This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 12/27/2021 at 05:11:07 (UTC).

CHAORONG HUANG , ET AL. VS DANIEL CHIU, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 05/23/2019 CHAORONG HUANG , filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against DANIEL CHIU,. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is LAURA A. SEIGLE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******7968

  • Filing Date:

    05/23/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

LAURA A. SEIGLE

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

HUANG CHAORONG

LIN WENHUI

WEI YUCHUN

LUO NANPING

Cross Defendants and Defendants

ARC-III LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

OASIS GROWTH PARTNERS LLC

CHIU DANIEL

ARC-I LIMITED PARTNERSHIP A CALIFORNIA LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

LIU WINSTON

WINSTON CONSTRUCTION SERVICE INC.

PWP CONSTRUCTION INC.

W&W TECHNOLOGIES INC.

CENTRAL ESCROW INC.

Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

LIU WINSTON

WINSTON CONSTRUCTION SERVICE INC.

CENTRAL ESCROW INC.

11 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

ZHENG YALAN

Defendant Attorneys

WONG MAURICE

FITZMAURICE JOHN F.

MCCANDLESS TIMOTHY

Cross Plaintiff Attorney

NAPOLES STEVEN

 

Court Documents

Notice of Case Management Conference

5/24/2019: Notice of Case Management Conference

Request for Dismissal

12/7/2021: Request for Dismissal

Declaration - DECLARATION OF WINSTON LIU IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS WINSTON LIU AND WINSTON CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

12/22/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF WINSTON LIU IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS WINSTON LIU AND WINSTON CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

Request for Judicial Notice

12/22/2021: Request for Judicial Notice

Declaration - DECLARATION OF STEVEN NAPOLES IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS WINSTON LIU AND WINSTON CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

12/22/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF STEVEN NAPOLES IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS WINSTON LIU AND WINSTON CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

Separate Statement

12/22/2021: Separate Statement

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

12/22/2021: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Motion for Summary Judgment

12/22/2021: Motion for Summary Judgment

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE: SETTING OF STATUS CONFERENCE RE: MEDIATION)

11/15/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE: SETTING OF STATUS CONFERENCE RE: MEDIATION)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE: SETTING OF STATUS CONFERENCE RE: MEDIATION) OF 11/15/2021

11/15/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE: SETTING OF STATUS CONFERENCE RE: MEDIATION) OF 11/15/2021

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

6/10/2021: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

6/10/2021: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

6/10/2021: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

6/10/2021: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Proof of Service by Mail

6/11/2021: Proof of Service by Mail

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

6/11/2021: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment

6/17/2021: Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment

Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment

6/17/2021: Notice of Rejection Default/Clerk's Judgment

195 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/11/2022
  • Hearing04/11/2022 at 10:00 AM in Department 48 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 04/07/2022
  • Hearing04/07/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 48 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Joinder to Motion for Summary Judgment / Adjudication

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  • 03/28/2022
  • Hearing03/28/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 48 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 02/09/2022
  • Hearing02/09/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 48 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Status Conference

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  • 12/22/2021
  • DocketRequest for Judicial Notice; Filed by Winston Liu (Defendant); Winston Construction Service, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 12/22/2021
  • DocketMotion for Summary Judgment; Filed by Winston Liu (Defendant); Winston Construction Service, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 12/22/2021
  • DocketSeparate Statement; Filed by Winston Liu (Defendant); Winston Construction Service, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 12/22/2021
  • DocketDeclaration (of Winston Liu in Support of Defendants Winston Liu and Winston Construction Services, Inc. Motion for Summary Judgement or in the Alternative Summary Adjudication); Filed by Winston Liu (Defendant); Winston Construction Service, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 12/22/2021
  • DocketDeclaration (of Steven Napoles in Support of Defendants Winston Liu and Winston Construction Services, Inc. Motion for Summary Judgement or in the Alternative Summary Adjudication); Filed by Winston Liu (Defendant); Winston Construction Service, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 12/22/2021
  • DocketMemorandum of Points & Authorities; Filed by Winston Liu (Defendant); Winston Construction Service, Inc. (Defendant)

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255 More Docket Entries
  • 06/10/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Yuchun Wei (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/10/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Yuchun Wei (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/28/2019
  • DocketAmended Complaint (1st); Filed by Chaorong Huang (Plaintiff); Chaorong Huang (Plaintiff); Nanping Luo (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 05/28/2019
  • DocketSummons (On First Amended Complaint); Filed by Chaorong Huang (Plaintiff); Nanping Luo (Plaintiff); Yuchun Wei (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 05/28/2019
  • Docketamended complaint; Filed by Chaorong Huang (Plaintiff); Nanping Luo (Plaintiff); Yuchun Wei (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 05/24/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/23/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/23/2019
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Chaorong Huang (Plaintiff); Nanping Luo (Plaintiff); Yuchun Wei (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 05/23/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Chaorong Huang (Plaintiff); Nanping Luo (Plaintiff); Yuchun Wei (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 05/23/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Chaorong Huang (Plaintiff); Nanping Luo (Plaintiff); Yuchun Wei (Plaintiff) et al.

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******7968 Hearing Date: September 22, 2022 Dept: 15

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE MOTION TO VACATE ENTRY OF DEFAULT; ORDER RE JUDGMENT

I. BACKGROUND FACTS

On May 23, 2019, Plaintiffs Chaorong Huang, Nanping Luo, Yuchun Wei, and Wenhui Lin filed a complaint against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, John F. Fitzmaurice, and Galway LLC. On May 28, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint adding The Bassist Corporation as a defendant. On August 6, 2019, Plaintiffs obtained entry of default against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, and The Bassist Corporation. On October 22, 2019, Plaintiffs added ARC-1 Limited Partnership as Doe 1 and Winston Liu as Doe 2.

On January 9, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint naming as defendants Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, ARC-1 Limited Partnership, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, Winston Liu, Winston Construction Service, Inc., W&W Technologies, Inc., and PWP Construction, Inc. On September 16, 2020, Plaintiffs obtained entry of default against Daniel Chiu, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, and ARC-I Limited Partnership. On December 30, 2020, Plaintiffs obtained entry of default against W&W Technologies, Inc. and ARC-III Limited Partnership, and they dismissed PWP Construction Inc. On February 5, 2021, Plaintiffs obtained entry of default against Rebecca Chiu. On December 7, 2021, Plaintiffs dismissed ARC-III Limited Partnership. On May 25, 2022, Plaintiff Yuchun Wei dismissed claims against Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc., and on June 9, 2022, Yuchun Wei dismissed claims against Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum. On June 22, 2022, Plaintiffs dismissed the remaining Does.

On May 19, 2020, Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc. filed a cross-complaint for indemnification against Daniel Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership, and ARC-II Limited Partnership. On June 29, 2020, Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc. obtained entry of default against Daniel Chiu and ARC-III Limited Partnership. On December 21, 2020, Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc. obtained entry of default against ARC-I Limited Partnership. On June 22, 2022, Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc dismissed remaining Does.

On January 6, 2021, Plaintiffs named Central Escrow, Inc. as Doe 3 and Sarah Shum as Doe 4. On March 19, 2021, Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum filed a cross-complaint for indemnification against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC. On April 29, 2022, Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum obtained entry of default against Rebecca Chiu, Daniel Chiu, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, and ARC-III Limited Partnership. On June 22, 2022, Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum dismissed remaining Does.

On February 8, 2022, Plaintiffs named Iling Wu as Doe 5. On April 20, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a proof of service of the summons and complaint on Iling Wu by substituted service on April 20, 2022 at 33862 Granada Dr., Dana Point CA 92629. The process servicer states he left the documents with an Asian women who was approximately 40-50 years old and is a co-habitant. On May 23, 2022, the court severed the claims against Wu pursuant to Local Rule 3.25(f)(4).

On June 22, 2022, the trial began on Plaintiffs Chaorong Huang’s, Nanping Luo’s, and Wenhui Lin’s claims against Winston Liu, Winston Construction Service, Inc., Sarah Shum, and Central Escrow, Inc. On July 5, 2022, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs Chaorong Huang, Nanping Luo, and Wenhui Lin. Plaintiffs were to prepare a judgment within five days. The court also set an Order to Show Cause regarding entry of judgment against Wu for August 4, 2022.

On July 11, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a proposed judgment. On July 19, 2022, Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum filed objections to the proposed judgment stating one judgment should be entered that included the default judgments. On July 20, 2022, Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc. filed objections to the proposed judgment stating one judgment should be entered that included the default judgments. On July 20, 2022. Plaintiffs filed a notice of settlement with Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum stating they had reached a conditional settlement and asked that no judgment be entered against Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum as part of the settlement.

On July 13, 2022, Plaintiffs filed an amended proof of service showing service of the Second Amended Complaint and summons on Iling Wu on April 20, 2022 by substituted service on an Asian women who was approximately 40-50 years old and is a co-habitant. On July 13, 2022, Plaintiffs obtained entry of default against Iling Wu.

On August 1, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a default judgment package as to Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, and Iling Wu. On August 4, 2022, the court held a hearing about the defects in the default judgment package and set a deadline of September 7, 2022 for a revised default judgment package. The court continued the OSC date to September 13, 2022, which was later continued to September 22, 2022.

II. MOTION TO VACATE ENTRY OF DEFAULT

On August 26, 2022, Defendant I-Ling Wu filed a motion to set aside entry of default pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5. She also lodged a proposed answer to the Second Amended Complaint.

The court does not acquire jurisdiction over a party unless the statutory requirements for service of summons are met. (Engebretson & Co. v. Harrison (1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 436, 443.) The original service of process, which confers jurisdiction, must conform to statutory requirements or all that follows is void. (Honda Motor Co. v. Superior Court (1992) 10 Cal. App. 4th 1043, 1048.) When a court lacks jurisdiction in a fundamental sense, an ensuing judgment is void and is vulnerable to direct attack at any time. (Lee v. An (2008) 168 Cal. App. 4th 558, 563-564.)

Where a service of summons has not resulted in actual notice to a party in time to defend the action, the party may move the court to set aside a default. (Code Civ. Proc., 473.5, subd. (a).) The motion must be made no later than two years after entry of default or 180 days after service of a written notice that default or default judgment has been entered. (Ibid.) The party must act with diligence upon learning of the judgment. (Trackman v. Kenney (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 175, 180; Code Civ. Proc., 473.5, subd. (a).) The party seeking to set aside must also submit a declaration that lack of actual notice was not caused by his or her avoidance of service or inexcusable neglect and a copy of the proposed answer, motion, or other pleading proposed to be filed in the action. (Code Civ. Proc., 473.5, subd. (b).)

I-Ling Wu states she is 71 years old and was 70 years old on the date of service shown on the proof of service. (Wu Decl., 2.) She lived alone at 33862 Granada Drive, Dana Point, California 92629 in April 2022, and there was no one at her house on April 20, 2022 who could have received the summons and amended complaint. (Id. at 5, 6.) She states she was not served with the summons and complaint and did not know about the entry of default until July 2022. (Id. at 19, 22.)

Plaintiffs argue Wu was served on April 20, 2022, and the process server took a picture of an Asian women aged 40-50 leaving Wu’s house on April 20, 2022. (Guo Decl., 2.)

Wu presented evidence she was 70 years old on April 20, 2022, not 40-50 years old. Wu presented sufficient that she was not served and that no co-habitant of hers was served. She did not act to avoid service, and she acted diligently once she learned of the default.

Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED and the entry of default is set aside pursuant to section 473.5. Defendant I-Ling Wu is to file her answer to the Second Amended Complaint within ten days of the date of this order. The court sets a case management conference for October 20, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. in Department 15 of the Spring Street Courthouse.

The moving party is to give notice.

III. JUDGMENT

Pursuant to the August 4, 2022 order, Plaintiffs were to submit a revised default judgment package by September 7, 2022. They did not do that. Nor did they file a new judgment after settling with Central Escrow and Sarah Shum and asking the court not to enter the July 11, 2022 proposed judgment.

On September 7, 2022, Central Escrow and Sarah Shum filed a default judgment package against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC.

Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc. did not file a default judgment package against Daniel Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership and ARC-III Limited Partnership.

The court notes the following deficiencies:

1. Plaintiffs stated they settled with Central Escrow and Sarah Shum and asked the court not to enter a judgment naming those defendants. Plaintiffs are to file a revised proposed judgment that does not include Central Escrow and Sarah Shum by October 5, 2022. Plaintiffs’ revised proposed judgment against Winston Liu and Winston Construction Services, Inc. must offset the amount of the settlement with Central Escrow and Sarah Shum. And Plaintiffs must dismiss Central Escrow and Sarah Shum pursuant to the settlement.

2. Plaintiffs failed to file a new default judgment package against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC. To avoid a dismissal of the claims against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, Plaintiffs must file a revised default judgment package fixing the deficiencies previously noted by October 5, 2022.

3. Plaintiffs obtained entry of default against W&W Technologies, Inc., but Plaintiffs’ prior default judgment package did not include W&W Technologies, Inc. Plaintiffs are to include W&W Technologies, Inc. in the revised default judgment package or dismiss W&W Technologies, Inc. by October 5, 2022.

4. Plaintiff Yuchun Wei previously dismissed claims against Central Escrow, Sarah Shum, Winston Liu and Winston Construction Services, Inc. Plaintiff Yuchun Wei did not dismiss claims against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, and W&W Technologies, Inc. Therefore, to avoid a dismissal of the claims against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, and W&W Technologies, Inc., Plaintiff Yuchun Wei must file a default judgment package against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, and W&W Technologies, Inc. by October 5, 2022. If Plaintiff Yuchun Wei fails to file a default judgment package, the court will dismiss Plaintiff Yuchun Wei’s remaining claims.

5. Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum filed a proposed default judgment on their indemnity claims against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC seeking $1,620,000.00 in compensatory damages. This is incorrect because Plaintiffs did not obtain an award of $1,620,000.00 against Central Escrow, Inc., and Plaintiffs did not obtain an award of $1,620,000.00 against Sarah Shum. Plaintiffs obtained a total award of $933,604 against Central Escrow. Therefore, the maximum amount that Central Escrow can recover against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC jointly and severally is $933,604, if it actually paid that amount to Plaintiffs, plus the attorney fees and costs it incurred. The proposed judgment should state that Central Escrow is entitled to recover from Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC jointly and severally the amount it actually paid to Plaintiffs up to $933,604. Plaintiffs obtained a total award of $400,115 against Sarah Shum. The maximum amount that Sarah Shum can recover against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC jointly and severally is $400,115, if she actually paid that amount to Plaintiffs, plus the attorney fees and costs she incurred. The proposed judgment should state that Sarah Shum is entitled to recover from Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC jointly and severally the amount she actually paid to Plaintiffs up to $400,115.

6. Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum’s proposed default judgment on their indemnity claims against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC states they are entitled to $3,266.76 in prejudgment interest. They do not state how they calculated that amount. Therefore, that amount is denied.

7. Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum’s proposed default judgment on their indemnity claims against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership, and Oasis Growth Partners, LLC states they are entitled to $49,000.00 in attorney fees, and $7,713.97 in costs. However, each is only entitled to recover the amount of fees and costs each actually paid or actually incurred. Central Escrow, Inc. must identify the portion of the fees and costs it actually paid or actually incurred. Sarah Shum must identify the portion of the fees and costs it actually paid or actually incurred.

8. Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc. did not file a default judgment package against Daniel Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership and ARC-III Limited Partnership. To avoid a dismissal of their claims, Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc. must file a default judgment package against Daniel Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership and ARC-III Limited Partnership by October 5, 2022. If Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc. fail to file a default judgment package against Daniel Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership and ARC-III Limited Partnership, the court will dismiss their claims.

The court sets an Order to Show Cause re dismissal of Central Escrow, Inc. and Sarah Shum pursuant to the settlement for October 11, 2022 at 9 a.m.

The court sets an Order to Show Cause re dismissal of Plaintiff Yuchun Wei’s claims against Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership, Oasis Growth Partners, LLC, and W&W Technologies, Inc. for October 11, 2022 at 9 a.m.

The court sets an Order to Show Cause re dismissal of Winston Liu and Winston Construction Service, Inc.’s claims against Daniel Chiu, ARC-I Limited Partnership and ARC-III Limited Partnership for October 11, 2022 at 9 a.m.

Plaintiffs’ counsel is to give notice to all parties including Plaintiff Yuchun Wei.



Case Number: *******7968 Hearing Date: April 26, 2022 Dept: 48

[TENATIVE] ORDER RE MOTIONS TO QUASH SUBPOENAS TO BANKS

Plaintiffs Chaorang Huang, Nanping Luo, Yuchun Wei, and Wenhui Lin served subpoenas on Wells Fargo and Bank of America seeking all records of Defendant Winston Liu from September 1, 2012 to the present and W&W Technologies, Inc. from January 1, 2011 to the present. On March 4, 2022, Defendant Winston Liu (“Defendant”) filed two motions to quash.

Defendant argues the subpoenas are overbroad and invade his privacy because they seek nine to ten years of his bank records including for many years after he no longer worked as a construction manager for defendant Daniel Chiu during the period of 2009 to 2014. Defendant states Plaintiff already subpoenaed the bank records for his company Winston Construction Services, Inc.

Plaintiffs argue Defendant took most of their money invested in the construction project, cannot account for $3.15 million invested in the construction project, and states he does not have any records. Plaintiffs attach numerous exhibits showing transfers among various bank accounts held by Liu and his company.

“The state Constitution expressly grants Californians a right of privacy.” (Williams v. Superior Court (2017) 3 Cal.5th 531, 552.) In Hill v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1, the California Supreme Court “established a framework for evaluating potential invasions of privacy. The party asserting privacy a right must establish a legally protected privacy interest, an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the given circumstances, and a threatened intrusion that is serious.” (Williams, supra, 3 Cal.5th at p. 552.) “The party seeking information may raise in response whatever legitimate and important countervailing interests disclosure serves, while the party seeking protection may identify feasible alternatives that serve the same interests or protective measures that would diminish the loss or privacy. A court must then balance these competing considerations.” (Ibid.)

Defendant has a privacy interest and a reasonable expectation of privacy in his bank account information. Based on the evidence they presented, Plaintiffs have shown legitimate and important countervailing interests – that they need the bank records to track the funds they originally invested in the construction project. Because Defendant states he no longer has any records and cannot provide an accounting, there are not feasible alternatives available for Plaintiffs to track the funds. Defendant’s privacy interest can be protected by the production of the documents under a protective order.

In addition, the privacy interest can be protected by narrowing the time periods covered by the subpoenas. According to Plaintiffs’ evidence, the last relevant event took place in 2017. Therefore, the dates of the productions are narrowed to the requested records of Defendant Winston Liu from September 1, 2012 to December 31, 2017 and W&W Technologies, Inc. from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2017.

If there is not already a protective order in place in this case, the parties are ordered to meet and confer and stipulate to a protective order, preferably the sample protective order on the Los Angeles Superior Court website. Until then, the Court orders Wells Fargo and Bank of America to produce the responsive records as confidential documents and orders that the documents not to be disclosed to anyone except parties, counsel, and the Court and not to be used for any purpose other than the litigation of this case.

The requests for sanctions are denied because the subpoenas were proper but somewhat overbroad.

The motions are GRANTED in part. The two subpoenas are narrowed as stated above. Given the impending trial date in this case that is three years old, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are to produce the documents within 10 days of the date of this order.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

On January 9, 2020, Plaintiffs Chaorong Huang, Nanping Luo, Yuchun Wei, and Wenhui Lin (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed a second amended complaint (“SAC”) against Defendants Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-III Limited Partnership (“ARC-III”), ARC-I Limited Partnership (“ARC-I”), Oasis Growth Partners LLC, Winston Liu aka Weidong Liu, Winston Construction Service Inc., W&W Technologies, Inc., and PWP Construction Inc. Plaintiffs later substituted Central Escrow Inc. for Doe 3, Sarah Shum for Doe 4, and Iling Wu aka Irene Wu aka Irene L. Wu for Doe 5. Plaintiffs dismissed PWP Construction Inc. and ARC-III. Daniel Chiu, Rebecca Chiu, ARC-I, Oasis Growth Partners LLC, W&W Technologies, Inc. are in default. Iling Wu has not yet appeared.

On December 22, 2021, Winston Liu aka Weidong Liu and Winston Construction Service Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”) filed a motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, summary adjudication.

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Defendants request the Court take judicial notice of the SAC, Plaintiffs’ October 22, 2019 Doe amendment, and that this action was filed on May 23, 2019. The request is granted.

EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS

A. Plaintiffs’ Objections to the Declaration of Winston Liu

Nos. 1-22: Overruled.

B. Plaintiffs’ Objections to the Declaration of Steven R. Napoles

No. 1: Overruled.

C. Defendants’ Objections to the Declaration of Nanping Luo

Nos. 1-2: Overruled.

D. Defendants’ Objections to the Declaration of Chaorung Huang

No. 3: Overruled.

E. Defendants’ Objections to the Declaration of Wenhui Lin

No. 4: Overruled.

F. Defendants’ Objections to the Declaration of Yuchun Wei

No. 5: Overruled.

G. Defendants’ Objections to the Declaration of Yalan Zhang

Nos. 6-9: Overruled. This sufficiently authenticates the documents produced pursuant to subpoenas.

Nos. 10, 12: Overruled

Nos. 11, 13-67: Sustained as improper opinion or lack of personal knowledge.

H. Defendants’ Objections to Exhibits

Exhibits 18, 20, 21, 23, 25-27, 29, 33: Overruled.

Exhibits 22, 31, 32, 34, 35: Sustained for lack of authentication.

BACKGROUND FACTS

In 2012 or 2013, Plaintiffs each entered into agreements and purchased a minority interest in ARC-III to allow them to obtain EB-5 visas in exchange for investing in a commercial project in Calexico, California known as the Calexico Town Center. (Undisputed Material Facts “UMF” 2; Additional Material Facts “AMF” 66.) Plaintiffs signed a subscription agreement in late 2012 to October 2013 to become part of the ARC-III partnership. (UMF 3.) Liu was not a party the agreements between Plaintiffs and Chiu. (UMF 7.) Each Plaintiff paid $540,000. (AMF 73.) Immediately after they wired the money to Central Escrow's East West Bank Account, Central Escrow released the money to ARC-III’s account. (AMF 84.)

Chiu served as the managing partner of ARC-III through another entity that he owned, Oasis. (UMF 6.) Chiu also had other business interests in ARC-I. (UMF 9.) Chiu served as the owner/builder through the various entities that he managed for each project. (UMF 13.) Chiu and Liu reached an oral agreement that Liu would be paid ten percent of the cost of each project as well as be reimbursed for costs to oversee and assist with the construction of the projects. (UMF 15.) From approximately August 2012 to January 2014, Chiu temporarily added Liu to ARC-III’s accounts to allow construction of the projects to continue while Chiu was traveling out of the county. (UMF 26-27.)

Liu served as a construction manager and owner’s representative on several projects from 2009 to June 2014, when Chiu terminated his services. (UMF 12, 19.) According to Liu, at his termination, Liu returned permits, contracts, invoices, agreements, relevant communications, and unused funds. (UMF 22-23.) Liu never met or communicated directly with any Plaintiffs. (UMF 32-35.)

The Calexico Town Project did not proceed as planned and Plaintiffs discovered that it was a “wasteland” in 2016. (UMF 41.)

DISCUSSION

For each claim in the complaint, the defendant moving for adjudication must satisfy the initial burden of proof by showing that one or more elements of a cause of action cannot be established or that there is a complete defense to a cause of action. (Code Civ. Proc., 437c, subd. (p)(2); Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1520 (Scalf).) Then the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show that a triable issue of material fact exists as to that cause of action or a defense. (Code Civ. Proc., 437c, subd. (p)(2); Scalf, supra, 128 Cal.App.4th at p. 1520.) To establish a triable issue of material fact, the party opposing the motion must produce “substantial responsive evidence.” (Sangster v. Paetkau (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 151, 162-163.)

The SAC alleges (1) breach of fiduciary duties, (2) fraud, (3) constructive fraud, (4) conversion, (5) breach of contract, (6) money had and received, (7) securities fraud – damages, (8) securities fraud – recission, and (9) voidable transfer.

Plaintiffs bring the second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth causes of action against Defendants. The notice of motion does not state that Defendants move for summary adjudication of the eighth cause of action.

A. Denial of Motion Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 437c, subd. (h)

Plaintiffs argue the motion must be denied because they have been unable to depose Liu. (Opposition at pp. 11-13; see Zheng Decl. 84-94.) If affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment show that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot be presented, the Court shall deny the motion or order a continuance to permit additional discovery. (Code Civ. Proc., 437c, subd. (h).) However, “lack of diligence may be a ground for denying a request for a continuance of a summary judgment motion hearing.” (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 257.) “There must be a justifiable reason why the essential facts cannot be presented. An inappropriate delay in seeking to obtain the facts may not be a valid reason why the facts cannot then be presented. . . . A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner.” (Ibid.)

Plaintiffs seek Liu’s testimony about how he accounts for the money taken from ARC-III’s account. (Zheng Decl. 88.) Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment on December 22, 2021. In December 2021, Plaintiffs’ counsel noticed Liu’s deposition for January 11, 2022, which was rescheduled for February 15, 2022. (Zheng Decl. 89.) Central Escrow’s attorney was unavailable due to medical emergency, so the deposition was continued to March 7, 2022. (Ibid.) Right before the deposition, Central Escrow’s attorney was again unavailable due to a family medical emergency, so the deposition was continued to March 23, 2022. (Ibid.) On the morning of March 23, 2022, defense counsel represented that Liu was hospitalized and could not attend the deposition. (Id. at 90.) Plaintiffs’ counsel proposed several new dates, but defense counsel did not respond with new a date by the time Plaintiffs filed their opposition on April 12, 2022, even though Liu was out of the hospital by March 29, 2022. (Id. at 90-91, Ex. 38.)

Plaintiffs acted diligently in seeking Liu’s deposition for shortly after Defendants filed this motion. Due to no fault of their own, the deposition was continued many times. For the most part, the lack of Liu’s deposition does not impact the Court’s decision. However, in two instances as discussed in more detail below, the Court denies summary adjudication due to the lack of the deposition.

B. Second Cause of Action – Fraud

The second cause of action alleges fraud via representations made “by and through defendant Daniel Chiu.” (SAC 67.) Defendants argue Plaintiffs “have failed to produce any evidence directly tying Liu to any misrepresentations or acts directly to any of them – as they . . . never met or communicated with any of the Plaintiff[s].” (Motion at p. 12.) It is undisputed that the SAC contains no allegations of Liu making any representations. (UMF 51.) In opposition, Plaintiffs argue Defendants are liable through their participation in a conspiracy with Chiu. (Opposition at p. 14.) The SAC alleges Defendants knew Chiu would defraud Plaintiff and entered into a conspiracy to commit the wrongful acts. (SAC 31-33.)

To establish liability based on a civil conspiracy, a plaintiff “must show that each member of the conspiracy acted in concert and came to a mutual understanding to accomplish a common and unlawful plan, and that one or more of them committed an overt act to further it. [Citation.] It is not enough that the conspiring [parties] knew of an intended wrongful act, they must agree—expressly or tacitly—to achieve it. Unless there is such a meeting of the minds, ‘ “the independent acts of two or more wrongdoers do not amount to a conspiracy.”’” (Choate v. County of Orange (2000) 86 Cal.App.4th 312, 333 (Choate).)

Defendants argue Plaintiffs cannot prove that Liu was part of a conspiracy with Chiu. (Motion at pp. 9-10.) Liu declares he has never been an officer, manager, member, director, employee, partner, or otherwise held any interest in W&W Technologies Inc., Oasis, ARC-I, or ARC-III. (Liu Decl. 3-6.) He did not have any involvement in, participation in, or knowledge of Chiu’s marketing or offering on partnership interests in ARC-I or ARC-III, and he was not involved in any of the entities’ financial decisions or otherwise had any knowledge of any agreements that they entered into with Plaintiffs. (Id. at 15-16.) He also had no involvement in, participation in, or knowledge of Oasis’s business operations. (Id. at 17.) Liu did not agree to participate with Chiu in diverting funds from the projects or any other illegal or tortious conduct. (Id. at 24.) Defendants have met their initial burden.

Plaintiffs submitted evidence disputing these facts. For example, they state they were told Winston Liu was one of the people responsible for ARC, as shown in a letter from the city where the project was too be built. (Lin Decl., 5; Luo Decl., 5; Wei Decl., 5.) That letter is attaches as Exhibit 1-2 and is addressed to Winston Liu as construction manager for ARC. Plaintiffs also show Winston Liu had the right to write checks on ARC-III’s bank account. (Ex. 18.) ARC-III’s checks and Winston Construction’s checks both used the same address. (Exs. 19 and 20.) Winton Liu signed checks for ARC-III transferring money to his own company. (Ex. 20.) This evidence creates a dispute about Liu’s involvement with and responsibility for ARC-III. The checks show Liu transferring large amounts from ARC-III to his own company suggesting he was involved in financial decisions about ARC-III.

Defendants also argue Plaintiffs’ factually devoid discovery responses show that Plaintiffs have no evidence of Liu’s participation in a conspiracy. (Motion at pp. 11-12.) When asked to state all facts supporting Plaintiffs’ claim of conspiracy, Plaintiffs responded: “In 2012 and 2013, when Daniel Chiu illegally and fraudulently caused plaintiffs funds to be transferred into ARC-III’s account, Liu immediately transferred the money to Liu’s own company for the sum in excess of $2.6 million. Since 2012, Liu was a signatory on ARC-III’s account and had full authority and knowledge pertaining to ARC-III’s bank accounts.” (UMF 48.) Summary judgment law “continues to require a defendant moving for summary judgment to present evidence, and not simply point out that the plaintiff does not possess, and cannot reasonably obtain, needed evidence.” (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 854 (Aguilar), footnote omitted.) Defendant must therefore “present evidence that the plaintiff does not possess, and cannot reasonably obtain, needed evidence—as through admissions by the plaintiff following extensive discovery to the effect that he has discovered nothing.” (Id. at p. 855.) Plaintiffs’ interrogatory responses, dated January 15, 2021, do not meet this standard.

Defendants also argue the fraud cause of action is barred by the statute of limitations. (Motion at p. 13.) The statute of limitations for fraud is three years. (Code Civ. Proc., 338.) Defendants note that Plaintiffs were aware of problems with the project in 2016, but they did not name Defendants until October 2019 and January 2020. (Motion at p. 13.) However, the SAC also alleges that Plaintiffs were persuaded by Chiu to be patient. (See SAC 45-46.) A jury could reasonably conclude that Plaintiffs had not yet discovered the fraud more than three years before they named Defendants. Summary adjudication is denied on the second cause of action.

C. Third Cause of Action – Constructive Fraud

The third cause of action alleges constructive fraud. “The elements of the cause of action for constructive fraud are: (1) fiduciary relationship; (2) nondisclosure (breach of fiduciary duty); (3) intent to deceive, and (4) reliance and resulting injury (causation).” (Younan v. Equifax Inc. (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 498, 516, fn. 14.)

Defendants argue there is no evidence of a relationship between them and Plaintiffs. (Motion at p. 13.) Plaintiffs admitted they never met or spoke with Liu. (UMF 32-25; Napoles Decl., Exs. I-P.) Lui is also not a party to the agreements with Plaintiffs or a partner in ARC-III. (UMF 7-8.) Defendants have met their initial burden of showing there is no fiduciary relationship with Plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs argue Liu claimed to be a responsible person of ARC-III because he served as a custodian for its accounts. (Opposition at p. 19.) Plaintiffs also argue Liu owes them a fiduciary duty because he took control of their investment funds and must account for the money under his control. (Ibid.) Plaintiffs also argue Defendants are liable under civil conspiracy or aiding and abetting. (Opposition at p. 19.)

Plaintiffs held limited partnership interests in the ARC-III limited partnership, and therefore the general partner (Oasis Growth Partners, L.L.C.) owed them a fiduciary duty. (Corp. Code, 15904.08; Exs. 1-3, 6.) There is some evidence that Daniel Chiu, as President and CEO of both ARC-III Limited Partnership and Oasis Growth Partners, L.L.C. and managing partner of ARC-III, controlled both entities. (Exs. 1-3, 6; UMF 6.) As discussed above, there are disputed facts about the relationship between Liu and the other defendants, precluding summary judgment on the conspiracy allegation.

Therefore, summary adjudication of the third cause of action is denied.

D. Fourth Cause of Action – Conversion

The fourth cause of action alleges Defendants converted Plaintiffs’ $1,370,000, and Liu converted $30,000 as the alter ego of W&W Technologies. (SAC 86-87.)

Defendants argue there is no evidence that they improperly disposed of Plaintiffs’ property. (Motion at p. 14.) Defendants cite Plaintiffs’ discovery responses, in which Plaintiffs responded: “Winston Liu and his companies converted no less than $2.65 million.” (Ibid.; UMF 53.) This is insufficient to show that Plaintiffs lack and cannot obtain evidence to support their claim.

Liu declares he has never been an officer, manager, member, director, employee, or otherwise held any interest in W&W Technologies Inc. (Motion at p. 14; Liu Decl. 3.) Defendants have met their burden of showing that Liu was not liable as W&W Technologies Inc.’s alter ego. Plaintiffs present no evidence regarding Liu and W&W Technologies and therefore failed to satisfy their burden of showing a disputed fact on this issue. However, because Liu failed to appear for a deposition before Plaintiffs had to file this opposition, Plaintiffs did not have the opportunity to question him about any relationship he may have had with W&W Technologies.

Defendants also argue this cause of action is barred by the statute of limitations. (Motion at p. 15.) An action for injury to property must be brought within three years. (Code Civ. Proc., 338, subd. (c).) Defendants note that Plaintiffs were aware of problems with the project in 2016, but they did not name Defendants in this action until October 2019 and January 2020. (Motion at p. 15.) In opposition, Plaintiffs argue delayed discovery. (Opposition at p. 20.) The SAC alleges Plaintiffs met and reviewed their investigators’ findings in early 2019. (SAC 52-53.) Plaintiffs also declare they did not discover their investment funds were released until after they subpoenaed bank records in this action. (Huang Decl. 15; Lin Decl. 15; Wei Decl. 15; Lou Decl. 15.) There are triable issues of fact regarding when Plaintiffs discovered the conversion.

Summary adjudication of the fourth cause of action is denied.

E. Sixth Cause of Action – Money Had and Received

The sixth cause of action alleges money had and received because the $2,240,000 was not used for the benefit of Plaintiffs.

Defendants argue this cause of action is barred by the statute of limitations. (Motion at p. 15.) The statute of limitations for the common count of money had and received is two years. (Code Civ. Proc., 339; Bowden v. Robinson (1977) 67 Cal.App.3d 705, 718.) Defendants note they were terminated from the project in July 2014. (UMF 19.) Even if this was sufficient to meet Defendants’ burden, Plaintiffs submit evidence that they did not discover the funds were stolen until 2019. (Opposition at pp. 20-21; see Huang Decl. 15; Lin Decl. 15; Wei Decl. 15; Lou Decl. 15.) Summary adjudication of the sixth cause of action is therefore denied.

F. Seventh Cause of Action – Securities Fraud

The seventh cause of action alleges securities fraud through untrue statements of material facts. It is unlawful for any person to offer or sell a security by means of any written or oral communication that includes an untrue statement of a material fact. (Corp. Code, 25401.) Any person who materially assists in a violation of section 25401 with intent to deceive or defraud is jointly and severally liable. (Corp. Code, 25504.1.)

“[F]or purposes of section 25504.1, it is not enough that a person provided material assistance in a larger scheme to defraud if that person had no role or involvement in the part of the scheme that constituted a violation of the securities laws. . . . To support liability under section 25504.1 for such a violation, the complaint must include allegations demonstrating how the defendant assisted in the act of selling or offering to sell securities by means of false and misleading statements. Such assistance may take the form of aiding in the preparation of offering documents relied upon by investors, communicating misrepresentations directly to investors, or otherwise playing a material, facilitating role in the act of selling or attempting to sell the securities by means of misrepresentations or omissions of material fact. There may be other acts that constitute material assistance under the statute, but they must involve some aspect of the securities law violation.” (AREI II Cases (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 1004, 1014-1015.)

Defendants argue they never met or communicated with Plaintiffs and had no role in marketing the investment to Plaintiffs. (Motion at pp. 15-16.) Plaintiffs admitted they never met or spoke with Liu. (UMF 32-25; Napoles Decl., Exs. I-P.) Defendants propounded Special Interrogatory No. 188, stating: “If you contend that LIU made misrepresentations YOU that induced YOU to invest as alleged in paragraph 105 of the SAC, please state the exact date and location the alleged misrepresentations were made.” (UMF 60.) Plaintiffs responded: “Not applicable.” (UMF 60.) Defendants have met their burden of showing they did not make untrue statements in the offering or selling of a security.

Plaintiffs argue the promotion brochure shows that Liu was responsible for the project. (Opposition at p. 21.) Huang was provided with a brochure listing features of the project and an endorsement letter from the City of Calexivo. (Huang Decl. 4-5 & Exs. 1-1, 1-2.) The letter from the City of Calexico to Chiu (as Operations Manager) and Liu (as Construction Manager) thanks them for sharing their proposal to develop the Town Center Plaza Project. (Huang Decl., Ex. 1-2.) The City of Calexico states it understands ARC will use funding made available through the EB-5 Visa Program. This letter contains statements from City of Calexico, not Defendants, and it does not show Defendants’ involvement in assisting the preparation of documents or otherwise making their own false representations. (See AREI II Cases, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1014-1015.)

However, Plaintiffs also point to Liu’s business expenses for the ARC-III project including three trips to China. (Ex. 30.) They argue this suggests Liu was involved in promoting the project to investors. A jury could infer that business trips to China for ARC-III was to promote the project to investors. This, along with Liu’s failure to make himself available for a deposition before Plaintiffs needed to file their opposition to the summary judgment motion, are grounds for denying summary adjudication.

G. Fraudulent/Voidable Transfer

The ninth cause of action allege a voidable/fraudulent transfer of $1,370,000 to Defendants. (SAC 115.)

Defendants argue this cause of action is barred by the statute of limitations. (Motion at pp. 16-17.) The statute of limitations for a voidable transfer is four years after the transfer was made or the obligation was incurred, or no later than one year after the transfer was or reasonably could have been discovered. (Civ. Code, 3439.09, subd. (a).) Defendants contend the transfers occurred in 2012 and 2013, and Plaintiffs should have reasonably discovered the transfers when they visited the “wasteland” in 2016. (Motion at pp. 16-17.) But Plaintiffs argue they could not have discovered the transfers to Defendants until after they subpoenaed bank records in this action. (Opposition at p. 22; Huang Decl. 15; Lin Decl. 15; Wei Decl. 15; Lou Decl. 15.)

Summary adjudication of the ninth cause of action is denied.

CONCLUSION

The motion for summary judgment is DENIED.

The motion for summary adjudication is DENIED.

Moving party to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SMCDEPT48@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit. Parties intending to appear are STRONGLY encouraged to appear remotely.



Case Number: *******7968    Hearing Date: January 09, 2020    Dept: 48

MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiffs Chaorong Huang, Nanping Luo, Yuchun Wei and Wenhui Lin

RESPONDING PARTY(S): No opposition filed.

PROOF OF SERVICE:

ANALYSIS

Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint

Plaintiff moves for leave to file a second amended complaint, eliminating five defendants and all federal law claim, and to add four new causes of action: (1) civil conspiracy to commit torts; (2) violation of the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Civil Code ; 3426 et seq.; (3) Intrusion Into Private Affairs; and (4) Imposition of a Constructive Trust.

The court may, in furtherance of justice, and on such terms as may be proper, allow a party to amend any pleading. CCP 473(a)(1). Amendments of pleadings can be permitted up to and during trial, absent prejudice to the adverse party. Atkinson v. Elk Corp. (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 739, 761. Judicial policy favors liberal exercise of the discretion to permit amendment of the pleadings. Nestle v. Santa Monica (1972) 6 Cal.3d 920, 939. Absent prejudice to the Defendants, a denial of leave to amend is an abuse of discretion. Kittridge Sports Co. v. Superior Court (1989) 213 Cal.App.3d 1045, 1048.

Where an additional theory of liability is proposed against an existing defendant, this not prejudice which would justify the denial of leave to amend. See Hirsa v. Superior Court (1981) 118 Cal.App.3d 486, 490. See also Atkinson v. Elk Corp. (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 739, 761: “[I]t is irrelevant that new legal theories are introduced as long as the proposed amendments 'relate to the same general set of facts.' [Citation.]" (Citation omitted.)

The proposed additions and deletions are set forth in the memorandum of points and authorities. A proposed copy of the 2AC is attached to the motion.

The Declaration of Bin Li sufficiently complies with CRC Rule 3.1324(b).

Given that no trial date has even been set, there is no prejudice which justifies denial of leave to amend.

Accordingly, the motion for leave to file a second amended complaint is GRANTED. A standalone copy of the second amended complaint is to be filed today. The second amended complaint is deemed served as of the date of this order.



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