On 07/31/2017 JOEL REYNOZO filed a Labor - Wrongful Termination lawsuit against GH TRANSPORTATION INC. 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 JOHNSON. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
GH TRANSPORTATION INC
DOES 1 TO 50
ROTHMAN JAY S. ESQ.
MOGHADDAMI ALI R. ESQ.
2/14/2018: NOTICE OF CASE REASSIGNMENT AND OF ORDER FOR PLAINTIFF TO GIVE NOTICE
6/8/2018: Minute Order
6/8/2018: Minute Order
6/15/2018: NOTICE OF RULING
7/31/2018: NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF ENTIRE CASE
8/2/2018: ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DISMISSAL
11/29/2017: Minute Order
12/4/2017: PLAINTIFF'S NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES
10/25/2017: NOTICE OF RULING ON DEMURRER TO COUNTS 2 THROUGH 6, INCLUSIVE, OF COMPLAINT
10/25/2017: Minute Order
11/2/2017: DEFENDANT G-H TRANSPORTATION, INC.'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINT
10/12/2017: PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT; ETC
10/16/2017: DEFENDANT G-H TRANSPORTATION, INC.'S REPLY IN SUPPORT DEMURRER; DECLARATION OF MARK D. LICKER
10/23/2017: Proof of Service
9/12/2017: DEFENDANT G-H TRANSPORTATION, INC.'S NOTICE OF DEMURRER AND DEMURRER TO COUNTS 2 THROUGH 6, INCLUSIVE, OF COMPLAINT DECLARATION OF MARK D. LICKER
at 09:30 AM in Department 56; Jury Trial (Jury Trial; Case Deemed Settled) -Read MoreRead Less
at 08:30 AM in Department 56; Final Status Conference (Final Status Conference; Case Deemed Settled) -Read MoreRead Less
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: DISMISSALRead MoreRead Less
Order to Show Cause re: Dismissal (Settlement); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF ENTIRE CASERead MoreRead Less
Notice of Settlement; Filed by Joel Reynozo (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Notice of Ruling; Filed by Joel Reynozo (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
NOTICE OF RULINGRead MoreRead Less
at 08:31 AM in Department 56; Status Conference - HeldRead MoreRead Less
Minute OrderRead MoreRead Less
PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Joel Reynozo (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARINGRead MoreRead Less
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARINGRead MoreRead Less
NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCERead MoreRead Less
OSC-Failure to File Proof of Serv; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Joel Reynozo (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. WRONGFUL TERMINATION IN VIOLATION OF PUBLIC POLICY (GOVERNMENT CODE 12940, ET SEQ.); ETCRead MoreRead Less
SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC670537 Hearing Date: October 09, 2020 Dept: 56
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT
JOEL REYNOZO, etc.,
G-H TRANSPORTATION, INC., etc., et al.,
CASE NO.: BC670537
[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT AND FOR ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
Date: October 9, 2020
Time: 8:30 a.m.
MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Joel Reynozo
RESPONDING PARTY: Defendant G-H Transportation, Inc. (“GHT”)
The Court has considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers.
Plaintiff’s complaint arises from Plaintiff’s alleged wrongful termination, and alleges causes of action against Defendant GHT for: (1) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; (2) discrimination based upon disability; (3) failure to accommodate; (4) failure to engage in the interactive process; (5) retaliation; (6) failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation; (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (8) violation of wage and hour laws—unpaid overtime wages; (9) violation of wage and hour laws—waiting time penalties; (10) failure to provide accurate wage statements; and (11) unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professions Code, Section 17200, et seq.
Declaration of Plaintiff’s Counsel
According to the declaration of Plaintiff’s counsel, Jay S. Rothman (“Rothman”), on July 10, 2018, Plaintiff and GHT entered into and each signed a written settlement agreement (the “Settlement Agreement”) which stated that: (1) GHT would pay the sum of $50,000.00 (Rothman Decl., ¶¶ 3-4 and Exhibit A); (2) an initial payment of $20,000.00 would be paid within 30 days of the date of execution of the Settlement Agreement and payment was to be made to the Jay Rothman & Associates Client Trust Account (Id., Exhibit A at § 1); (3) the remaining $30,000.00 balance was to be made in 12 equal monthly installment payments of $2,500.00 (Id.); (4) each $2,500.00 installment payment would be due on the 15th day of the month until the balance was paid in full (Id.); (5) the Court would retain jurisdiction over the parties to enforce the Settlement Agreement pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 664.6 until full performance of the terms of the Settlement Agreement (Id., Exhibit A at § 12); and (6) the Settlement Agreement could be disclosed for the purpose of enforcing the Settlement Agreement. (Id., Exhibit A at § 7.)
Rothman also declares that: (1) as stated in paragraph 9 of the Settlement Agreement, the parties anticipated that further documents would be prepared and he received a long-form settlement agreement (the “Long Form Settlement Agreement”) from GHT’s attorney, Ali R. Moghaddami (“Moghaddami”) (Id. at ¶ 5 and Exhibit B); and (2) Plaintiff executed the Long Form Settlement Agreement, which provided, among other things, that in the event GHT refused to make the payments set forth in the Settlement Agreement, Plaintiff could apply for entry of judgment in the amount of $60,000.00 less credit for any amounts paid by GHT. (Id. at ¶ 6.)
Rothman further declares that GHT has refused to perform under the terms of the Settlement Agreement by: (1) refusing to execute the Long Form Settlement Agreement; (2) failing to make timely payments in various months; and (3) having been notified of its breach and the triggering of the additional $10,000.00 that was due upon breach, failing to pay the additional payment of $10,000.00. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8.)
Declaration of GHT’s Counsel
Moghaddami declares that: (1) he does not contest that the Settlement Agreement was executed (Moghaddami Decl. at ¶ 3); (2) although the Long Form Settlement Agreement is not signed by his client, such agreement is a fully typewritten version of the Settlement Agreement (Id.); (3) Plaintiff has violated the confidentiality clauses set forth in both the Long Form Settlement Agreement and the Settlement Agreement by filing the present motion without filing such documents under seal or seeking to seal the record (Id.); (4) the Settlement Agreement provides for his client’s total payment of $50,000.00 and both agreements provide for a penalty of $10,000.00 in the event that his client did not make a payment when due (Id. at ¶ 4); and (5) even per the declaration of Rothman, the total of payments made to date is $50,000.00. (Id. at ¶ 5.)
The Current Motion
Plaintiff filed a motion to enforce settlement and for entry of judgment pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, which is dated July 10, 2018 between Plaintiff and GHT. Plaintiff’s motion is made on the grounds that GHT has breached the Settlement Agreement by failing to perform under the terms of such agreement by failing to make timely payments thereunder.
GHT opposes Plaintiff’s motion on the grounds that: (1) by disclosing the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Plaintiff has breached the Settlement Agreement and should therefore be barred from further enforcement; and (2) the provision for an increase of $10,000.00 in the event of default by GHT is an unenforceable penalty because GHT has already paid the full amount of the settlement.
Initially, the Court finds that Plaintiff is seeking to enforce the Settlement Agreement, not the Long Form Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement does contain, in handwritten text, a provision that in the event of a default by GHT, a $10,000.00 payment shall become due. The Court’s analysis with respect to this order will be based only on the Settlement Agreement and not on the Long Form Settlement Agreement.
GHT’s Tertiary Argument
The Court rejects GHT’s argument that Plaintiff breached the confidentiality provision of the Settlement Agreement by filing such agreement publicly and not under seal. Section 7 of the Settlement Agreement clearly provides for disclosure of the agreement for purposes of enforcing the Settlement Agreement.
Under California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 664.6 “[i]f parties to pending litigation stipulate, in a writing signed by the parties outside the presence of the court or orally before the court, for settlement of the case, or part thereof, the court, upon motion, may enter judgment pursuant to the terms of the settlement. If requested by the parties, the court may retain jurisdiction over the parties to enforce settlement until performance in full of the terms of the settlement.” Settlement language cannot “purport[t] to vest the trial court with retained jurisdiction after . . . dismissal.” (Hagan Engineering, Inc. v. Mills (2003) 115 Cal.App.4th 1004, 1008.) “[A] party must apprise the court, within the settlement agreement or otherwise, of the desire of the parties that the court retain jurisdiction of the case.” (Id.)
Issue No. 1: The Breach of the Settlement Agreement
A stipulation for settlement becomes “an unenforceable penalty if it bears no reasonable relationship to the range of actual damages that the parties have anticipated would flow from a breach. The amount set as liquidated damages must represent the result of a reasonable endeavor by the parties to estimate a fair average compensation for any loss that may be sustained.” (Purcell v. Schweitzer (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 969, 974-975.) “[T]he relevant breach to be analyzed is the breach of the stipulation, not the breach of the underlying contract.” (Id. at 975, emphasis added.) There must be an attempt to anticipate the damages that would result from the breach of the stipulation. (Id.) “A contractual provision imposing a penalty is ineffective, and the wronged party can collect only the actual damages sustained.” (Vitatech Internat., Inc. v. Sporn (2017) 16 Cal.App.5th 796, 806.) A stipulation for entry of judgment does not have to use the exact phrase liquidated damages but “its legal effect [can] [be] the same as a liquidated damages provision.” (Id.) “The characteristic feature of a penalty is its lack of proportional relation to the damages which may actually flow from failure to perform under a contract.” (Id. at 699.) “[A] provision in a contract liquidating the damages for the breach of the contract is valid unless the party seeking to invalidate the provision establishes that the provision was unreasonable under the circumstances existing at the time the contract was made.” (Greentree Financial Group, Inc. v. Execute Sports, Inc. (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 495, 499.)
Here, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not submitted sufficient evidence for the Court either: (1) to find that an entry of judgment in the amount of $60,000.00 when $50,000 has been paid is not a penalty; and (2) that the judgment amount bears a reasonable relationship to the actual damages Plaintiff has incurred because the Settlement Agreement was breached by late payment. There was no evidence presented by Plaintiff that would allow this Court to ascertain the amount of damages that was actually incurred by Plaintiff as a result of GHT’s breach of the Settlement Agreement, as required by Purcell. Such evidence would have had to support Also, the Court will not enforce a settlement agreement if such agreement is unjust. (Timney v. Lin (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 1121, 1122.) Here, although GHT made seven untimely installment payments, it is uncontested that GHT paid the full $50,000.00 it was required to pay under the Settlement Agreement. The Court finds that requiring GHT to pay an additional $10,000,00 and thus entering judgment in the amount of $60,000.00 would be unjust.
As such, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to enforce settlement and for entry of judgment.
Moving party is ordered to give notice of this ruling.
In consideration of the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Court strongly encourages that appearances on all proceedings, including this one, be made by LACourtConnect if the parties do not submit on the tentative. If you instead intend to make an appearance in person at Court on this matter, you must send an email by 2 p.m. on the last Court day before the scheduled date of the hearing to SMC_DEPT56@lacourt.org
Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SMC_DEPT56@lacourt.org as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. If the department does not receive an email and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion will be placed off calendar.
Dated this 9th day of October 2020
Hon. Holly J. Fujie
Judge of the Superior Court
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