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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/24/2020 at 10:15:43 (UTC).

VIRGINIA RAMIREZ, INDIVIDUALLY, ET AL. VS FLOWER STREET LOFTS, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 01/03/2019 VIRGINIA RAMIREZ, INDIVIDUALLY filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against FLOWER STREET LOFTS. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are MARC D. GROSS, JON R. TAKASUGI, DALILA CORRAL LYONS, HOLLY E. KENDIG and DAVID J. COWAN. The case status is Other.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******0929

  • Filing Date:

    01/03/2019

  • Case Status:

    Other

  • 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 Judges

MARC D. GROSS

JON R. TAKASUGI

DALILA CORRAL LYONS

HOLLY E. KENDIG

DAVID J. COWAN

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

RAMIREZ INDIVIDUALLY MANUEL

RAMIREZ INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUCCESSOR-IN-INTEREST TO LISA RAMIREZ DECEASED VIRGINIA

RAMIREZ INDIVIDUALLY RACHEL

RAMIREZ RACHEL

RAMIREZ MANUEL

RAMIREZ VIRGINIA

Defendants

FLOWER STREET LOFTS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION

SIENG DANI

TALLENT JENNIFER

LUC VANCE

FLOWER STREET LOFTS

PARTNERS COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT

PANICO DOE 2 DREW F.

REALTY SOURCE INCORPORATED DOE 3

LOFF LIVING LA DOE 4

TRENTMAN DOE 1 THEODORE J.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

KATZMAN MARC

Defendant Attorneys

EDWARDS KAMAU AYINDE

EDWARDS KAMAU A

SHYER LISA NOEL

WEBB VERONICA SMITH

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER)

4/14/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 04/14/2020

4/14/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 04/14/2020

Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

2/21/2020: Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10) OF D...)

2/26/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10) OF D...)

Order - RULING: FEBRUARY 26, 2020

2/26/2020: Order - RULING: FEBRUARY 26, 2020

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

12/19/2019: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

12/19/2019: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

Proof of Personal Service

12/23/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Motion to Strike (not initial pleading) - MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT INITIAL PLEADING) PUNITIVE DAMAGES

11/26/2019: Motion to Strike (not initial pleading) - MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT INITIAL PLEADING) PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10) TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

11/26/2019: Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10) TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Declaration - DECLARATION OF KATHRYN M. STERLING IN RESPONSE TO ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE WHY SANCTIONS SHOULD NOT BE IMPOSED FOR FAILURE TO FILE A PROOF OF SERVICE AS TO CERTAIN DEFENDANTS

10/15/2019: Declaration - DECLARATION OF KATHRYN M. STERLING IN RESPONSE TO ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE WHY SANCTIONS SHOULD NOT BE IMPOSED FOR FAILURE TO FILE A PROOF OF SERVICE AS TO CERTAIN DEFENDANTS

Case Management Statement

10/4/2019: Case Management Statement

Notice of Case Management Conference

10/2/2019: Notice of Case Management Conference

Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

8/19/2019: Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

7/16/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Request - Request For Exemption From Mandatory Electronic Filing and Service

2/22/2019: Request - Request For Exemption From Mandatory Electronic Filing and Service

Order - Order Of Exemption From Electronic Filing and Service

2/27/2019: Order - Order Of Exemption From Electronic Filing and Service

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for [Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates] and Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates

1/25/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for [Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates] and Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates

52 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/19/2020
  • Hearing06/19/2020 at 15:00 PM in Department 20 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Appearance Case Review

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  • 05/22/2020
  • DocketApplication for Determination of Good Faith Settlement; Filed by Flower Street Lofts (Defendant); Flower Street Lofts Homeowners Association (Defendant); Partners Community Management (Defendant)

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  • 05/21/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 20, David J. Cowan, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: (Failure to File Proof of Service as to NOT SERVED defendants on FAC) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 05/21/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 20, David J. Cowan, Presiding; Status Conference (ReSettlement) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 05/20/2020
  • DocketRequest for Dismissal (With Prejudice); Filed by Manuel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Virginia Ramirez (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/13/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 20, David J. Cowan, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) (**4/9/20 email MP *) - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 05/06/2020
  • Docketat 3:00 PM in Department 20, David J. Cowan, Presiding; Non-Appearance Case Review (Re status of Good Faith Settlement Filed 3/17/20- Proposed Order Submitted 4/13/20)

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  • 05/05/2020
  • Docketat 2:37 PM in Department 20, David J. Cowan, Presiding; Court Order

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  • 05/05/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Court Order)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/05/2020
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Court Order) of 05/05/2020); Filed by Clerk

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58 More Docket Entries
  • 02/20/2019
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 3, Holly E. Kendig, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Order (Motion for Order to Conform Filing Date of Complaint to Date of First Electronic Submission to the Court) - Not Held - Rescheduled by Party

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  • 01/25/2019
  • DocketStanding Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates; Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/25/2019
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ([Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates] and Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/22/2019
  • DocketMotion re: (Motion to Conform Filing Date of Complaint to Date of First Submission to Court; Memorandum of Points and Authorities; Declarations of Jen Perez and Marc Katzman); Filed by Manuel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Rachel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Virginia Ramirez (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/16/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 3, Holly E. Kendig, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (to Conform Filing Date of Complaint to Date of First Submission to Court;) - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 01/16/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ((Hearing on Ex Parte Application to Conform Filing Date of Com...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/11/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/03/2019
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Manuel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Rachel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Virginia Ramirez (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/03/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Manuel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Rachel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Virginia Ramirez (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/03/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Manuel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Rachel Ramirez (Plaintiff); Virginia Ramirez (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STCV00929    Hearing Date: February 26, 2020    Dept: 20

Tentative Ruling

Judge David J. Cowan

Department 20


Hearing Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Case Name: Virginia Ramirez, et al. v. Flower Street Lofts, et al.

Case No.: 19STCV00929

Motion: Demurrer with Motion to Strike

Moving Party: Defendants Flower Street Lofts et al.

Responding Party: Plaintiffs Virginia Ramirez and Manuel Ramirez

Notice: OK


Ruling: Defendants’ Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

Defendants’ Motion to Strike is GRANTED as to Page 8, Lines 3-5 and 22 of the FAC.

Plaintiffs are given 15 days leave to amend and then file a Second Amended Complaint.

Moving party to give notice.


BACKGROUND

On January 10, 2017, Lisa Ramirez (“Decedent”) was murdered by Michael Rogers, the boyfriend of tenant Jennifer Tallent, in Tallent’s rented unit at the Flower Street Lofts apartment/condo complex owned by Defendant Flower Street Lofts.

On January 3, 2019, Plaintiffs Virginia Ramirez and Manuel Ramirez (“Plaintiffs”) filed a Complaint asserting a wrongful death claim against Defendants Flower Street Lofts, the Flower Street Lofts Homeowners’ Association, Partners Community Management (together “Defendants”), and Tallent.

On November 7, 2019, Plaintiffs Virginia Ramirez and Manuel Ramirez filed their First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), the operative complaint, stating causes of action for wrongful death and survival damages against Defendants, and seeking punitive damages.

On November 26, 2019, Defendants filed their Demurrer to the FAC and Motion to Strike the prayer for punitive damages therein.

On February 10, 2020, Plaintiffs filed Oppositions to the Demurrer and Motion to Strike.

DISCUSSION

Applicable Law

A demurrer for sufficiency tests whether the complaint states a cause of action. (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747.) When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context, and “treat the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded, but not contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law.” (Serrano v. Priest (1971) 5 Cal.3d 584, 591) In a demurrer proceeding, the defects must be apparent on the face of the pleading or via proper judicial notice. (Donabedian v. Mercury Ins. Co. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 968, 994.) In determining whether a complaint states facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, “[t]he existence of a legal duty to use reasonable care in a particular factual situation is a question of law for the court to decide.” (Parson v. Crown Disposal Co. (1997) 15 Cal. 4th 456, 465)

“A landlord generally owes a tenant the duty, arising out of their special relationship, to take reasonable measures to secure areas under the landlord's control against foreseeable criminal acts of third parties. [Citations.] In each case, however, the existence and scope of a property owner's duty to protect against third party crime is a question of law for the court to resolve.” (Castaneda v. Olsher (2007) 41 Cal.4th 1205, 1213) The courts employ a “sliding-scale balancing formula” to determine the scope of a landlord’s duty to provide protection against third-party criminal acts. “[T]he scope of the duty is determined in part by balancing the foreseeability of the harm against the burden of the duty to be imposed. [Citation.] [I]n cases where the burden of preventing future harm is great, a high degree of foreseeability may be required. [Citation.] On the other hand, in cases where there are strong policy reasons for preventing the harm, or the harm can be prevented by simple means, a lesser degree of foreseeability may be required.” (Id. (internal quotes omitted)) Crucially, this analysis “requires the court in each case (whether trial or appellate) to identify the specific action or actions the plaintiff claims the defendant had a duty to undertake.” (Id. at 1214) “Only after the scope of the duty under consideration is defined may a court meaningfully undertake the balancing analysis of the risks and burdens present in a given case to determine whether the specific obligations should or should not be imposed on the landlord.” (Vasquez v. Residential Investments, Inc. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 269, 280)

Application to Facts

Here, Plaintiffs have failed to establish a duty for several reasons: 1) Plaintiffs have failed to allege any facts showing Defendants had knowledge of Rogers’s criminal history; 2) Plaintiffs have failed to specifically identify any measures Defendants should have taken to secure the common areas against Rogers’s “luring”; 4) Plaintiffs have not alleged any prior violent conduct on the premises by Rogers, Tallent, or their guests; and 5) Plaintiffs failed to specifically identify a single “prior similar incident of violent crime on the landowner’s premises.” (Ann M.)

Plaintiffs allege, “based on information and belief, [that] Defendants . . . rented/leased and continued to rent/lease Unit #107 to Tallent and Rogers with the knowledge that Rogers had moved-in either as an unauthorized guest or tenant with a violent and dangerous criminal background.” (FAC, ¶23) However, Plaintiffs fail to plead any facts as to how Defendants came to know of Rogers’s “violent and dangerous criminal background.” Instead, Plaintiffs allege Defendants received several complaints as to Rogers and Tallent re: “[o]bservations of suspicious activities; [o]bservations of drug activities; [o]bservations of illegal drug trafficking; [o]bservations [that] Rogers and Tallent were under the influence of drugs or intoxicants; [and] [n]otice and awareness that Rogers may have been an unauthorized tenant or occupant of Unit #107.” (FAC, ¶ 21) Critically, Plaintiffs do NOT allege Defendants ever received a complaint about Rogers engaging in violent behavior on the premises, or allege any other way Defendants came to know of Rogers’ violent history. Even if the Court takes as true Plaintiff’s allegation that Defendants knew of Rogers’s criminal history, Plaintiff’s complaint fails on other grounds.

Plaintiffs fail to specifically identify any measures Defendants could or should have taken to prevent the murder. Instead, Plaintiffs fault Defendants for having “rented/leased or continued to rent/lease Unit #107 to Tallent and Rogers.” (FAC, ¶26) Thus, Plaintiffs claim Defendants failed to “take reasonable measures to secure areas under the control of the Defendants . . . against foreseeable criminal acts of third parties.” (FAC, ¶29) However, landlord defendants have no duty to refuse to rent to violent criminals or to evict those criminals unless violence is “highly foreseeable” under the circumstances. (Castaneda, supra, 41 Cal.4th at 1217) Plaintiffs fail to identify any other measures Defendants could have taken to secure the common areas that would have prevented Rogers from “luring” the Decedent into his unit.

Here, Plaintiffs failed to establish foreseeability. Plaintiffs allege that, “prior to January 10, 2017, there had been significant similar violent crimes on the subject property and in the surrounding areas.” This factually sparse allegation cannot establish foreseeability. Plaintiffs do not show how these prior violent incidents were similar to the murder here and Plaintiffs fail to identify which of these incidents occurred on Defendants’ premises and which did not. (See 7735 Hollywood Blvd. v. Superior Court (1981) 116 Cal.App.3d 901, 903 (affirming order sustaining a demurrer as to complaint alleging violent crime in the “general area, vicinity, or neighborhood” in part because complaint failed to describe “the size or character of the area embraced by [that] phrase”)) Plaintiffs do identify one violent incident involving Rogers, but that occurred after the murder, and so cannot establish foreseeability. (FAC, ¶17) Thus, Plaintiffs have not alleged facts showing a history of violent incidents on or around the premises, and thus has not established “heightened foreseeability.”

Castaneda v. Olsher (2007) 41 Cal.4th 1205 is highly instructive here. There, the plaintiff “contend[ed] [the landlord] owed him a duty not to rent space 23 to the Levarios and, once having rented it, to evict them for disturbing and harassing other park residents.” (supra at 1215) The Supreme Court first considered the “the asserted duty to refuse to rent housing to members of street gangs” and concluded that the burden of such a duty would be so high that it “cannot be imposed except under circumstances where gang violence is extraordinarily foreseeable.” (Id. at 1216 (emphasis added)) The Court found that imposing a duty to screen gang members would “result in . . . arbitrary discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, family composition, dress and appearance, or reputation.” (Id.) In response, the plaintiff suggested that landlords “should obtain the applicant's criminal record, which . . . would be readily available through a commercial investigative service” to determine whether to deny rental to a gang member. (Id.) The Court resoundingly rejected this position. That option—"obtaining full histories on all applicants and their families, and refusing to rent to anyone with arrests or convictions for any crime that could have involved a gang—would involve significant expense and delay for the landlord and unfairly deprive many Californians of housing.” (Id. at 1217 (emphasis added)) Thus, the Court declined to impose the any duty to screen rental applicants’ criminal history “absent circumstances making gang violence extraordinarily foreseeable.” (Id.)

The Castaneda Court then considered the landlord’s alleged obligation “to evict [gang tenants] once they began to harass and annoy other residents of the park.” (Id. at 1219) The Court recognized that “courts in this and other states have recognized a tort duty to evict a vicious or dangerous tenant only in cases where the tenant's behavior made violence toward neighbors or others on the premises highly foreseeable.” (Id. (emphasis added)) “To establish a duty to evict the [gang tenants], plaintiff must show that violence by them or their guests was highly foreseeable.” (Id. at 1221 (emphasis original))

Here, Plaintiffs seek to impose a duty on Defendants to either evict tenants with violent criminal history or not rent to them in the first place. Neither duty may be imposed here. Plaintiffs do not allege that any prior violent incidents involving Rogers or Tallent occurred on the premises. Plaintiffs do not allege any facts as to Rogers’s past domestic violence offenses, which did not occur on the premises in any event. Plaintiffs have not shown that these domestic violence offenses, assuming Defendants knew of them, were “similar” to the instant murder. This is not a case where “the tenant’s behavior made violence toward . . . others on the premises highly foreseeable.” (Id. at 1219) Thus, Defendants had no duty to evict Rogers or Tallent. Additionally, as a matter of law, Defendants had no duty to obtain the criminal records of tenants before renting. (Castaneda, supra, 41 Cal.4th at 1217) Plaintiffs contend Rogers was an unauthorized tenant anyway, so Rogers’s criminal record would not be encompassed by a duty to check prospective tenant’s records. And Plaintiffs do not contend Tallent has a criminal record, so the obligation to check tenants’ criminal records could not have resolved the problem here.

Leave to Amend

Despite the foregoing, Plaintiffs have established “a reasonable possibility any defect identified by the defendant can be cured by amendment.” (Aubry v. Tri–City Hospital Dist. (1992) 2 Cal.4th 962, 966–967) It is error to sustain a demurrer without leave to amend when there is a reasonable probability of curing the defect. Here, leave to amend would give Plaintiffs an opportunity to identify reasonable measures that could have been taken and provide additional facts pertaining to crime in the area. Thus, the demurrer is sustained with leave to amend.

Motion to Strike

Defendants have also moved to strike Plaintiffs’ prayer for punitive damages. Plaintiffs have failed to state any cognizable claim against Defendants due to their failure to establish duty. Thus, there is no claim for which punitive damages could be awarded. Defendants’ motion to strike is GRANTED as to Page 8, Lines 3-5 and 22 of the FAC.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs have failed to establish Defendants Flower Street Lofts, et al. owed a duty of care to Decedent Lisa Ramirez. Defendants’ Demurrer is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

Defendants’ Motion to Strike is GRANTED as to Page 8, Lines 3-5 and 22 of the FAC.

Plaintiffs are given 15 days leave to amend and then file a Second Amended Complaint.

Moving party to give notice.

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