Search

Attributes

This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/03/2019 at 04:15:56 (UTC).

ENRIQUE RICARDO VARGAS ET AL VS NINA R RINGOLD ET AL

Case Summary

On 05/11/2017 ENRIQUE RICARDO VARGAS filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against NINA R RINGOLD. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is MICHAEL L. STERN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****1148

  • Filing Date:

    05/11/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

MICHAEL L. STERN

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

RICARDO REGINA

VARGAS ENRIQUE RICARDO

Defendants and Respondents

MELARAGNO EDDYE

RINGOLD NINA

RINGGOLD-LOCKHART NINA

RINGGOLD NINA R.

DOES 1 TO 50

RINGGOLD-LOCKHART JUSTIN [DOE 2]

RINGGOLD-LOCKHART JUSTIN [DOE 1]

RINGGOLD NINA R. AKA NINA RINGOLD AKA NINA RINGGOLD-LOCKHART

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

SANTOS PATRICK THOMAS ESQ.

SANTOS PATRICK T.

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

RINGGOLD NINA ESQ.

RINGGOLD NINA RAE ESQ.

 

Court Documents

AMENDED NOTICE ON MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT; PROOF OF SERVICE

4/25/2018: AMENDED NOTICE ON MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT; PROOF OF SERVICE

Other -

5/3/2018: Other -

Proof of Personal Service

5/7/2018: Proof of Personal Service

Reply

5/10/2018: Reply

Reply

5/11/2018: Reply

Minute Order

6/14/2018: Minute Order

OBJECTION TO UNTIMELY FILING OF PLAINTIFFS? SUPPLEMENTAL OPPOSITION TO MOTION VACATE DEFAULT AND ANY DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST EDDYE MELARAGNO (DECEASED); AND TO DISMISS THE ACTION AGAINST EDDYE MELARA

7/6/2018: OBJECTION TO UNTIMELY FILING OF PLAINTIFFS? SUPPLEMENTAL OPPOSITION TO MOTION VACATE DEFAULT AND ANY DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST EDDYE MELARAGNO (DECEASED); AND TO DISMISS THE ACTION AGAINST EDDYE MELARA

Request for Judicial Notice

11/2/2018: Request for Judicial Notice

Motion for Summary Judgment

11/2/2018: Motion for Summary Judgment

Opposition

11/13/2018: Opposition

Unknown

11/19/2018: Unknown

Opposition

2/14/2019: Opposition

Opposition

2/14/2019: Opposition

Opposition

2/14/2019: Opposition

Order

2/26/2019: Order

Minute Order

5/2/2019: Minute Order

SUMMONS

5/11/2017: SUMMONS

Unknown

5/11/2017: Unknown

192 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/31/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 78; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (FOR ORDERS TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND TO SPECIALLY SET DEFENDANTS? MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR ADJUDICATION OF FACTS AND OTHER MOTIONS; AND TO STRIKE LATE MOTIONS TO AMEND OR SUBSTITUTE A NON-VERIFIED COMPLAINT) - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/31/2019
  • Order (ON EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR ORDERS TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND TO SPECIALLY SET DEFENDANTS? MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR ADJUDICATION OF FACTS AND OTHER MOTIONS; AND TO STRIKE LATE MOTIONS TO AMEND OR SUBSTITUTE A NON-VERIFIED COMPLAINT); Filed by Nina R. Ringgold (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/31/2019
  • Certificate of Mailing for (Minute Order (Hearing on Ex Parte Application FOR ORDERS TO CONTINUE TRIAL ...) of 05/31/2019); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/31/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Ex Parte Application FOR ORDERS TO CONTINUE TRIAL ...)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/31/2019
  • Ex Parte Application (EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR ORDERS TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND TO SPECIALLY SET DEFENDANTS? MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR ADJUDICATION OF FACTS AND OTHER MOTIONS; AND TO STRIKE LATE MOTIONS TO AMEND OR SUBSTITUTE A NON-VERIFIED COMPLAINT); Filed by Nina R. Ringgold (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/29/2019
  • Motion for Leave to Amend (Complaint to Conform to Proof and to State Legal Claims based upon Same Set of Facts); Filed by Enrique Ricardo Vargas (Plaintiff); Regina Ricardo (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/28/2019
  • Notice ( OF CHANGE OF HEARING DATE ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND TO VACATE); Filed by Nina R. Ringgold (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/17/2019
  • Motion to Vacate (Motion for reconsideration and to vacate); Filed by Nina R. Ringgold (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/13/2019
  • Joinder to Motion (for Terminating Sanctions against Plaintiffs); Filed by Ringgold-Lockhart, Justin [DOE 2] (Defendant); Ringgold-Lockhart, Justin [DOE 1] (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/02/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 78; Hearing on Motion for Terminating Sanctions (against pltfs Regina Ricardo and Enrique Ricardo-Vargas) - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
316 More Docket Entries
  • 07/14/2017
  • REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/20/2017
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Enrique Ricardo Vargas (Plaintiff); Regina Ricardo (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/20/2017
  • PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT ON DEFENDANT NINA R.RINGGOLD

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/02/2017
  • Notice of Related Cases

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/02/2017
  • Notice of Related Case; Filed by Enrique Ricardo Vargas (Plaintiff); Regina Ricardo (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/11/2017
  • SUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/11/2017
  • ORDER ON COURT FEE WAIVER

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/11/2017
  • VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGFS FOR 1. TRESPASS; ETC

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/11/2017
  • ORDER ON COURT FEE WAIVER

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/11/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Enrique Ricardo Vargas (Plaintiff); Regina Ricardo (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC661148    Hearing Date: January 06, 2021    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

ENRIQUE RICARDO-VARGAS, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

v.

NINA R. RINGGOLD, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC661148

Hearing Date: January 6, 2021

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

Defendants’ demurrer to the First Amended Complaint and motion to strike

Defendant’s motion to quash service of may 11, 2017 summons, july 12, 2019 amended complaint, and amendment to complaint

DEFENDANT’ EDDYE MALARAGNO’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

Defendants’ Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint is OVERRULED.

Defendants’ Motion to Strike is DENIED.

Defendant Ringgold’s Motion to Quash is GRANTED as to the service of process on Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee.

Melaragno’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is DENIED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for trespass and breach of quiet enjoyment by a tenant against a landlord. The Complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff Regina Ricardo (“Regina”) and her son, Enrique Ricardo-Vargas (“Enrique”) live in a residence leased to them by owner Defendant Eddye Melaragno (“Melaragno”) and managed by Melaragno’s daughter, Defendant Nina R. Ringgold (“Ringgold”). (Complaint ¶¶ 1–9.) Defendants have made repeated threats to enter the premises for no good cause and in violation of Civil Code § 1954, causing Plaintiffs significant emotional distress. (Complaint ¶¶ 12–20.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs filed the Complaint on May 11, 2017, alleging two causes of action:

  1. Trespass

  2. Breach of Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

On March 5, 2018, Plaintiffs filed two Amendments to Complaint naming Justine Ringgold-Lockhart (“Justin”), an individual, as Doe defendant 1, and Justin Ringgold-Lockhart, Trustee of the Eddye Melaragno Family Trust, as Doe defendant 2.

On May 21, 2018, this case was transferred from Dept. SS4 to Dept. 78.

On July 20, 2018, this Court denied Justin Ringgold-Lockhart’s Motion to Quash Service of Summons.

On February 26, 2019, this Court denied Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication.

On May 2, 2019, this Court denied Defendant Ringgold’s Motion for Terminating Sanctions against Plaintiffs and Ringgold’s Motions to Compel Further. The Court ordered sanctions against Ringgold in the amount of $1400.

On July 11, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint.

On July 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging seven causes of action:

  1. Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment

  2. Unlawful entry

  3. Intrusion into private matters

  4. Invasion of privacy to capture physical impression

  5. For abatement of continuing private nuisance and damages

  6. Intentional infliction of emotional distress

  7. Declaratory relief

On August 26, 2019, Defendants filed the instant Demurrer to the FAC and Motion to Strike.

On January 7, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Doe Amendment, identifying Nina Ringgold, as Trustee of the Melaragno Family Trust, a trust, as Doe No. 3.

On February 5, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a joint Opposition to the Demurrer and Motion to Strike.

On February 10, 2020, Ringgold filed the instant Motion to Quash Service of Summons. On her as the Trustee of the Melaragno Family Trust

No Opposition has been filed to the Motion to Quash.

On June 18, 2020, Plaintiffs dismissed Melaragno.

On August 18, 2020 Melaragno filed the instant Motion for Attorney’s Fees.

On August 21, 2020 Plaintiffs filed in opposition to this motion.

DISCUSSION

  1. DEMURRER

Defendants have filed a general demurrer to the First through Seventh Causes of Action based on the same six arguments against all causes of action: (1) the court has no jurisdiction, (2) the person who filed the pleading does not have the legal capacity to sue (lacks standing), (3) there is a defect or misjoinder of parties, (4) the pleading does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, (5) the pleading is uncertain, and (6) “the action is founded upon a contract, it cannot be ascertained from the pleading whether a contract exists as to each separate defendant and on what basis the claim of contract is founded upon as to each separate defendant.” (Motion at pp. 4-7.)

As a preliminary matter: “(a) Before filing a demurrer pursuant to this chapter, the demurring party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to demurrer for the purpose of determining whether an agreement can be reached that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer. If an amended complaint, cross-complaint, or answer is filed, the responding party shall meet and confer again with the party who filed the amended pleading before filing a demurrer to the amended pleading.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41(a).) Counsel fr the demurring party is required to file a declaration with the demurrer stating that she complied with this requirement. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41(3).) No such declaration has been filed.

Defendants’ demurrer consists entirely of repeating the above-listed six arguments, which are copied directly from Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.10, without application to the FAC or any further arguments.

Defendants’ demurrer is a general demurrer. “A general demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint.” (JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Ward (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 678, 684, review denied (June 19, 2019).) A ruling on a general demurrer is thus a method of deciding the merits of a cause of action on assumed facts without a trial. (McKenney v. Purepac Pharmaceutical Co. (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 72, 77.)

Here, Defendants’ demurrer fails to identify any actual defects with the FAC in this case. The demurrer’s listed defects fail to identify any legal or factual arguments. Defendants’ demurrer does not include even a single sentence in application to the FAC of their listed “arguments.” the Court cannot determine whether Defendants’ demurrer has any merit.

Additionally, in Opposition to this Motion, Plaintiff’s attorney declared that he was not served with this demurrer despite the proof of service. (Santos Decl., ¶ 4.) Plaintiffs’ counsel declares that he sent a letter to Ringgold requesting a supporting memorandum to this demurrer with her legal arguments, but he did not receive a response. (Santos Decl., ¶¶ 7-9.)

The Demurrer to the FAC is OVERRULED.

  1. MOTION TO STRIKE

Defendants have filed a Motion to Strike “the complaint and First Amended Complaint in their entirety.” (Motion at p. 3.) Defendants also seek to individually strike every separate paragraph in the FAC and prayers for damages. (Motion at pp. 1-3.)

Defendants, however, fail to even a single argument for why the Court should grant the Motion to Strike.

Accordingly, the Motion to Strike is DENIED.

The Court sets an Order to Show Cause re Sanctions on Nina Ringgold pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5 for filing two frivolous motions totally devoid of merit and not brought in good faith.

  1. MOTION TO QUASH

Code of Civil Procedure section 418.10, subd. (a)(1) states: “A defendant, on or before the last day of his or her time to plead or within any further time that the court may for good cause allow, may serve and file a notice of motion for one or more of the following purposes . . . (1) To quash service of summons on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the court over him or her.”

Personal service requires the personal delivery of a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person to be served. (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.10.)

Mere notice of litigation does not confer personal jurisdiction absent substantial compliance with the statutory requirements for service of summons. (MJS Enterprises, Inc. v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 555, 557.)

Ringgold argues that service of the summons and complaint were improper on her as to her status as Doe No. 3, Nina Ringgold as Trustee for the Melaragno Family Trust, a trust. (Motion at p. 4.) She contends that service was made on her as an individual, not as Trustee. (Motion at p. 4.)

The Court agrees. The proof of service filed with the Court states that it was mailed to “Nina Ringgold, Defendant in Pro Per and “Representative” for Defendants Justin Ringgold-Lockhart and Justin Ringgold-Lockard as Trustee for the Melaragno Family Trust.” Further, the letter addressed to Ringgold on January 10, 2020 does not mention Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee, and the included summons does not list Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee. (Ringgold Decl., Exh. 3.)

If the defendant is designated in the complaint and summons in a representative capacity, service on the defendant should be made in his or her representative capacity. (Bank of America Nat. Trust & Sav. Ass'n v. Carr (1956) 138 Cal.App.2d 727, 737.) Here, there is no evidence in the proof of service that Ringgold was being served by substitute service.

Plaintiffs must properly serve Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee for the Court to obtain jurisdiction. (Id. [“As to the service on Norman we must note the general rule that ‘If the complaint and summons designate the defendant in a representative capacity, he should be so served”].)

Ringgold’s substantive arguments for dismissal, however, are improper for a Motion to Quash and are accordingly without merit.

Accordingly, the Motion to Quash is GRANTED as to the service of process on Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee.

  1. MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

Ms. Ringgold, purporting to act on behalf of Melaragno, claims that Melaragno is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees for the services of Ms. Ringgold under Civil Code section 1717 because Melaragno was a prevailing party when plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Melaragno as a defendant in this action. First, Ms. Ringgold is on suspension by the California State Bar and not authorized to practice law. No attorney’s fees could be awarded for her services. The motion is also frivolous because Civil Code section 1717(b)(2) expressly states that “Where an action has been voluntarily dismissed …there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of this section.” Accordingly.

Melaragno’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is DENIED.

Dated: January 6, 2021

__________________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

ENRIQUE RICARDO-VARGAS, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

v.

NINA R. RINGGOLD, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC661148

Hearing Date: January 6, 2021

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

Defendants’ demurrer to the First Amended Complaint and motion to strike

Defendant’s motion to quash service of may 11, 2017 summons, july 12, 2019 amended complaint, and amendment to complaint

DEFENDANT’ EDDYE MALARAGNO’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

Defendants’ Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint is OVERRULED.

Defendants’ Motion to Strike is DENIED.

Defendant Ringgold’s Motion to Quash is GRANTED as to the service of process on Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee.

Melaragno’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is DENIED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for trespass and breach of quiet enjoyment by a tenant against a landlord. The Complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff Regina Ricardo (“Regina”) and her son, Enrique Ricardo-Vargas (“Enrique”) live in a residence leased to them by owner Defendant Eddye Melaragno (“Melaragno”) and managed by Melaragno’s daughter, Defendant Nina R. Ringgold (“Ringgold”). (Complaint ¶¶ 1–9.) Defendants have made repeated threats to enter the premises for no good cause and in violation of Civil Code § 1954, causing Plaintiffs significant emotional distress. (Complaint ¶¶ 12–20.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs filed the Complaint on May 11, 2017, alleging two causes of action:

  1. Trespass

  2. Breach of Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

On March 5, 2018, Plaintiffs filed two Amendments to Complaint naming Justine Ringgold-Lockhart (“Justin”), an individual, as Doe defendant 1, and Justin Ringgold-Lockhart, Trustee of the Eddye Melaragno Family Trust, as Doe defendant 2.

On May 21, 2018, this case was transferred from Dept. SS4 to Dept. 78.

On July 20, 2018, this Court denied Justin Ringgold-Lockhart’s Motion to Quash Service of Summons.

On February 26, 2019, this Court denied Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication.

On May 2, 2019, this Court denied Defendant Ringgold’s Motion for Terminating Sanctions against Plaintiffs and Ringgold’s Motions to Compel Further. The Court ordered sanctions against Ringgold in the amount of $1400.

On July 11, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint.

On July 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging seven causes of action:

  1. Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment

  2. Unlawful entry

  3. Intrusion into private matters

  4. Invasion of privacy to capture physical impression

  5. For abatement of continuing private nuisance and damages

  6. Intentional infliction of emotional distress

  7. Declaratory relief

On August 26, 2019, Defendants filed the instant Demurrer to the FAC and Motion to Strike.

On January 7, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Doe Amendment, identifying Nina Ringgold, as Trustee of the Melaragno Family Trust, a trust, as Doe No. 3.

On February 5, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a joint Opposition to the Demurrer and Motion to Strike.

On February 10, 2020, Ringgold filed the instant Motion to Quash Service of Summons. On her as the Trustee of the Melaragno Family Trust

No Opposition has been filed to the Motion to Quash.

On June 18, 2020, Plaintiffs dismissed Melaragno.

On August 18, 2020 Melaragno filed the instant Motion for Attorney’s Fees.

On August 21, 2020 Plaintiffs filed in opposition to this motion.

DISCUSSION

  1. DEMURRER

Defendants have filed a general demurrer to the First through Seventh Causes of Action based on the same six arguments against all causes of action: (1) the court has no jurisdiction, (2) the person who filed the pleading does not have the legal capacity to sue (lacks standing), (3) there is a defect or misjoinder of parties, (4) the pleading does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, (5) the pleading is uncertain, and (6) “the action is founded upon a contract, it cannot be ascertained from the pleading whether a contract exists as to each separate defendant and on what basis the claim of contract is founded upon as to each separate defendant.” (Motion at pp. 4-7.)

As a preliminary matter: “(a) Before filing a demurrer pursuant to this chapter, the demurring party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to demurrer for the purpose of determining whether an agreement can be reached that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer. If an amended complaint, cross-complaint, or answer is filed, the responding party shall meet and confer again with the party who filed the amended pleading before filing a demurrer to the amended pleading.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41(a).) Counsel fr the demurring party is required to file a declaration with the demurrer stating that she complied with this requirement. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41(3).) No such declaration has been filed.

Defendants’ demurrer consists entirely of repeating the above-listed six arguments, which are copied directly from Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.10, without application to the FAC or any further arguments.

Defendants’ demurrer is a general demurrer. “A general demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint.” (JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Ward (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 678, 684, review denied (June 19, 2019).) A ruling on a general demurrer is thus a method of deciding the merits of a cause of action on assumed facts without a trial. (McKenney v. Purepac Pharmaceutical Co. (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 72, 77.)

Here, Defendants’ demurrer fails to identify any actual defects with the FAC in this case. The demurrer’s listed defects fail to identify any legal or factual arguments. Defendants’ demurrer does not include even a single sentence in application to the FAC of their listed “arguments.” the Court cannot determine whether Defendants’ demurrer has any merit.

Additionally, in Opposition to this Motion, Plaintiff’s attorney declared that he was not served with this demurrer despite the proof of service. (Santos Decl., ¶ 4.) Plaintiffs’ counsel declares that he sent a letter to Ringgold requesting a supporting memorandum to this demurrer with her legal arguments, but he did not receive a response. (Santos Decl., ¶¶ 7-9.)

The Demurrer to the FAC is OVERRULED.

  1. MOTION TO STRIKE

Defendants have filed a Motion to Strike “the complaint and First Amended Complaint in their entirety.” (Motion at p. 3.) Defendants also seek to individually strike every separate paragraph in the FAC and prayers for damages. (Motion at pp. 1-3.)

Defendants, however, fail to even a single argument for why the Court should grant the Motion to Strike.

Accordingly, the Motion to Strike is DENIED.

The Court sets an Order to Show Cause re Sanctions on Nina Ringgold pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5 for filing two frivolous motions totally devoid of merit and not brought in good faith.

  1. MOTION TO QUASH

Code of Civil Procedure section 418.10, subd. (a)(1) states: “A defendant, on or before the last day of his or her time to plead or within any further time that the court may for good cause allow, may serve and file a notice of motion for one or more of the following purposes . . . (1) To quash service of summons on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the court over him or her.”

Personal service requires the personal delivery of a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person to be served. (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.10.)

Mere notice of litigation does not confer personal jurisdiction absent substantial compliance with the statutory requirements for service of summons. (MJS Enterprises, Inc. v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 555, 557.)

Ringgold argues that service of the summons and complaint were improper on her as to her status as Doe No. 3, Nina Ringgold as Trustee for the Melaragno Family Trust, a trust. (Motion at p. 4.) She contends that service was made on her as an individual, not as Trustee. (Motion at p. 4.)

The Court agrees. The proof of service filed with the Court states that it was mailed to “Nina Ringgold, Defendant in Pro Per and “Representative” for Defendants Justin Ringgold-Lockhart and Justin Ringgold-Lockard as Trustee for the Melaragno Family Trust.” Further, the letter addressed to Ringgold on January 10, 2020 does not mention Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee, and the included summons does not list Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee. (Ringgold Decl., Exh. 3.)

If the defendant is designated in the complaint and summons in a representative capacity, service on the defendant should be made in his or her representative capacity. (Bank of America Nat. Trust & Sav. Ass'n v. Carr (1956) 138 Cal.App.2d 727, 737.) Here, there is no evidence in the proof of service that Ringgold was being served by substitute service.

Plaintiffs must properly serve Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee for the Court to obtain jurisdiction. (Id. [“As to the service on Norman we must note the general rule that ‘If the complaint and summons designate the defendant in a representative capacity, he should be so served”].)

Ringgold’s substantive arguments for dismissal, however, are improper for a Motion to Quash and are accordingly without merit.

Accordingly, the Motion to Quash is GRANTED as to the service of process on Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee.

  1. MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

Ms. Ringgold, purporting to act on behalf of Melaragno, claims that Melaragno is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees for the services of Ms. Ringgold under Civil Code section 1717 because Melaragno was a prevailing party when plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Melaragno as a defendant in this action. First, Ms. Ringgold is on suspension by the California State Bar and not authorized to practice law. No attorney’s fees could be awarded for her services. The motion is also frivolous because Civil Code section 1717(b)(2) expressly states that “Where an action has been voluntarily dismissed …there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of this section.” Accordingly.

Melaragno’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is DENIED.

Dated: January 6, 2021

__________________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC661148    Hearing Date: January 05, 2021    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

ENRIQUE RICARDO-VARGAS, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

v.

NINA R. RINGGOLD, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC661148

Hearing Date: January 6, 2021

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

Defendants’ demurrer to the First Amended Complaint and motion to strike

Defendant’s motion to quash service of may 11, 2017 summons, july 12, 2019 amended complaint, and amendment to complaint

DEFENDANT’ EDDYE MALARAGNO’S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

Defendants’ Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint is OVERRULED.

Defendants’ Motion to Strike is DENIED.

Defendant Ringgold’s Motion to Quash is GRANTED as to the service of process on Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee.

Melaragno’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is DENIED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for trespass and breach of quiet enjoyment by a tenant against a landlord. The Complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff Regina Ricardo (“Regina”) and her son, Enrique Ricardo-Vargas (“Enrique”) live in a residence leased to them by owner Defendant Eddye Melaragno (“Melaragno”) and managed by Melaragno’s daughter, Defendant Nina R. Ringgold (“Ringgold”). (Complaint ¶¶ 1–9.) Defendants have made repeated threats to enter the premises for no good cause and in violation of Civil Code § 1954, causing Plaintiffs significant emotional distress. (Complaint ¶¶ 12–20.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs filed the Complaint on May 11, 2017, alleging two causes of action:

  1. Trespass

  2. Breach of Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

On March 5, 2018, Plaintiffs filed two Amendments to Complaint naming Justine Ringgold-Lockhart (“Justin”), an individual, as Doe defendant 1, and Justin Ringgold-Lockhart, Trustee of the Eddye Melaragno Family Trust, as Doe defendant 2.

On May 21, 2018, this case was transferred from Dept. SS4 to Dept. 78.

On July 20, 2018, this Court denied Justin Ringgold-Lockhart’s Motion to Quash Service of Summons.

On February 26, 2019, this Court denied Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication.

On May 2, 2019, this Court denied Defendant Ringgold’s Motion for Terminating Sanctions against Plaintiffs and Ringgold’s Motions to Compel Further. The Court ordered sanctions against Ringgold in the amount of $1400.

On July 11, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint.

On July 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging seven causes of action:

  1. Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment

  2. Unlawful entry

  3. Intrusion into private matters

  4. Invasion of privacy to capture physical impression

  5. For abatement of continuing private nuisance and damages

  6. Intentional infliction of emotional distress

  7. Declaratory relief

On August 26, 2019, Defendants filed the instant Demurrer to the FAC and Motion to Strike.

On January 7, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Doe Amendment, identifying Nina Ringgold, as Trustee of the Melaragno Family Trust, a trust, as Doe No. 3.

On February 5, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a joint Opposition to the Demurrer and Motion to Strike.

On February 10, 2020, Ringgold filed the instant Motion to Quash Service of Summons. On her as the Trustee of the Melaragno Family Trust

No Opposition has been filed to the Motion to Quash.

On June 18, 2020, Plaintiffs dismissed Melaragno.

On August 18, 2020 Melaragno filed the instant Motion for Attorney’s Fees.

On August 21, 2020 Plaintiffs filed in opposition to this motion.

DISCUSSION

  1. DEMURRER

Defendants have filed a general demurrer to the First through Seventh Causes of Action based on the same six arguments against all causes of action: (1) the court has no jurisdiction, (2) the person who filed the pleading does not have the legal capacity to sue (lacks standing), (3) there is a defect or misjoinder of parties, (4) the pleading does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, (5) the pleading is uncertain, and (6) “the action is founded upon a contract, it cannot be ascertained from the pleading whether a contract exists as to each separate defendant and on what basis the claim of contract is founded upon as to each separate defendant.” (Motion at pp. 4-7.)

As a preliminary matter: “(a) Before filing a demurrer pursuant to this chapter, the demurring party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to demurrer for the purpose of determining whether an agreement can be reached that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer. If an amended complaint, cross-complaint, or answer is filed, the responding party shall meet and confer again with the party who filed the amended pleading before filing a demurrer to the amended pleading.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41(a).) Counsel fr the demurring party is required to file a declaration with the demurrer stating that she complied with this requirement. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41(3).) No such declaration has been filed.

Defendants’ demurrer consists entirely of repeating the above-listed six arguments, which are copied directly from Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.10, without application to the FAC or any further arguments.

Defendants’ demurrer is a general demurrer. “A general demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint.” (JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Ward (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 678, 684, review denied (June 19, 2019).) A ruling on a general demurrer is thus a method of deciding the merits of a cause of action on assumed facts without a trial. (McKenney v. Purepac Pharmaceutical Co. (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 72, 77.)

Here, Defendants’ demurrer fails to identify any actual defects with the FAC in this case. The demurrer’s listed defects fail to identify any legal or factual arguments. Defendants’ demurrer does not include even a single sentence in application to the FAC of their listed “arguments.” the Court cannot determine whether Defendants’ demurrer has any merit.

Additionally, in Opposition to this Motion, Plaintiff’s attorney declared that he was not served with this demurrer despite the proof of service. (Santos Decl., ¶ 4.) Plaintiffs’ counsel declares that he sent a letter to Ringgold requesting a supporting memorandum to this demurrer with her legal arguments, but he did not receive a response. (Santos Decl., ¶¶ 7-9.)

The Demurrer to the FAC is OVERRULED.

  1. MOTION TO STRIKE

Defendants have filed a Motion to Strike “the complaint and First Amended Complaint in their entirety.” (Motion at p. 3.) Defendants also seek to individually strike every separate paragraph in the FAC and prayers for damages. (Motion at pp. 1-3.)

Defendants, however, fail to even a single argument for why the Court should grant the Motion to Strike.

Accordingly, the Motion to Strike is DENIED.

The Court sets an Order to Show Cause re Sanctions on Nina Ringgold pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5 for filing two frivolous motions totally devoid of merit and not brought in good faith.

  1. MOTION TO QUASH

Code of Civil Procedure section 418.10, subd. (a)(1) states: “A defendant, on or before the last day of his or her time to plead or within any further time that the court may for good cause allow, may serve and file a notice of motion for one or more of the following purposes . . . (1) To quash service of summons on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the court over him or her.”

Personal service requires the personal delivery of a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person to be served. (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.10.)

Mere notice of litigation does not confer personal jurisdiction absent substantial compliance with the statutory requirements for service of summons. (MJS Enterprises, Inc. v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 555, 557.)

Ringgold argues that service of the summons and complaint were improper on her as to her status as Doe No. 3, Nina Ringgold as Trustee for the Melaragno Family Trust, a trust. (Motion at p. 4.) She contends that service was made on her as an individual, not as Trustee. (Motion at p. 4.)

The Court agrees. The proof of service filed with the Court states that it was mailed to “Nina Ringgold, Defendant in Pro Per and “Representative” for Defendants Justin Ringgold-Lockhart and Justin Ringgold-Lockard as Trustee for the Melaragno Family Trust.” Further, the letter addressed to Ringgold on January 10, 2020 does not mention Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee, and the included summons does not list Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee. (Ringgold Decl., Exh. 3.)

If the defendant is designated in the complaint and summons in a representative capacity, service on the defendant should be made in his or her representative capacity. (Bank of America Nat. Trust & Sav. Ass'n v. Carr (1956) 138 Cal.App.2d 727, 737.) Here, there is no evidence in the proof of service that Ringgold was being served by substitute service.

Plaintiffs must properly serve Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee for the Court to obtain jurisdiction. (Id. [“As to the service on Norman we must note the general rule that ‘If the complaint and summons designate the defendant in a representative capacity, he should be so served”].)

Ringgold’s substantive arguments for dismissal, however, are improper for a Motion to Quash and are accordingly without merit.

Accordingly, the Motion to Quash is GRANTED as to the service of process on Ringgold in her capacity as Trustee.

  1. MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

Ms. Ringgold, purporting to act on behalf of Melaragno, claims that Melaragno is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees for the services of Ms. Ringgold under Civil Code section 1717 because Melaragno was a prevailing party when plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Melaragno as a defendant in this action. First, Ms. Ringgold is on suspension by the California State Bar and not authorized to practice law. No attorney’s fees could be awarded for her services. The motion is also frivolous because Civil Code section 1717(b)(2) expressly states that “Where an action has been voluntarily dismissed …there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of this section.” Accordingly.

Melaragno’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees is DENIED.

Dated: January 6, 2021

__________________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC661148    Hearing Date: November 10, 2020    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

ENRIQUE RICARDO-VARGAS, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

v.

NINA R. RINGGOLD, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC661148

Hearing Date: November 10, 2020

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

plaintiffs enrique ricardo-vargas and regina ricardo’s motion to tax costs

Plaintiff’s Motion to Tax Costs is GRANTED. The Court strikes all costs except for the Filing and Motion Fees. The Court taxes the Filing and Motion Fees such that Melaragno may recover $615 in Filing and Motion Fees.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for trespass and breach of quiet enjoyment by a tenant against a landlord. The Complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff Regina Ricardo (“Regina”) and her son, Enrique Ricardo-Vargas (“Enrique”) live in a residence leased to them by owner Defendant Eddye Melaragno (“Melaragno”) and managed by Melaragno’s daughter, Defendant Nina R. Ringgold (“Ringgold”). (Complaint ¶¶ 1–9.) Defendants have made repeated threats to enter the premises for no good cause and in violation of Civil Code § 1954, causing Plaintiffs significant emotional distress. (Complaint ¶¶ 12–20.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs filed the Complaint on May 11, 2017, alleging two causes of action:

  1. Trespass

  2. Breach of Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

On March 5, 2018, Plaintiffs filed two Amendments to Complaint naming Justine Ringgold-Lockhart (“Justin”), an individual, as Doe defendant 1, and Justin Ringgold-Lockhart, Trustee of the Eddye Melaragno Family Trust, as Doe defendant 2.

On May 21, 2018, this case was transferred from Dept. SS4 to Dept. 78.

On July 20, 2018, this Court denied Justin Ringgold-Lockhart’s Motion to Quash Service of Summons.

On February 26, 2019, this Court denied Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication.

On May 2, 2019, this Court denied Defendant Ringgold’s Motion for Terminating Sanctions against Plaintiffs and Ringgold’s Motions to Compel Further. The Court ordered sanctions against Ringgold in the amount of $1400.

On July 11, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint.

On July 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging seven causes of action:

  1. Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment

  2. Unlawful entry

  3. Intrusion into private matters

  4. Invasion of privacy to capture physical impression

  5. For abatement of continuing private nuisance and damages

  6. Intentional infliction of emotional distress

  7. Declaratory relief

On June 16, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Request for Dismissal as to Defendant Eddye Melaragno only.

On July 8, 2020, Melaragno filed a Memorandum of Costs.

On July 20, 2020, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion to Tax Costs.

No Opposition has been filed.

DISCUSSION

  1. MOTION TO STRIKE OR TAX COSTS

    The right to recovery costs of suit is determined by statute.¿(California Code of Civil Procedure § 1032.)¿¿ 

    ¿“Code of Civil Procedure section 1032, subdivision (b) [], guarantees prevailing parties in civil litigation awards of the costs expended in the litigation: ‘Except as otherwise expressly provided by statute, a prevailing party is entitled as a matter of right to recover costs in any action or proceeding.’” (Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire Dist.¿(2015) 61 Cal.4th 97, 100.).¿¿ 

    “If the items on a verified cost bill appear proper charges, they are prima facie evidence that the costs, expenses and services therein listed were necessarily incurred.” (Rappenecker ¿(1979) 93 Cal.App.3d 256, 266.) Although individual cost items are ordinarily challenged by a motion to tax costs, no cost-item is effectively put in issue by “mere statements” claiming them to be unreasonable. (Ibid.)¿ 

    In the present case, after Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed Defendant Melaragno, Melaragno filed a Memorandum of Costs in the total amount of $6,782.40.

    Under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032, subdivision (4), “Prevailing party” includes “a defendant in whose favor a dismissal is entered[.]” “Under present[ ] law, costs are allowed to a defendant when plaintiff's action is dismissed ([citations]), whether it is a voluntary dismissal with prejudice ([citations]) or without prejudice.” (DeSaulles v. Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula (2016) 62 Cal.4th 1140, 1149–1150.) Plaintiffs do not contest whether Melaragno is a “prevailing party” or generally entitled to costs.

    Plaintiffs move to strike the following: (1) jury fees ($150) because none of the defendants have posted jury fees; (2) deposition costs ($3,622), because Melaragno did not participate in discovery, never appeared in the action, and never served discovery; (3) service of process ($403) because Melaragno did not serve any summons or complaint, and only two motions filed on her behalf by Ringgold were served via USPS postage; (4) court ordered transcripts ($72) because these are not allowable costs and this court has never ordered transcripts; (5) models, enlargements, and photocopies ($312) because “this matter did not get to the point of final decision with a fact finder” and no exhibits, etc were submitted by Melaragno; (6) fees for hosting electronic documents ($337) because these are only recoverable if ordered by the court, and this Court never ordered such. (Motion at pp. 4-6.) Plaintiffs also argue that Melaragno cannot recover the full amount requested for filing and motion fees ($1,885), because the maximum amount expended was $615 (ex parte application to vacate default, motion fee in response to FAC, unlikely but possible general appearance fee). (Motion at p. 4.)

    Plaintiffs argue that many of the costs identified on the cost bill are unrecoverable because Melaragno died shortly after receiving substitute service. (Motion at p. 7.) Plaintiffs contend that all of the actions for which (the estate of) Melaragno is seeking to recover costs “were taken, or not, at the sole discretion of Defendant Nina Ringgold[.]” (Motion at p. 7.) They argue that “Defendant Melaragno was in the hospital during critical times when all decisions were made by Ringgold, using her son to carry out her instructions. Nor do the actions ‘feel’ as though [Melaragno] did these things, and they carried a certain mean spiritedness which she never showed to Plaintiffs, as her tenants for the last twenty years.” (Motion at p. 7.) They contend that (the estate of) Melaragno may only recover for the Filing and Motion Fees, divided by three. (Motion at p. 7.)

    “[I]f the items are properly objected to, they are put in issue and the burden of proof is on the party claiming them as costs.” (Ladas v. California State Auto. Assn. (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 761, 774.) The Estate of Melaragno has not filed an Opposition to this Motion. Accordingly, The Estate of Melaragno has not met its burden of proof.

    The Court agrees with Plaintiffs that most of the requested costs are non-recoverable because Melaragno/Estate of Melaragno did not participate in discovery, reach the point of trial, or otherwise utilize listed resources. The Court also finds that Melaragno/The Estate of Melaragno has not met its burden of proof in defending the requested Filing and Motion Fees.

    Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to Tax Costs. The Court strikes all costs except for Filing and Motion Fees. The Court taxes the Filing and Motion Fees, such that Melaragno may recover $615 in Filing and Motion Fees.

Dated: November 10, 2020

__________________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

ENRIQUE RICARDO-VARGAS, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

v.

NINA R. RINGGOLD, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC661148

Hearing Date: November 10, 2020

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

plaintiffs enrique ricardo-vargas and regina ricardo’s motion to tax costs

Plaintiff’s Motion to Tax Costs is GRANTED. The Court strikes all costs except for the Filing and Motion Fees. The Court taxes the Filing and Motion Fees such that Melaragno may recover $615 in Filing and Motion Fees.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for trespass and breach of quiet enjoyment by a tenant against a landlord. The Complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff Regina Ricardo (“Regina”) and her son, Enrique Ricardo-Vargas (“Enrique”) live in a residence leased to them by owner Defendant Eddye Melaragno (“Melaragno”) and managed by Melaragno’s daughter, Defendant Nina R. Ringgold (“Ringgold”). (Complaint ¶¶ 1–9.) Defendants have made repeated threats to enter the premises for no good cause and in violation of Civil Code § 1954, causing Plaintiffs significant emotional distress. (Complaint ¶¶ 12–20.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs filed the Complaint on May 11, 2017, alleging two causes of action:

  1. Trespass

  2. Breach of Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

On March 5, 2018, Plaintiffs filed two Amendments to Complaint naming Justine Ringgold-Lockhart (“Justin”), an individual, as Doe defendant 1, and Justin Ringgold-Lockhart, Trustee of the Eddye Melaragno Family Trust, as Doe defendant 2.

On May 21, 2018, this case was transferred from Dept. SS4 to Dept. 78.

On July 20, 2018, this Court denied Justin Ringgold-Lockhart’s Motion to Quash Service of Summons.

On February 26, 2019, this Court denied Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication.

On May 2, 2019, this Court denied Defendant Ringgold’s Motion for Terminating Sanctions against Plaintiffs and Ringgold’s Motions to Compel Further. The Court ordered sanctions against Ringgold in the amount of $1400.

On July 11, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint.

On July 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging seven causes of action:

  1. Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment

  2. Unlawful entry

  3. Intrusion into private matters

  4. Invasion of privacy to capture physical impression

  5. For abatement of continuing private nuisance and damages

  6. Intentional infliction of emotional distress

  7. Declaratory relief

On June 16, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Request for Dismissal as to Defendant Eddye Melaragno only.

On July 8, 2020, Melaragno filed a Memorandum of Costs.

On July 20, 2020, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion to Tax Costs.

No Opposition has been filed.

DISCUSSION

  1. MOTION TO STRIKE OR TAX COSTS

    The right to recovery costs of suit is determined by statute.¿(California Code of Civil Procedure § 1032.)¿¿ 

    ¿“Code of Civil Procedure section 1032, subdivision (b) [], guarantees prevailing parties in civil litigation awards of the costs expended in the litigation: ‘Except as otherwise expressly provided by statute, a prevailing party is entitled as a matter of right to recover costs in any action or proceeding.’” (Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire Dist.¿(2015) 61 Cal.4th 97, 100.).¿¿ 

    “If the items on a verified cost bill appear proper charges, they are prima facie evidence that the costs, expenses and services therein listed were necessarily incurred.” (Rappenecker ¿(1979) 93 Cal.App.3d 256, 266.) Although individual cost items are ordinarily challenged by a motion to tax costs, no cost-item is effectively put in issue by “mere statements” claiming them to be unreasonable. (Ibid.)¿ 

    In the present case, after Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed Defendant Melaragno, Melaragno filed a Memorandum of Costs in the total amount of $6,782.40.

    Under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032, subdivision (4), “Prevailing party” includes “a defendant in whose favor a dismissal is entered[.]” “Under present[ ] law, costs are allowed to a defendant when plaintiff's action is dismissed ([citations]), whether it is a voluntary dismissal with prejudice ([citations]) or without prejudice.” (DeSaulles v. Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula (2016) 62 Cal.4th 1140, 1149–1150.) Plaintiffs do not contest whether Melaragno is a “prevailing party” or generally entitled to costs.

    Plaintiffs move to strike the following: (1) jury fees ($150) because none of the defendants have posted jury fees; (2) deposition costs ($3,622), because Melaragno did not participate in discovery, never appeared in the action, and never served discovery; (3) service of process ($403) because Melaragno did not serve any summons or complaint, and only two motions filed on her behalf by Ringgold were served via USPS postage; (4) court ordered transcripts ($72) because these are not allowable costs and this court has never ordered transcripts; (5) models, enlargements, and photocopies ($312) because “this matter did not get to the point of final decision with a fact finder” and no exhibits, etc were submitted by Melaragno; (6) fees for hosting electronic documents ($337) because these are only recoverable if ordered by the court, and this Court never ordered such. (Motion at pp. 4-6.) Plaintiffs also argue that Melaragno cannot recover the full amount requested for filing and motion fees ($1,885), because the maximum amount expended was $615 (ex parte application to vacate default, motion fee in response to FAC, unlikely but possible general appearance fee). (Motion at p. 4.)

    Plaintiffs argue that many of the costs identified on the cost bill are unrecoverable because Melaragno died shortly after receiving substitute service. (Motion at p. 7.) Plaintiffs contend that all of the actions for which (the estate of) Melaragno is seeking to recover costs “were taken, or not, at the sole discretion of Defendant Nina Ringgold[.]” (Motion at p. 7.) They argue that “Defendant Melaragno was in the hospital during critical times when all decisions were made by Ringgold, using her son to carry out her instructions. Nor do the actions ‘feel’ as though [Melaragno] did these things, and they carried a certain mean spiritedness which she never showed to Plaintiffs, as her tenants for the last twenty years.” (Motion at p. 7.) They contend that (the estate of) Melaragno may only recover for the Filing and Motion Fees, divided by three. (Motion at p. 7.)

    “[I]f the items are properly objected to, they are put in issue and the burden of proof is on the party claiming them as costs.” (Ladas v. California State Auto. Assn. (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 761, 774.) The Estate of Melaragno has not filed an Opposition to this Motion. Accordingly, The Estate of Melaragno has not met its burden of proof.

    The Court agrees with Plaintiffs that most of the requested costs are non-recoverable because Melaragno/Estate of Melaragno did not participate in discovery, reach the point of trial, or otherwise utilize listed resources. The Court also finds that Melaragno/The Estate of Melaragno has not met its burden of proof in defending the requested Filing and Motion Fees.

    Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to Tax Costs. The Court strikes all costs except for Filing and Motion Fees. The Court taxes the Filing and Motion Fees, such that Melaragno may recover $615 in Filing and Motion Fees.

Dated: November 10, 2020

__________________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court

related-case-search

Dig Deeper

Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases


Latest cases represented by Lawyer SANTOS PATRICK THOMAS