This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/26/2019 at 04:39:23 (UTC).

METRO DIRECT PROPERTY AND CASUALTY COMPANY INC VS ERIN RAUL

Case Summary

On 10/17/2017 METRO DIRECT PROPERTY AND CASUALTY COMPANY INC filed a Property - Other Property Fraud lawsuit against ERIN RAUL. 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:

    ****0159

  • Filing Date:

    10/17/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Property Fraud

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

METROPOLITAT DIRECT PROPERTY AND

Defendants and Respondents

MEJIAN ERIN RAUL

DOES 1 TO 100

MEJIA ERIN RAUL

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

PERKINS JAMES J. ESQ.

PERKINS JAMES J ESQ.

 

Court Documents

COMPLAINT FOR FRAUD; ETC

10/17/2017: COMPLAINT FOR FRAUD; ETC

SUMMONS

10/17/2017: SUMMONS

NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

10/31/2017: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

12/5/2017: SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

Unknown

1/25/2018: Unknown

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketDeclaration ( in Support of Entry of Default); Filed by METROPOLITAT DIRECT PROPERTY AND (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/16/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 78; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service and Failure to File Default Judgment Pursuant to CRC 3.740 - Held - Continued

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  • 04/16/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service and ...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/19/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 78; (OSC-Failure to File Request Ent of Def) - Held - Continued

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  • 02/19/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 78; Hearing on Motion to Deem Request for Admissions Admitted - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 02/19/2019
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by METROPOLITAT DIRECT PROPERTY AND (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/19/2019
  • DocketOrder (Ruling Re: Metropolitan Direct Property and Casualty Company, Inc.'s Motion to Deem Requests for Admission, Set One, Admitted by Defendant Erin Raul Mejia); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/19/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Legacy Event Type : OSC-Failure to File Request Ent of Def; H...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/31/2019
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by METROPOLITAT DIRECT PROPERTY AND (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/31/2019
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by METROPOLITAT DIRECT PROPERTY AND (Plaintiff)

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31 More Docket Entries
  • 02/14/2018
  • DocketMinute Order

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  • 01/25/2018
  • DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 01/25/2018
  • DocketCASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

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  • 12/05/2017
  • DocketSUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

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  • 12/05/2017
  • DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 10/31/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/31/2017
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 10/17/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR FRAUD; ETC

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  • 10/17/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 10/17/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by METROPOLITAT DIRECT PROPERTY AND (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: ****0159    Hearing Date: May 24, 2021    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

METROPOLITAN DIRECT PROPERTY AND CASUALTY COMPANY, INC., et al.;

Plaintiffs,

vs.

ERWIN MEJIAet al.; 

Defendants.

Case No.:

****0159

Hearing Date:

May 24, 2021

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

Plaintiff metropolitan direct property and casual company, inc.’s Motion for summary judgment

Plaintiff Metropolitan Direct Property and Casualty Company, Inc’s Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

Factual Background

This is an action for fraud. The Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) alleges as follows. Plaintiff Metropolitan Direct Property and Casualty Company, Inc. (“Metro”) hired Defendant Erwin Raul Mejia (“Mejia”) as an appraiser and adjuster in February 2015. Until Mejia resigned in July 2016, Mejia submitted false and fraudulent bodily injury and vehicle damage claims, which resulted in payments to others. (SAC ¶¶ 10–13.) 

procedural history

Metro filed the Complaint on October 17, 2017, and filed the FAC on August 10, 2018, alleging one cause of action for fraud.

On August 5, 2019, Metro filed the SAC, alleging the same cause of action for fraud.

On June 25, 2020, this Court granted Metro’s ex parte application for an order to continue the trial date. The Court scheduled trial for March 23, 2021.

On December 7, 2020, Metro filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment.

On January 5, 2021, this Court granted Metro’s Motion to Continue Trial and All Related Pre-Trial Dates. This Court scheduled trial for July 13, 2021.

No Opposition has been filed to the instant Motion for Summary Judgment.

Discussion

  1. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A party may move for summary judgment “if it is contended that the action has no merit or that there is no defense to the action or proceeding.” (Code Civ. Proc. ; 437c, subd. (a).) “[I]f all the evidence submitted, and all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence and uncontradicted by other inferences or evidence, show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” the moving party will be entitled to summary judgment. (Adler v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1110, 1119.) A motion for summary adjudication may be made by itself or as an alternative to a motion for summary judgment and shall proceed in all procedural respects as a motion for summary judgment. (Code Civ. Proc. ; 437c, subd. (f)(2).)

The moving party bears an initial burden of production to make a prima facie showing of the nonexistence of any triable issue of material fact, and if he does so, the burden shifts to the opposing party to make a prima facie showing of the existence of a triable issue of material fact. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 850; accord Code Civ. Proc. ; 437c, subd. (p)(2).) To establish a triable issue of material fact, the party opposing the motion must produce substantial responsive evidence. (Sangster v. Paetkau (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 151, 166.)

Neither a moving or responding party may rely on the mere allegations or denials of its pleadings. A moving party must submit specific admissible evidence showing that the responding party cannot establish at least one element of his, her or its cause of action or defense. The responding party, to defeat the motion, must submit specific admissible evidence showing that a triable issue of material fact does exist as to that element of the cause of action or defense. (Sangster v. Paetkau (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 151, 166.)

The “Golden Rule” on a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication is that “if [a fact] is not set forth in the separate statement, it does not exist.” (Zimmerman, Rosenfeld, Gersh & Leeds LLP v. Larson (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 1466, 1477, citing United Community Church v. Garcin (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 327, 337.).

  1. First Cause of Action – Fraud

The SAC alleges a single cause of action for fraud. The SAC alleges that Defendant Mejia was an employee of Plaintiff Metro as a desk/appraiser and adjuster from February 2015 to July 2016. (SAC ¶ 10.) It alleges that Mejia was “convicted on six counts of Penal Code Section 550(a)(1) insurance fraud on June 8, 2018, for claims submitted to Nationwide Insurance Company, under the case of People v. Dungca, Mejia, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court case number LA086888.” (SAC ¶ 9.) The SAC alleges various instances wherein Mejia “abused his employment position with Plaintiff to cause funds of Plaintiff to be directed to others.” (SAC ¶ 13.) The SAC lists seven claim numbers (MCB70707, MCB93558, MCB89304, MCB94388, MCB95516, MCB96492, MCB595980) wherein Plaintiff made payments to claimants totaling $101,209 based on false representations made by Mejia. (SAC ¶¶ 14-23.)

The elements of a cause of action for fraud are (1) a misrepresentation (false representation, concealment, or nondisclosure); (2) knowledge of falsity (scienter); (3) intent to defraud or induce reliance; (4) justifiable reliance; and (5) damages. ; (See ;Lazar v. Superior Court ;(1996) 12 Cal.4th 631, 638.) ;

In this Motion for Summary Judgment, Metro argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because it “is grounded in requests for admission to defendant which the Court Ordered deemed admitted,” and because Mejia admitted in his own declaration in a related criminal action that the seven insurance claims at issue in this case were fraudulent. (Motion at p. 1.)

  1. Requests Deemed Admitted

Metro presents evidence that on September 30, 2019, Metro served Requests for Admission, Set No. 1 on Mejia, which included 35 requests asking Mejia to admit all material matters set forth the SAC. (Esposito Decl., ¶ 5.) Mejia did not respond and on June 25, 2020, this Court granted Metro’s Motion to Deem Request for Admissions admitted. (Esposito Decl., ¶ 6.) In the Requests for Admission, Set No. 1 that Metro presents as evidence, the requests which have been deemed admitted include admissions that “Mejia knowingly submitted capped, false, and fraudulent bodily injury and vehicle damage claims to Plaintiff,” that Mejia “intended and did cause Plaintiff to reasonably rely to its detriment on Mejia’s intentional and material misrepresentations,” and that “Mejia abused his employment position With Plaintiff to cause funds of Plaintiff to be directed to others.” (UMF ¶¶ 4-6.)

In People v. $2,709 United States Currency (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 1278, a bifurcated criminal and civil action, the People served the Defendant with requests for admission. (Id. at 1281.) After six months with a response, the People moved to have the requests deemed, which the Court granted. (Id.) Two years later, the People moved for summary judgment on the ground that the deemed admissions “conclusively established” that the defendant lacked standing to contest the civil forfeiture claim. (Id.) The trial court found that Defendant had been properly notified of the motion to deem the requests admitted, and that the deemed admissions conclusively established that the People were entitled to summary judgment. (Id.) On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling because the defendant never answered the request for admission, and never asserted that her failure to answer was the result of mistake, inadvertence, or excusable neglect. (Id. at 1285; Code Civ. Proc., ; 2033.280.)

In this case, the Court finds that the evidence submitted by Metro with this Motion does not match this Court’s record. In the Declaration of Julie Esposito, Esposito declares that Metro served requests for admission on Mejia on September 30, 2019. (Esposito Decl., ¶ 5.) However, the copy of the Requests for Admission attached to the Esposito Declaration states that it was served on July 20, 2018. (Esposito Decl., Exh. A.) Accordingly to the Court’s records, Metro served a copy of Requests for Admission on Mejia on July 20, 2018, and on December 13, 2018, Metro filed a Motion to Deem RFA’s Admitted, which this Court granted on February 19, 2019. Esposito does not include any reference to the February 19, 2019 order but instead includes a court order from June 25, 2020. According to the Court’s records, this Court also granted a second Motion to Deed RFAs Admitted on June 25, 2020.

Based on the evidence submitted by Metro in connection with this Motion, it is not clear whether Metro is seeking to move under Mejia’s admissions from the Request for Admission that was served on July 20, 2018 (as attached to the Esposito Declaration, Exh. A), or under a separate Request for Admission served on September 30, 2019 (as declared by Esposito, ¶ 5, and to which the Court order found in Exh. B correlates). For purposes of this Motion, because Metro has not included as evidence a copy of the Request for Admission dated September 30, 2019, the Court cannot determine which specific requests for admission were deemed admitted by this Court on June 25, 2020. Therefore, the Court cannot confirm, as the court did in People v. $2,709 United States Currency, that Mejia received sufficient notice of the relevant Motion to Deem Requests Admitted nor that the specific requests deemed admitted conclusively support a finding for summary judgment in Metro’s favor.

  1. Defendants’ Declaration of Admission

Metro contends that it filed this action on October 17, 2017 and that on October 26, 2017, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed a Felony Complaint and Arrest Warrant against Mejia and eighteen others. (UMF ¶¶ 19, 20, 23; Esposito Decl., Exh. 3.) Metro presents evidence that Metro was listed as a victim in the criminal action, and that the seven claims at issue in this case were also listed as counts charged against Mejia in the criminal action. (UMF ¶ 23, Esposito Decl., Exh. 3.)

Metro presents evidence of the criminal complaint charged against Mejia, which lists the claim numbers alleged in this case, among others, as charges. (Esposito Decl., Exh. 3.) Claim No. MCB70707 is found in Count 76; Claim No. MCB93558 is found in Count 79; Claim No. MCB89304 is found in Count 78; Claim No. MCB94388 is found in Count 80; Claim No. MCB95516 is found in Count 81; Claim No. MCB96492 is found in Count 82; and, Claim No. MCB595980 is found in Count 73. (UMF ¶ 23.)

Metro presents evidence that Mejia admitted in a declaration, as part of his plea deal in the criminal case, that he committed fraud against Metro. (Esposito Decl., Exh. 5.) Mejia declared on June 1, 2018: “5. I committed fraud while working at Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company (Metlife) as a claims adjuster. 6. All of the Metlife claims charged in LA086888 and BA465917 were fraudulent[.]” (Esposito Decl., Exh. 5.) The plea agreement also states that Mejia agreed to restitution in the amount of $153,424.21 to Metro. (Esposito Decl., Exh. 5.) Under the plea deal, Mejia pleaded guilty to the charges against him. (Esposito Decl., Exh. 5, Plea Form ¶ 9.)

In Ray v. Jackson (1963) 219 Cal.App.2d 445, where the court addressed the use of a criminal guilty plea in a civil jury trial, the court held: “Where, as here, the defendant admits having pleaded guilty in the criminal prosecution, the admission then becomes a part of his own testimony[.” (Id. at 453.)We are aware of no rule which permits a defendant to enter a solemn plea of guilty in a court of law and subsequently repudiate that plea when it is properly offered as an admission of the defendant in another court.” (Id.) As held in Vaughn v. Jonas (1948) 31 Cal.2d 586, generally, a guilty plea entered in criminal proceedings is admissible as a declaration or admission against interest. (Id. at 595.) A defendant’s guilty plead tends “to some extent to support plaintiff's charges; [and] its weight and significance under the circumstances were for the jury to determine.” (Id. at 596.)

Therefore, the Court finds that Metro has established a sufficient prima facie case that Mejia engaged in fraudulent activity against Metro with regards to the seven claims alleged in the SAC. The burden shifts to Mejia. However, Mejia has failed to file an Opposition.

Accordingly, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

DATED: May 24, 2021 ________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court



Case Number: ****0159    Hearing Date: January 05, 2021    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

METROPOLITAN DIRECT PROPERTY AND CASUALTY COMPANY, INC., et al.;

Plaintiffs,

vs.

ERIN MEJIAet al.; 

Defendants.

Case No.:

****0159

Hearing Date:

January 5, 2021

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

Plaintiff metropolitan direct property and casual company, inc.’s Motion to Continue Trial AND ALL RELATED PRE-TRIAL DATES

Plaintiff Metropolitan Direct Property and Casualty Company, Inc’s Motion to Continue Trial is GRANTED.

Factual Background

This is an action for fraud. The Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) alleges as follows. Plaintiff Metropolitan Direct Property and Casualty Company, Inc. (“Metro”) hired Defendant Erin Raul Mejia (“Mejia”) as an appraiser and adjuster in February 2015. Until Mejia resigned in July 2016, Mejia submitted false and fraudulent bodily injury and vehicle damage claims, which resulted in payments to others. (SAC ¶¶ 10–13.) 

procedural history

Metro filed the Complaint on October 17, 2017, and filed the FAC on August 10, 2018, alleging one cause of action for fraud.

On August 5, 2019, Metro filed the SAC, alleging the same cause of action for fraud.

On June 25, 2020, this Court granted Metro’s ex parte application for an order to continue trial date. The Court scheduled trial for March 23, 2021.

On December 2, 2020, Metro filed the present Motion to Continue Trial.

No opposition has been filed.

Discussion

  1. MOTION TO CONTINUE TRIAL

“A motion for continuance is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court. However, the trial judge must exercise his discretion with due regard to all interests involved, and the refusal of a continuance which has the practical effect of denying the applicant a fair hearing is reversible error.” (Oliveros v. County of Los Angeles (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 1389, 1394, internal quotation marks, citations, and alterations omitted.)

Each request for continuance must be considered on its own merits and is granted upon an affirmative showing of good cause. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(c); Hernandez v. Superior Court

Circumstances that may indicate good cause include: (1) the unavailability of an essential lay or expert witness due to death, illness, or other excusable circumstances; (2) the unavailability of a party due to death, illness, or other excusable circumstances; (3) the unavailability of trial counsel due to death, illness, or other excusable circumstances; (4) the substitution of trial counsel where there is an affirmative showing that the substitution is required in the interests of justice; (5) the addition of a new party if (A) the new party has not had a reasonable opportunity to conduct discovery and prepare for trial, or (B) the other parties have not had a reasonable opportunity to conduct discovery and prepare for trial in regard to the new party’s involvement in the case; (6) a party’s excused inability to obtain essential testimony, documents, or other material evidence despite diligent efforts; or (7) a significant, unanticipated change in the status of the case as a result of which the case is not ready for trial. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(c).)

On June 25, 2020, this Court granted Metro’s ex parte application to continue trial from August 24, 2020 to March 23, 2021 due to COVID-19 and discovery issues. Metro now moves to continue the trial from the current scheduled date of March 23, 2021. (Motion at p. 2.) Metro argues that good cause exists to continue trial because Metro timely filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on December 7, 2020, and the earliest date available on the Court’s reservation system was May 24, 2021, after the scheduled trial date. (Motion at pp. 5-6.)

The Court agrees that the Motion for Summary Judgment was timely filed and finds good cause to continue the trial date.

Mejia has filed no opposition.

Metro’s Motion to Continue Trial is GRANTED. Trial is scheduled for July 13, 2021. At 9:30 AM. The final status conference is scheduled for June 30, 2021 at 8:30 AM.

Plaintiff to give notice.

DATED: January 5, 2021 ________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court



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