN RE: MEET AND CONFER

Notice of Case Management Conference

6/16/2020: Notice of Case Management Conference

Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing - NOTICE OF REJECTION - EX PARTE APPLICATION WITHOUT HEARING FOR GUARDIAN AD LITEM RE: SALLY

4/30/2020: Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing - NOTICE OF REJECTION - EX PARTE APPLICATION WITHOUT HEARING FOR GUARDIAN AD LITEM RE: SALLY

Civil Case Cover Sheet

4/24/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet

59 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 08/04/2021
  • DocketRequest for Dismissal; Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 08/04/2021
  • DocketDeclaration (DECLARATION OF TARA MITCHELTREE RE: PROOF OF PURCHASE ANNUITY FOR ASHLEY D. CASTELLANOS, TIFFANY S. MENJIVAR PINEDA AND NAHUM A. MENJIVAR ACOSTA); Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/19/2021
  • DocketNotice (NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE); Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/09/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 36, Gregory W. Alarcon, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: (status of annuities/accounts and/or dismissal) - Held - Continued

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/09/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Order to Show Cause Re: status of annuities/accounts and/or d...)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/23/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 36, Gregory W. Alarcon, Presiding; Jury Trial ((plntf posted deposit)) - Not Held - Vacated by Court

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/16/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 36, Gregory W. Alarcon, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Vacated by Court

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/26/2021
  • DocketNotice of Ruling (ON PLAINTIFFS' FOUR (4) PETITIONS FOR APPROVAL OF COMPROMISE OF CLAIM OR ACTION); Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/25/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 36, Gregory W. Alarcon, Presiding; Hearing on Petition to Confirm Minor's Compromise - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/25/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 36, Gregory W. Alarcon, Presiding; Hearing on Petition to Confirm Minor's Compromise - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
70 More Docket Entries
  • 06/26/2020
  • DocketMotion to Strike (not initial pleading); Filed by Johnson Yang (Defendant); Meiloon Investments, Inc. (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/16/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/30/2020
  • DocketNotice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing (for Guardian ad litem re: Sally)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2020
  • DocketApplication And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem (for Tiffany); Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2020
  • DocketApplication And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem; Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2020
  • DocketApplication And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem (for Kevin); Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2020
  • DocketApplication And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem; Filed by Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos (Plaintiff); Ashley D. Castellanos, a minor child (Plaintiff); Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STCV15867    Hearing Date: May 25, 2021    Dept: 36

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 36

AMALIA CARMINDA PINEDA DE CASTELLANOS, individually and as Guardian ad Litem for ASHLEY D. CASTELLANOS, a minor child, et al.,

Plaintiff,

v.

MEILOON IMPERIAL, LLC, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.: 20STCV15867

Hearing Date: 5/25/2021

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE: Petitions to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim

The motion is continued to 06/23/21.

Petitioners are to submit amended petitions or supplemental declaration as discussed below, within 10 days of this order.

Legal Standard

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. Code. §§ 2504, 3500, 3600 et seq.; CCP § 372; see Pearson v. Sup.Ct. (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1333, 1337.)

“[T]he protective role the court generally assumes in cases involving minors, [is] a role to assure that whatever is done is in the minor’s best interests . . . [I]ts primary concern is whether the compromise is sufficient to provide for the minor’s injuries, care and treatment.” (Goldberg v. Sup. Ct. (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1378, 1382.)

A petition for court approval of a compromise or covenant not to sue under CCP § 372 must comply with California Rules of Court, rules 7.950, 7.951 and 7.952. The petition must be verified by the petitioner and contain a full disclosure of all information that has “any bearing upon the reasonableness” of the compromise or the covenant. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 7.950.) The person compromising the claim on behalf of the minor or person who lacks capacity, and the represented person, must attend the hearing on compromise of the claim unless the court for good cause dispenses with their personal appearance. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 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 California Rules of Court, rule 7.953 and 7.954. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1384; see L.A. Sup. Ct. Rules 4.115–4.118.)

Summary

Petitioners have filed four petitions to approve compromise of disputed claims: (1) Petitioner Adolfo Nahum Menjivar Garcia as parent and guardian ad litem for Nahum A. Menjivar Acosta; (2) Petitioner Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos as parent and guardian ad litem for Ashley D. Castellanos; (3) Judy Ann Dunn as conservator for Kevin Jones; and (4) Petitioner Amalia Carminda Pineda de Castellanos for Tiffany S. Menjivar Pineda.

Discrepancies in Amounts

The court initially notes that Claimants’ petitions contain differences between the amounts claimed in the petitions and those in the Settlement Allocations attachment and declaration of counsel. The total amount differs. (Compare Pets. ¶ 11(b) (total amount of $474,000.00) with Micheltree Decl. ¶¶ 29, 32, 33, Exh. C (total amount of $504,000.00).) In addition, specific allocations per petitioner differ from those in the Settlement Allocations attachment and declaration. (Compare Pet. ¶ 11(b)(5) (referring to Attachment 11b(5)) with Pets. Attachment 11b(5) (referring to Micheltree Decl. Exh. C) and with Micheltree Decl. Exh. C (Settlement Allocations).)

The basis for these differences is not clearly explained. To the extent discrepancies are in error, amended petitions must be filed. Otherwise, Petitioners are to submit a supplemental declaration attesting to the discrepancies.

Notice

Petitioners originally filed four petitions on April 28, 2021, set for hearings on May 20 and May 25, 2021. On May 11, 2021, Petitioners filed four amended petitions. The amended petitions bear the same hearing dates and same reservations.

The amended petitions contain edits and amendments, including regarding attorneys’ fees and for one petition to the amounts and terms of settlement.

Should Petitioners intend to proceed on the amended petitions, the notice provided on the amended petitions is insufficient, having been filed and served ten court days prior to the hearing date. (See CCP § 1005(b).) The Stipulation and Order filed on May 13, 2021, does not include stipulation on the amended petitions.

Based on the foregoing, hearings on the four petitions to approve compromise of disputed claims are continued.

Petitioners to give notice of this order and of the continued hearing date.

Dated: ____________________________

Gregory Alarcon

Superior Court Judge

Case Number: 20STCV15867    Hearing Date: October 27, 2020    Dept: 36

Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 36

AMALIA CARMINDA PINEDA DE CASTELLANOS, individually and as Guardian ad Litem for ASHLEY D. CASTELLANOS, a minor child, et al.,

Plaintiff,

v.

MEILOON IMPERIAL, LLC, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.: 20STCV15867

Hearing Date: 10/27/2020

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE: Demurrer with Motion to Strike and Joinder

Defendants’ Demurrer is sustained with 10 days leave to amend.

Defendants’ Motion to Strike is moot in part as alleged against the second and fourth causes of action; and sustained in part as to paragraphs 42, 55, and pp. 17:7, 18:13, with leave to amend.

Meet & Confer

Before filing a demurrer or a motion to strike, the demurring or moving party is required to meet and confer with the party who filed the pleading demurred to or the pleading that is subject to the motion to strike for the purposes of determining whether an agreement can be reached through a filing of an amended pleading that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer. (CCP §§ 430.41, 435.5.)

Defense Counsel Craig L. Dunkin has filed two declarations attesting to having telephonically met and conferred with Plaintiff’s counsel on June 25, 2020 on the subjects of the instant demurrer and motion to strike. (Dunkin Decl. ¶ 3.) Defense Counsel has also telephonically conferred with respect to the joinder to demurrer. (Dunkin Decl. ¶ 4 (filed July 9, 2020).) The meet and confer requirement is met.

 

I. DEMURRER

Legal Standard

A party may demur to a complaint or cross-complaint filed against them on grounds that the pleading does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. (CCP § 430.10(e); see Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal. App. 4th 740, 747.) “A complaint is vulnerable to a general demurrer on the ground that it fails to state a cause of action.” (Schauer v. Mandarin Gems of California, Inc. (2005) 125 Cal.App.4th 949, 955.) “A general demurrer will [also] lie where the complaint ‘has included allegations that clearly disclose some defense or bar to recovery.’” (Holiday Matinee, Inc. v. Rambus, Inc., (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 1413, 1421.)

When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context. (Taylor v. City of Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (2006) 144 Cal. App. 4th 1216, 1228.) A demurrer tests the pleadings alone and not the evidence or other extrinsic matters. (SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal. App. 3d 902, 905.) The court treats the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded, but not the truth of contentions, deductions or conclusions of law. (Aubry v. Tri-City Hospital Dist. (1992) 2 Cal.4th 962, 967.)

Ordinarily, a general demurrer may not be sustained as to a portion of a cause of action; if there are sufficient allegations to entitle a plaintiff to relief, other allegations cannot be challenged by a general demurrer. (See Daniels v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 1150, 1167.) “If the complaint states a cause of action under any theory, regardless of the title under which the factual basis for relief is stated, that aspect of the complaint is good against a demurrer.” (Quelimane Co. v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co. (1998) 19 Cal.4th 26, 38 [77 Cal.Rptr.2d 709, 715, 960 P.2d 513, 519], as modified (Sept. 23, 1998).)

Discussion

Defendants Yang and Meiloon Investments, Inc. (“Moving Defendants”) demur to the first, second, fourth, and sixth causes of action alleged against them on grounds of failure to state sufficient facts to state a cause of action. Defendant Meiloon Imperial, LLC joins in demurrer to the fourth cause of action. Plaintiff has filed an opposition. Defendants have filed a reply.

 

(1) Breach of Implied Warranty, Tortious Breach of Implied Warranty of Habitability

Moving Defendants demur to the first and second causes of action for Breach of Implied Warranty of Habitability and Tortious Breach of Implied Warranty of Habitability, on grounds that the causes of action are improperly pled against the Moving Defendants, as the lease agreement is between Plaintiffs and Meiloon Imperial, LLC, not Moving Defendants. Plaintiffs oppose based on alter ego allegations. Defendants reply that Plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged facts in support of alter ego allegations.

“Under the implied warranty which we recognize, a residential landlord covenants that premises he leases for living quarters will be maintained in a habitable state for the duration of the lease.¿¿This implied warranty of habitability does not require that a landlord ensure that leased premises are in perfect, aesthetically pleasing condition, but it does mean that ‘bare living requirements’ must be maintained.”¿¿(Green v. Superior Court¿(1974) 10 Cal.3d 616, 637.)

Plaintiffs have submitted copies of the lease agreement for the Castellanos, and the lease agreement for the Jones. (Compl. ¶¶ 19, 20, Exhs. B, C.) Both indicate that the defendant party to the agreements are Defendant Meiloon Imperial, LLC. (See Exhs. B, C.)

To invoke the alter ego doctrine, the plaintiff must plead unity of interest and ownership and that an inequity will result if the corporate entity is treated as the sole actor. (See Vasey v. California Dance Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 742, 749.) Factors to consider in applying the doctrine include 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 in the two entities, inadequate capitalization, and disregard of corporate formalities.  (Sonora Diamond Corp. v. Superior Court (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 523, 538-39.)

Plaintiffs’ allege on information and belief that Meiloon Investment and Development, LLC (“Meiloon Investment”) is an alter ego of Meiloon Imperial, LLC (“Meiloon Imperial”), because Meiloon Investment is a managing member of Meiloon Imperial. (Compl. ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs on information and belief allege that both corporate defendants “authorized and/or ratified the tortious and other wrongful conduct described herein . . . . .” (Id.) Plaintiffs allege on information and belief that Defendant Yang is the alter ego of Meiloon Imperial as CEO and sole director. (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiffs on information and belief allege that Defendant Yang “authorized and/or ratified the tortious and other wrongful conduct described herein . . . . .” (Id.)

The foregoing allegations are insufficient to support alter ego identity of the defendants. Plaintiffs have not alleged facts in support of a unity of interest or ownership. Plaintiffs have provided no particular facts in support of a finding that the court should pierce the corporate veil, such as 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 in the two entities, inadequate capitalization, and disregard of corporate formalities. (Sonora Diamond Corp. v. Superior Court (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 523, 538-39.)

Based on the foregoing, demurrer to the first and second causes of action is sustained. As there is a reasonable possibility for Plaintiffs to state a claim on amendment, leave to amend is granted.

(2) Civil Code Section 1942.4

Moving Defendants likewise demur to the sixth cause of action for violation of Civil Code, section 1942.4, on grounds that the cause of action is improperly pled against the Moving Defendants, as the lease agreement is between Plaintiffs and Meiloon Imperial, LLC, not Moving Defendants. Plaintiffs oppose on grounds of having brought alter ego allegations. Defendants reply that Plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged facts in support of alter ego allegations.

“A landlord of a dwelling” may not demand or collect rent if the dwelling “substantially lacks any of the affirmative standard characteristics listed in Section 1941.1 or violates Section 17920.10 of the Health and Safety Code,” a public officer who is responsible for the enforcement of any housing law has notified the landlord or the landlord’s agent in writing of his or her obligations to abate the nuisance or repair the substandard conditions, the conditions have not been abated 35 days beyond the date of service of the notice, and the condition was not caused by the tenant.¿¿(Civ. Code, § 1942.4, subds. (a)(1)-(4).) 

The parties reassert the same grounds for this cause of action as for the first and seond causes of action. For the same reasons, demurrer to the sixth causes of action is sustained. As there is a reasonable possibility for Plaintiffs to state a claim on amendment, leave to amend is granted.

(3) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Defendants demur to the fourth cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress on grounds that the Plaintiffs do not allege outrageous conduct sufficient to constitute a cause of action. Defendant Meiloon Imperial joins in demurrer to this cause of action. Plaintiffs oppose that Plaintiffs have sufficiently pled facts in support of this cause of action in allegations of willful misconduct and intentional failure to repair and maintain, as well that the behavior was outrageous.

The elements of an intentional infliction of emotional distress cause of action are: “(1) extreme and outrageous conduct by the defendant with the intention of causing, or reckless disregard of the probability of causing, emotional distress; (2) severe emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff; and (3) actual and proximate causation.” (Okorie v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist. (2017) 14 Cal.App.5th 574, 597.) A defendant's conduct is extreme and outrageous when it is so “extreme as to exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized community.” (Id.) “‘[M]ere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other trivialities’ do not constitute extreme and outrageous conduct. [Citation.] Instead ‘[t]he requirements [for establishing actionable conduct] are rigorous, and difficult to satisfy....’ [Citations.] [¶] On the spectrum of offensive conduct, outrageous conduct is that which is the most extremely offensive. Depending on the idiosyncrasies of the plaintiff, offensive conduct which falls along the remainder of the spectrum may be irritating, insulting or even distressing but it is not actionable and must simply be endured without resort to legal redress.” (Id.)

“Behavior may be considered outrageous if a defendant (1) abuses a relation or position which gives him power to damage the plaintiff’s interest; (2) knows the plaintiff is susceptible to injuries through mental distress; or (3) acts intentionally or unreasonably with the recognition that the acts are likely to result in illness through mental distress.” (McDaniel v. Gile (1991) 230 Cal.App.3d 363, 372.)   

Plaintiffs allege Defendants intentionally failed to repair, maintain, and exterminate the Plaintiffs’ apartments, and were aware that such failures would result in vermin infestation that was sure to cause bodily injuries and emotional distress. (Compl. ¶ 45.) Plaintiffs allege that as a result of Defendants’ intentional failure to repair and abate defects at the apartments, Plaintiffs suffered cockroach infestation, causing bodily injury and emotional distress; rodent infestation, causing bodily injury and emotional distress; water leaks and chronic mold, causing bodily injury and emotional distress; and various physical defects at the apartments. (See id. ¶ 13(a)-(d).)

Plaintiffs allege Defendants acted with reckless disregard of the probability of causing severe emotional distress; and that the intentional failure was made in “an attempt to save money, increase their cash flow, intimidate Plaintiffs into not complaining and/or to cause Plaintiffs to abandon the Apartments.” (Id. ¶ 45.) As a result, Plaintiffs allege suffering emotional distress and physical symptoms including anxiety, fright, sleeplessness, depression, nausea, worry and fatigue. (Id. ¶ 46.)

Plaintiffs on opposition provide citation to caselaw providing that as a matter of law, a Plaintiff may state a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on claims supporting a breach of the warranty of habitability. (Stoiber v. Honeychuck (1980) 101 Cal.App.3d 903, 922.) Here, however, the allegations in Plaintiffs’ complaint do not allege facts in support of outrageous behavior similar to those contemplated in Stoiber v. Honeychuck, which discussed causes of action based on a landlord’s retaliatory eviction in which the landlord stated that if the plaintiff did not leave, “ . . . , We (will) handle this the way we do down South.” (see Newby v. Alto Riviera Apartments (1976) 60 Cal.App.3d 288, 298); and an unjustified retaliatory rent increase after a tenant exercised a “repair and deduct” remedy with the knowledge that the tenant could not pay the increased rent (see Aweeka v. Bonds (1971) 20 Cal.App.3d 278, 281.). Nor have Plaintiffs indicated specific physical injuries sufficient to support the cause of action have been alleged; or facts supporting that the acts were intended to curb Plaintiffs’ exercise of their rights or abandon the premises, beyond the conclusory allegation of intimidation in paragraph 45. Based on the existing factual allegations before the court, there are insufficient allegations in support that defendant's conduct was so “extreme as to exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized community.”

Based on the foregoing, demurrer to the fourth cause of action is sustained. As there is a reasonable possibility that Plaintiffs may state a cause of action on amendment, leave to amend is granted.

II. MOTION TO STRIKE

Legal Standard

Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading, may serve and file a notice of motion to strike the whole or any part thereof. (Code Civ. Proc., § 435(b)(1)). The grounds for a motion to strike shall appear on the face of the challenged pleading or form any matter of which the court is required to take judicial notice. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437(a)). The court then may strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading and strike out all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of this state, a court rule, or an order of the court. (Code Civ. Proc., § 436.)

California Code of Civil Procedure section 3294, subdivision (a) states in relevant part:

In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.

“‘Malice’ means conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.” (Civ. Code § 3294(c)(1).) “‘Oppression’ means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.” (Civ. Code § 3294(c)(2).) “‘Fraud’ means an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.” (Civ. Code § 3294(c)(3).) “‘Despicable’ is a powerful term that refers to circumstances that are ‘base,’ ‘vile,’ or ‘contemptible.’” (College Hospital Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 725.)

Discussion

Moving Defendants move to strike the allegations of punitive damages alleged against them in each cause of action, on grounds that Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts in support of punitive damages. Defendant Meiloon Imperial, LLC joins in the motion to strike. Plaintiffs oppose on grounds that punitive damages have been sufficiently pled because Plaintiffs allege the conduct of defendants and agents was despicable and has been carried out with willful and conscious disregard for the rights, health and safety of plaintiffs; and that Plaintiff alleging the Defendants’ alleged wrongful motive, intent or purpose, which here Plaintiff alleges is conscious disregard. Moving Defendants reply allege that Defendants still have not alleged sufficient facts in support of punitive damages against the corporate defendants.

As an initial matter, as this court has sustained demurrer with leave to amend as to the second and fourth causes of action, the allegations of punitive damages as to these causes of action is moot. Plaintiffs allege punitive damages as well with respect to the third cause of action for Negligence, and the fifth cause of action for Private Nuisance.

“The mere allegation an intentional tort was committed is not sufficient to warrant an award of punitive damages.¿¿[Citation.]¿¿Not only must there be circumstances of oppression, fraud or malice, but facts must be alleged in the pleading to support such a claim.¿¿[Citation.]”  (Grieves v. Superior Court¿(1984) 157 Cal.App.3d 159, 166, fn. omitted.)

The third cause of action alleges that Defendants breached their duty of care by failing to properly repair, operate, and maintain the Plaintiffs’ apartments. (Compl. ¶ 40.) The fifth cause of action alleges Defendants committed a private nuisance by Defendants’ negligent ownership, operation and management of the apartments obstructed Plaintiffs’ free and quiet use of the apartments so as to materially interfere with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of the apartments. (Compl. ¶¶ 51, 53.) As a result, Plaintiffs have suffered damage including bodily injury and emotional distress and property damage. (Id. ¶ 54.)

Plaintiffs’ allegations that “Defendants’ conduct described above was willful, wanton, intentional, despicable, malicious and initiated with malice and with the intent to knowingly take advantage of, oppress, and injure Plaintiffs” are conclusory and do not identify facts to support punitive damages.¿¿(See Compl. ¶¶ 42, 55.) Next, Plaintiffs’ authority in suppot of the proposition that a general allegation of wrongful motive, intent or purpose is sufficient to support an award of exemplary damages relates to causes of action for conversion and trespass or forcible entry or detainer, which are not the causes of action here alleged. (See generally Cyrus v. Haveson

Accordingly, the Court grants the motion to strike allegations relating to punitive damages, and in particular to paragraphs 42, 55, and pp. 17:7, 18:13. As there is a reasonable possibility that Plaintiffs may state a claim for punitive damages on amendment, leave to amend is granted.

Dated: ____________________________

Gregory Alarcon

Superior Court Judge

related-case-search

Dig Deeper

Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases


Latest cases where MEILOON IMPERIAL LLC is a litigant

Latest cases where MEILOON INVESTMENT & DEVELOPMENT LLC is a litigant

Latest cases represented by Lawyer DUNKIN CRAIG L.