This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/06/2022 at 15:40:06 (UTC).

BLALOCK HOME INVESTMENTS, LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY VS DAVON GREGORY, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 04/30/2021 BLALOCK HOME INVESTMENTS, LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against DAVON GREGORY. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******6388

  • Filing Date:

    04/30/2021

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Cross Defendants and Plaintiffs

BLALOCK HOME INVESTMENTS LLC A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

WESTMINSTER TITLE CO INC. A PENNSYLVANIA CORPORATION

BLALOCK JEFFREY

WESTMINSTER TITLE CO INC.

Defendants

PALMER WILLIAM J. JR. AKA WILLIAM JAMES PALMER JR.

WHITFIELD ROBERT

ALL PERSONS UNKNOWN CLAIMING ANY LEGAL OR EQUITABLE RIGHT TITLE ESTATE LIEN OR INTEREST IN THE PROPERTY DESCRIBED IN THE COMPLAINT ADVERSE TO PLAINTIFFS TITLE OR ANY CLOUD ON PLAINTIFFS TITLE THERETO

GREGORY DAVON

DOES 1 THROUGH 10 INCLUSIVE

THE TESTATE AND INTESTATE HEIRS OF WILLIAM PALMER SR. DECEASED AND ALL PERSONS CLAIMING BY THROUGH OR UNDER SUCH DECEDENT

DEDEAUX TRABEONNE

Cross Plaintiffs and Defendants

GREGORY DAVON

WHITFIELD ROBERT O. III

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Cross Defendant and Plaintiff Attorneys

WIDENER VANESSA

RANDHAWA AMTOJ

 

Court Documents

Notice of Ruling - NOTICE OF RULING AT APREIL 20,2022 HEARING ON MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL

4/25/2022: Notice of Ruling - NOTICE OF RULING AT APREIL 20,2022 HEARING ON MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL

Notice of Continuance

4/20/2022: Notice of Continuance

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL --DAVON GREGORY; HEARING ON M...)

4/20/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL --DAVON GREGORY; HEARING ON M...)

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

8/11/2021: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

8/11/2021: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Notice - NOTICE AMENDED NOTICE OF RULING RE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

8/13/2021: Notice - NOTICE AMENDED NOTICE OF RULING RE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

Case Management Statement

9/13/2021: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

9/16/2021: Case Management Statement

Application for Publication

9/16/2021: Application for Publication

Request for Judicial Notice - REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF DAVON GREGORY OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO CROSS COMPLAINT

9/23/2021: Request for Judicial Notice - REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF DAVON GREGORY OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO CROSS COMPLAINT

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

9/23/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Opposition - OPPOSITION DAVON GREGORY, OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO CROSS COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

9/23/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION DAVON GREGORY, OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO CROSS COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

Opposition - OPPOSITION ROBERT O. WHITFIELD, OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO CROSS COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

9/24/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION ROBERT O. WHITFIELD, OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO CROSS COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

Request for Judicial Notice - REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF ROBERT O. WHITFIELD, III OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO CROSS COMPLAINT

9/24/2021: Request for Judicial Notice - REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF ROBERT O. WHITFIELD, III OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO CROSS COMPLAINT

Request for Judicial Notice

9/24/2021: Request for Judicial Notice

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

9/24/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF DEMURRER AND MOTION TO STRIKE CROSS-COMPLAINT OF DAVON GREGORY

9/24/2021: Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF DEMURRER AND MOTION TO STRIKE CROSS-COMPLAINT OF DAVON GREGORY

Notice - NOTICE OF NON-OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER AND MOTION TO STRIKE CROSS-COMPLAINT OF ROBERT WHITFIELD

9/24/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF NON-OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER AND MOTION TO STRIKE CROSS-COMPLAINT OF ROBERT WHITFIELD

138 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 07/21/2022
  • Hearing07/21/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 40 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

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  • 07/21/2022
  • Hearing07/21/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 40 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

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  • 07/21/2022
  • Hearing07/21/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 40 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Status Conference

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  • 04/25/2022
  • DocketNotice of Ruling (AT APREIL 20,2022 HEARING ON MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL); Filed by Blalock Home Investments, LLC, a California limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/20/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 40; Hearing on Motion - Other (Motion for New Trial)

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  • 04/20/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 40; Hearing on Motion - Other (New Trial)

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  • 04/20/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 40; Hearing on Motion for New Trial (--William J. Palmer Jr) - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 04/20/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 40; Hearing on Motion for New Trial (--Robert Whitfield) - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 04/20/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 40; Hearing on Motion for New Trial (--Davon Gregory) - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 04/20/2022
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for New Trial --Davon Gregory; Hearing on M...)); Filed by Clerk

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166 More Docket Entries
  • 05/12/2021
  • DocketApplication for Publication; Filed by Blalock Home Investments, LLC, a California limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/12/2021
  • DocketApplication for Publication; Filed by Blalock Home Investments, LLC, a California limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/07/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Blalock Home Investments, LLC, a California limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/04/2021
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/04/2021
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Failure to File Proof of Service; Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/03/2021
  • DocketNotice (of Errata re Verified Complaint for (1) Quiet Title, and (2) Cancellation of Instrument); Filed by Blalock Home Investments, LLC, a California limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/30/2021
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Blalock Home Investments, LLC, a California limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/30/2021
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/30/2021
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Blalock Home Investments, LLC, a California limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/30/2021
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Blalock Home Investments, LLC, a California limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******6388    Hearing Date: May 27, 2021    Dept: 82

Blalock Home Investments, LLC,

v.

William J. Palmer, et al.

Judge Mary Strobel

Hearing: May 27, 2021

*******6388

Tentative Decision on Application for Preliminary Injunction

Plaintiff Blalock Home Investments, LLC (“Plaintiff”) moves for a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants William J. Palmer, Jr., Davon Gregory, Robert Whitfield (“Defendants”), and their agents, assigns, and all persons acting in concert with them or through them, including Marina Boyd and possible “renter” Trabeonne Dedeaux, from entering real property located at 807 East 103rd Place, Los Angeles, CA 90002 (“Property”), including, but not limited to, removing, damaging, or altering the Property or any personal property, furniture, fixtures, or equipment thereon, and to cease and desist from attempting to enter into any lease or rental agreements as owner.

Judicial Notice

Plaintiff’s RJN Exhibits 1-12, 14-15, 18, 20 – Granted.

Procedural History

On April 30, 2021, Plaintiff filed a verified complaint against Defendants for quiet title and cancellation of instrument.

On May 7, 2021, Plaintiff filed proof of service on Palmer on May 6, 2021, by substitute service, of the summons and complaint.

On May 7, 2021, Plaintiff filed proof of service on Whitfield on May 12, 2021, by substitute service, of the summons and complaint.

On May 14, 2021, the court granted Plaintiff’s ex parte application for a TRO and OSC re: preliminary injunction. The court issued a briefing schedule for the OSC. The court’s minute order states that Marina Boyd, a non-attorney, stated that Plaintiff may serve Defendant Palmer by email. Otherwise, the court ordered all moving documents served by personal service by May 17, 2021. The opposition could be served personally or by email.

On May 14, 2021, Defendants Palmer and Gregory filed written oppositions to the ex parte application for a TRO. There is no proof of service for these oppositions.

On May 14, 2021, Plaintiff filed proof of electronic service of the ex parte papers and TRO/OSC on Marina Boyd, as an authorized representative of Palmer, on May 14, 2021.

On May 14, 2021, Plaintiff filed an amendment to the complaint naming Trabeonne Dedeaux as “Doe 1.”

On May 14, 2021, Plaintiff filed a notice of lis pendens.

On May 18, 2021, Plaintiff filed proofs of service showing personal service of the summons, complaint, ex parte papers, and TRO/OSC on Defendants Whitfield and Gregory on May 16 and 15, 2021, respectively.

On May 24, 2021, Plaintiff filed and served a reply in support of the OSC.

On May 24, 2021, Defendant Gregory filed objections to the May 14, 2021, ex parte hearing and a request for OSC re: Sanctions against Plaintiff’s counsel. Gregory also filed a declaration of Marina Boyd. Proof of service shows email service on May 24, 2021. To the extent these papers are intended as an opposition to the OSC, they were untimely filed. Per the May 14, 2021, order, any opposition should have been filed and served by May 20, 2021.

Legal Standard for Preliminary Injunction

The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo pending a decision on the merits. (Major v. Miraverde Homeowners Ass’n. (1992) 7 Cal. App. 4th 618, 623.) In deciding whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction, the court looks to two factors, including “(1) the likelihood that the plaintiff will prevail on the merits, and (2) the relative balance of harms that is likely to result from the granting or denial of interim injunctive relief.” (White v. Davis (2003) 30 Cal.4th 528, 553-54.) The factors are interrelated, with a greater showing on one permitting a lesser showing on the other. (Dodge, Warren & Peters Ins. Services, Inc. v. Riley (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 1414, 1420.) However, the party seeking an injunction must demonstrate at least a reasonable probability of success on the merits. (IT Corp. v. County of Imperial (1983) 35 Cal.3d 63, 73-74.) The party seeking the injunction bears the burden of demonstrating both a likelihood of success on the merits and the occurrence of irreparable harm. (Savage v. Trammell Crow Co. (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 1562, 1571.) Irreparable harm may exist if the plaintiff can show an inadequate remedy at law. (CCP ; 526(a).) “A preliminary injunction is not a determination on the merits.” (Yee v. American National Ins. Co. (2015) 235 Cal.App.3d 363, 458.)

Analysis

Likelihood of Prevailing

The application is based on Plaintiff’s causes of action for cancellation of instrument and quiet title. Civil Code section 3412 provides: “A written instrument, in respect to which there is a reasonable apprehension that if left outstanding it may cause serious injury to a person against whom it is void or voidable, may, upon his application, be so adjudged, and ordered to be delivered up or canceled.” “When two or more persons have adverse claims to the same property, any of the claimants may initiate a quiet title action. The purpose of the action is to eliminate an adverse claim and to establish, perfect or ‘quiet’ the title of the property in one or more of the claimants.” (Miller & Starr, Cal. Real Estate 4th ; 40:104; see CCP ; 761.020.)

Plaintiff alleges that it is the fee simple owner of the Property, as evidenced by a grant deed recorded April 10, 2019. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Palmer, Whitfield, and Gregory have no interest in the Property, and that the quitclaim deed recorded by Palmer on April 17, 2019, is a void “wild” deed, has no legal effect, and was recorded to interfere with Plaintiff’s ownership of the Property. (Ex parte 6-7; Compl. ¶¶ 9-22.)

Factual Background

In summary, the parties submit evidence of the following. Decedent William J. Palmer, Sr. (“Palmer Sr.” or “decedent”) died intestate on March 8, 2015. (RJN Exh. 4.) On December 5, 2017, the probate court appointed Ivy Johnson administrator with limited authority to administer the decedent’s estate. (Ibid.; see also RJN Exh. 5 [letters of administration].) In January and February 2019, the probate court approved Johnson’s “Account – Final or Waiver”; confirmed that the Property was the estate’s only asset on hand for distribution; and ordered distribution of a 100% interest in the Property to Johnson. (RJN Exh. 6, 20.)

Johnson sold the Property to Golden Rule Lending, LLC, and a grant deed convening title to Golden Rule was recorded April 1, 2019. The grant deed appears to have been executed by Johnson on January 4, 2018.[1] On or about April 2, 2019, Golden Rule sold the Property to Plaintiff for the purchase price of $300,000. A grant deed conveying title to Plaintiff was recorded April 10, 2019. (RJN Exh. 1-2; Blalock Decl. ¶¶ 4-5.) Jeffrey Blalock, CEO of Plaintiff, declares that prior to close of escrow, he had no notice or knowledge of any adverse claim or interest in the Property by Defendants Palmer Jr., Gregory, Whitfield, or any third party. (Id. ¶ 5.)

On April 17, 2019, Palmer Jr. purported to convey partial interests in the Property to Gregory (33 1/3 %) and Whitfield (33 1/3%) by quitclaim deed, which was recorded that same date. (RJN Exh. 3.)

Starting in June 2019, Palmer Jr. unsuccessfully sought to vacate the probate orders in an ex parte application, motions, and Probate Code section 850 petitions before the probate court, all of which were denied. (RJN Exh. 8-18; see summary at Ex parte 9-10.) Some of the probate court’s rulings, including an April 23, 2021, ruling on a section 805 petition, were without prejudice. (See RJN Exh. 14-15, 18.)

After purchasing the Property, Plaintiff intended to make repairs and improvements and then sell the Property. Due to the ongoing dispute with Defendants regarding the Property, Plaintiff has been forced to put its construction on hold and focus on ensuring the Property is maintained and secured. (Blalock Decl. ¶¶ 6, 13.) Plaintiff submits evidence that, starting in March 2021, Defendants and other persons have forcefully entered the Property without authorization; Whitfield has attempted to execute a lease agreement as landlord for the Property; and Plaintiff has been forced to call the police. (Id. ¶¶ 7-13, Exh. 13, 17.)

Palmer Jr. (“Palmer”) and Gregory filed opposition briefs on May 14, 2021. There is no proof of service for these oppositions. In reply, Plaintiff indicates that it received an opposition from Palmer, but not Gregory. (Reply 3, fn. 1.) It appears Gregory did not properly serve his opposition, but that Palmer may have. Plaintiff may respond to both oppositions at the hearing. Even if the court considers both oppositions (which are similar in content), the court reaches the same result on this OSC. Accordingly, there is no prejudice to Plaintiff if the court considers the oppositions.

Palmer and Gregory verify the contents of their opposition briefs. In relevant part, Palmer states that Plaintiff filed an unlawful detainer action on May 10, 2019, with respect to the Property. (Palmer Oppo. 2.)[2] In July and August 2019, Palmer’s requests for a TRO in the unlawful detainer court were denied, “effectively sentencing him to homelessness” starting August 7, 2019, “and continues to this day.” (Id. at 1.) Palmer represents that Plaintiff “asked the Unlawful Detainer court to VACATE his Judgment of Possession, and to dismiss the Unlawful Detainer case, ‘IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE’ …. The Unlawful Detainer Court GRANTED his request and VACATED his Unlawful Detainer judgment and dismissed the action.” (Id. at 4.) Palmer contends that dismissal of the unlawful detainer action shows that Plaintiff has surrendered possession of the Property. Gregory’s opposition is similar.

In reply, Blalock declares that Plaintiff obtained possession of the Property in August 2019. (Reply Blalock Decl. ¶ 4.) This date of possession by Plaintiff is similar to that stated by Palmer. After Plaintiff obtained possession, its attorney vacated the unlawful detainer (“UD”) judgment and dismissed the UD action because possession was no longer at issue. Blalock declares that he has since secured and maintained the Property, and he has not surrendered possession. (Ibid.)

Plaintiff Has a Reasonable Probability of Proving Elements of Cancellation of Instrument and Quiet Title with Respect to the April 17, 2019 Quitclaim Deed Recorded by Palmer

Based on the evidence summarized above, Plaintiff has shown a reasonable probability of success on its causes of action for cancellation of instrument and quiet title.

Plaintiff contends that the April 17, 2019, quitclaim deed recorded by Palmer is “wild” and void because it was recorded outside the chain of title and because Plaintiff is a bona fide purchaser of the Property that recorded its interest first. (Ex parte 14-15.) Defendants do not address these contentions in their opposition briefs.

“Proper recordation of a real property instrument is necessary to impart constructive notice of its contents. (Civ.Code, ;; 12131214.) If an instrument cannot be located by searching the ‘grantor’ and ‘grantee’ indices of the public records, the instrument does not constitute constructive notice and later bona fide purchasers or encumbrances are not charged with knowledge of its existence.” (Far West Savings & Loan Assn. v. McLaughlin (1988) 201 Cal.App.3d 67, 73.) A deed recorded outside the chain of title is considered “wild.” (Ibid.)

One who purchases property real property in good faith for value, without knowledge or notice of the asserted rights of others, takes the property free of those unknown rights. (Civ. Code ; 1107; RNT Holdings, LLC v. United General Title Insurance Company (2014) 230 Cal. App. 4th 1289, 1296.) The purchaser’s status is determined at the time the interest is acquired and any information learned after he or she acquires an interest does not affect his or her status as a bona fide purchaser or encumbrancer. (Reiner v. Danial (1989) 211 Cal. App.3d 682, 690; First Bank v. East West Bank (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 1309, 1312-13.)

Here, Plaintiff submits evidence that it paid valuable consideration to Golden Rule for the Property and that a grant deed for the Property was recorded on April 10, 2019. (Blalock Decl. ¶ 4 and RJN Exh. 1-2.) Jeffrey Blalock, CEO of Plaintiff, declares that prior to close of escrow, he had no notice or knowledge of any adverse claim or interest in the Property by Defendants Palmer Jr., Gregory, Whitfield, or any third party. (Id. ¶ 5.) Defendants do not submit any evidence to rebut Blalock’s declaration. Nor do Defendants develop an argument from the record submitted by Plaintiff to question the truth of Blalock’s statement about knowledge of adverse interests at the time Plaintiff purchased the Property from Golden Rule.

On April 17, 2019, Palmer Jr. purported to convey partial interests in the Property to Gregory (33 1/3 %) and Whitfield (33 1/3%) by quitclaim deed, which was recorded that same date. (RJN Exh. 3.) There is no evidence this deed, or any interest of Defendants, was recorded prior to April 17, 2019. Accordingly, Plaintiff has a reasonable probability of proving at trial that it purchased the Property in good faith and without knowledge of any purported interest of Defendants, and that Plaintiff therefore took title free of those unknown interests. Because there is evidence the April 17, 2019, deed is “wild” and outside the chain of title, Plaintiff has a reasonable probability of establishing that the deed is voidable and that any adverse claim from the deed should be eliminated or “quieted” in a quiet title action.

Starting in June 2019, after the conveyance from Golden Rule to Plaintiff, Palmer Jr. unsuccessfully sought to vacate the probate orders in an ex parte application, motions, and Probate Code section 850 petitions before the probate court, all of which were denied. (RJN Exh. 7-18; see summary at Ex parte 9-10.) Plaintiff seems to contend that the probate orders are final and cannot be collaterally attacked by Defendants. (Ex parte 12-13.) Defendants have not responded. Nonetheless, the court finds it unnecessary to decide Plaintiff’s contentions on this issue. At present time, there is no evidence that the probate orders have been reversed or set aside. Furthermore, the issue here is whether Plaintiff is a bona fide purchaser for value from Golden Rule and did not have knowledge of any purported interest of Defendants. As discussed, Plaintiff submits evidence to support such claim.

Plaintiff also submits evidence that it would be harmed if the April 17, 2019, quitclaim deed is not cancelled and if Defendants’ adverse claim to the Property is not quieted. As summarized above, Plaintiff submits evidence that, since purchasing the Property, it has been unable to pursue improvements as a result of litigation over possession and title. The April 17, 2019, quitclaim deed complicates such litigation and places a cloud on Plaintiff’s title. Plaintiff also submits evidence that Defendants and others have forcefully entered the Property and taken other unauthorized actions with respect to the Property. (Blalock Decl. ¶¶ 6-13.) This evidence supports a reasonable inference that Plaintiff would be harmed if the April 17, 2019, deed is not cancelled.

Plaintiff’s dismissal of the UD action does not show that Plaintiff surrendered possession of the Property, and Plaintiff submits evidence in reply that it has not surrendered the Property. (Reply Blalock Decl.) In any event, possession is not determinative of the causes of action alleged in the complaint. Current possession of the Property may have some relevance to the balance of harms and proper scope of injunctive relief, which the court analyzes below.

On May 24, 2021, Defendant Gregory filed objections to the May 14, 2021, ex parte hearing and a request for OSC re: Sanctions against Plaintiff’s counsel. Gregory also filed a declaration of Marina Boyd. As noted above, these papers were untimely filed pursuant to the court’s briefing schedule. The procedural objections are further analyzed below. Even if the court considers these untimely papers as an opposition, they do not change the court’s analysis.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff shows a reasonable probability of success on its causes of action for cancellation of instrument and quiet title.

Balance of Harms

For the second factor, the court must consider “the interim harm that the plaintiff would be likely to sustain if the injunction were denied as compared to the harm the defendant would be likely to suffer if the preliminary injunction were issued.” (Smith v. Adventist Health System/West (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 729, 749.) “Irreparable harm” generally means that the defendant’s act constitutes an actual or threatened injury to the personal or property rights of the plaintiff that cannot be compensated by a damages award. (See Brownfield v. Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 405, 410.)

Plaintiff shows irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is not granted enjoining Defendants, and their agents and persons acting in concert with them or through them, from entering the Property, damaging the Property, removing personal property, or attempting to enter lease agreements as owner of the Property. Plaintiff submits evidence that, starting in March 2021, Defendants and other persons have forcefully entered the Property without authorization; Whitfield has attempted to execute a lease agreement as landlord for the Property; and Plaintiff has been forced to call the police. (Blalock Decl. ¶¶ 7-13, Exh. 13, 17.) Plaintiff submits evidence that it has maintained possession of the Property since about August 2019 and has taken action, including calling the police, to remove trespassing individuals. (Id. ¶¶ 7-13, Exh. 13; Reply Blalock Decl. generally.) Plaintiff submits evidence of damage to the Property caused by trespassers, including ripped out plumbing and electrical. (Reply Blalock Decl. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff’s interest in the Property would be harmed if such unauthorized conduct is not enjoined. Monetary damages may not be sufficient to compensate for such harm. Real property is generally considered “unique” so that injury cannot be compensated in damages. (See Civ. Code ; 3387.)

Harm to Palmer appears to arise from the UD judgment for possession, not by virtue of an injunction granted in this action. Palmer argues that the denial of his request for a TRO in the unlawful detainer action” effectively sentence[ed] him to homelessness” starting August 7, 2019, “and continues to this day.” (Palmer Oppo. at 1.) An injunction in this case would maintain the status quo as to possession of the property, not add new or different harm to Palmer. Palmer does not claim to have been living in the Property or to have maintained personal property there. Gregory or Whitfield also do not identify any harm from being enjoined from entering the Property without permission. (Gregory Oppo. 3-5.)

Defendants argue that Plaintiff surrendered possession by dismissing the UD action. Defendants provide no legal authority to support this argument. Without further facts or argument, Plaintiff’s dismissal of the UD action after Plaintiff successfully obtained possession of the property does not prove that it surrendered possession. Palmer and Gregory admit that Plaintiff “took possession in August 2019.” (See Gregory Oppo. 4; Palmer Oppo. 5.)

The balance of harms weighs for granting the preliminary injunction. Having considered the balance of harms and Plaintiff’s probability of success, the court grants the preliminary injunction.

Scope of Injunction

For reasons discussed above, the court finds the proposed injunction, as worded in the OSC, to be appropriate as to Defendants and their agents and persons acting in concert with them or through them.

Plaintiff has requested that the injunction specifically apply to Marina Boyd, allegedly a paralegal/advocate assisting Palmer, and to Trabeonne Dedeaux, a possible “renter” of the Property from Whitfield. Although Boyd has been participating in this action as agent for Palmer, Plaintiff does not name Boyd as a party. Plaintiff does submit evidence that Whitfield attempted to execute a lease agreement with Dedeaux as purported landlord of the Property. (Blalock Decl. ¶ 13.) Dedeaux was named as “Doe 1” on May 14, 2021. However, there is no proof of service of the summons, complaint, ex parte papers, and TRO/OSC on Dedeaux.

The court finds insufficient cause to name Boyd or Dedeaux specifically in the injunction order.

Undertaking

A preliminary injunction ordinarily cannot take effect unless and until the plaintiff provides an undertaking for damages which the enjoined defendant may sustain by reason of the injunction if the court finally decides that the plaintiff was not entitled to the injunction. (See Code Civ. Pro. ; 529(a); City of South San Francisco v. Cypress Lawn Cemetery Ass’n. (1992) 11 Cal. App. 4th 916, 920; see Abba Rubber Co. v. Seaquist (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 1, 15-16 [“the prevailing defendant may recover that portion of his attorney's fees attributable to defending against those causes of action on which the issuance of the preliminary injunction had been based”].)

The parties do not address the appropriate amount of undertaking. Defendants have been representing themselves and thus may not incur attorney’s fees. Defendants do not identify any potential costs they would incur from the preliminary injunction. Subject to argument at the hearing, the court sets the undertaking at $20,000.

Gregory’s Objections and Request for OSC re: Sanctions

In his May 24, 2021, objections, Gregory first objects that the entire proceeding is an attempt to “form shop.” Gregory points out that the action is assigned to Judge Sotelo in Department 40 for all purposes, but that the ex parte and OSC were heard by Judge Mary Strobel in Department 82. Pursuant to Local Rules, Department 82 is one of three specialized departments that hears ex parte applications for TROs and OSCs re: preliminary injunction made before the initial status conference or case management conference. (Local Rule 2.8(b).) Accordingly, the ex parte and OSC were properly assigned to Department 82, and such assignment is not evidence of forum shopping.

In his second objection, Gregory refers to various aspect of the ex parte hearing that he believes were objectionable. The objections are overruled. Pursuant to protocols related to the spread of Covid-19, this court heard the ex parte from chambers. The court was identified as the judicial officer ruling on the ex parte. Gregory shows no prejudice from the court’s consideration of a declaration filed by Boyd, a non-party.

Although Gregory requests an OSC re: sanctions against Plaintiff’s counsel, he shows no grounds for such relief. The request is denied.

Conclusion

The application for preliminary injunction is GRANTED consistent with the proposed injunction set forth in the OSC, except that the court does not specifically name Boyd or Dedeaux as enjoined persons. Plaintiff to post an undertaking of $20,000.


[1] Plaintiff does not explain why the deed to Golden Rule was executed substantially prior to the recording date or the final probate order of distribution. While Plaintiff’s counsel should address this issue at the hearing, it does not appear relevant to Plaintiff’s status as a bona fide purchaser, at least based on the current evidentiary record.

[2] In opposition, Palmer and Gregory cite requests for judicial notice. The court has not received a request for judicial notice or any exhibits from Palmer or Gregory and thus cannot rule on the requests. The court has considered the statements verified in the opposition briefs.


Case Number: *******6388    Hearing Date: June 4, 2021    Dept: 86

BLALOCK HOME INVESTMENTS, LLC v. PALMER, et al.

Case No. *******6388

Hearing Date: June 4, 2021

[Tentative] ORDER GRANTING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

On May 14, 2021, this court (Hon. Mary Strobel) issued its Order on Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order Pending Order to Show Cause Re Preliminary Injunction. The court ordered Defendants William J. Palmer, Jr., Davon Gregory, Robert Whitfield and their agents, assigns, and all persons acting in concert with them or through them, including Marina Boyd, and possible renter, Trabeeonne Dedeaux, to show cause why they should not be enjoined during the pendency of these proceedings from entering the real property located at 807 East 103rd Place in Los Angeles (the Property), including but not limited to, removing, damaging or altering the Property or any personal property, furniture, fixtures or equipment thereon, and to cease and desist from attempt to enter into any lease or rental agreements as the owner of the Property.

Just before the order to show cause hearing on May 27, 2021, Defendant Gregory filed a peremptory challenge to Judge Strobel. Department 1 transferred the matter to this court on that date. The court briefly continued the order to show cause hearing and extended the temporary restraining order to this date.

The motion is granted.

Plaintiff’s request for judicial notice (RJN) is granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

The standards governing a preliminary injunction are well known. “[A] court will deny a preliminary injunction unless there is a reasonable probability that the plaintiff will be successful on the merits, but the granting of a preliminary injunction does not amount to an adjudication of the merits.” (Beehan v. Lido Isle Community Assn. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 858, 866.) “The function of a preliminary injunction is the preservation of the status quo until a final determination of the merits.” (Ibid.)

As the parties recognize, “Trial courts traditionally consider and weigh two factors in determining whether to issue a preliminary injunction. They are (1) how likely it is that the moving party will prevail on the merits, and (2) the relative harm the parties will suffer in the interim due to the issuance or nonissuance of the injunction.” (Dodge, Warren & Peters Ins. Services, Inc. v. Riley (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 1414, 1420.) “[T]he greater the . . . showing on one, the less must be shown on the other to support an injunction.” (Ibid. [quoting Butt v. State of California, (1992) 4 Cal.4th 668, 678].) The burden of proof is on the plaintiff as the moving party “to show all elements necessary to support issuance of a preliminary injunction.” (O'Connell v. Superior Court (2006) 141 Cal.App.4th 1452, 1481.)

Preliminary injunctive relief requires the use of competent evidence to create a sufficient factual showing on the grounds for relief. (See e.g., Ancora-Citronelle Corp. v. Green (1974) 41 Cal.App.3d 146, 150.) A plaintiff seeking injunctive relief must also show the absence of adequate damages remedy at law. (Code Civ. Proc. ; 526, subd. (a)(4).)

A preliminary injunction ordinarily cannot take effect unless and until the plaintiff provides an undertaking for damages which the enjoined defendant may sustain by reason of the injunction if the court finally decides that the plaintiff was not entitled to the injunction. (See Code Civ. Proc. ; 529, subd. (a); City of South San Francisco v. Cypress Lawn Cemetery Ass’n. (1992) 11 Cal. App. 4th 916, 920.)

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff’s underlying complaint sounds in quiet title and cancellation of instruments.

Likelihood of Success on the Merits:

This matter stems from the disposition of the Property after the death of William J. Palmer, Sr. who died intestate on March 8, 2015. (Plaintiff RJN, Ex. 4.) Ultimately, the Probate court approved distribution of the Property to Ivy Johnson and entered an order distributing the Property to her. (Plaintiff RJN, Ex. 8 [Ex. B therein].)

Prior to the Probate court’s order of distribution in February 2019, Johnson purported to transfer the Property to Golden Rule Lending, LLC. (Plaintiff RJN, Ex. 1.) Golden Rule Lending, LLC caused the grant deed for the transfer to be recorded on April 1, 2019, after Ivy Johnson actually acquired title to the Property pursuant to the Probate court’s order.[1] (Plaintiff RJN, Ex. 1.)

On April 2, 2019, Golden Rule Lending, LLC transferred the Property to Plaintiff for $300,000. (Plaintiff RJN, Ex. 2; Blalock Decl., 4.) Plaintiff’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Blalock, did not have any knowledge of any “adverse claim or interest in the Property” by any Defendant or third party. (Blalock Decl., 5.)

On April 17, 2019, Defendant Palmer purported to transfer through a quitclaim deed a one-third interest in the Property to Defendant Gregory and a one-third interest in the Property to Defendant Whitfield. The (seemingly wild) deed was recorded on April 17, 2019. (Plaintiff RJN, Ex. 3.)

In June 2019, Defendant Palmer sought to set aside the Probate court’s orders distributing the Property to Johnson. Those extensive efforts were unsuccessful. (Plaintiff RJN, Exs. 7 through 18.)

Blalock attests, despite Plaintiff’s ownership of the Property and the Probate court’s orders, Defendants Whitfield, Gregory and Boyd were leading habitually trespassing on the Property as if they were the owners. According to Blalock, Defendant Whitfield represented himself to be the landlord for the Property and purported to lease it to Trabeonne Dedeaux (now named as Doe 1). (Blalock Decl., ¶¶ 7-13.)

Defendants Palmer and Gregory reveal Plaintiff filed an unlawful detainer action. Eventually, Plaintiff dismissed the unlawful detainer action. Defendants Palmer and Gregory argue the unlawful detainer action’s dismissal demonstrates Plaintiff surrendered possession of the Property.

Plaintiff explains, however, it obtained possession of the Property (to the exclusion of the Defendants) in August 2019. Thereafter, Plaintiff dismissed the unlawful detainer action because possession of the Property was no longer in issue—Plaintiff secured and maintained the Property and has not surrendered possession. (Blalock Reply Decl., 4.)

Based on the evidence before the court, the court finds Plaintiff has demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on its quiet title and cancellation of instruments claims. Plaintiff paid consideration for the Property and without knowledge of claims by others. Nothing suggests Plaintiff is not a bona fide purchaser of the Property for value without knowledge of any adverse claims. (See Civ. Code ; 1107.)

On April 17, 2019, when Defendant Palmer purported to quitclaim partial interests in the Property to Defendants Gregory and Whitfield, he did not own the Property. That is, he had no interest to convey. The April 17, 2019 deed is outside the chain of title, a wild deed. Moreover, Defendants’ claims to the Property—as the facts stand today—are without legal support.

The court finds on this evidence Plaintiff has a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits of its claims.

Balance of Harms:

The second part of the preliminary injunction analysis requires the court to evaluate the harm the plaintiff is likely to sustain if the preliminary injunction is denied compared to the harm the defendant is likely to suffer if the injunction is issued. (IT Corp. v. County of Imperial (1983) 35 Cal.3d 63, 69-70.)

Plaintiff relies on evidence of Defendants’ trespass to establish harm. Plaintiff also notes the lease Defendant Whitfield used to attempt to lease the Property to a third person. Blalock attests the trespassers “have broken into my property, destroyed fixtures and improvements” as well as “removed personal property . . . .” (Blalock Reply Decl., 3.) Plaintiff argues the damage to its Property may be difficult to value.

Defendants do not identify any real harm to them if they are enjoined from entering the Property without permission while this action is pending.

Based on the evidence before the court, the court finds the balance of harm tips in Plaintiff’s favor.

CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction is granted. The court will not name Marina Boyd (a non-party) or Trabeonne Dedeaux (now Doe 1), however, in the preliminary injunction. To the extent Boyd is an agent of Defendants Palmer, Gregory or Whitfield, the preliminary injunction would enjoin her. The evidence concerning Dedeaux is insufficient to justify injunctive relief as to him. Whether and to what extent, if at all, Dedeaux claims a leasehold interest in the Property is unknown.

Plaintiff shall post a $10,000 undertaking.

Finally, the court notes Defendant Gregory filed objections to these proceedings after the ex parte hearing and prior to the original hearing date for the order to show cause. The objections are overruled. The ex parte application was properly heard in Department 82. (See Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rule 2.8, subd. (b).) That Judge Strobel heard the matter while in chambers (but broadcast into the courtroom) is not actionable. Defendant Gregory’s request for sanctions is denied.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

June 4, 2021 ________________________________

Hon. Mitchell Beckloff

Judge of the Superior Court


[1] Thus, it appears any issue with the timing of Johnson’s transfer of the Property to Golden Rule Lending, LLC would be resolved through the after-acquired property doctrine.


Case Number: *******6388 Hearing Date: September 27, 2021 Dept: 40

MOVING PARTIES: Cross-Defendant Blalock Home Investments, LLC

This a dispute over ownership of real property. Cross-Defendant Blalock Home Investments, LLC (“Blalock”) has filed this unopposed demurrer against Cross-Complainants Robert Whitfield and Davon Gregory.

The Cross-complaints allege the following causes of action:

1) Economic Interference;

2) Fraud/Intentional Misrepresentation;

3) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress;

4) Racketeering;

5) Malicious Prosecution;

6) Unfair Business Practices.

Self-Represented Litigants: Self-represented litigants, as Whitfield and Gregory are here, are held to the same standards that apply to licensed attorneys. Harding v. Collazo (1986) 177 Cal.App.3d 1044, 1056; Lombardi v. Citizens Nat’l Trust & Sav. Bank (1955) 137 Cal.App.2d 206, 208-209 (stating that self-represented litigants are “restricted to the same rules of evidence and procedure as is required of those qualified to practice law before our courts.”)

DEMURRER ­— SUSTAINED

The Court will jointly analyze the demurrers against Whitfield and Gregory as the motions are identical. The Court notes that neither cross-complainant has filed an opposition.

This matter initially began with a dispute over the estate of William Palmer Sr or, more specifically, the property located at 807 E. 103rd Place (“the Property”).

The Probate Court distributed the Property to Ivy Johnson (“Johnson”). Johnson sold it to Golden Rule Lending, who sold it to Blalock. Blalock states that William Palmer Jr., Johnson’s half-brother, unsuccessfully disputed the Probate Court’s orders.

Despite having no legal interest in the Property, Palmer Jr. allegedly granted quitclaim deeds to Whitfield and Gregory. Blalock has filed a Complaint seeking a judgment that they are the fee simple owner of the Property and cancel the quitclaim deed.

The Court finds that the res judicata doctrine bars the cross-complaints. Res judicata “prevents relitigation of the same cause of action in a second suit between the same parties or parties in privity with them.” Mycogen Corp. v. Monsanto Co. (2002) 28 Cal.4th 888, 896-897. Here, there is a final order from the Probate Court distributing the Property to Johnson. Valid deeds show how the Property was transferred from Johnson to Blalock. Palmer Jr. has unsuccessfully contested the Probate Court’s order. Thus, Whitfield and Gregory did not gain a legally valid interest in the Property from Palmer Jr.

Conclusion: Blalock’s Demurrers to Whitfield’s and Gregory’s Cross-Complaints are SUSTAINED, without leave to Amend.


Case Number: *******6388 Hearing Date: January 13, 2022 Dept: 40

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff, Blalock Home Investments, LLC.

This action involves competing claims to real property located at 807 East 103rd Place, Los Angeles, California 90002 (Subject Property). The property was originally owned by William Palmer Sr., who, on March 8, 2015, died intestate and was survived by at least two children, Ivy Evette Johnson and William Palmer Jr. On December 5, 2017, the Superior Court issued an Order for Probate declaring that Palmer Sr. died intestate. The Court also appointed Ivy Johnson as Administrator of the estate. On September 5, 2018, Johnson submitted a Final Distribution Report to the Court stating the Subject Property, valued at $310,000.00 was the sole asset of the estate, which the Court entered on February 27, 2019, distributing a 100% interest in the Subject Property to Johnson. Previously, in January 2018, Johnson had executed a Grant Deed for the Subject Property in favor of Golden Rule Lending LLC. This deed was recorded on April 1, 2019. On April 10, 2019, Golden Rule sold the Subject Property to Plaintiff for $300,000.00.

Shortly thereafter, on April 17, 2019, William Palmer Jr., Palmer Sr.’s son, recorded a Quitclaim Deed with the Los Angeles County Records Office, purporting to own the Subject Property and to convey one third of the Subject Property to each of Defendants Robert Whitfield and Davon Gregory. On June 4, 2019, Palmer Jr. filed an ex parte application seeking to vacate the Superior Court probate orders giving the Subject Property to Ivy Johnson, which was eventually set for hearing and denied on January 22, 2021. Palmer moved for reconsideration of this denial, which was denied on April 23, 2021. Further, on November 12, 2019, Palmer Jr. also filed a Petition pursuant to section 850 of the Probate Code to quiet title to the Subject Property in his name, which was denied without prejudice as moot based on the distribution order in the probate proceedings administered by Johnson.

In March 2021, the parties faced struggles concerning possession of the Subject Property. Blalock called the Los Angeles Police Department to remove individuals who were allegedly moved onto the Subject Property by Gregory and another individual. A similar incident occurred on May 8, 2021, at which time Blalock called the LAPD regarding Whitfield changing the locks on the property, removing a car therefrom, and attempting to move Trabeonne Dedeaux onto the Subject Property.

On April 30, 2021, Blalock initiated this action seeking quiet title to the Subject Property and cancellation of Palmer Jr.’s Quitclaim Deed. Defendants Whitfield and Gregory respectively cross complained on June 3, 2021, and June 17, 2021. Both cross-complaints were demurred to by Blalock, which the Court sustained with prejudice on September 27, 2021.

On October 27, 2021, Blalock moved made the instant motion for summary judgment on the causes of action of the sole remaining complaint (Plaintiff’s complaint for quiet title and cancellation of instrument). The defendants in this action did not oppose the Motion, prompting Blalock to file a Reply of no opposition to the Motion.

Self-Represented Litigants

Self-represented litigants are held to the same standards that apply to licensed attorneys. (Harding v. Collazo (1986) 177 Cal.App.3d 1044, 1056; see Lombardi v. Citizens Nat’l Trust & Sav. Bank (1955) 137 Cal.App.2d 206, 208-209 [stating that self-represented litigants are “restricted to the same rules of evidence and procedure as is required of those qualified to practice law before our courts.”].)

Judicial Notice

Plaintiff Blalock has requested judicial notice of several Superior Court orders, filings made with the Court, and real property deeds. (See App’x of Evid., pp. 3 7, Request for Judicial Notice.) The Court takes judicial notice of these documents insofar as their existence and the orders made within, if any.

The court may take judicial notice of “[o]fficial acts of the legislative, executive, and judicial departments of the United States and of any state of the United States,” “[r]ecords of (1) any court of this state or (2) any court of record of the United States or of any state of the United States,” and “[f]acts and propositions that are not reasonably subject to dispute and are capable of immediate and accurate determination by resort to sources of reasonably indisputable accuracy.” (Evid. Code, 452, subds. (c), (d), (h).) This includes recorded deeds and other documents recorded by a county recorder’s office. (Evans v. California Trailer Court, Inc. (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 540, 549 [“The court may take judicial notice of recorded deeds”].) The trial court shall take judicial notice of any matter specified in Evidence Code section 452 if a party requests it and gives each adverse party sufficient notice of the request, through the pleadings or otherwise, to enable such adverse party to prepare to meet the request and furnishes the court with sufficient information to enable it to take judicial notice of the matter. (Evid. Code, 453.)

I

Summary Adjudication: GRANTED

Summary Adjudication Legal Standard:

“[A] motion for summary judgment shall be granted if all the papers submitted show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” (Code of Civ. Proc., 437c, subd. (c).) The moving party bears the initial burden of production to make a prima facie showing no triable material fact issues. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 850.) The moving party’s burden on summary judgment “is more properly one of persuasion rather than proof, since he must persuade the court that there is no material fact for a reasonable trier of fact to find, and not to prove any such fact to the satisfaction of the court itself as though it were sitting as the trier of fact.” (Id. at p. 850, fn.11.) If the moving party meets this burden, the burden shifts to the opposing party to make a converse prima facie showing that a triable issue of material fact exists. (Ibid.)

Here, Plaintiff Blalock moves for summary judgment on the quiet title and cancellation of instrument causes of action in its April 30, 2021. Blalock’s motion is unopposed. Therefore, the burden rests on Blalock to present evidence “showing that there is no defense to [its] cause[s] of action [after establishing] each element of the cause of action entitling the party to judgment.” (Code Civ. Proc., 437c, subd. (p)(1).) If Blalock meets this burden, the analysis stops, and the motion should be granted.

First Cause of Action, Quiet Title: GRANTED

Plaintiff’s first cause of action is for quiet title. “An action to quiet title is akin to an action for declaratory relief in that the plaintiff seeks a judgment declaring his rights in relation to a piece of property.” (Ciara v. Offner (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 12, 24.) The California quiet title statutes obligate a court hearing a quiet title claim to examine “evidence of plaintiff’s title” along with “such evidence as may be offered respecting the claims of any of the defendants,” to determine whether title should be quieted in the plaintiff’s favor. (Code Civ. Proc., 764.010.) On this summary judgment motion, Blalock must present evidence entitling it to quiet title of the Subject Property and lack of defenses to Blalock’s quiet title.

Blalock has met this burden of showing prima facie evidence persuading the Court it is entitled to quiet title over Subject Property by presenting the following facts and supporting evidence:

On March 8, 2015, William Palmer Sr. died intestate. (See UMF No. 1, App’x of Evid., Ex. 16 [April 23, 2021, Superior Court Probate Division Hearing Minutes]; see also UMF No. 3, App’x of Evid., Ex. 4, p. 1 [December 5, 2017, Superior Court Order for Probate, Intestate Decedent]; App’x of Evid., Ex. 8.B., 1, Ex. 17, 1 [February 27, 2019, Superior Court Order After Hearing].)

On December 5, 2017, the Superior Court issues an Order for Probate declaring that Palmer Sr. died intestate and appointing Ivy Evette Johnson [his daughter] as the Estate’s Administrator. (UMF No. 3, App’x of Evid., Ex. 4, p. 1 [December 5, 2017, Superior Court Order for Probate, Intestate Decedent].)

On December 14, 2017, the Superior Court issued Letters of Administration appointing Johnson as Administrator for the estate. (UMF No. 4, App’x of Evid., Ex. 5, p. 1 [December 14, 2017, Superior Court Letters of Administration].)

On September 5, 2018, Johnson submitted a Final Distribution Report to the Court stating the Subject Property, valued at $310,000.00 was the sole asset of the estate. (UMF No. 5, App’x of Evid., Ex. 26 [September 4, 2018, First and Final Report of Administration on waiver of Account and for Final Distribution].)

On February 27, 2019, the Court entered an Order After Hearing distributing a 100% interest to Johnson. (UMF No. 6, App’x of Evid., Ex. 17, p. 2 [February 27, 2019, Superior Court Order After Hearing].)

Johnson executed a Grant Deed for the Subject Property in favor of Golden Rule as of January 4, 2018, which was recorded on April 1, 2019. (UMF No. 7, App’x of Evid., Ex. 1 [April 1, 2019, Grant Deed from Ivy Johnson to Golden Rule Lending LLC].)

On April 10, 2019, Golden Rule sold the Subject Property to Plaintiff for $300,000.00. (UMF No. 8; App’x of Evid., Ex. 2 [Grant Deed from Golden Rule Lending LLC to Plaintiff Blalock].)

On June 4, 2019, Palmer Jr. filed an ex parte application seeking to vacate the Order for Probate and Distribution Order, which was denied on January 22, 2021. (UMF No. 16, App’x of Evid., Ex. 11 [January 22, 2021, Ex Parte Application Minute Order].)

Palmer Jr. moved for reconsideration of the January 22, 2021, decision, which was denied without prejudice on April 23, 2021. (UMF No. 17, App’x of Evid., Ex. 13 [April 23, 2021, Reconsideration Minute Order].)

The above-listed recorded documents have been judicially noticed and show an unbroken chain of title indicating that Blalock is the beneficiary under an April 10, 2019, Deed of Trust and most recent title holder for the Subject Property. Further, as the defendants here have not filed an opposition to this Motion, there are no facts or evidence to “show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to [the quiet title action] or a defense thereto.” (Code Civ. Proc., 437c, subd. (p)(1).)

Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Adjudication is GRANTED as to the Complaint’s first cause of action for quiet title.

Second Cause of Action, Cancellation of Instrument [Quitclaim Deed]: GRANTED

The mechanism for cancellation of a deed or other written instrument is codified at Civil Code section 3412, stating that a “written instrument, in respect to which there is a reasonable apprehension that if left outstanding it may cause serious injury to a person against whom it is void or voidable, may, upon his application, be so adjudged, and ordered to be delivered up or canceled.” “To prevail on a claim to cancel an instrument, a plaintiff must prove (1) the instrument is void or voidable due to, for example, fraud; and (2) there is a reasonable apprehension of serious injury including pecuniary loss or the prejudicial alteration of one's position.” (U.S. Bank National Assn. v. Naifeh (2016) 1 Cal.App.5th 767, 778.)

With its second cause of action, Plaintiff seeks a cancellation of William Palmer’s Quitclaim Deed recorded April 17, 2019, which purports convey a third of the Subject Property to Robert Whitfield and another third of the Subject Property to Davon Gregory. (UMF No. 11, App’x of Evid., Ex. 3 [April 17, 2019, Quitclaim Deed].)

A chain of title is the “recorded” sequence of “intermediate effective conveyances” of a

property “from the original owner to” the person claiming title to the property. (Far West Savings & Loan Assn. v. McLaughlin (1988) 201 Cal.App.3d 67, 73.) A deed is “wild” if it is “recorded outside the chain of title,” i.e., “a search of the grantor/grantee indices could not have disclosed its existence.” (Id.; Aguayo v. Amaro (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 1102, 1107 [a “recorded … quitclaim deed … was a ‘wild’ deed because it was recorded outside the chain of title.”].) A wild deed is “void”. (People v. Astorga-Lider (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 646, 654.)

As detailed in the preceding discussion, Blalock has shown that the proper chain of title for the Subject Property is a linear line from Palmer Sr. to Ivy Johnson, to Golden Rule Lending, LLC, and finally to Plaintiff Blalock. (See First Cause of Action, Quiet Title discussion supra.) Thus, Plaintiff’s evidence has already persuaded the Court that Blalock has shown sufficient evidence entitling it to quiet title over Subject Property. All defendants in this action did not oppose this Motion and thus did not submit facts or evidence showing a defense to Blalock’s ownership of the Subject Property, e.g., a different chain of title showing conveyances of the Subject Property from Palmer Sr. to Palmer Jr. Consequently, on the evidence here presented, the Court is persuaded that Blalock has shown evidence demonstrating a lack of triable issue of fact as to its ownership of the Subject Property sufficient to place the Palmer Jr. Quitclaim Deed outside of the proper chain of title.

Further, to leave the Quitclaim Deed on record leave the door open for Defendants Palmer Jr., Whitfield, or Gregory to ‘sell’ their interest in the Subject Property to a bona fide purchaser, whose purchase may present an obstacle to Blalock’s fee simple ownership of the property. Additionally, failure to cancel the Quitclaim Deed could allow the defendants to present themselves as owners of the Subject Property at Blalock’s expense, which in fact may have happened in May 2021, when Defendant Whitfield (according to Plaintiff) attempted to lease and move tenants into the Subject Property. These are proper bases from which this Court can find that, if left outstanding, may cause serious injury to Blalock by divesting it of its 100% ownership and possession of the Subject Property.

Blalock has moved for this Court to find that the Quitclaim Deed is void. Based on the evidence presented by Plaintiff, the Court finds that the Palmer Jr. Quitclaim Deed is void as a wild deed. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Adjudication is GRANTED as to the Complaint’s second cause of action for cancellation of instrument. The Court’s ORDERS that Quitclaim Deed, numbered 20190341896, be CANCELED by the Los Angeles County Record’s Office.

Conclusion

Plaintiff Blalock Home Investments, LLC’s Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED based on unopposed evidence persuading the Court there is no triable issue of fact as to Plaintiff’s fee simple ownership of the Subject Property and the merit of cancelling the Palmer Quitclaim Deed.

The Court’s ORDERS that Quitclaim Deed, numbered 20190341896, be CANCELED by the

Los Angeles County Record’s Office.

On August 11, 2021, Plaintiff obtained entries of default against (1) the testate and intestate heirs of William Palmer, Sr., deceased, and all persons claiming by, though, or under such decedent, and (2) ALL PERSONS UNKNOWN, claiming any legal or equitable right, title, estate, lien, or interest in the property described in the complaint adverse to Plaintiff’s title, or any cloud on Plaintiff’s title thereto.

On December 9, 2021, Plaintiff also obtained an entry of default against TRABEONNE DEDEAUX (Doe 1).

II

Request for Court Judgment, Default Judgment: GRANTED

Default Prove-Up, Real Property: In actions seeking judgment on quiet title claim, “[t]he court shall examine into and determine the plaintiff’s title against the claims of all the defendants. The court shall not enter judgment by default but shall in all cases require evidence of plaintiff’s title and hear such evidence as may be offered respecting the claims of any of the defendants, other than claims the validity of which is admitted by the plaintiff in the complaint. The court shall render judgment in accordance with the evidence and the law.” (Code Civ. Proc., 764.010 [emphasis added].)

California courts take two approaches in determining whether judgment in a quiet title action is available by default. A string of cases follows the conclusion explained in Young v. Soos (2004) 119 Cal.App.4th 576, 581, holding that “a judgment may be entered in a quiet title action following default, provided the evidentiary requirements of Code of Civil Procedure section 764.010 are met.” In contrast, another string of cases follows the conclusion explained in Harbour Vista, LLC v. HSBC Mortgage Servs. Inc. (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 1496, 1503, holding that “the prohibition against default judgments in quiet title actions appears absolute.” This Court agrees with the Harbour Vista interpretation of Code of Civil Procedure section 764.010, which explicitly states that “[t]he court shall not enter judgment by default.” (Emphasis added.) Instead, the Court “shall … hear such evidence as may be offered respecting the claims of any of the defendants … [and] render judgment in accordance with the evidence and law.” (Code Civ. Proc., 764.010 [emphasis added]; see Harbour Vista, supra, 201 Cal.App.4th at p. 1503 [“[a]lthough the statute does not spell out who offers [] evidence [respecting the claims of any of the defendants]—the plaintiff, the court, or the defendant—the only sensible alternative is the defendant”].)

This matter has been heard CONCURRENT to the Motion for Summary Judgment allowing the Court to hear and review all the evidence concerning the claims by all parties and all persons, satisfying Code Civil Procedure 764.010.

Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Request for Court Judgment by default against (1) TRABEONNE DEDEAUX, (2) the testate and intestate heirs of William Palmer, Sr., deceased, and ALL PERSONS claiming by, though, or under such decedent, and (3) all persons unknown, claiming any legal or equitable right, title, estate, lien, or interest in the property described in the complaint adverse to Plaintiff’s title, or any cloud on Plaintiff’s title thereto is GRANTED.

Conclusion

Plaintiff Blalock Home Investments, LLC’s Request for Court Judgment against (1) TRABEONNE DEDEAUX, (2) the testate and intestate heirs of William Palmer, Sr., deceased, and all persons claiming by, through or under such decedent, and (3) ALL PERSONS UNKNOWN, claiming any legal or equitable right, title, estate, lien, or interest in the property described in the complaint adverse to Plaintiff’s title, or any cloud on Plaintiff’s title thereto IS GRANTED because this Court finds that section 760.010 of the Code of Civil Procedure does not permit judgment by default in a quiet title action.


Case Number: *******6388 Hearing Date: March 18, 2022 Dept: 40

MOVING PARTY: Defendant William J. Palmer, Jr. and

Defendant/Cross-Complainants Davon Gregory and

Robert Whitfield.

This action involves competing claims to real property located at 807 East 103rd Place, Los Angeles, California 90002 (Subject Property).

The property was originally owned by William Palmer Sr., who, on March 8, 2015, died intestate and was survived by at least two children, Ivy Evette Johnson and Defendant William Palmer Jr. On December 5, 2017, the Superior Court issued an Order for Probate declaring that Palmer Sr. died intestate. The Court also appointed Ivy Johnson as Administrator of the estate. On September 5, 2018, Johnson submitted a Final Distribution Report to the Court stating the Subject Property, valued at $310,000.00 was the sole asset of the estate, which the Court entered on February 27, 2019, distributing a 100% interest in the Subject Property to Johnson. Previously, in January 2018, Johnson had executed a Grant Deed for the Subject Property in favor of Golden Rule Lending LLC. This deed was recorded on April 1, 2019. On April 10, 2019, Golden Rule sold the Subject Property to Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Blalock Home Investments, LLC for $300,000.00.

Shortly thereafter, on April 17, 2019, Palmer Jr. recorded a Quitclaim Deed with the Los Angeles County Records Office, purporting to own the Subject Property and to convey one third of the Subject Property to each of Defendants/Cross-Complainants Davon Gregory and Robert Whitfield. On June 4, 2019, Palmer Jr. filed an ex parte application seeking to vacate the Superior Court probate orders giving the Subject Property to Ivy Johnson. On November 12, 2019, Palmer Jr. also filed a Petition pursuant to section 850 of the Probate Code to quiet title to the Subject Property in his name, which was denied without prejudice as moot based on the distribution order in the probate proceedings administered by Johnson. The June 4, 2019 ex parte application was eventually set for hearing and denied on January 22, 2021. Palmer Jr. moved for reconsideration of this denial, which was denied on April 23, 2021.

In March 2021, the parties faced struggles concerning possession of the Subject Property. Blalock called the Los Angeles Police Department to remove individuals who were allegedly moved onto the Subject Property by Gregory and another individual. A similar incident occurred on May 8, 2021, at which time Blalock called the LAPD regarding Whitfield changing the locks on the property, removing a car therefrom, and attempting to move Trabeonne Dedeaux onto the Subject Property.

Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Blalock brought this action on April 30, 2021, bringing claims of quiet title and cancellation of instrument against Defendant William J. Palmer, Jr. and Defendant/Cross-Complainants Davon Gregory and Robert Whitfield, seeking to cancel the April 17, 2019 quitclaim deeds from conveying the Subject Property from Palmer Jr. to himself, Gregory, and Whitfield.

On June 3, 2021, Whitfield filed a Cross-Complaint alleging (1) Economic Interference, (2) Fraud/Intentional, Misrepresentation, (3) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, (4) Racketeering, (5) Malicious Prosecution, (6) Unfair Business Practices against Blalock. On June 17, 2021, Gregory filed a Cross-Complaint alleging the same claims against Blalock. On August 3, 2021, Blalock demurred to these Cross-Complaints, which the Court sustained without leave to amend on September 27, 2021.

On October 27, 2021, Blalock moved for summary judgment on the remaining the causes of action, i.e., its claims for quiet title and cancellation of instrument against the Palmer Jr., Whitfield, and Gregory quitclaim deeds recorded on April 17, 2019. The Court granted this Motion on January 13, 2022, effectively ending this action.

On January 28, 2022, Palmer Jr. and Gregory filed Notices of Intention to File Motion for New Trial. Three days later, on January 31, 2022, Whitfield filed a Notice of Intention to File Motion for New Trial. These Motions state that Palmer, Gregory, and Whitfield would file Motions for New Trial within ten (10) days of filing their respective Notices. On March 3, 2022, Blalock filed a Combined Opposition to these Motions for New Trial based on their failure to file any supporting memorandum, supporting evidence, or any other documents apart from the January 31, 2022 Notices. Palmer Jr., Gregory, and Whitfield have not responded to this Opposition.

Motions for New Trial: DENIED

Legal Standard: A motion for new trial may be granted for the aggrieved party for any (1) irregularity in the proceedings of the court, jury or adverse party, or any order of the court or abuse of discretion preventing a fair trial, (2) misconduct of the jury, (3) accident or surprise, (4) (4) newly discovered evidence material for the party making this motion which could not have been discovered with reasonable diligence, (5) excessive or inadequate damages, (6) insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict, or (7) error in law, occurring at the trial and excepted to by the party making this motion. (See Code Civ. Proc., 657, subds. (1)-(7).)

“Within 10 days after filing notice of intention to move for a new trial in a civil case, the moving party must serve and file a memorandum in support of the motion, and within 10 days thereafter any adverse party may serve and file a memorandum in reply.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subd. (a).) “If the moving party fails to serve and file a memorandum within the time prescribed in (a), the court may deny the motion for a new trial without a hearing on the merits.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subd. (b).)

“[T]he granting of a motion for a new trial rests so completely within the discretion of the trial court that an appellate court will not interfere with his action unless a manifest and unmistakable abuse of discretion clearly appears. This rule applies equally to an order denying a new trial. Such order will not be disturbed except upon an ‘affirmative showing of a gross, manifest or unmistakable abuse of discretion.’” (Dunford v. General Water Heater Corp. (1957) 150 Cal.App.2d 260, 264.) “The only relevant limitation on this discretion is that the trial court must state its reasons for granting the new trial, and there must be substantial evidence in the record to support those reasons.” (Lane v. Hughes Aircraft Co. (2000) 22 Cal.4th 405, 412.)

Analysis: Palmer Jr. and Gregory filed Notices of Intention to File Motion for New Trial on January 28, 2022, while Whitfield filed his Notice on January 31, 2022. However, as highlighted by Plaintiff’s Opposition, no such Motions were made as of the date that Palmer Jr.’s, Davon’s, and Whitfield’s memoranda were due, i.e., respectively on Monday, February 7, 2022 for Palmer Jr. and Gregory and Thursday, February 10, 2022 for Whitfield. Neither have Palmer Jr., Gregory, and Whitfield filed any such memoranda or supporting evidence as of the date of this hearing. A

s a result, the Court DENIES the Motions for New Trial filed by Palmer, Jr., Gregory, and Whitfield. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subd. (b).)

Conclusion

Defendant William J. Palmer, Jr.’s and Defendant/Cross-Complainants Davon Gregory’s and Robert Whitfield’s Motions for New Trial are DENIED because they are not supported by any memoranda, thus failing to satisfy California Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subdivision (a), and providing the Court sufficient grounds to deny the Motions pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subdivision (b).


Case Number: *******6388 Hearing Date: April 20, 2022 Dept: 40

MOVING PARTY: Defendant William J. Palmer, Jr. and

Defendants/Cross-Complainants Davon Gregory and

Robert Whitfield.

This action involves competing claims to real property located at 807 East 103rd Place, Los Angeles, California 90002 (“Subject Property”).

Judgment in favor of Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Blalock Home Investments, LLC was entered on January 20, 2022. Defendant William J. Palmer, Jr. and Defendant/Cross-Complainant Davon Gregory filed Notices of Intention to File Motion for New Trial on January 28, 2021. Three days later, on January 31, 2022, Defendant/Cross-Complainant Robert Whitfield filed a similar Notice of Intention. Plaintiff Blalock filed a Combined Opposition to these Motions, arguing they are procedurally deficient for lack of supporting moving papers and exhibits. Palmer Jr., Gregory, and Whitfield have not responded to this Opposition or filed any points and authorities or exhibits in support of their Motions for New Trial.

Background

The property was originally owned by William Palmer Sr., who, on March 8, 2015, died intestate and was survived by at least two children, Ivy Evette Johnson and Defendant William Palmer Jr.

On December 5, 2017, the Probate Court issued an Order for Probate declaring that Palmer Sr. died intestate and the Court also appointed Ivy Johnson Administrator of the estate.

On September 5, 2018, Johnson submitted a Final Distribution Report to the Probate Court stating the Subject Property valued at $310,000.00 was the sole asset of the estate. That Court then entered this Report on February 27, 2019, distributing a 100% interest in the Subject Property to Johnson. Previously, in January 2018, Johnson had executed a Grant Deed for the Subject Property in favor of Golden Rule Lending LLC. This deed was recorded on April 1, 2019.

On April 10, 2019, Golden Rule sold the Subject Property to Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Blalock Home Investments, LLC for $300,000.00.

Shortly thereafter, on April 17, 2019, Palmer Jr. recorded a Quitclaim Deed with the Los Angeles County Records Office, purporting to own the Subject Property and to convey one third of the Subject Property to each of Defendants/Cross-Complainants Davon Gregory and Robert Whitfield. On June 4, 2019, Palmer Jr. filed an ex parte application seeking to vacate the Superior Court Probate orders giving the Property to Ivy Johnson.

On November 12, 2019, Palmer Jr. also filed a Petition pursuant to section 850 of the Probate Code to quiet title to the Subject Property in his name, which was denied without prejudice as moot based on the distribution order in the probate proceedings administered by Johnson. The June 4, 2019 ex parte application was eventually set for hearing and denied on January 22, 2021. (Palmer Jr. moved for reconsideration of this denial, which was denied on April 23, 2021.)

In March 2021, the parties faced struggles concerning possession of the Subject Property. Blalock called the Los Angeles Police Department to remove individuals who allegedly moved onto the Property by Gregory and another individual. A similar incident occurred on May 8, 2021, at which time Blalock called the LAPD regarding Whitfield changing the locks on the property, removing a car therefrom, and attempting to move Trabeonne Dedeaux onto the Subject Property.

Plaintiff Blalock brought this action on April 30, 2021, alleging claims of quiet title and cancellation of instrument against Defendants William J. Palmer, Jr., Davon Gregory and Robert Whitfield, seeking to cancel the April 17, 2019 quitclaim deeds from conveying the Subject Property from Palmer Jr. to himself, Gregory, and Whitfield.

On June 3, 2021, Whitfield filed a Cross-Complaint alleging (1) Economic Interference, (2) Fraud/Intentional, Misrepresentation, (3) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, (4) Racketeering, (5) Malicious Prosecution, (6) Unfair Business Practices against Blalock.

On June 17, 2021, Gregory filed a Cross-Complaint alleging the same claims against Blalock.

On August 3, 2021, Blalock demurred to these Cross-Complaints, which the Court sustained without leave to amend on September 27, 2021.

On October 27, 2021, Blalock moved for summary judgment on the remaining the causes of action, i.e., its claims for quiet title and cancellation of instrument against the Palmer Jr., Whitfield, and Gregory quitclaim deeds recorded on April 17, 2019. The Court granted this Motion on January 13, 2022 and Judgment was entered on January 20, 2022 and Notice of Judgment was filed on January 25, 2022.

On January 28, 2022, Palmer Jr. and Gregory filed Notices of Intention to File Motion for New Trial.

Three days later, on January 31, 2022, Whitfield filed a Notice of Intention to File Motion for New Trial. These Motions state that Palmer, Gregory, and Whitfield would file Motions for New Trial within ten (10) days of filing their respective Notices.

On March 3, 2022, Blalock filed a Combined Opposition to these Motions for New Trial based on their failure to file any supporting memorandum, supporting evidence, or any other documents apart from the January 31, 2022 Notices.

Palmer Jr., Gregory, and Whitfield have not responded to this Opposition.

Motions for New Trial: DENIED

Legal Standard: An aggrieved party may move for new trial may under seven grounds prescribed by Code of Civil Procedure 657. (See Code Civ. Proc., 657, subds. (1)-(7).) A party seeking reversal of an adverse summary judgment ruling may also make a motion for new trial on the ground that there are triable issues of fact. (See Doe v. United Air Lines, Inc. (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 1500, 1504-05.)

The party intending to move for a new trial must file with the clerk and serve upon each adverse party a notice of his or her intention to move for a new trial—including the grounds for the motion and whether the same will be based on affidavits or minutes of the court or both—either (1) after the decision is made but before entry of judgment or (2) within 15 days of entry of judgment by the Court in a case by a party not represented by counsel pursuant to Section 664.5, or within 180 days after the entry of the judgment, whichever is earliest. (Code Civ. Proc., 659, subds. (a)(1)-(2).)

Thereafter, “[w]ithin 10 days after filing notice of intention to move for a new trial in a civil case, the moving party must serve and file a memorandum in support of the motion, and within 10 days thereafter any adverse party may serve and file a memorandum in reply.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subd. (a); see also Code Civ. Proc., 659a.) “If the moving party fails to serve and file a memorandum within the time prescribed in (a), the court may deny the motion for a new trial without a hearing on the merits.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subd. (b).)

“[T]he [denial] of a motion for a new trial rests so completely within the discretion of the trial court that an appellate court will not interfere with his action unless” there is an “‘affirmative showing of a gross, manifest or unmistakable abuse of discretion.’” (Dunford v. General Water Heater Corp. (1957) 150 Cal.App.2d 260, 264 [citations omitted].) “The only relevant limitation on this discretion is that the trial court must state its reasons for granting the new trial, and there must be substantial evidence in the record to support those reasons.” (Lane v. Hughes Aircraft Co. (2000) 22 Cal.4th 405, 412.)

Analysis: Judgment was entered on the Complaint on January 20, 2022. Palmer Jr. and Gregory filed Notices of Intention to File Motion for New Trial on January 28, 2022, and Whitfield filed his Notice on January 31, 2022. The Motions’ Notices of Intention were thus filed at least within eleven days of judgment, thus satisfying the latter half of Code of Civil Procedure section 659, subdivision (a)(2).

However, as highlighted by Plaintiff’s Opposition, no moving papers or supporting documents followed the Notices of Intention. Defendant Palmer Jr. and Gregory filed Notices of Intention on January 28, 2022 and thus were required to submit moving papers and exhibits no later than February 7, 2022. Defendant Whitfield submitted his Notice of Intention on January 31, 2022, and his moving papers and exhibits were thus due on Thursday, February 10, 2022. Yet, none of the three Defendants has filed any such documents. Indeed, neither Palmer Jr., Gregory, nor Whitfield have filed any such memoranda or supporting evidence as of the date of this hearing. As a result, Defendants’ respective papers fail to meet the requirements set out in California Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subdivision (a), and Code of Civil Procedure section 659a. The Court thus DENIES the Motions for New Trial filed by Defendants Palmer, Jr., Gregory, and Whitfield pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subdivision (b).

Conclusion

Defendant William J. Palmer, Jr.’s and Defendant/Cross-Complainants Davon Gregory’s and Robert Whitfield’s Motions for New Trial are DENIED because they are not supported by any memoranda—thus failing to satisfy California Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subdivision (a) and Code of Civil Procedure section 659a—sufficient ground for the Court to deny the Motions pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1600, subdivision (b).


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