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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/03/2019 at 00:44:07 (UTC).

KATE GELLER VS STRONG ARM GROUP LLC ET AL

Case Summary

On 03/26/2018 KATE GELLER filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against STRONG ARM GROUP LLC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is TERESA A. BEAUDET. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****9631

  • Filing Date:

    03/26/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

TERESA A. BEAUDET

 

Party Details

Plaintiff, Petitioner and Cross Defendant

GELLER KATE

Defendants, Respondents and Cross Plaintiffs

FELDMAN JOSEPH

KIPE ERIC YOHAN

STRONG ARM GROUP LLC

DOES 1-50

KNIPE ERIC YOHAN

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorney

LYON DEVON M. ESQ.

Defendant Attorney

ALTHOLZ ANDREW P.

 

Court Documents

DECLARATION OF DEMURRING PARTY IN SUPPORT OF AUTOMATIC EXTENSION

5/25/2018: DECLARATION OF DEMURRING PARTY IN SUPPORT OF AUTOMATIC EXTENSION

NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

6/21/2018: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

PLAINTIFF'S SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR: 1. BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT; AND 2. CONSTRUCTIVE FRAUD.

7/3/2018: PLAINTIFF'S SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR: 1. BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT; AND 2. CONSTRUCTIVE FRAUD.

Minute Order

7/23/2018: Minute Order

Notice

11/2/2018: Notice

Memorandum of Costs (Summary)

1/10/2019: Memorandum of Costs (Summary)

Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment

3/12/2019: Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment

Opposition

5/1/2019: Opposition

Reply

5/7/2019: Reply

Declaration

5/7/2019: Declaration

Notice of Ruling

5/14/2019: Notice of Ruling

Order

5/14/2019: Order

Amended Complaint

5/16/2019: Amended Complaint

General Denial

6/21/2019: General Denial

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

4/10/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR: 1. BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

3/29/2018: PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR: 1. BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

SUMMONS

3/26/2018: SUMMONS

PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR: 1. BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

3/26/2018: PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR: 1. BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

33 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/27/2019
  • Cross-Complaint; Filed by Strong Arm Group, LLC (Cross-Complainant)

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  • 06/21/2019
  • General Denial (Third Amended Complaint); Filed by Joseph Feldman (Defendant); Eric Yohan Knipe (Defendant); Strong Arm Group, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 05/16/2019
  • Amended Complaint (3rd); Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/16/2019
  • Complaint (3rd); Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/14/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 50, Teresa A. Beaudet, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment (CCP 473) - Held

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  • 05/14/2019
  • Notice of Ruling; Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/14/2019
  • Order (Motion to Set Aside Judgment)

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  • 05/14/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Judgment (CCP 473))); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/07/2019
  • Reply (to Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Set Aside the Judgment Entered February 19, 2019); Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/07/2019
  • Declaration (of Devon M. Lyon in Support of Plaintiff's Notice of Motion and Motion to Set Aside the Judgment Entered on February 19, 2019 Against Plaintiff, Kate Geller); Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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56 More Docket Entries
  • 04/11/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 04/11/2018
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 04/10/2018
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/10/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 03/29/2018
  • PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR: 1. BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

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  • 03/29/2018
  • First Amended Complaint; Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/29/2018
  • Complaint (1st); Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/26/2018
  • Complaint; Filed by Kate Geller (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/26/2018
  • PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR: 1. BREACH OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

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  • 03/26/2018
  • SUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC699631    Hearing Date: March 17, 2021    Dept: 50

 

 

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 50

kate geller,

Plaintiff,

vs.

strong arm group llc, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC 699631

Hearing Date:

March 17, 2021

Hearing Time:

2:00 p.m.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

DEFENDANT JOSEPH FELDMAN’S DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF KATE GELLER’S FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT

AND RELATED CROSS-ACTION

Background

Plaintiff Kate Geller (“Geller”) filed this action on March 26, 2018, against Defendants Strong Arm Group, LLC (“Strong Arm”), Eric Yohan Knipe (“Knipe”), and Joseph Feldman (“Feldman”). The operative Fourth Amended Complaint (“4AC”) was filed on August 17, 2020, and asserts causes of action for breach of settlement agreement and fraud.

Geller alleges that on January 30, 2018, she resolved a pre-litigation employment dispute in mediation, with Feldman representing Strong Arm. (4AC, ¶ 10.) The parties entered into a settlement agreement (signed by Feldman on behalf of Strong Arm) which provided for a payment of $65,000 to Geller in four installments: $10,000 by February 28, 2018, $10,000 by March 28, 2018, $10,000 by April 28,2 018, and $35,000 by May 28, 2018. (4AC, ¶ 11, Ex. A.) The agreement also provided for a liquidated damages penalty of $5,000 for every failure to make a payment by the deadlines identified. (4AC, ¶ 12.) Geller alleges that Strong Arm failed to make each of the four payments by the deadlines and incurred a $5,000 penalty for each missed payment. (4AC, ¶ 13.)

Feldman now demurs to both causes of action. Geller opposes.

Demurrer

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, 318.) “To survive a demurrer, the complaint need only allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action; each evidentiary fact that might eventually form part of the plaintiff's proof need not be alleged.” (C.A. v. William S. Hart Union High School Dist. (2012) 53 Cal.4th 861, 872.) For the purpose of testing the sufficiency of the cause of action, the demurrer admits the truth of all material facts properly pleaded. (Aubry v. Tri-City Hospital Dist. (1992) 2 Cal.4th 962, 966-967.) A demurrer “does not admit contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law.” (Daar v. Yellow Cab Co. (1967) 67 Cal.2d 695, 713.)

Feldman contends that the breach of contract cause of action must fail pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10, subdivision (a), pertaining to the court’s jurisdiction of the subject of the cause of action. Feldman argues that because the contract upon which Geller bases her breach of contract cause of action contains a binding arbitration requirement, and therefore, Geller is estopped from pursuing her claims against Feldman in a court of law. The Court notes that Feldman cites to no binding authority for the proposition that the existence of an arbitration agreement in a contract divests a court of jurisdiction to hear a case. The Court further notes that Feldman also offers no binding authority for the proposition that principles of estoppel apply to bar a contract claim where the underlying contract contains an arbitration provision. Indeed, as noted by Geller, the appropriate procedure for enforcing an arbitration agreement is set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.2. Feldman also contends that Geller has violated the confidentiality provisions in the underlying contract, but this is similarly not a recognized basis for demurring to a cause of action.

Alternatively, Feldman contends that the breach of contract claim must fail because there is no allegation that Geller performed or was excused from nonperformance or that Feldman failed to perform his obligations. Exhibit A (the settlement agreement) sets forth the terms of the agreement at issue, and it provides that in exchange for $65,000, Geller was releasing and waiving her claims arising out of her employment with Strong Arm. (4AC, ¶ 11, Ex. A, § 4.) The agreement was executed by Geller. The Court finds that Geller sufficiently alleged her performance under the agreement. Moreover, the Court finds that Geller has sufficiently alleged Feldman’s nonperformance. Geller alleges that all defendants, including Feldman, failed to pay the required payments under the settlement agreement. (4AC, ¶ 26.) Therefore, the demurrer to the breach of contract cause of action is overruled.

Next, Feldman argues that the cause of action for fraud fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action because the allegations are convoluted or conclusory. To plead a cause of action for fraud, a plaintiff must plead facts showing the following elements: (1) misrepresentation, (2) knowledge of falsity, (3) intent to defraud, (4) justifiable reliance, and (5) resulting damage. (Charnay v. Cobert (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 170, 184.) In Lazar v. Superior Court (1996) 12 Cal.4th 631, 645, the Supreme Court of California addressed the requirement that “fraud must be pled specifically; general and conclusory allegations do not suffice.” The Lazar court explained that “[t]his particularity requirement necessitates pleading facts which ‘show how, when, where, to whom, and by what means the representations were tendered.’ [Citation omitted.]” (Ibid. [emphasis in original].)  

The Court finds that the fraud allegations are sufficiently pleaded. Geller alleges that at mediation, Feldman represented that he had the authority to bind Strong Arm to any settlement. (4AC, ¶ 30.) This representation was false because Strong Arm later took the position that Feldman did not have such authority. (4AC, ¶ 29.) Moreover, Feldman and Strong Arm knew that Feldman’s representation was false. (4AC, ¶ 33.) Geller alleges that if she had known that Feldman did not have authority to bind Strong Arm, she would not have agreed to split the costs of mediation, submit to a pre-litigation mediation, and enter into a settlement with Strong Arm. (4AC, ¶ 32.) Geller alleges that she was harmed by entering into a settlement based on the false representation. (4AC, ¶ 35.)

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Feldman’s demurrer is overruled in its entirety.

Feldman is ordered to file and serve his answer within 10 days of the date of this Order.

Geller is ordered to give notice of this ruling.

DATED: March 17, 2021 ________________________________

Hon. Teresa A. Beaudet

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

Case Number: BC699631    Hearing Date: November 06, 2020    Dept: 50

 

 

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 50

kate geller,

Plaintiff,

vs.

strong arm group llc, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC 699631

Hearing Date:

November 6, 2020

Hearing Time:

2:00 p.m.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

STRONG ARM GROUP LLC & ERIC KNIPE’S DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF’S FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT

AND RELATED CROSS-ACTION

Background

Plaintiff Kate Geller (“Geller”) filed this action on March 26, 2018, against Defendants Strong Arm Group, LLC (“Strong Arm”), Eric Yohan Knipe (“Knipe”), and Joseph Feldman (“Feldman”). The operative Fourth Amended Complaint (“4AC”) was filed on August 17, 2020, and asserts causes of action for breach of settlement agreement and fraud.

Geller alleges that on January 30, 2018, she resolved a pre-litigation employment dispute in mediation, with Feldman representing Strong Arm. (4AC, ¶ 10.) The parties entered into a settlement agreement (signed by Feldman on behalf of Strong Arm) which provided for a payment of $65,000 to Geller in four installments: $10,000 by February 28, 2018, $10,000 by March 28, 2018, $10,000 by April 28,2 018, and $35,000 by May 28, 2018. (4AC, ¶ 11, Ex. A.) The agreement also provided for a liquidated damages penalty of $5,000 for every failure to make a payment by the deadlines identified. (4AC, ¶ 12.) Geller alleges that Strong Arm failed to make each of the four payments by the deadlines and incurred a $5,000 penalty for each missed payment. (4AC, ¶ 13.)

Strong Arm and Knipe (“jointly, “Defendants”) now demur to the fraud cause of action for failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. Geller opposes.

Meet and Confer

The Court notes that counsel for Defendants filed a meet and confer declaration stating that he met and conferred by telephone with counsel for Plaintiff regarding the demurrer, and that counsel for Plaintiff filed an opposing declaration stating that no such meet and confer occurred. The Court admonishes counsel to comply with the meet and confer requirements, but in this instance, the Court exercises its discretion to consider the merits of the demurrer.

Demurrer

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, 318.) “To survive a demurrer, the complaint need only allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action; each evidentiary fact that might eventually form part of the plaintiff's proof need not be alleged.” (C.A. v. William S. Hart Union High School Dist. (2012) 53 Cal.4th 861, 872.) For the purpose of testing the sufficiency of the cause of action, the demurrer admits the truth of all material facts properly pleaded. (Aubry v. Tri-City Hospital Dist. (1992) 2 Cal.4th 962, 966-967.) A demurrer “does not admit contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law.” (Daar v. Yellow Cab Co. (1967) 67 Cal.2d 695, 713.)

To plead a cause of action for fraud, a plaintiff must plead facts showing the following elements: (1) misrepresentation, (2) knowledge of falsity, (3) intent to defraud, (4) justifiable reliance, and (5) resulting damage. (Charnay v. Cobert (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 170, 184.) In Lazar v. Superior Court (1996) 12 Cal.4th 631, 645, the Supreme Court of California addressed the requirement that “fraud must be pled specifically; general and conclusory allegations do not suffice.” The Lazar court explained that “[t]his particularity requirement necessitates pleading facts which ‘show how, when, where, to whom, and by what means the representations were tendered.’ [Citation omitted.]” (Ibid. [emphasis in original].)  

Defendants contend that the fraud cause of action must fail because Geller has not alleged that either Strong Arm or Knipe made any misrepresentations to her. Defendants also contend that Geller has failed to allege detrimental reliance because she went to mediation to try and settle her claim and did so.

The fraud cause of action appears to be based on two separate alleged misrepresentations. First, Geller alleges that at mediation, Feldman represented that he had the authority to bind Strong Arm to any settlement. (4AC, ¶ 30.) This representation was apparently false because Strong Arm later took the position that Feldman did not have such authority. (4AC, ¶ 29.) Geller alleges that if she had known that Feldman did not have authority to bind Strong Arm, she would not have agreed to split the costs of mediation, submit to a pre-litigation mediation, and enter into a settlement with Strong Arm. (4AC, ¶ 32.)

Second, Geller alleges that on March 5, 2018, after Strong Arm missed settlement payments, Feldman represented that Strong Arm intended to comply with the terms of the settlement. (4AC, ¶ 31.) This representation was also false because Strong Arm never intended to comply with the terms of the settlement. (4AC, ¶ 31.)

Both “misrepresentations” are alleged to have been made by Feldman. Nevertheless, Geller argues in her opposition that Feldman was an owner of Strong Arm. (4AC, ¶ 5.) The Court also notes that Geller alleges that the individual defendants were acting as agents for Strong Arm in all of their dealings with Geller. (4AC, ¶ 9.) Based on this, Geller contends that Feldman was speaking on behalf Strong Arm when he made the alleged misrepresentations. While the Court finds that this is sufficient to attach liability to Strong Arm, Geller does not argue that Feldman made any representations on behalf of Knipe, nor has Geller alleged that Feldman had any authority to make representations on behalf of Knipe.

As for whether Geller has alleged detrimental reliance, the Court finds that she has, at least with regard to the first alleged misrepresentation. Geller alleges that she would not have agreed to settle with Strong Arm if she knew that Strong Arm would later take the position that Feldman did not have authority to bind Strong Arm to the settlement. Instead, she would have opted to pursue the claims that were the subject matter of the mediation. (4AC, ¶ 10.)

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Defendants’ demurrer is sustained in part and overruled in part. The demurrer to the second cause of action is sustained as to Knipe, with leave to amend, but overruled as to Strong Arm.

The Court orders Geller to file and serve an amended complaint, if any, within 20 days of this Order. If no amended complaint is filed within 20 days of this Order, Defendants are ordered to file and serve their answer within 30 days of this Order.

Defendants are ordered to give notice of this ruling.

DATED: November 6, 2020 ________________________________

Hon. Teresa A. Beaudet

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

Case Number: BC699631    Hearing Date: August 12, 2020    Dept: 50

 

 

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 50

kate geller,

Plaintiff,

vs.

strong arm group, llc, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC 699631

Hearing Date:

August 12, 2020

Hearing Time:

10:00 a.m.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

KATE GELLER’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT

Background

Plaintiff Kate Geller (“Geller”) filed this action on March 26, 2018 against Defendants Strong Arm Group, LLC (“SAG”), Eric Yohan Knipe, and Joseph Feldman (“Feldman”) (collectively, “Defendants”). The operative Third Amended Complaint was filed on May 16, 2019 and asserts one cause of action for breach of settlement agreement.

Geller now moves for leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint to allege a cause of action for fraud. The motion is unopposed.

Discussion

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (a)(1), “[t]he court may, in furtherance of justice, and on any terms as may be proper, allow a party to amend any pleading.” Amendment may be allowed at any time before or after commencement of trial. ((Code Civ. Proc., § 576.) “[T]he court’s discretion will usually be exercised liberally to permit amendment of the pleadings. The policy favoring amendment is so strong that it is a rare case in which denial of leave to amend can be justified.” (Howard v. County of San Diego (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 1422, 1428 (internal citations omitted).) “If the motion to amend is timely made and the granting of the motion will not prejudice the opposing party, it is error to refuse permission to amend….” (Morgan v. Sup. Ct. (1959) 172 Cal.App.2d 527, 530.) Prejudice includes “delay in trial, loss of critical evidence, or added costs of preparation.” (Solit v. Tokai Bank, Ltd. New York Branch (1999) 68 Cal.App.4th 1435, 1448.)

A motion to amend a pleading before trial must include a copy of the proposed amendment or amended pleading, which must be serially numbered to differentiate it from previous pleadings or amendments. ((Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1324(a).) The motion must also state what allegations are proposed to be deleted or added, by page, paragraph, and line number. ((Ibid. .) Finally, a separate supporting declaration specifying the effect of the amendment, why the amendment is necessary and proper, when the facts giving rise to the amended allegations were discovered, and the reason why the request for amendment was not made earlier must also accompany the motion. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.134(b).)

Geller alleges that she and SAG settled an employment dispute on January 30, 2018. The settlement agreement was signed by Feldman on SAG’s behalf. However, after SAG missed certain settlement payments, Geller filed the instant lawsuit. In their defense, Defendants claim that Feldman lacked authority to enter into any settlement agreement with Geller on behalf of SAG. Consequently, Geller seeks to add a cause of action for fraud, alleging that Defendants had no intent to ever honor the terms of the settlement agreement. A copy of the proposed Fourth Amended Complaint is attached to the Declaration of Devon M. Lyon as Exhibit A.

In light of the fact that the motion is unopposed, the Court finds that Geller has demonstrated good cause for the amendment and that Defendants will not be prejudiced by the amendment.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Geller’s motion is granted. The Court orders Geller to file and serve the Fourth Amended Complaint within three days of the date of this order.

Geller is ordered to give notice of this Order.

DATED: August 12, 2020

________________________________

Hon. Teresa A. Beaudet

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

Case Number: BC699631    Hearing Date: January 27, 2020    Dept: 50

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 50

kate geller,

Plaintiff,

vs.

strongarm group Llc, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC 699631

Hearing Date:

January 27, 2020

Hearing Time:

8:30 a.m.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

MOTION TO BE RELIEVED AS COUNSEL

AND RELATED CROSS-ACTION

Andrew P. Altholz (“Counsel”) moves to be relieved as counsel for Defendant Joseph Lewis Feldman. The Court finds that Counsel has complied with the relevant procedural requirements (CRC 3.1362) and has provided sufficient reason for withdrawal. Accordingly, the Court grants the motion.

Counsel is ordered to give notice of this order.

DATED: January 27, 2020 ________________________________

Hon. Teresa A. Beaudet

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

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