This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 12/25/2022 at 07:22:37 (UTC).

FRANCISCO FLORES VS GUADALUPE GUZMAN

Case Summary

On 03/17/2022 FRANCISCO FLORES filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against GUADALUPE GUZMAN. 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 P. LINFIELD. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******9402

  • Filing Date:

    03/17/2022

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

MICHAEL P. LINFIELD

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

FLORES FRANCISCO

Defendant

GUZMAN GUADALUPE

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorney

DIAZ A BRYAN

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS SERVED UP...)

9/13/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS SERVED UP...)

Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

8/4/2022: Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS FROM LOS ALAMITOS RACE TRACK

8/10/2022: Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS FROM LOS ALAMITOS RACE TRACK

Motion to Deem RFA's Admitted

8/12/2022: Motion to Deem RFA's Admitted

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITHOUT MOTION TO STRIKE) OF 08/30/2022

8/30/2022: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITHOUT MOTION TO STRIKE) OF 08/30/2022

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITHOUT MOTION TO STRIKE)

8/30/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITHOUT MOTION TO STRIKE)

Amended Complaint - FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

7/7/2022: Amended Complaint - FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE)

7/19/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE)

Case Management Statement

7/18/2022: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

7/18/2022: Case Management Statement

Notice - NOTICE OF RULING

7/1/2022: Notice - NOTICE OF RULING

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITHOUT MOTION TO STRIKE)

6/27/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITHOUT MOTION TO STRIKE)

Reply - REPLY TO OPPOSITION

6/22/2022: Reply - REPLY TO OPPOSITION

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT GUADALUPE GUZMANS DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFFS COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF FRANCISCO FLORES; PROPOSED ORDER

6/14/2022: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT GUADALUPE GUZMANS DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFFS COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF FRANCISCO FLORES; PROPOSED ORDER

Declaration - DECLARATION OF FRANCISCO FLORES IN SUPPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT GUADALUPE GUZMANS DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFFS COMPLAINT

6/14/2022: Declaration - DECLARATION OF FRANCISCO FLORES IN SUPPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT GUADALUPE GUZMANS DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFFS COMPLAINT

Complaint

3/17/2022: Complaint

Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

5/31/2022: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

5/27/2022: Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

22 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 08/07/2023
  • Hearing08/07/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 34 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 07/27/2023
  • Hearing07/27/2023 at 09:00 AM in Department 34 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 09/13/2022
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Motion to Compel Production of Documents Served up...)

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  • 09/13/2022
  • DocketHearing on Motion to Compel Production of Documents Served upon the Custodian of Records of Plaintiff's Training Facility as Follows: Los Alamitos Race Track scheduled for 09/13/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 34 updated: Result Date to 09/13/2022; Result Type to Held

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  • 09/13/2022
  • DocketOn the Court's own motion, Hearing on Motion to Deem Request for Admissions Admitted scheduled for 09/14/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 34 Held - Advanced and Heard on 09/13/2022

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  • 08/30/2022
  • DocketUpdated -- Demurrer - without Motion to Strike: Filed By: Guadalupe Guzman (Defendant); Result: Overruled; Result Date: 08/30/2022

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  • 08/30/2022
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike)

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  • 08/30/2022
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike) of 08/30/2022; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 08/30/2022
  • DocketHearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike scheduled for 08/30/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 34 updated: Result Date to 08/30/2022; Result Type to Held

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  • 08/17/2022
  • DocketUpdated -- First Amended Complaint: Name Extension changed from (1st) to (1st); As To Parties changed from Guadalupe Guzman (Defendant) to Guadalupe Guzman (Defendant)

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38 More Docket Entries
  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Michael P. Linfield in Department 34 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketNotice of Related Case; Filed by: Francisco Flores (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by: Francisco Flores (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketOrder on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court); Signed and Filed by: Clerk; As to: Francisco Flores (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Francisco Flores (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketAlternate Dispute Resolution Packet; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketFirst Amended General Order re: Mandatory Electronic Filing; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketVoluntary Efficient Litigation Stipulation Packet; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/17/2022
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******9402 Hearing Date: September 13, 2022 Dept: 34

SUBJECT: Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s Motion to Compel Production of Documents Served Upon the Custodian of Records of Plaintiff’s Training Facility as Follows: Los Alamitos Racetrack; Request for Monetary Sanctions Against Plaintiff in the Amount of $3,661.65

Moving Party: Defendant Guadalupe Guzman (“Guzman”)

Resp. Party: None

SUBJECT: Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s Motion to Compel Production of Documents Served Upon the Custodian of Records of Plaintiff’s Training Facility as Follows: Los Alamitos Racetrack; Request for Monetary Sanctions Against Plaintiff in the Amount of $3,661.65

Moving Party: Defendant Guadalupe Guzman (“Guzman”)

Resp. Party: None

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s Motion to Compel Production of Documents Served Upon the Custodian of Records of Plaintiff’s Training Facility as Follows: Los Alamitos Racetrack is GRANTED as to Requests for Production of Documents Nos. 6 and 7.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s Motion to Compel Production of Documents Served Upon the Custodian of Records of Plaintiff’s Training Facility as Follows: Los Alamitos Racetrack is GRANTED.

The Court declines to award sanctions.

I. PRELIMINARY COMMENT

Guzman’s counsel chose to schedule his Motion to Compel for September 13, 2022, and his Motion to Deem Admitted for September 14, 2022. Neither motion has been opposed. For judicial economy, the Court will hear both motions today.

II. BACKGROUND

On March 17, 2022, Plaintiff Francisco Flores filed a complaint against Defendant Guadalupe Guzman. On June 27, 2022, the Court sustained with leave to amend Guzman’s demurrer.

On July 7, 2022, Plaintiff Francisco Flores filed a First Amended Complaint against Defendant Guadalupe Guzman alleging the following causes of action:

1. Breach of Contract

2. Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

3. Quantum Meruit

4. Unjust Enrichment

5. Defamation

6. Intentional Misrepresentation

On August 10, 2022, Guzman moved the Court “for an order compelling the production of the documents from Los Alamitos Racetrack, and for monetary sanctions in the sum of $3,661.65 as against the Plaintiff, in accordance with Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.320(b).” (MTC (PD), p. 1:23-26.) No opposition have been filed.

On August 12, 2022, Guzman moved the Court “that the truth of each matter specified in the Request for Admissions served on Plaintiff Francisco Flores on July 1, 2022, be deemed admitted and conclusively established for all purposes in this action. Plaintiff will also move the Court for an order that Plaintiff Francisco Flores pay to the moving party the sum of $3,261.65 as reasonable attorney fees incurred by defendant Guzman for these proceedings.” (MTC (RFA), p. 1:21-26.) No opposition has been filed.

On August 30, 2022, the Court overruled Guzman’s demurrer to the Fourth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment in Flores’ First Amended Complaint.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

1. Motion to Compel

California Code of Civil Procedure requires a response from the party to whom form interrogatories, special interrogatories, and demand requests are propounded within 30 days after service of the requests, unless the time is extended by agreement of the parties. (CCP 2030.260(a), 2030.270(a), 2031.260(a), 2031.270(a).) If a party fails to serve timely responses, "the party making the demand may move for an order compelling response to the demand.” (CCP 2030.300(b).) By failing to respond, the offending party waives any objection to the demand. (CCP. 2030.290(a).)

For a motion to compel, all a propounding party must show is that it properly served its discovery requests, that the time to respond has expired, and that the party to whom the requests were directed failed to provide a timely response. (See Leach v. Superior Court (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 902, 905, 906.) Indeed, "[o]nce [a party] 'fail[ed] to serve a timely response,' the trial court had authority to grant [opposing party's] motion to compel responses." (Sinaiko Healthcare Counseling, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 390, 405.)

A motion to compel production of documents described in a deposition notice must be accompanied by a showing of “good cause”—i.e., declarations containing specific facts justifying inspection of the documents described in the notice. (CCP 2025.450(b)(1).) Good cause is construed liberally; discovery justification is found where specific facts show the documents are necessary for effective trial preparation or to prevent surprise at trial. (Associated Brewers Distributing Co. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (1967) 65 Cal.2d 583, 587; [8:787] Motion to Compel Answers, Cal. Prac. Guide Civ. Pro. Before Trial Ch. 8E-15.) A lack of an alternative source for the sought information is an important "good cause" factor, but it is not essential. (Id. at 587-88.)

If a deponent fails to answer a deposition question or produce documents or things designated in the deposition notice or subpoena, the examiner may either complete the examination on other matters or adjourn the deposition. (CCP 2025.460(e).) The party seeking discovery may move the court for an order compelling that answer or production. (CCP 2025.480(a).) "This motion shall be made no later than 60 days after the completion of the record of the deposition and shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040." (CCP 2025.480(b).) A meet and confer declaration under CCP 2016.040 “shall state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented by the motion.” (CCP 2016.040.) Disputed questions and answers must be set forth verbatim in a separate statement (not in the motion itself) that provides the factual and legal reasons why further answers should be compelled. (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1345(a).)

2. Monetary Sanctions

“The court may impose a monetary sanction ordering that one engaging in the misuse of the discovery process, or any attorney advising that conduct, or both pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, incurred by anyone as a result of that conduct. The court may also impose this sanction on one unsuccessfully asserting that another has engaged in the misuse of the discovery process, or on any attorney who advised that assertion, or on both. If a monetary sanction is authorized by any provision of this title, the court shall impose that sanction unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.” (CCP 2023.030(a).)

3. Motion to Deem Requests for Admissions Admitted

California Code of Civil Procedure requires a response from the party to whom the request for admissions is directed within 30 days after service of the request for admissions. (CCP 2033.250(a).) If the party fails to serve a timely response, “the party to whom the requests for admission are directed waives any objection to the requests.” (CCP 2033.280(a).) The requesting party may then “move for an order that the genuineness of any documents and the truth of any matters specified in the requests be deemed admitted, as well as for monetary sanction under Chapter 7.” (CCP 2033.280(b).)

A motion to deem admitted requests for admissions lies based upon a showing of failure to respond timely. (CCP 2033.280(b); Demyer v. Costa Mesa Mobile Home Estates (1995) 36 Cal.App.4th 393, 395 [disapproved on other grounds by Wilcox v. Birtwhistle (1999) 21 Cal.4th 973, 983]; Weil & Brown, Civ. Pro. Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2013) 8:1370.) Requests for admissions must be deemed admitted where no responses in substantial compliance were served before the hearing. (CCP 2033.280(c); Edmon & Karnow, supra, at 8:1375.)

A court will deem requests admitted, “unless it finds that the party to whom the requests for admission have been directed has served, before the hearing on the motion, a proposed response to the requests for admission that is in substantial compliance with Section 2033.220.” (CCP 2033.280(c).) “It is mandatory that the court impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) on the party or attorney, or both, whose failure to serve a timely response to requests for admission necessitated this motion.” (CCP 2033.280(c).)

B. Discussion

1. Motion to Compel Production of Documents from Los Alamitos Racetrack

On June 27, 2022, Guzman served her Notice to Consumer or Employee and Objection Subpoena to Los Alamitos Racetrack. (Diaz Decl. (MTC), 2, 3, Exs. A-C.) Guzman received Flores’s objection to the Subpoena issued to Los Alamitos Racetrack on July 11, 2022, though the proof of service states that service by mail occurred on July 4, 2022 and the envelope containing the objections states that the objections were mailed on July 6, 2022. (Diaz Decl. (MTC), 4, Exs. D, E.)

Guzman requested seven categories of documents:

“1. Any and all documents concerning or related to “trainer” Francisco Flores;

2. All records, including, but not limited to, insurance documents, training logs, complaints filed and any decisions by the board related or concerning to Mr. Francisco Flores;

3. Your complete file on “trainer” Francisco Flores;

4. Any contract between Los Alamitos and Mr. Flores;

5. Mr. Flores license to train at your facility;

6. The training log or workout tab for Flying Winchester, Made in the USA and Lucky Lupe from July, 2020 through April, 2021.

7. All training logs, workout tabs or any other evidence of actual tract [sic] training for Made in the USA, Flying Winchester and Lucky Lupe by Mr. Flores.” (MTC, p. 4:12-23.)

The Court rules as follows on these requests:

RPD, Set One

1

DENY

2

DENY

3

DENY

4

DENY

5

DENY

6

GRANT

7

GRANT

2. Motion to Deem Requests for Admissions Admitted

On July 1, 2022, Guzman served Flores his Request for Admissions by mail at two different addresses. (Diaz Decl. (RFA), 2, 3, Ex. A.) Service occurred on both addresses on July 2, 2022. (Diaz Decl. (RFA), 5, Exs. C, D.) As of August 12, 2022, Guzman has not received responses to his Request for Admissions. (Diaz Decl. (RFA), 6.)

The Court finds that thirty days following service of Guzman’s Request for Admissions occurred on August 1, 2022. The Court finds no responses in substantial compliance with Guzman’s Request for Admissions from Flores. Thus, Guzman’s motion to deem requests for admissions admitted must be granted.

3. Monetary Sanctions

Guzman requests sanctions of $3,261.65 and $3,661.65 for these two motions.

The Court declines to impose monetary sanctions on Flores for his objections to Guzman’s Subpoena to Los Alamitos Racetrack.

Guzman’s counsel’s billing rate is $400.00 per hour. He states that he spent three hours to prepare the Motion to Deem Admissions Admitted, the filing fee was $61.65. (Diaz Decl. (RFA), 7.)

However, the Motion to Deem Admissions Admitted is a boiler-plate motion that is only two pages long. It is accompanied by a 7-paragraph declaration that simply repeats basic facts. Further, Guzman’s counsel is requesting 3 hours in “travel and hearing time” for each motion. The Court notes that Guzman chose to set one motion for September 13th and the other motion for September 14th. However, since the Court does not limit the number of motions that can be heard on any given day, there was no reason that both motions could not have been heard on the same day. Since both motions could be heard simultaneously, this is a requests for duplicative sanctions; because counsel can appear remotely, this is also a request for unneeded sanctions.

“If . . . the Court were required to award a reasonable fee when an outrageously unreasonable one has been asked for, claimants would be encouraged to make unreasonable demands, knowing that the only unfavorable consequence of such misconduct would be reduction of their fee to what they should have asked in the first place. To discourage such greed, a severer reaction is needful . . . .” (Serrano v. Unruh (1982) 32 Cal.3d 621, 635.) “A fee request that appears unreasonably inflated is a special circumstance permitting the trial court to reduce the award or deny one altogether.” (Chavez v. City of Los Angeles (2010) 47 Cal.4th 970, 990; Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1137.)

The Court declines to award sanctions.

IV. CONCLUSION

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s Motion to Compel Production of Documents Served Upon the Custodian of Records of Plaintiff’s Training Facility as Follows: Los Alamitos Racetrack is GRANTED as to Requests for Production of Documents Nos. 6 and 7.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s Motion to Compel Production of Documents Served Upon the Custodian of Records of Plaintiff’s Training Facility as Follows: Los Alamitos Racetrack is GRANTED.

The Court declines to award sanctions.



Case Number: *******9402 Hearing Date: August 30, 2022 Dept: 34

SUBJECT: Defendant’s Demurrer to Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint

Moving Party: Defendant Guadalupe Guzman

Resp. Party: None

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Fourth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment in Plaintiff Francisco Flores' First Amended Complaint is OVERRULED.

I. PRELIMINARLY COMMENT

The Court does not understand why defense counsel choose to waste its client’s money – and this Court’s time – on this demurrer. Defendant is demurring to the fourth cause of action because it is duplicative of the first cause of action. So what? As our Legislature declared over 150 years ago, “Superfluity does not vitiate.” (Civ.Code 3537.) The Court sustaining a demurrer to a duplicative cause of action gains defendant nothing.

II. BACKGROUND

On March 17, 2022, Plaintiff Francisco Flores (“Flores”) filed a complaint against Defendant Guadalupe Guzman (“Guzman”) alleging the following causes of action:

1. Breach of Contract;

2. Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing;

3. Money Had and Received;

4. Quantum Meruit;

5. Unjust Enrichment;

6. Promissory Estoppel;

7. Defamation;

8. Intentional Misrepresentation;

9. Unfair Business Practices (Business and Professions Code 17200, et seq.)

On May 27, 2022, Defendant Guadalupe Guzman demurred to the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Causes of Action of Flores’ Complaint for failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action under CCP 430.10(e) and uncertainty under CCP 430.10(f). (Demurrer, p. 1:19—3:17.)

On June 27, 2022, the Court sustained with leave to amend Guzman’s demurrer to the Third and Fifth Causes of Action of Flores’ Complaint. The Court sustained without leave to amend Guzman’s demurrer to the Sixth and Ninth Causes of Action of Flores’ Complaint.

On July 7, 2022, Plaintiff Francisco Flores filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) against Defendant Guadalupe Guzman alleging the following causes of action:

1. Breach of Contract

2. Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

3. Quantum Meruit

4. Unjust Enrichment

5. Defamation

6. Intentional Misrepresentation

On August 4, 2022, Guzman demurred to the Fourth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment of Flores’ FAC. No opposition has been filed with the Court.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

A demurrer is a pleading used to test the legal sufficiency of other pleadings. (Cty. of Fresno v. Shelton (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 996, 1008–09; Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311, 318.) It raises issues of law, not fact, regarding the form or content of the opposing party’s pleading. It is not the function of the demurrer to challenge the truthfulness of the complaint. (Unruh-Haxton v. Regents of Univ. of California (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 343, 365, as modified (May 15, 2008).) For purpose of the ruling on the demurrer, all facts pleaded in the complaint are assumed to be true, however improbable they may be. (CCP 422.10, 589.)

A demurrer can be used only to challenge defects that appear on the face of the pleading under attack; or from matters outside the pleading that are judicially noticeable. (Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311.) No other extrinsic evidence can be considered (i.e., no “speaking demurrers”). A demurrer is brought under Code of Civil Procedure 430.10 (grounds), 430.30 (as to any matter on its face or from which judicial notice may be taken), and 430.50(a) (can be taken to the entire complaint or any cause of action within).

A demurrer may be brought under Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10, subdivision (e) if insufficient facts are stated to support the cause of action asserted. A demurrer for uncertainty may be brought pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10, subdivision (f). “A demurrer for uncertainty is strictly construed, even where a complaint is in some respects uncertain, because ambiguities can be clarified under modern discovery procedures.” (Khoury v. Maly’s of California, Inc. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 612, 616.) “In general, ‘demurrers for uncertainty are disfavored, and are granted only if the pleading is so incomprehensible that a defendant cannot reasonably respond.’” (Lickiss v. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 1125, 1135.)

B. Discussion

The elements for a claim of unjust enrichment are receipt of a benefit and unjust retention of the benefit at the expense of another. The theory of unjust enrichment requires one who acquires a benefit which may not justly be retained, to return either the thing or its equivalent to the aggrieved party so as not to be unjustly enriched. (Lyles v. Sangadeo-Patel (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 759, 769; see also Prakashpalan v. Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 1105, 1132.)

The Court notes that Flores pleads both Guzman’s receipt of a benefit (FAC, 51-54) and unjust retention of the benefit at Flores’ expense (FAC, 54-57). Thus, Flores adequately pleads all elements of unjust enrichment in the Fourth Cause of Action.

It is true, as Guzman points out, that Flores’ unjust enrichment claim duplicates alleged facts from Flores’ breach of contract claim. (Demurrer, MPA, p. 5:14-18; Minute Order, June 27, 2022, p. 8.) Nonetheless, “it is a waste of time and judicial resources to entertain a motion challenging part of a pleading on the sole ground of repetitiveness. (See Civ.Code, 3537 [“Superfluity does not vitiate”].) This is the sort of defect that, if it justifies any judicial intervention at all, is ordinarily dealt with most economically at trial, or on a dispositive motion such as summary judgment.” (Blickman Turkus, LP v. MF Downtown Sunnyvale, LLC (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 858, 890.)

IV. CONCLUSION

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Fourth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment in Plaintiff Francisco Flores' First Amended Complaint is OVERRULED.



Case Number: *******9402 Hearing Date: June 27, 2022 Dept: 34

SUBJECT: Demurrer to Plaintiff’s Complaint

Moving Party: Defendant Guadalupe Guzman (“Guzman”)

Resp. Party: Plaintiff Francisco Flores (“Flores”)

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Second Cause of Action for Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing is OVERRULED.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Third Cause of Action for Money Had and Received is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Fifth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Sixth Cause of Action for Promissory Estoppel is SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Seventh Cause of Action for Defamation is OVERRULED.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Eighth Cause of Action for Intentional Misrepresentation is OVERRULED.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Ninth Cause of Action for Unfair Business Practices is SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Francisco Flores filed his opposition in pro per. However, the caption to this pleading states “Defendant ‘In Pro Se.’” The Court simply reminds Mr. Flores that he is the Plaintiff, not the Defendant.

The Court also notes that the meet-and-confer letter sent by Defendant’s counsel is about as pro-forma as can be. The entire letter states:

“Dear Mr. Flores:

“This office represents Ms. Guzman in connection with the above. We are in receipt of your complaint and wish to discuss the allegations and causes of action with you. Specifically, we have issue with the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Causes of Action. We do not believe they allege sufficient facts to support the causes of action you allege.

“Please contact our office immediately to discuss your complaint.”

The Court expects counsel to engage in a serious attempt to meet-and-confer in the future to avoid unnecessary pleadings.

II. BACKGROUND

On March 17, 2022, Plaintiff Francisco Flores filed a complaint against Defendant Guadalupe Guzman alleging the following causes of action:

1. Breach of Contract;

2. Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing;

3. Money Had and Received;

4. Quantum Meruit;

5. Unjust Enrichment;

6. Promissory Estoppel;

7. Defamation;

8. Intentional Misrepresentation;

9. Unfair Business Practices (Business and Professions Code 17200, et seq.)

On May 27, 2022, Defendant Guadalupe Guzman demurred to the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Causes of Action of Flores’ Complaint for failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action under CCP 430.10(e) and uncertainty under CCP 430.10(f). (Demurrer, p. 1:19—3:17.)

On June 14, 2022, Flores opposed Guzman’s demurrer.

On June 22, 2022, Guzman replied to Flores’ opposition.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

A demurrer is a pleading used to test the legal sufficiency of other pleadings. (Cty. of Fresno v. Shelton (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 996, 1008–09; Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311, 318.) It raises issues of law, not fact, regarding the form or content of the opposing party’s pleading. It is not the function of the demurrer to challenge the truthfulness of the complaint. (Unruh-Haxton v. Regents of Univ. of California (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 343, 365, as modified (May 15, 2008).) For purpose of the ruling on the demurrer, all facts pleaded in the complaint are assumed to be true, however improbable they may be. (CCP 422.10, 589.)

A demurrer can be used only to challenge defects that appear on the face of the pleading under attack; or from matters outside the pleading that are judicially noticeable. (Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311.) No other extrinsic evidence can be considered (i.e., no “speaking demurrers”). A demurrer is brought under Code of Civil Procedure 430.10 (grounds), 430.30 (as to any matter on its face or from which judicial notice may be taken), and 430.50(a) (can be taken to the entire complaint or any cause of action within).

A demurrer may be brought under Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10, subdivision (e) if insufficient facts are stated to support the cause of action asserted. A demurrer for uncertainty may be brought pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10, subdivision (f). “A demurrer for uncertainty is strictly construed, even where a complaint is in some respects uncertain, because ambiguities can be clarified under modern discovery procedures.” (Khoury v. Maly’s of California, Inc. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 612, 616.) “In general, ‘demurrers for uncertainty are disfavored, and are granted only if the pleading is so incomprehensible that a defendant cannot reasonably respond.’” (Lickiss v. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 1125, 1135.)

The demurring party must file with the court, and serve on the other party, the: (1) demurrer; (2) notice of hearing; (3) memorandum of points and authorities; and (4) proof of service. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1112(a), rule 3.1300(c), rule 3.1320; Code Civ. Proc., 1005(b).) “A demurrer shall distinctly specify the grounds upon which any of the objections to the complaint . . . are taken. Unless it does so, it may be disregarded.” (CCP 430.60.)

B. Discussion

1. Second Cause of Action for Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

The elements of a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claim include the existence of a contractual relationship between the parties, an implied duty, breach, and causation of damages. The covenant of good faith and fair dealing, implied by law in every contract, exists merely to prevent one contracting party from unfairly frustrating the other party's right to receive the benefits of the agreement actually made. The covenant thus cannot be endowed with an existence independent of its contractual underpinnings. It cannot impose substantive duties or limits on the contracting parties beyond those incorporated in the specific terms of their agreement. (Guz v. Bechtel Nat. Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 317, 349–350 (cleaned up).)

“Every contract imposes on each party a duty of good faith and fair dealing in each performance and in its enforcement. Simply stated, the burden imposed is that neither party will do anything which will injure the right of the other to receive the benefits of the agreement. Or, to put it another way, the implied covenant imposes upon each party the obligation to do everything that the contract presupposes they will do to accomplish its purpose. This rule was developed in the contract arena and is aimed at making effective the agreement's promises. The precise nature and extent of the duty imposed ... will depend on the contractual purposes. (Carson v. Mercury Ins. Co. (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 409, 429 (cleaned up).)

Flores’ complaint articulates the existence of a contract, Guzman’s duty under the contract, Guzman’s breach of that duty, and causation of damages. (Complaint, 26-34.) The Court finds that Flores’ Second Cause of Action states facts sufficient to state a cause of action; it is not uncertain. The Court rejects Guzman’s argument that Flores’ Second Cause of Action “relies on the same set of charging allegations as its claim for breach of contract and requests the same relief.” (Demurrer, MPA, p. 3:19-20.) Flores’ Second Cause of Action emphasizes Guzman’s alleged interference with Flores’ right to benefit from the contract. (Complaint, 30.) Flores’ First Cause of Action for Breach of Contract carries no such emphasis.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Second Cause of Action for Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing is OVERRULED.

2. Third Cause of Action for Money Had and Received

A cause of action is stated for money had and received if the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in a certain sum for money had and received by the defendant for the use of the plaintiff. (Gutierrez v. Girardi (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 925, 937 (cleaned up).)

Flores’ Third Cause of Action adequately pleads Guzman owes Flores money given allegations that stem from their alleged contract but fails to plead facts sufficient to establish that Flores transferred possession of any sum to Guzman for Flores’ benefit. Flores does not allege that Guzman received money that belongs to Flores; rather the allegations suggest that Guzman owes Flores a debt given contractual obligations. The Court finds such allegations insufficient to constitute a cause of action under CCP 430.10(e).

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Third Cause of Action for Money Had and Received is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

3. Fifth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment

“The elements for a claim of unjust enrichment are receipt of a benefit and unjust retention of the benefit at the expense of another. The theory of unjust enrichment requires one who acquires a benefit which may not justly be retained, to return either the thing or its equivalent to the aggrieved party so as not to be unjustly enriched." (Lyles v. Sangadeo-Patel (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 759, 769 (cleaned up).)

The Court finds that Flores’ Complaint adequately pleads that Guzman received a benefit and unjustly retained the benefit at Flores’ expense. (Complaint, 51-57.) However, the benefit Guzman allegedly retained without just compensation were Flores’ horse training services. (Complaint, 8, 10.) Flores’ Fifth Cause of Action states allegations that depend on and duplicate of Flores’ breach of contract claim. The Court finds the allegations made in Flores’ Fifth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment insufficient to constitute a cause of action under CCP 430.10(e).

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Fifth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

4. Sixth Cause of Action for Promissory Estoppel

The elements of a promissory estoppel claim are (1) a promise clear and unambiguous in its terms; (2) reliance by the party to whom the promise is made; (3) [the] reliance must be both reasonable and foreseeable; and (4) the party asserting the estoppel must be injured by his reliance. (Jones v. Wachovia Bank (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 935, 945 (cleaned up).)

Flores’ Sixth Cause of Action adequately pleads Guzman’s alleged clear and unambiguous promise to compensate Flores for his professional horse training services, Flores’ reasonable and foreseeable reliance on this promise, and Flores’ injury, caused by this reliance. (Complaint, 58-67.) However, the Court finds the promissory estoppel doctrine inapplicable to circumstances where the promisee’s reliance was bargained for. (Healy v. Brewster (1963) 59 Cal.2d 455, 463.) The purpose of the promissory estoppel doctrine “is to make a promise binding, under certain circumstances, without consideration in the usual sense of something bargained for and given in exchange. If the promisee's performance was requested at the time the promisor made his promise and that performance was bargained for, the doctrine is inapplicable.” (Avidity Partners, LLC v. State of California (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 1180, 1209.)

Breach of contract claims may not stem from the same facts as a promissory estoppel claim. The Court finds Flores’ promissory estoppel allegations fail to state sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action under CCP 430.10(e).

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Sixth Cause of Action for Promissory Estoppel is SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

5. Seventh Cause of Action for Defamation

The elements of a defamation claim are (1) a publication that is (2) false, (3) defamatory, (4) unprivileged, and (5) has a natural tendency to injure or causes special damage. (J-M Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. Phillips & Cohen LLP (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 87, 97.)

Flores’ Seventh Cause of Action adequately alleges sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action for defamation, as it alleges publication of false, defamatory, and unprivileged statements to third parties that harmed the reputation of Flores’ and his business. Guzman’s argument that Flores failed to specify a claim of malice beyond “a general assertion . . . verbose and boilerplate allegations” suggest a particularity requirement that is not applied to defamation claims on demurrer. (Demurrer, MPA, p. 8:18-26.) The Court finds that Flores’ Seventh Cause of Action for Defamation states facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action and is not uncertain.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Seventh Cause of Action for Defamation is OVERRULED.

6. Eighth Cause of Action for Intentional Misrepresentation

The essential elements of a count for intentional misrepresentation are (1) a misrepresentation, (2) knowledge of falsity, (3) intent to induce reliance, (4) actual and justifiable reliance, and (5) resulting damage. The essential elements of a count for negligent misrepresentation are the same except that it does not require knowledge of falsity but instead requires a misrepresentation of fact by a person who has no reasonable grounds for believing it to be true. Each element of a fraud count must be pleaded with particularity so as to apprise the defendant of the specific grounds for the charge and enable the court to determine whether there is any basis for the cause of action, although less specificity is required if the defendant would likely have greater knowledge of the facts than the plaintiff. (Chapman v. Skype Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 217, 230–231 (cleaned up).)

Flores’ Eighth Cause of Action adequately references alleged Guzman misrepresentations, Guzman’s alleged knowledge of the falsity of these alleged representations, Guzman’s intent to induce Flores’ reliance on these alleged misrepresentations, actual and justifiable reliance on Guzman’s alleged misrepresentations, and resulting damage from Guzman’s alleged misrepresentations. (Complaint, 78-84.) Guzman’s argument that Flores’ pleading fails to specifically identify the specific content of the alleged misrepresentations, Guzman’s audience for these alleged statements, and why the statements were false is unpersuasive. Flores notes entry into an oral contract with Guzman on July 1, 2021, the express terms of this oral contract including Flores’ and Guzman’s responsibilities under the contract, and Guzman’s alleged breach of the contract. (Demurrer, MPA, p. 9:17-18; Complaint, 9-11.) The substance of the alleged oral contract between Flores and Guzman is adequately rendered sufficient to meet the particularity requirement for fraud claims.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Eighth Cause of Action for Intentional Misrepresentation is OVERRULED.

7. Ninth Cause of Action for Unfair Business Practices

By proscribing any unlawful business practice, section 17200 borrows violations of other laws and treats them as unlawful practices that the unfair competition law makes independently actionable. ... The statutory language referring to any unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent practice makes clear that a practice may be deemed unfair even if not specifically proscribed by some other law. Because Business and Professions Code section 17200 is written in the disjunctive, it establishes three varieties of unfair competition—acts or practices which are unlawful, or unfair, or fraudulent. In other words, a practice is prohibited as “unfair” or “deceptive” even if not “unlawful” and vice versa. (Cel-Tech Communications, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 163, 180 (cleaned up).)

The Court finds that existing causes of action for Breach of Contract, Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Defamation, and Intentional Misrepresentation provide adequate allegations upon which Flores may allege Unfair Business Practices under Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq.

However, B&P 17200 only prescribes unlawful business practices. Defendant is not a business, but an individual. Therefore, Plaintiff cannot maintain this cause of action against Defendant Guzman.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Ninth Cause of Action for Unfair Business Practices is SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

IV. CONCLUSION

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Second Cause of Action for Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing is OVERRULED.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Third Cause of Action for Money Had and Received is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Fifth Cause of Action for Unjust Enrichment is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Sixth Cause of Action for Promissory Estoppel is SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Seventh Cause of Action for Defamation is OVERRULED.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Eighth Cause of Action for Intentional Misrepresentation is OVERRULED.

Defendant Guadalupe Guzman’s demurrer to the Ninth Cause of Action for Unfair Business Practices is SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND



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