This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/03/2019 at 01:49:03 (UTC).

MARC A. LAROCQUE VS. CHRISTINE LAROCQUE FRANZ, ET AL

Case Summary

On 02/09/2017 MARC A LAROCQUE filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against CHRISTINE LAROCQUE FRANZ,. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Van Nuys Courthouse East located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are VIRGINIA KEENY and HUEY P. COTTON. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****5233

  • Filing Date:

    02/09/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

VIRGINIA KEENY

HUEY P. COTTON

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Cross Defendant

LAROCQUE MARC A.

Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

FRANZ CHRISTINE LAROCQUE

FLORES ROSA

THOMAS BRENDA

COCHRAN INC.

LEWIS GARFIELD

SCKITTONE JAMES

GONZALES KARLA ROSARIO

LOCKHART DEVELOPMENT INC. A DELAWARE CORPORATION

WALTERICH MARY E.

ARGUELLES FELIZ A.

LOCKHART DEVELOPMENT INC.

MOSS JENA

FRANZ CHRISTINE

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

MINTZ MARSHALL GARY

Defendant Attorneys

CONKLE CHRISTOPHER BRIAN

DIMAURO MARCELLO MARIO

 

Court Documents

Notice of Case Management Conference

2/9/2017: Notice of Case Management Conference

Summons

2/9/2017: Summons

Complaint

2/9/2017: Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet

2/9/2017: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

2/21/2017: Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

Notice of Lis Pendens

2/21/2017: Notice of Lis Pendens

Unknown

3/15/2017: Unknown

Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

4/20/2017: Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

Answer

5/11/2017: Answer

Unknown

5/11/2017: Unknown

Unknown

6/14/2017: Unknown

Case Management Statement

7/6/2017: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

7/6/2017: Case Management Statement

Order

7/13/2017: Order

Minute Order

7/13/2017: Minute Order

Notice of Related Case

8/7/2017: Notice of Related Case

Minute Order

8/10/2017: Minute Order

Substitution of Attorney

11/3/2017: Substitution of Attorney

70 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/23/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department W, Virginia Keeny, Presiding; Case Management Conference - Held - Continued

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  • 05/23/2019
  • DocketNotice (Notice of Rulings at Case Management Conference); Filed by Marc A. Larocque (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/23/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Case Management Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/22/2019
  • DocketDemurrer - without Motion to Strike; Filed by Cochran Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 05/16/2019
  • DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by Marc A. Larocque (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/24/2019
  • DocketVerified First Amended Cross-Complaint; Filed by Christine Larocque Franz (Cross-Complainant)

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  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketAnswer (To Second Amended Complaint); Filed by Christine Larocque Franz (Defendant)

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  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by Christine Larocque Franz (Defendant)

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  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketAnswer (To First Amended Complaint); Filed by Christine Larocque Franz (Defendant)

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  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketCross-Complaint; Filed by Christine Larocque Franz (Cross-Complainant)

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102 More Docket Entries
  • 05/11/2017
  • DocketCross-Comp-No Summons Issued; Filed by Christine Larocque Franz (Defendant)

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  • 05/11/2017
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by Christine Larocque Franz (Defendant)

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  • 04/20/2017
  • DocketProof of Service of Summons and Complaint; Filed by Marc A. Larocque (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/15/2017
  • DocketMotion to Quash; Filed by Christine Franz (Defendant); Christine Larocque Franz (Defendant)

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  • 02/21/2017
  • DocketProof of Service of Summons and Complaint; Filed by Marc A. Larocque (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/21/2017
  • DocketNotice of Lis Pendens; Filed by Marc A. Larocque (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/09/2017
  • DocketSummons; Filed by Marc A. Larocque (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/09/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Marc A. Larocque (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/09/2017
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Marc A. Larocque (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/09/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

b'

Case Number: ****5233 Hearing Date: July 23, 2021 Dept: W

LAROCQUE V. FRANZ, ET AL.

motion to bifurcate

Date of Hearing: July 23, 2021 Trial Date: None set.

Department: W Case No.: ****5233

Moving Party: Cross-Defendant Marc A. Larocque

Responding Party: None

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Larocque and Defendant Franz paired up to buy, rehabilitate, and sell real property. The parties entered into an agreement with regard to a certain property on Cass Avenue in Woodland Hills. The written agreement provided, among other things, that Defendant Franz would take steps to change title of the Property from The Christine Franz Revocable Trust, Christine Franz, Rosa Flores, Mary Walterich, Feliz Arguelles, Karla Rosario Gonzalez, Jena Moss, Brenda Thomas, Garfield Lewis, and James Scittone to Christine Franz and Marc Laroque.

According to Plaintiff, Defendant Franz has failed to comply with her obligations under the agreement. Thereafter, Defendant Franz transferred the property to Cochran, Inc., which then conveyed the property to Lockhart Development, Inc. Plaintiff alleges the transfer to Cochran, Inc., was without consideration.

Plaintiff filed his complaint on February 9, 2017. Plaintiff filed a Fifth Amended Complaint on January 15, 2021 asserting causes of action for (1) Breach of Written Contract; (2) Breach of Fiduciary Duty; (3) Breach of Partnership Agreement; (4) Accounting; (5) Imposition of a Constructive Trust; (6) Declaratory Relief/Quiet Title and Avoidance of Fraudulent Transfers; (7) Fraud; (9) Cancellation of Instruments; (10) Tort of Another Doctrine; and (11) Specific Performance.

On January 27, 2021, plaintiff named Eliezer Appel as Doe 7 and on July 8, 2021 plaintiff named Mark A. Liker as Doe 10.

On June 1 2021, Defendant/Cross-Complainant filed a Second Amended Cross-Complaint against Marc A. Larocque asserting causes of action of (1) wrongful conversion of money; (2) fraud – concealment/suppression of material fact; (3) financial elder abuse; (4) production of accounting; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress.

On January 8, 2020, this court related the instant matter with Defendant Franz’s complaint (19VECV00254) against Cochran, Inc., Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, Ignatius Evans, Oscar Peter Broderlow, Thomas Nyselius, Rushmore Development, Inc., and Lockhart Development Inc. for allegedly defrauding her in conveying the Cass Property to Cochran, Inc.

On July 7, 2021, a Notice of Related Case was filed with Liker v. Eliezer Appel (20VECV01388).

TENTATIVE RULING

1. Cross-Defendant Marc A. Larocque’s Motion to Bifurcate is GRANTED.

DISCUSSION

1. PLAINTIFF/CROSS-DEFENDANT MARC A. LAROCQUE’S MOTION TO BIFURCATE

Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Marc A. Larocque moves this court for an order bifurcating trial and first adjudicating the sixth, ninth, and eleventh causes of action. Larocque contends a bifurcated trial will allow for the court to first determine the holder of “good title” of the real property located on Cass Avenue and could prove to be dispositive of one or more remaining causes of action or, at the very least, further streamline the trial of the remaining causes of action. The motion is unopposed.

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 598, a court may order that “the trial of any issue or any part thereof shall precede the trial of any other issue or any part thereof” when such bifurcation would serve “the convenience of witnesses, the ends of justice, or the economy and efficiency of handling the litigation.” Trial courts often bifurcate equitable and legal issues, resolving the issues of equity first in order to promote judicial economy. (Darbun Enters, Inc. v. San Fernando Community Hosp. (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 399, 408-409.)

The court finds plaintiff have established bifurcation in the instant matter would further the interests of justice, expediency of trial, judicial economy and eliminate potential confusion or prejudice. As noted by plaintiff, trial as to plaintiff’s quiet title/declaratory relief, cancellation of instruments, and specific performance will help streamline the remainder of the case and may lead to a resolution of the claims and disputes in the action.

Accordingly, plaintiff/cross-defendant Marc A. Larocque’s Motion to Bifurcate is GRANTED.

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Case Number: ****5233    Hearing Date: May 17, 2021    Dept: W

LAROCQUE V. FRANZ, ET AL.

motion for judgment on the pleadings

Date of Hearing: May 17, 2021 Trial Date: August 2, 2021

Department: W Case No.: ****5233

Moving Party: Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Marc A. Larocque

Responding Party: Cross-Complainant/Defendant Christine Larocque Franz

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Larocque and Defendant Franz paired up to buy, rehabilitate, and sell real property. Some deals were profitable, and some were not. The parties entered into an agreement with regard to a certain property on Cass Avenue in Woodland Hills. The written agreement provided, among other things, that Defendant Franz would take steps to change title of the Property from The Christine Franz Revocable Trust, Christine Franz, Rosa Flores, Mary Walterich, Feliz Arguelles, Karla Rosario Gonzalez, Jena Moss, Brenda Thomas, Garfield Lewis, and James Scittone to Christine Franz and Marc Laroque.

According to Plaintiff, Defendant Franz has failed to comply with her obligations under the agreement. Thereafter, Defendant Franz transferred the property to Cochran, Inc., which then conveyed the property to Lockhart Development, Inc. Plaintiff alleges the transfer to Cochran, Inc., was without consideration.

Plaintiff filed his complaint on February 9, 2017. Plaintiff filed a Fifth Amended Complaint on January 15, 2021 asserting causes of action for (1) Breach of Written Contract; (2) Breach of Fiduciary Duty; (3) Breach of Partnership Agreement; (4) Accounting; (5) Imposition of a Constructive Trust; (6) Declaratory Relief/Quiet Title and Avoidance of Fraudulent Transfers; (7) Fraud; (8) Cancellation of Instruments; (9) Tort of Another Doctrine; and (10) Specific Performance.

On April 24, 2019, Defendant/Cross-Complainant filed a First Amended Cross-Complaint against Marc A. Larocque asserting causes of action of (1) wrongful conversion of money; (2) fraud – concealment/suppression of material fact; (3) financial elder abuse; (4) production of accounting; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress.

On January 8, 2020, this court related the instant matter with Defendant Franz’s complaint (19VECV00254) against Cochran, Inc., Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, Ignatius Evans, Oscar Peter Broderlow, Thomas Nyselius, Rushmore Development, Inc., and Lockhart Development Inc. for allegedly defrauding her in conveying the Cass Property to Cochran, Inc.

Cross-Defendant Marc now moves for judgment on the pleadings on Cross-Complainant Franz’ Cross-Complaint.

[TENTATIVE] RULING

Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Marc A. Larocque’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is DENIED as to the first cause of action, GRANTED as to the second cause of action and GRANTED with leave to amend as to the fifth cause of action.

DISCUSSION

Cross-Defendant moves for an order dismissing the first, second, and fifth causes of action of the cross-complaint. Cross-Defendant makes the motion on the grounds the causes of action are barred by the statute of limitations.

A party may move for judgment on the pleadings or the court may, on its own motion, grant a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (CCP ;438(b)(1)-(2).) If the moving party is a defendant, a motion for judgment on the pleadings under C.C.P. ;438 may be made on the ground that the “complaint does not state sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action against that defendant.” (CCP ;438(c)(1)(B)(ii).) The grounds for a motion for judgment on the pleadings “shall appear on the face of the challenged pleading or from any matter of which the court is required to take judicial notice. Where the motion is based on matter of which the court may take judicial notice pursuant to Section 452 or 453 of the Evidence Code, the matter shall be specified in the notice of motion, or the in the supporting points and authorities, except as the court may otherwise permit.” (CCP ;438(d).)

“The standard for granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings is essentially the same as that applicable to a general demurrer, that is, under the state of the pleadings, together with matters that may be judicially noticed, it appears that a party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. [Citations]” (Schabarum v. California Legislature (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 1205, 1216.) “Judgment on the pleadings does not depend upon a resolution of questions of witness credibility or evidentiary conflicts. In fact, judgment on the pleadings must be denied where there are material factual issues that require evidentiary resolution. [Citation]” (Id.)

First Cause of Action

Cross-Defendant moves for judgment on the pleadings as to the first cause of action for conversion on the grounds it is barred by the statute of limitations. Specifically, Cross-Defendant argues while paragraph 26 refers specifically to purported monies converted in or about August 11, 2015, the remainder of the cause of action refers to funds transferred that cross complainant was first aware of as far back as 2013. As the original cross-complaint in this action was filed February 9, 2017, any claims relating to funds allegedly taken by Cross-Defendant dating back to 2013 are all time barred.

Code of Civil Procedure section 338 provides a three-year statute of limitations period for a conversion cause of action. (See CCP ;338(c); AmerUS Life Insurance Co. v. Bank of America, N.A. (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 631, 639.) This statute of limitations for conversion is triggered by the act of wrongfully taking property. (See AmerUS Life Insurance Co., supra, 143 Cal.App.4th at 639.)

“Ordinarily, a general demurrer may not be sustained, nor a motion for judgment on the pleadings granted, as to a portion of a cause of action. [Citation.]” (Daniels v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 1150, 1167.) However, in some cases, a portion of a cause of action will be substantively defective on the face of the complaint. As a result, “when a substantive defect is clear from the face of a complaint, such as a violation of the applicable statute of limitations or a purported claim of right which is legally invalid, a defendant may attack that portion of the cause of action by filing a motion to strike.” (PH II, Inc. v. Superior Court (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 1680, 1683.) A motion for judgment on the pleadings is not the right vehicle.

Because judgment on the pleadings cannot be granted as to only part of a cause of action, the motion is denied on this ground.

Second Cause of Action

Cross-Defendant moves for judgment on the pleadings as to the second cause of action for fraud on the grounds it is barred by the statute of limitations. Cross-Defendant argues Cross-Complainant’s discovery of the existence of the checking accounts is more than three years prior to the filing of the complaint in this action and almost six years prior to the filing of her cross-complaint. The original complaint in this action was filed on February 9, 2017 and the original cross-complaint was on May 11, 2017.

The cross-complaint alleges in July 2013, Cross-Defendant opened a joint banking account without the Cross-Complainant’s knowledge. The cross-complaint further alleges in December 2013, while Cross-Complainant was viewing her own Wells Fargo Bank account online, she first noticed the existence of the bank accounts.

In opposition, Cross-Complainant argues she may have discovered irregularities in her account, that is not the same as understanding that there was fraud. Cross-Complainant contends the fraud became apparent only after Wells Fargo began an investigation that they did not complete until May 26, 2017. In that investigation, the bank determined that she was not responsible for transactions with respect to Wells Fargo accounts and that she had been a victim of identity theft.

However, if an action is brought more than three years after commission of the fraud, the plaintiff has the burden of pleading and proving that he did not make the discovery until within three years prior to the filing of his complaint. (See Hobart v. Hobart Estate Co. (1945) 26 Cal.2d 412, 437.) “[P]laintiff must affirmatively excuse his failure to discover the fraud within three years after it took place, by establishing facts showing that he was not negligent in failing to make the discovery sooner and that he had no actual or presumptive knowledge of facts sufficient to put him on inquiry.” (Id.

Cross-Complainant has not established why she did not discover the fraud sooner; her only contention is that the fraud only became apparent after Wells Fargo completed its investigation. But by Cross-Complainant’s own allegations, she noticed the two accounts as early as 2013; only she would know whether she conducted the transactions and whether she had been the victim of identity theft. While Wells Fargo may have confirmed that information, she had to know in 2013 what she had done or not done with those accounts. Moreover, her cross-complaint has nothing to do with Cross-Defendant’s initial complaint.

Accordingly, the court grants the motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the second cause of action.

Fifth Cause of Action

Cross-Defendant argues Cross-Complainant’s fifth cause of action for intentional infliction emotional distress is time-barred.

Cross-Complainant alleges on May 31, 2013, Cross-Defendant coerced Cross-Complainant to agree to remit the Cass Property rent checks to him by offering to release her from fabricated, non-existent liabilities. Cross-Defendant than purportedly started unlawfully taking rent in June 2013. As a result of losing all her income from the Cass Property, she began to have sleepless nights and was distressed and breathless during the day.

A cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress accrues, and the statute of limitations begins to run once the plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress as a result of outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant. (Murphy v. Allstate Ins. Co. (1978) 83 Cal. App.3d 38, 50-51.) Any such claim must be brought within two years.

In opposition, Cross-Complainant argues that her generalized stress arose out of Cross-Defendant’s actions that began on June 1, 2013. She further alleges the timing of his lawsuit was also extreme and outrageous and a trigger of her emotional distress.

The court finds the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress as plead is time-barred. The only additional fact cross-complainant seeks to allege is that the complaint filed against her in 2017 in this action was extreme and outrageous, and that she was “bullied and verbally assaulted” around that time period by her brother. The filing of the complaint cannot support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. If cross-defendant did something within the statutory time period that constitutes IIED other than filing of the complaint, it has not been plead. Nonetheless, the court will grant leave to amend to allege any conduct which took place in the two years prior to the filing of the cross-complaint (other than the filing of the complaint) which rises to the level of extreme and outrageous conduct and caused severe emotional distress.

Accordingly, the motion for judgment on the pleadings on the 5th Cause of Action is granted with leave to amend.

New Arguments

The court notes Cross-Defendant discusses new matters in reply. Specifically, Cross-Defendant argues Cross-Complainant lacks standing to maintain the first or second causes of action. The general rule of motion practice, which applies here, is that new evidence is not permitted with reply papers. Although this principle is most prominent in the context of summary judgment motions, the same solid logic applies. Specifically, that points raised for the first time would deprive the respondent an opportunity to counter the argument. (Jay v. Mahaffey (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 1522, 1537.)



Case Number: ****5233    Hearing Date: December 08, 2020    Dept: W

LAROCQUE V. FRANZ, ET AL.

demurrer to fourth amended complaint

Date of Hearing: December 1, 2020 Trial Date: None set.

Department: W Case No.: ****5233

Moving Party: Defendant Broederlow

Responding Party: Plaintiff Larocque

Meet and Confer: Attempted. (Broederlow Decl. ¶4.)

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Larocque and Defendant Franz paired up to buy, rehabilitate, and sell real property. Some deals were profitable and some were not. The parties entered into an agreement with regard to a certain property on Cass Avenue in Woodland Hills. The written agreement provided, among other things, that Defendant Franz would take steps to change title of the Property from The Christine Franz Revocable Trust, Christine Franz, Rosa Flores, Mary Walterich, Feliz Arguelles, Karla Rosario Gonzalez, Jena Moss, Brenda Thomas, Garfield Lewis, and James Scittone to Christine Franz and Marc Laroque.

According to Plaintiff, Defendant Franz has failed to comply with her obligations under the agreement. Thereafter, Defendant Franz transferred the property to Cochran, Inc., which then conveyed the property to Lockhart Development, Inc. Plaintiff alleges the transfer to Cochran, Inc., was without consideration.

Plaintiff filed his complaint on February 9, 2017. After the court sustained a demurrer against Plaintiff’s complaint on June 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint (TAC), alleging: 1) Breach of Written Contract; 2) Breach of Fiduciary Duty; 3) Breach of Partnership Agreement; 4) Accounting; 5) Imposition of a Constructive Trust; and 6) Declaratory Relief/Quiet Title and Avoidance of Fraudulent Transfers.

On January 8, 2020, this court related the instant matter with Defendant Franz’s complaint (19VECV00254) against Cochran, Inc., Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, Ignatius Evans, Oscar Peter Broderlow, Thomas Nyselius, Rushmore Development, Inc., and Lockhart Development Inc. for allegedly defrauding her in conveying the Cass Property to Cochran, Inc.

On June 25, 2020, this court granted Plaintiff’s request for leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint (“4AC”). The 4AC adds he following causes of action: 7th – Fraud; 8th – Slander of Title; 9th – Tort of Another Doctrine; and 10th – Specific Performance. The 4AC also added the following additional parties as DOE Defendants: Oscar Peter Broederlow, Thomas Nysellius, Roshmore Development, Inc., Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, and Capitol Realty, Inc.

Defendant Broederlow now demurs to the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth causes of action on the grounds the claims fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action and is uncertain.

[Tentative] Ruling

Defendant Broederlow’s Demurrer to the Sixth Cause of Action is OVERRULED; as to the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Causes of Action, the demurrer is SUSTAINED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Defendant Broederlow requests this court take judicial notice of the Minute Order of this court issued on June 25, 2025 in this case Franz v. Appel, 19VECV00254 (Exh. A).

The court grants Defendant’s request for judicial notice.

DISCUSSION

Sixth (Avoidance of Fraudulent Transfers) Cause of Action

Defendant demurs to the sixth cause of action on the grounds Plaintiff cannot assert a cause of action for declaratory relief, quiet title, and fraudulent transfer. As discussed below, the court sustains the declaratory relief and quiet title portion as to Defendant Broederlow since he is not claiming ownership interest in the subject property.

Defendant argues Defendant is not and never was a debtor of Plaintiff, nor has any knowledge that Franz, trustee or individual was a debtor of Plaintiff’s. The property was never conveyed to Defendant. Defendant was not present for any negotiation among Franz (individual or trustee) Adrian Van Rijs, and former attorney for Cochran, Inc., Eliezer Appel. Moreover, there is no prohibition against transfer of property encumbered by a lis pendens; it only provides notice of the risk to a party who seeks to purchase or invest.

Under Section of California Civil Code section 3439.04, a fraudulent transfer exists when either: (1) a debtor makes a transfer or incurs an obligation with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud any creditor, or (2) debtor receives less than reasonably equivalent value for the transfer or obligation and debtor is insolvent or is reasonably expected to become insolvent.

In opposition, plaintiff claims the allegations relating to a fraudulent transfer should remain. However, the court notes the sixth cause of action is not against Defendant Broederlow and as a result, Defendant’s demurrer to the sixth cause of action is overruled.

Seventh (Fraud) Cause of Action

Defendant demurs to the seventh cause of action on the grounds there is no allegation that Defendant was even present at the negotiations with Franz, Adrian Van Rijs, and then attorney for Cochran, Inc., Eliezer Appel. Moreover, Plaintiff’s allegations fail to meet the heightened pleading standards for fraud and does not have standing.

The elements of fraud, which give rise to the tort action for deceit, are (a) misrepresentation (false representation, concealment, or nondisclosure); (b) knowledge of falsity (or ‘scienter’); (c) intent to defraud, i.e., to induce reliance; (d) justifiable reliance; and (e) resulting damage.” (Beckwith v. Dahl (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1060.) Conspiracy is not a tort, but a form of vicarious liability by which one defendant is liable for the acts of another and thus conspiracy provides a remedial measure for affixing liability to all who have agreed to a common design to commit some wrong when damage to the plaintiff results. (De Vries v. Brumback (1960) 53 Cal.2d 643, 650.)

Plaintiff alleges Defendants caused harm to Plaintiff by conspiring to record one or more Grant Deeds designed for the sole purpose of encumbering the Cass Property and to fraudulently deprive Plaintiff of his ownership rights in and to the Cass Property. (4AC ¶60.) Defendants, and each of them, entered into an agreement, and were fully aware of the harm to be caused to Plaintiff as a direct result of the fraudulent actions alleged herein. (4AC ¶61.)

Plaintiff allegations are not sufficient to support a fraudulent cause of action and therefore, any conspiracy alleged against Defendant is insufficient. Allegations of fraud must include how, when, where, to whom, and by what means the representations were tendered.

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s demurrer to the seventh cause of action is sustained with leave to amend.

Eighth (Slander of Title) Cause of Action

Defendant demurs to the eighth cause of action on the grounds Plaintiff cannot meet the requirements for slander of title as he has not suffered “immediate pecuniary loss” since he had no ownership of the property and moreover, Plaintiff is not the real party in interest.

“The elements of a cause of action for slander of title are (1) a publication, which is (2) without privilege or justification, (3) false, and (4) causes pecuniary loss.” (La Jolla Group II v. Bruce (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 461, 472.)  Slander of title claim “may be prosecuted only by someone with an interest in the property. ‘An action for slander of title is maintainable only by one who possess[es] an estate or interest in the property.’ [Citation]” (Chao Fu, Inc. v. Chen (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 48, 58.)

In opposition, Plaintiff argues Plaintiff’s 4AC properly alleges the filing of one or more Grant Deeds as the actions undertaken by defendants constituting the act of “slander” and thus, the recording of the grant deeds resulted in a cloud on title that still exists to this day.

However, Plaintiff has not established a possessory interest in the property.

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s demurrer to the eighth cause of action is SUSTAINED with leave to amend.

Ninth (Tort of Another) Cause of Action

Defendant demurs to the ninth cause of action on the ground Defendant has no legal relationship to Plaintiff and moreover, Plaintiff did not have an enforceable agreement as to the trust property with the title holder of the property on which to claim against third parties.

The tort of another doctrine, created by case law, allows a person who, through the tort of another, has been required to protect his interests by bringing or defending an action against a third party may recover for the reasonably necessary attorneys' fees incurred. (Gray v. Don Miller & Associates, Inc. (1984) 35 Cal.3d 498, 505.) To recover under the doctrine, Plaintiff will have to establish a tort actually was committed.

Plaintiff’s allegations for the ninth cause of action simply allege as a result of the actions of defendants, and each of them as alleged herein, who have engaged in tortious conduct, Plaintiff has been required to act in the protection of his interests by bringing or defending an action against a third person. (4AC ¶75.) Because Plaintiff’s cause of action for fraud fails, Plaintiff cannot establish a tort of another.

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s demurrer to the ninth cause of action is SUSTAINED with leave to amend.

Fifth (Constructive Trust), Sixth (Declaratory Relief/Quiet Title), and Tenth (Specific Performance) Causes of Action

Defendant demurs to the fifth (Constructive Trust), sixth (Declaratory Relief/Quiet Title), and tenth (Specific Performance) on the grounds Defendant does not own the property nor has Defendant ever held title to the property.

In opposition, Plaintiff is in agreement that the sixth cause of action pertaining only to the declaratory relief/quiet title, the fifth cause of action for constructive trust, and the tenth cause of action for specific performance is not being pursued as against Defendant Broederlow as Broederlow is not claiming ownership interest in the subject property.

Accordingly, the demurrer to the fifth (Constructive Trust) and tenth (Specific Performance) is sustained with leave to amend. As discussed above, Defendant is not named in the sixth cause of action and therefore, the court overrules the demurrer to the sixth.



Case Number: ****5233    Hearing Date: September 16, 2020    Dept: W

LAROCQUE V. FRANZ, ET AL.

PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE

Date of Hearing: September 16, 2020 Trial Date: None set.

Department: W Case No.: ****5233

Moving Party: Plaintiff Marc A. Larocque

Responding Party: Defendant Cochran, Inc.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Laroque and Defendant Franz paired up to buy, rehabilitate, and sell real property. Some deals were profitable and some were not. The parties entered into an agreement with regard to a certain property on Cass Avenue in Woodland Hills. The written agreement provided, among other things, that Defendant Franz would take steps to change title of the Property from The Christine Franz Revocable Trust, Christine Franz, Rosa Flores, Mary Walterich, Feliz Arguelles, Karla Rosario Gonzalez, Jena Moss, Brenda Thomas, Garfield Lewis, and James Scittone to Christine Franz and Marc Laroque.

According to Plaintiff, Defendant Franz has failed to comply with her obligations under the agreement. Thereafter, Defendant Franz transferred the property to Cochran, Inc., which then conveyed the property to Lockhart Development, Inc. Plaintiff alleges the transfer to Cochran, Inc., was without consideration.

Plaintiff filed his complaint on February 9, 2017. After the court sustained a demurrer against Plaintiff’s complaint on June 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint (TAC), alleging: 1) Breach of Written Contract; 2) Breach of Fiduciary Duty; 3) Breach of Partnership Agreement; 4) Accounting; 5) Imposition of a Constructive Trust; and 6) Declaratory Relief/Quiet Title and Avoidance of Fraudulent Transfers.

On January 8, 2020, this court related the instant matter with Defendant Franz’s complaint (19VECV00254) against Cochran, Inc., Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, Ignatius Evans, Oscar Peter Broderlow, Thomas Nyselius, Rushmore Development, Inc., and Lockhart Development Inc. for allegedly defrauding her in conveying the Cass Property to Cochran, Inc.

On June 25, 2020, this court granted Plaintiff’s request for leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint (“4AC”). The 4AC adds the following causes of action: 7th – Fraud; 8th – Slander of Title; 9th – Tort of Another Doctrine; and 10th – Specific Performance. The 4AC also added the following additional parties as DOE Defendants: Oscar Peter Broederlow, Thomas Nysellius, Roshmore Development, Inc., Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, and Capitol Realty, Inc.

Plaintiff now moves to consolidate the instant matter with the related case, 19VECV00254. Defendant Cochran opposes.

[TENTATIVE] RULING:

Plaintiff’s Motion to Consolidate is CONTINUED.

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Defendant Cochran, Inc. requests this court take judicial notice of the June 25, 2020 Minute Order in Christine Larocque Franz vs. Eliezer Appel, Et. Al. Case No. 19VECV00254 (Exh. A).

The court grands Defendant’s request for judicial notice. (See Evid. Code ;452(d).)

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff moves the court for an order that the action entitled Marc A. Larocque v. Christine Larocque Franz (Lead Case No. ****5233) and previously deemed related action entitled Christine Larocque Franz v. Eliezer Appel, et al. (Related Case No. 19VECV00254) be now consolidated for all purposes – discovery proceedings and trial.

Plaintiff contends the Lead Case (the instant action) relates to ownership interest in certain real property located at Cass Avenue in Woodland Hills (“Cass Property). Plaintiff contends he is the rightful owner to a 50% share in the Cass Property pursuant to a written agreement between Plaintiff and Defendant Franz. Subsequent to his filing of the instant matter, Defendant Franz transferred ownership of the Cass Property to Defendant Cochran, Inc. who then transferred the property to Defendant Lockhart Development, Inc. In the related case, Franz alleges she was fraudulently induced to convey the Cass Property to Defendant Cochran, Inc. Franz also alleges wrongdoing by Defendants Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, Ignatius Evans, Oscar Peter Broderlow, Thomas Nyselius, Rushmore Development, Inc., and Lockhart Development Inc. As such, Plaintiff argues both actions will require multiple depositions of the same individuals and/or defendants named in both actions. Moreover, the ultimate determination of the ownership interests of all the parties revolve around the same Cass Property.

Motions to consolidate are governed by Code of Civil Procedure section 1048. The purpose of consolidation is to avoid unnecessary costs or delay, avoid duplication of procedure, particularly in the proof of issues common to both action, and avoid inconsistent results by hearing and deciding common issues together. (See Estate of Baker (1982) 131 Cal.App.3d 471, 485.) The granting or denial of a motion to consolidate rests in the trial court’s sound discretion, and will not be reversed except upon a clear showing of abuse of discretion. (Feliner v. Steinbaum (1955) 132 Cal.App.2d 509, 511.) Each case presents its own facts and circumstances, but the court generally considers the following: (1) timeliness of the motion: i.e., whether granting consolidation would delay the trial of any of the cases involved; (2) complexity: i.e., whether joining the actions involved would make the trial too confusing or complex for a jury; and (3) prejudice: i.e, whether consolidation would adversely affect the rights of any party. (See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1956) 47 Cal.2d 428, 430-31.)

Additionally, “[c]ases may not be consolidated unless they are in the same department. A motion to consolidate two or more cases may be noticed and heard after the cases, initially filed in different departments, have been related into a single department, or if the cases were already assigned to that department.” (LASC Local Rules, Rule 3.3(g)(1).)

First, the court notes Plaintiffs have satisfied LASC Rule 3.3(g). Next, the court finds that both cases have interrelated factual and legal issues and consolidation would not prejudice a substantial right. The issue of ownership is common to all parties and many of the same defendants and factual issues have to be tried in each lawsuit. Moreover, the court finds there would be no delay in trial, joining the action for purposes of discovery and trial would not be too confusing or complex, and consolidation would not adversely affect either plaintiffs or defendants.

In opposition, Defendant Cochran, Inc. argues 1) there is no active case to consolidate with; 2) the motion fails to comply with the procedural requirements for a motion to consolidate; and 3) complete consolidation cannot be granted.

Here, the court finds the fact that there is a demurrer against the current complaint in the related matter irrelevant. Whether or not the court sustains or overrules the demurrer in related action does not change the facts of the case. In the event the demurrer is sustained without leave to amend, then the court can determine whether the actions should be bifurcated. The court also notes Plaintiff is seeking consolidation for the purposes of discovery and trial, not complete consolidation. As such, the pleadings will not be regarded as merged, one set of findings made, and one judgment rendered. (See Hamilton v. Asbestos Corp., Ltd. (2000) 22 Cal.4th 1127, 1147-1148.) Plaintiff, in Reply, states the issue of “complete” consolidation can be deferred until closer to trial.

Next, the court agrees Plaintiff has failed to comply with the Rules of Court Rule 3.350. CRC Rule 3.350(a)(1) provides a notice of motion to consolidate must: (A) List all named parties in each case, the names of those who have appeared, and the names of their respective attorneys of record; (B) Contain the captions of all the cases sought to be consolidated, with the lowest numbered case shown first; and (C) Be filed in each case sought to be consolidated. (2) The motion to consolidate: (A) Is deemed a single motion for the purpose of determining the appropriate filing fee, but memorandums, declarations, and other supporting papers must be filed only in the lowest numbered case; (B) Must be served on all attorneys of record and all non-represented parties in all of the cases sought to be consolidated; and (C) Must have a proof of service filed as part of the motion. Under Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.350(b), “[u]nless otherwise provided in the order granting the motion to consolidate, the lowest numbered case in the consolidated case in the lead case.”

Plaintiff fails to list all named parties in each case, those who have appeared, or their respective attorneys. Even if Plaintiff contends they have satisfied the requirements by attaching both operative complaints and a detailed description of the two matters as part of the motion, the instant motion has not been filed in the related action. Moreover, the notice does not contain the captions of all the cases sought to be consolidated, with the lowest numbered case shown first. Plaintiff must comply with all the Rules of Court before this court can grant the motion.

Lastly, the court finds Plaintiff is not asking for complete consolidation. As discussed above, Plaintiff is seeking consolidation for the purposes of discovery and trial, not complete consolidation.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s Motion to Consolidate is CONTINUED.



Case Number: ****5233    Hearing Date: June 25, 2020    Dept: W

105233LAROCQUE V. FRANZ, ET AL.

PLAINTIFF LAROCQUE’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND TO FILE FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT

Date of Hearing: June 25, 2020 Trial Date: None set.

Department: W Case No.: ****5233

Moving Party: Plaintiff Marc A. Larocque

Responding Party: Defendant Cochran, Inc.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Laroque and Defendant Franz paired up to buy, rehabilitate, and sell real property. Some deals were profitable and some were not. The parties entered into an agreement with regard to a certain property on Cass Avenue in Woodland Hills. The written agreement provided, among other things, that Defendant Franz would take steps to change title of the Property from The Christine Franz Revocable Trust, Christine Franz, Rosa Flores, Mary Walterich, Feliz Arguelles, Karla Rosario Gonzalez, Jena Moss, Brenda Thomas, Garfield Lewis, and James Scittone to Christine Franz and Marc Laroque.

According to Plaintiff, Defendant Franz has failed to comply with her obligations under the agreement. Thereafter, Defendant Franz transferred the property to Cochran, Inc., which then conveyed the property to Lockhart Development, Inc. Plaintiff alleges the transfer to Cochran, Inc., was without consideration.

Plaintiff filed his complaint on February 9, 2017. After the court sustained a demurrer against Plaintiff’s complaint on June 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint (TAC), alleging: 1) Breach of Written Contract; 2) Breach of Fiduciary Duty; 3) Breach of Partnership Agreement; 4) Accounting; 5) Imposition of a Constructive Trust; and 6) Declaratory Relief/Quiet Title and Avoidance of Fraudulent Transfers.

On January 8, 2020, this court related the instant matter with Defendant Franz’s complaint (19VECV00254) against Cochran, Inc., Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, Ignatius Evans, Oscar Peter Broderlow, Thomas Nyselius, Rushmore Development, Inc., and Lockhart Development Inc. for allegedly defrauding her in conveying the Cass Property to Cochran, Inc.

Plaintiff now moves the court for an order granting leave to file a fourth amended complaint.

[TENTATIVE] RULING:

Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend to File Fourth Amended Complaint is GRANTED.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff moves for an order granting Plaintiff’s leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint (“4AC”). The proposed 4AC adds the following causes of action: 7th – Fraud; 8th – Slander of Title; 9th – Tort of Another Doctrine; and 10th – Specific Performance. Plaintiff also seeks to add the following additional parties as DOE Defendants: Oscar Peter Broederlow, Thomas Nysellius, Roshmore Development, Inc., Eliezer Appel, Adrian Van Rijs, and Capitol Realty, Inc.

The court notes that Plaintiff, in light of Cochran, Inc.’s transfer of title to Lockhart, Inc., and having made no assertion in this action as to ownership in the Cass Avenue Property, agrees to exclude Defendant Cochran, Inc. from the 10th cause of action for Specific Performance.

The courts have a strong policy of allowing motions for leave to amend. “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.) A court can deny leave to amend after long, inexcusable delay, where there is cognizable prejudice, such as discovery needed, trial delay, critical evidence lost, or added preparation expense. (Solit v. Tokai Bank (1999) 68 Cal.App.4th 1435, 1448; Atkinson v. Elk Corp. (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 739, 761; Green v. Rancho Santa Margarita Mortgage Co. (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 686, 692; Magpali v. Farmers Group, Inc. (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 471, 487.) Notably, “it is not required to accept an amended complaint that is not filed in good faith, is frivolous, or sham.” (American Advertising & Sales Co. v. Mid-Western (1984) 152 Cal.App.3d 875, 878.)

A party requesting leave to amend must also comply with California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1324, by including a copy of the proposed amended pleading and attaching a declaration by counsel, as to (1) the effect of the amendment; (2) why the amendment is necessary and proper; (3) when the facts giving rise to the amended allegations were discovered; and (4) why the request was not made earlier. The motion itself must state what allegations in the previous pleading are proposed to be deleted and what allegations are proposed to be added to the previous pleading, and where, by page, paragraph, and line number, the deleted or additional allegations are located. (CRC Rule 3.1324(a).)

The court finds Plaintiff has substantially complied with CRC Rule 3.1324. Plaintiff attached a copy of the proposed fourth amended complaint to the motion, identified the changes to the complaint (i.e. the first amended complaint includes the additional causes of action, prayer for relief, and DOE defendants), and submitted a supporting declaration, pursuant to CRC 3.1324(a) and (b). (Declaration of Bart I. Ring ¶5; Exh. 2.) The declaration of Plaintiff’s counsel claims the proposed amendment will bring in the individuals and the companies who are part of the related case Franz v. Appel and the new causes of action are properly triggered upon the verified pleadings in Franz v. Appel. (CRC Rule 3.1324(b)(1).) Counsel also claims the amendment is necessary and proper because it will allow them to litigate a case against the individuals and companies engaged in a conspiracy to defraud Plaintiff (CRC Rule 3.1324(b)(2).) Moreover, Plaintiff’s counsel claims they discovered the need to assert the new causes of action and DOE defendants after Franz filed her lawsuit in 2019 and could not have been made earlier as Plaintiff’s prior counsel during time of discovery had become very ill. (CRC Rule 3.1324(b)(3),(4).) The court also notes only one of the Defendants, Franz, filed a responsive pleading to the current operative complaint.

In opposition, Defendant Cochran, Inc. contends Plaintiff’s proposed 4AC will result in serious prejudice to Defendants and will unnecessarily increase the cost of litigation for all parties. Specifically, Defendant Cochran, Inc. focuses on how the proposed amendment is futile as there is no basis for a claim of fraud, he cannot sue for slander of title when he holds no title to the subject property, he cannot seek specific performance against parties for whom he alleges no agreement, nor may he bring tort of another as its only purpose is to hold a tortfeasor liable for the costs associated with prosecuted or defending against third parties.

On the face of the proposed amendment, it does not appear that the new claims are barred. Defendants are free to make merit based arguments on a demurrer, summary judgment, or the like.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend to File fourth Amended Complaint is GRANTED.



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