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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/27/2019 at 00:53:26 (UTC).

MARIA BEUCHEL VS CAMERON FLANAGAN ET AL

Case Summary

On 11/06/2017 MARIA BEUCHEL filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against CAMERON FLANAGAN. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****2422

  • Filing Date:

    11/06/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiff, Petitioner and Appellant

BEUCHEL MARIA V.

Defendants and Respondents

FLANAGAN CAMERON M.

HANKEL BRIAN K.

DOES 1 TO 10

ALL PERSON UNKNOWN CLAIMING ANY LEGAL OR

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

HOGUE DAN

HOGUE THOMAS D.

Defendant Attorneys

CHESNEY PATRICK V.

HOLMES ANDREW BRYAN

 

Court Documents

Unknown

2/9/2018: Unknown

ANSWER OF BRIAN K. HANKEL TO COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF AND QUIET TITLE

2/9/2018: ANSWER OF BRIAN K. HANKEL TO COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF AND QUIET TITLE

Unknown

2/13/2018: Unknown

DEFENDANT CAMERON M. FLANAGAN'S AMENDED NOTICE OF MOTION FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $6,075 AGAINST PLAINTIFF MARIA V. BEUCHEL AND ATTORNEY DAN HOGUE AND LAW OFFICE OF DAN HOGUE FOR VIOLATION OF CO

2/27/2018: DEFENDANT CAMERON M. FLANAGAN'S AMENDED NOTICE OF MOTION FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $6,075 AGAINST PLAINTIFF MARIA V. BEUCHEL AND ATTORNEY DAN HOGUE AND LAW OFFICE OF DAN HOGUE FOR VIOLATION OF CO

DEFENDANT CAMERON M. FLANAGAN'S NOTICE OF AND MOTION FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $6,075 AGAINST PLAINTIFF MARIA V. BEUCHEL AND ATTORNEY DAN HOGUE AND LAW OFFICE OF DAN HOGUE FOR VIOLATION OF CODE O

2/27/2018: DEFENDANT CAMERON M. FLANAGAN'S NOTICE OF AND MOTION FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $6,075 AGAINST PLAINTIFF MARIA V. BEUCHEL AND ATTORNEY DAN HOGUE AND LAW OFFICE OF DAN HOGUE FOR VIOLATION OF CODE O

NOTICE OF RELATED CASE

3/7/2018: NOTICE OF RELATED CASE

Minute Order

4/5/2018: Minute Order

Minute Order

7/12/2018: Minute Order

PROOF OF SERVICE

8/15/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE

Case Management Statement

10/9/2018: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

10/10/2018: Case Management Statement

Minute Order

10/19/2018: Minute Order

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

10/19/2018: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

Notice

1/18/2019: Notice

Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

3/18/2019: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

1/8/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

12/5/2017: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

SUMMONS

11/6/2017: SUMMONS

42 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/08/2019
  • at 08:45 AM in Department 39; Post-Mediation Status Conference - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 05/08/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Post-Mediation Status Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/25/2019
  • Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information; Filed by Andrew Bryan Holmes (Attorney)

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  • 04/16/2019
  • Appeal - Notice of Filing of Notice of Appeal (Amended); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/11/2019
  • Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103; Filed by MARIA V. BEUCHEL (Appellant)

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  • 03/27/2019
  • Appeal - Notice of Filing of Notice of Appeal; Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/20/2019
  • Appeal - Notice of Appeal/Cross Appeal Filed; Filed by MARIA V. BEUCHEL (Appellant)

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  • 03/18/2019
  • Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information; Filed by BRIAN K. HANKEL (Defendant)

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  • 03/18/2019
  • Notice (of Entry of Judgment or Order); Filed by CAMERON M. FLANAGAN (Defendant)

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  • 02/21/2019
  • Order (Granting Defendant Cameron M. Flanagan's Motion For Sanctions For Violation Of CCP 128.7(b)); Filed by CAMERON M. FLANAGAN (Defendant)

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77 More Docket Entries
  • 02/09/2018
  • Answer; Filed by BRIAN K. HANKEL (Defendant)

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  • 02/09/2018
  • ANSWER OF BRIAN K. HANKEL TO COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF AND QUIET TITLE

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  • 01/08/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

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  • 01/08/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by MARIA V. BEUCHEL (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/05/2017
  • Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/05/2017
  • Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/05/2017
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 11/06/2017
  • SUMMONS

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  • 11/06/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by MARIA V. BEUCHEL (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/06/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF AND QUIET TITLE

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC682422    Hearing Date: April 13, 2021    Dept: 39

Maria Beuchel v. Cameron Flanagan, et al.

Case No. BC682422

Motion for Attorney’s Fees

On November 6, 2017, Plaintiff Maria V. Beuchel (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint for declaratory relief and quiet title against Cameron M. Flanagan (“Defendant Flanagan”) and Brian K. Hankel (“Defendant Hankel”) (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are co-owners of the neighboring property. (Complaint, ¶ 2.) The parties have been neighbors for over 20 years, and have been adverse parties in litigation for over 15 years. In this particular dispute, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants caused the grade of their land to be raised approximately three feet. Plaintiff does not seek monetary damages in this action. Rather, Plaintiff seeks a determination of her right to remove soil placed against her garage and to build a new fence.

On August 15, 2018, Defendant Flanagan filed a motion for sanctions against Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s counsel for violation of Code of Civil Procedure section 128.7(b). Defendant Flanagan argued that this litigation was barred by a settlement agreement in Cameron M. Flanagan v. Maria V. Beuchel, Case Number BS102870, which was executed in 2006. Defendant Flanagan’s motion argued that this action was filed for the improper purpose of harassment. (Defendant Flanagan’s Motion, filed on February 27, 2018.) Defendant Flanagan sought “sanctions [which] should include the attorney’s fees Flanagan incurred in responding to the sham Complaint.” (Id., p. 8.) The Court (Feffer, J.) held a hearing on the motion on January 30, 2019, following which it granted the motion against Plaintiff, but not Plaintiff’s counsel. Judge Feffer concluded that this action was legally and factually frivolous because it was barred by the 2006 settlement agreement, and that Plaintiff had filed this action for “an improper purpose.” (Judge Feffer’s Order, dated February 21, 2019.) Judge Feffer ordered Plaintiff to pay sanctions in the amount of $6,075. (Ibid.) Plaintiff filed a timely appeal of Judge Feffer’s order, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. Plaintiff then filed a request to dismiss Defendant Flanagan without prejudice on September 4, 2020, which was granted four days later.

Now, Defendant Flanagan moves for attorneys’ fees, per the 2006 settlement agreement, which states: “In the event suit is filed for breach of this agreement, the losing party agrees to pay the winning party reasonable attorney fees and court costs.” (Declaration of Andrew B. Holmes in Support of Motion for Attorney’s Fees, Exh. #2, p. 3, ¶ 12.) The agreement states that the parties “agree to not harass each other . . . .” (Id., Exh. #3, p. 2, ¶ 1.) As discussed, Judge Feffer found that this action was filed for an improper purpose of harassment.

The motion is not untimely. Defendant Flanagan was dismissed on September 8, 2020, and she had 60 days to file her motion, which means it was due on November 7, 2021. Because that day is a Saturday, the deadline was November 9, 2020, which is when the motion was filed. Therefore, it was not untimely.

The Court is bound by Judge Feffer’s finding that this complaint was filed for an improper purpose, i.e., harassment, which constitutes a breach of the agreement. Therefore, the motion is granted. However, the Court must take into account that Judge Feffer’s order of February 21, 2019, in which she awarded sanctions of $6,075. The Court presumes that this amount included attorney’s fees, since they were requested in the underlying motion. Therefore, the Court awards attorneys’ fees only for the appeal and the post-appeal litigation.

Plaintiff’s counsel requests rates as follows: (1) $583.04 for Andrew B. Holmes, and (2) $425.05 for Patrick V. Chesney. The Court believes that the following rates are more appropriate: (1) $500 for Mr. Holmes, and (2) $350 for Mr. Chesney. The Court bases its opinion on the prevailing reasonable market rates, as well as the nature of the case. In other words, this case was not so sophisticated as to warrant higher rates.

Plaintiff’s counsel billed the following that falls within the scope of this Court’s order, i.e., from the appeal: (1) Approximately 18.5 Hours for Andrew B. Holmes, and (2) Approximately 111.2 Hours for Patrick B. Chesney. These hours are reasonable. It appears to the Court that the work was necessary, and that the case was staffed appropriately, with the associate doing approximately 85% of the work and the partner engaged primarily in supervision and review.

Based upon the foregoing, the Court orders Plaintiffs to pay Defendant Flanagan, by and through counsel, a total of $48,170 (based upon $9,250 for Mr. Holmes’s time, and $38,920 for Mr. Chesney’s time) plus the $6,075 ordered by Judge Feffer (if not paid already). The fees shall be paid within 120 days. Defendant Flanagan’s counsel shall provide notice and file proof of such with the Court.

Case Number: BC682422    Hearing Date: April 5, 2021    Dept: 39

Maria V. Beuchel v. Cameron M. Flanagan, et al.

Case No. BC682422

Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

BACKGROUND

On November 6, 2017, Plaintiff Maria V. Beuchel (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint for declaratory relief and quiet title against Cameron M. Flanagan (“Defendant Flanagan”) and Brian K. Hankel (“Defendant Hankel”) (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are co-owners of the neighboring property. (Complaint, ¶ 2.) The parties have been neighbors for over 20 years, and have been adverse parties in litigation for over 15 years. In this particular dispute, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants caused the grade of their land to be raised approximately three feet, resulting in damage to Plaintiff’s garage.

On August 15, 2018, Defendant Flanagan filed a motion for sanctions against Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s counsel for violation of Code of Civil Procedure section 128.7(b). Defendant Flanagan argued that this litigation was barred by a settlement agreement in Cameron M. Flanagan v. Maria V. Beuchel, Case Number BS102870, which was executed in 2006. The Court (Feffer, J.) held a hearing on the motion on January 30, 2019, following which it granted the motion against Plaintiff, but not Plaintiff’s counsel. Judge Feffer concluded that this action was legally and factually frivolous because it was barred by the 2006 settlement agreement, and that Plaintiff had filed this action for the improper purpose of harassing Defendant Flanagan. Plaintiff filed a timely appeal of Judge Feffer’s order, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. Plaintiff then filed a request to dismiss Defendant Flanagan without prejudice on September 4, 2020, which was granted four days later.

Now, Defendant Hankel moves for a judgment on the pleadings on the same basis, viz., that the claims at issue in this litigation were resolved by the 2006 settlement agreement. Although Defendant Hankel was not a signatory to that agreement, he co-owns the property at issue with Defendant Flanagan. Plaintiff opposes the motion, which is granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

California Code of Civil Procedure section 438 states, in relevant part:  “(b)(1) A party may move for judgment on the pleadings. . . . (c)(1)  The motion provided for in this section may only be made on one of the following grounds: . . . . (B)  If the moving party is a defendant, that either of the following conditions exist: (i)  The court has no jurisdiction of the subject of the cause of action alleged in the complaint.  (ii)  The complaint does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against that defendant.” 

“A motion for judgment on the pleadings is the equivalent of a general demurrer but is made after the time for demurrer has expired. The rules governing demurrers apply. The grounds for a motion for judgment on the pleadings must appear on the face of the challenged complaint or be based on facts which the court may judicially notice. On review we must determine if the complaint states a cause of action as a matter of law. A judgment on the pleadings admits the truth of all material facts alleged in the complaint.” (Evans v. Cal. Trailer Court, Inc. (1994) 28 Cal. App. 4th 540, 548-49 (citations and internal quotations removed).)  

“On a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a court may take judicial notice of something that cannot reasonably be controverted, even if it negates an express allegation of the pleading.” (Id. at 549.)  A complaint's allegations may be disregarded when they conflict with judicially noticed discovery responses. (Bockrath v. Aldrich Chem. Co. (1999) 21 Cal. 4th 71, 83, 86.) “A deemed admitted order establishes, by judicial fiat, that a nonresponding party has responded to the requests by admitting the truth of all matters contained therein.” (Wilcox v. Birtwhistle (1999) 21 Cal. 4th 973, 979.)  

A party moving for judgment on the pleadings must meet and confer in person or telephonically with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to the motion to determine if an agreement can be reached regarding the claims raised in the motion.  (Code Civ. Proc. § 439, subd. (a).)  The moving party must file a declaration detailing the meet and confer efforts.  (Code Civ. Proc. § subd. (a)(3).)

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Defendant Hankel seeks judicial notice of the following documents: (1) The complaint, (2) Defendant Flanagan’s motion for sanctions, (3) Judge Feffer’s order granting the motion, (4) The remittitur and opinion from the Court of Appeal, and (5) Plaintiff’s request for dismissal of Defendant Flanagan. The Court grants the request for judicial notice pursuant to California Evidence Code section 452(d).

DISCUSSION

Judge Feffer has already decided that Plaintiff’s claims are “subsumed” by her 2006 settlement agreement with Defendant Flanagan, and the Court of Appeal has affirmed that decision. Therefore, the dispositive issue is whether that settlement agreement precludes this action against Defendant Hankel, even though he was not a party to that litigation or a signatory to the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement applies to Defendant Flanagan’s “agents, successors, assigns, heirs, executors and administrators.” However, the Court need not resolve whether Defendant Hankel’s ownership interest in the property, or his relationship with Defendant Flanagan, necessarily means that he is a “successor” or an “heir.” Even if Defendant Hankel is not expressly covered by the terms of the settlement agreement, this action cannot proceed because Defendant Flanagan is an indispensable party.

The test for whether a person is an indispensable party to a civil action is whether “the plaintiff seeks some type of affirmative relief which, if granted, would injure or affect theinterest of a third person not joined.” (Save Our Bay, Inc. v. San Diego Unified Port Dist. (1996) 42 Cal. App. 4th 686, 692.) In other words, “[a] person is an indispensable party if his or her rights must necessarily be affected by the judgment.” (Ibid.)

In this case, Defendant Flanagan is an indispensable party. She is a co-owner of the property with Defendant Hankel. The complaint seeks “a judicial determination of [Plaintiff’s] rights and duties, and a declaration as to her right to remove the soil now placed against her garage and to otherwise build a new fence structure entirely on her own property immediately adjacent to the true surveyed property line.” (Complaint, ¶ 9.) Plaintiff also seeks quiet title relating to an easement. (Complaint, ¶ 13.) These claims necessarily affect Defendant Flanagan’s rights since she owns the property at issue.

Having decided that Defendant Flanagan is an indispensable party who cannot be added to this action, the Court must determine whether the action should be dismissed. The Court considers the following factors:

(1) to what extent a judgment rendered in the person’s absence might be prejudicial to him or those already parties; (2) the extent to which, by protective provisions in the judgment, by the shaping of relief, or other measures, the prejudice can be lessened or avoided; (3) whether a judgment rendered in the person's absence will be adequate; (4) whether the plaintiff or cross-complainant will have an adequate remedy if the action is dismissed for nonjoinder.

(Code Civ. Proc. § 389(b).) Based upon these factors, this action cannot proceed without Defendant Flanagan. Plaintiff asserts a claim for quiet title, which requires her to name as defendants all persons who have an adverse claim to the property. (Code Civ. Proc. § 762.010.) Even if Plaintiff dismissed that claim, she still seeks a judicial determination of her rights relating to her property and the neighboring property. Defendant Flanagan is an owner of the neighboring property.

Based upon the foregoing, the Court finds that this action cannot proceed without Defendant Flanagan. First, Defendant Flanagan would be prejudiced by any judgment since her property rights may be affected. Second, there is no way the Court may mitigate this potential prejudice to Defendant Flanagan. Third, any judgment in favor of Plaintiff would be adequate because Defendant Flanagan would not be bound by its terms. Finally, Plaintiff is not entitled to an additional remedy in this dispute. Judge Feffer found that she effectively waived these claims in her 2006 settlement with Defendant Flanagan. Plaintiff’s efforts to proceed solely against Defendant Hankel are nothing more than an effort to circumvent that settlement agreement. The Court has considered Plaintiff’s arguments and do not find them persuasive.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

The Court grants Defendant Hankel’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Court advances and vacates the post-mediation status conference and trial setting conference. Instead, this Court sets an Order to Show Cause why the case against Defendant Hankel should not be dismissed without prejudice. The hearing on the OSC shall be held on April 13, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. Defendant Hankel shall provide notice and file proof of such with the Court.

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