This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 11/11/2021 at 06:26:45 (UTC).

CHRISTY L. HETTINGA VS RICK COOP, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 12/03/2020 CHRISTY L HETTINGA filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against RICK COOP. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is DENNIS J. LANDIN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******6294

  • Filing Date:

    12/03/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

DENNIS J. LANDIN

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

HETTINGA CHRISTY L.

Defendants

COOP RICK

COLDWELL BANKER RESIDENTIAL BROKERAGE COMPANY A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

GREEN NONA

WEST COAST ESCROW COMPANY A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

WILSON KATHEE

COOP JILL

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

BARTLEY ALICIA BROOKE

Defendant Attorneys

CHAN MACEY

GRAJEWSKI WAYNE S.

MENDOZA JOSE A

Court Documents

Court documents are not available for this case.

 

Docket Entries

  • 01/10/2023
  • Hearing01/10/2023 at 09:30 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 12/29/2022
  • Hearing12/29/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 10/05/2022
  • Hearing10/05/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Post-Mediation Status Conference

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  • 11/09/2021
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company, a California corporation (Defendant); Nona Green (Defendant)

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  • 10/25/2021
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by West Coast Escrow Company, a California corporation (Defendant); Kathee Wilson (Defendant)

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  • 10/14/2021
  • DocketThird Amended Complaint; Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/27/2021
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department 51, Dennis J. Landin, Presiding; Case Management Conference - Held

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  • 09/27/2021
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department 51, Dennis J. Landin, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike - Held

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  • 09/27/2021
  • DocketNotice (OF RULING ON DEMURRERS TO SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT AND ORDERS AT CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE); Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/27/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike; Case Manageme...)); Filed by Clerk

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39 More Docket Entries
  • 01/19/2021
  • DocketAmended Complaint ((1st)); Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/04/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/15/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/15/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/15/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/04/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/03/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/03/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/03/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/03/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Christy L. Hettinga (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

b'

Case Number: 20STCV46294 Hearing Date: September 27, 2021 Dept: 51

Background

This matter arises from disputes relating to the sale of real property.

On December 3, 2020, Plaintiff Christy L. Hettinga (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint. The operative pleading is the Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) and was filed against Defendants Rick Coop (“Rick”), Jill Coop (“Jill”), Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company (“Coldwell”), Nona Green (“Green”), West Coast Escrow Company (“WCEC”), and Kathee Wilson (“Wilson”) asserting causes of action for:

  1. Breach of Written Contract

  1. Breach of Fiduciary Duties

  1. Quiet Title

  1. Fraudulent Misrepresentation

  1. Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

  1. Reformation of Grant Deed

  1. Declaratory Relief.

The SAC states in pertinent part as follows. Plaintiff is the owner of the real property identified as Assessor’s Parcel No. 4462-005-025 (“Parcel 25”). (SAC, ¶ 1.) Plaintiff was also the owner of the real property identified as Assessor’s Parcel No. 4462-005-024 (“Parcel 24”) until it was sold to Rick and Jill (hereinafter collectively “Coop”). (SAC, ¶¶ 1, 2.) Wilson is an escrow officer employed by WCEC. (SAC, ¶ 6.)

On December 8, 2017, Plaintiff entered into an agreement to sell Parcel 24 to Coop. (SAC, ¶ 8.) Plaintiff disclosed to Coop during the escrow period that there was an easement on Parcel 24 that benefitted Parcel 25 for purpose of a septic tank (the “Easement”). (SAC, ¶ 8.) Coop did not object to the Easement, waived all of their contingencies to closing, and the sale was scheduled to close on February 28, 2018. (SAC, ¶ 8.) Coldwell represented both Plaintiff and Coop in the purchase and sale transaction. (SAC, ¶ 9.) Escrow for the sale was conducted through WCEC. (SAC, ¶ 9.) In or about mid-February 2018, Plaintiff discovered that the Easement was not explicitly reserved in the draft granted deed for Parcel 24 and that no easement agreement from Coop granting the Easement to Plaintiff was in escrow. (SAC, ¶ 10.) Plaintiff contacted Green and Wilson and requested confirmation that the Easement would be permanent after closing. (SAC, ¶ 10.) Wilson acknowledged that a license agreement for the septic system appeared on the preliminary title report for Parcel 24 and acknowledged that the license agreement was not permanent. (SAC, ¶ 10.) Wilson orally agreed to prepare the necessary documentation to ensure the Easement would be permanent. (SAC, ¶ 10.) On February 27 2018, Plaintiff contacted Green and Wilson to discuss the Easement. (SAC, ¶ 11.) On February 28, 2018 Plaintiff contacted Wilson in writing to not close the transaction until Plaintiff was assured the Easement would be in place once the sale was closed. (SAC, ¶ 11.) The transaction closed on February 28, 2018 without the Easement being in the record on the title for Parcel 24 and despite Plaintiff’s instruction to not close without the Easement being permanent. (SAC, ¶¶ 12, 13.) Following the closing, Plaintiff attempted to work with Coop to secure the Easement, but on March 30, 2020, Coop made clear to Plaintiff that they no longer intended to cooperate and instead suggested they may sell the Easement to Plaintiff for hundreds of thousands of dollars. (SAC, ¶ 13.) Due to the geological limitations of Parcel 25, and without the Easement, Plaintiff will be prevented from improving Parcel 25 in accordance with the zoning code. (SAC, ¶ 14.)

Defendants WCEC and Wilson (hereinafter collectively “Defendants”) demur to first and second causes of action on the grounds that they are barred by the statute of limitations and/or fail to set forth sufficient facts to establish the causes of action.

Demurrer Standard:

A demurrer for sufficiency tests whether the complaint states a cause of action. (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747.) When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context. In a demurrer proceeding, the defects must be apparent on the face of the pleading or via proper judicial notice. (Donabedian v. Mercury Ins. Co. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 968, 994.) A demurrer tests the pleadings alone and not the evidence or other extrinsic matters. Therefore, it lies only where the defects appear on the face of the pleading or are judicially noticed. (CCP §§ 430.30, 430.70.) At the pleading stage, a plaintiff need only allege ultimate facts sufficient to apprise the defendant of the factual basis for the claim against him. (Semole v. Sansoucie (1972) 28 Cal. App. 3d 714, 721.) A “demurrer does not, however, admit contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law alleged in the pleading, or the construction of instruments pleaded, or facts impossible in law.” (S. Shore Land Co. v. Petersen (1964) 226 Cal.App.2d 725, 732 [internal citations omitted].)

Analysis

Defendants contend that Plaintiff’s cause of action for breach of contract is barred by the shortened one-year statute of limitations provided for in the escrow instructions (the “Escrow Instructions”). The relevant Escrow Instructions provision (the “Provision”) provides:

NO ACTION SHALL LIE AGAINST ESCROW HOLDER FOR ANY CLAIM, LOSS, LIABILITY OR ALLEGED CAUSE OF ACTION OF ANY KIND OR NATURE WHATSOEVER, HOWEVER CAUSED OR INCURRED, IN CONNECTION WITH THE HANDLING OR PROCESSING OF THIS ESCROW, UNLESS BROUGHT WITHIN TWELVE (12) MONTHS AFTER THE CLOSE OF ESCROW OR ANY CANCELLATION OR TERMINATION OF ESCROW FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER.” (SAC, Exh. D (emphasis in original).)

Plaintiff fails to address Defendants argument that she has failed to meet the shortened statute of limitations, and instead argues that she has adequately pled her breach of contract cause of action.

“It is [] well-established that parties to a contract may agree to a provision shortening the statute of limitations, qualified, however, by the requirement that the period fixed is not itself unreasonable or is not so unreasonable as to show imposition or undue advantage.” (Wind Dancer Production Group v. Walt Disney Pictures (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 56, 73 (citations omitted.)) “Reasonable in this context means the shortened period nevertheless provides sufficient time to effectively pursue a judicial remedy.” (Ibid. (citations omitted.)) The question of reasonableness is one of law. (Capehart v. Heady (1962) 206 Cal.App.2d 386, 388.)

Here, the Provision provides for a one-year limitations period and Plaintiff has not offered any arguments to suggest that a one-year limitations period is unreasonable. In the Court’s view, a one-year limitations period is patently reasonable in this context. (Ibid. (approving three-month contractual limitations period).)

Here, Plaintiff’s breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty causes of action against Defendants are based on the violations Escrow Instructions and duties that arose after the Escrow Instructions was executed. (See SAC, ¶ 8, 10.) Based on the date of closing of February 28, 2018 and the terms of the Provision, Plaintiff had one year to file any claims arising from the handling or processing of the escrow against WCEC and its employee, Wilson. Plaintiff did not file her breach of contract cause of action until December 3, 2020, which is beyond the limitations period. In addition, the Provision is so broad that it encompasses both of Plaintiff’s cause of action against Defendants for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Accordingly, Plaintiff was required to bring both of those causes of action no later February 28, 2019. There are no facts in the SAC suggesting that Defendants engaged in malfeasance that contributed to the delay of Plaintiff’s discovery of her injury. (See William L. Lyon & Associates, Inc. v. Superior Court¿(2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 1294.) Instead, the facts suggest that Plaintiff was aware that Defendants acted against Plaintiff’s instructions to ensure that the Easement was permanent the day of closing. (See SAC, ¶ 11-13.) To the extent that there are any facts that Defendants engaged in any malfeasance (or any other basis that prevents Defendants from reaping the benefits of a shortened contractual limitations period) Defendants may amend the SAC accordingly.

Defendants Demurrer is SUSTAINED, with 20 days leave to amend.

Conclusion

Defendants Demurrer is SUSTAINED, with 20 days leave to amend.

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