This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 01/12/2022 at 20:45:16 (UTC).

SCOTT FISCH VS COVINA VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Case Summary

On 07/15/2020 SCOTT FISCH filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against COVINA VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Pomona Courthouse South located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are GLORIA WHITE-BROWN and THOMAS C. FALLS. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******0457

  • Filing Date:

    07/15/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

GLORIA WHITE-BROWN

THOMAS C. FALLS

 

Party Details

Appellant and Plaintiff

FISCH SCOTT

Respondent and Defendant

COVINA VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorney

DANFORTH SCOTT DALE

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING - OTHER RE: SETTLEMENT STATEMENT ON APPEAL)

1/6/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING - OTHER RE: SETTLEMENT STATEMENT ON APPEAL)

Order - ORDER PROPOSED ORDER

1/4/2022: Order - ORDER PROPOSED ORDER

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING - OTHER RE: SETTLEMENT STATEMENT ON APPEAL)

9/28/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING - OTHER RE: SETTLEMENT STATEMENT ON APPEAL)

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

10/7/2021: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Appeal - Notice of Default Issued - APPEAL - NOTICE OF DEFAULT ISSUED - B310039 - NOA 12/10/20

9/8/2021: Appeal - Notice of Default Issued - APPEAL - NOTICE OF DEFAULT ISSUED - B310039 - NOA 12/10/20

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

8/23/2021: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

8/16/2021: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

7/22/2021: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING - OTHER RE: SETTLEMENT STATEMENT ON APPEAL)

8/9/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING - OTHER RE: SETTLEMENT STATEMENT ON APPEAL)

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NON-APPEARANCE CASE REVIEW)

7/14/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NON-APPEARANCE CASE REVIEW)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NON-APPEARANCE CASE REVIEW) OF 07/14/2021

7/14/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NON-APPEARANCE CASE REVIEW) OF 07/14/2021

Proposed Statement on Appeal Submitted APP-104 CR-135/143 - APPEAL - NTC DESIGNATING RECORD OF APPEAL APP-003/010/103

5/17/2021: Proposed Statement on Appeal Submitted APP-104 CR-135/143 - APPEAL - NTC DESIGNATING RECORD OF APPEAL APP-003/010/103

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

5/6/2021: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Proposed Statement on Appeal Submitted APP-104 CR-135/143 - APPELLANTS PROPOSED SETTLED STATEMENT

4/22/2021: Proposed Statement on Appeal Submitted APP-104 CR-135/143 - APPELLANTS PROPOSED SETTLED STATEMENT

Appeal - Notice of Default Issued

4/16/2021: Appeal - Notice of Default Issued

Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103 - APPEAL - NTC DESIGNATING RECORD OF APPEAL APP-003/010/103 RESPONDENT'S DESIGNATION

3/5/2021: Appeal - Ntc Designating Record of Appeal APP-003/010/103 - APPEAL - NTC DESIGNATING RECORD OF APPEAL APP-003/010/103 RESPONDENT'S DESIGNATION

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE RE: APPEAL)

3/26/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE RE: APPEAL)

Notice of Ruling

3/26/2021: Notice of Ruling

35 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/03/2022
  • Hearing06/03/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department R at 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766; Hearing - Other re: Settlement Statement on Appeal

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  • 01/06/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department R, Thomas C. Falls, Presiding; Hearing - Other (reSettlement Statement on Appeal) - Held - Continued

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  • 01/06/2022
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing - Other re: Settlement Statement on Appeal)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/04/2022
  • DocketOrder (Proposed Order); Filed by Covina Valley Unified School District (Respondent)

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  • 12/07/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department R, Thomas C. Falls, Presiding; Hearing - Other (reSettlement Statement on Appeal) - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

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  • 10/28/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department J; Status Conference (reAppeal) - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

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  • 10/25/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department R, Thomas C. Falls, Presiding; Status Conference (reAppeal) - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 10/07/2021
  • DocketNotice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order; Filed by Clerk

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  • 09/28/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department R, Thomas C. Falls, Presiding; Hearing - Other (reSettlement Statement on Appeal) - Held - Continued

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  • 09/28/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing - Other re: Settlement Statement on Appeal)); Filed by Clerk

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44 More Docket Entries
  • 09/17/2020
  • DocketOrder (Re Demurrer to Plaintiff's Complaint); Filed by Covina Valley Unified School District (Defendant)

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  • 09/17/2020
  • DocketDemurrer - without Motion to Strike; Filed by Covina Valley Unified School District (Defendant)

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  • 09/14/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department J; Non-Appearance Case Review (ReFailure to File POS) - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 08/18/2020
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by Scott Fisch (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/18/2020
  • DocketNotice and Acknowledgment of Receipt; Filed by Scott Fisch (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Scott Fisch (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Scott Fisch (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Scott Fisch (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20PSCV00457    Hearing Date: February 04, 2021    Dept: J

HEARING DATE: Thursday, February 4, 2021

HEARING DATE: Thursday, February 4, 2021

NOTICE: OK

RE: Fisch v. Covina Valley Unified School District (20PSCV00457)

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Defendant Covina-Valley Unified School District’s MOTION FOR SANCTIONS

Responding Party: Plaintiff, Scott Fisch

Tentative Ruling

Defendant Covina-Valley Unified School District’s Motion for Sanctions is DENIED.

Background

Plaintiff Scott Fisch (“Plaintiff”) alleges as follows: On or about February 13, 2014, Plaintiff and

Defendant Covina Valley Unified School District (“CVUSD”) entered into a Resignation Agreement and General Release (“Contract”). On September 7, 2018, CVUSD breached the Contract by sending correspondence which contained false, misleading and erroneous information to the California Commission on Teaching Credentials for the specific purpose of denying Plaintiff reinstatement of his professional teaching and counseling credentials. Plaintiff discovered the September 7, 2018 CVUSD correspondence on June 13, 2019.

On July 15, 2020, Plaintiff filed a complaint, asserting a cause of action against CVUSD for:

  1. Breach of Contract

On October 16, 2020, the court sustained CVUSF’s demurrer, without leave to amend.

A Status Conference re: Appeal is set for March 26, 2021.

Legal Standard

Code of Civil Procedure § 128.5, subsection (a) provides that “[a] trial court may order a party, the party’s attorney, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by another party as a result of actions or tactics, made in bad faith, that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.” “’Actions or tactics’ include, but are not limited to, the making or opposing of motions or the filing and service of a complaint, cross-complaint, answer, or other responsive pleading.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (b)(1).) “‘Frivolous’ means totally and completely without merit or for the sole purpose of harassing an opposing party.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (b)(2).) The motion must be made separately from any other motion and it must specifically describe the sanctionable conduct. (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (f)(1)(A).)

There is a 21-day safe harbor period for sanctions when the motion is based on the making or a written motion, or the filing or service of a complaint, cross-complaint, answer, or other responsive pleading that can be withdrawn or appropriately corrected. (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (f)(1)(B).)

The legislative history of the most recent (2017) statutory amendments reflects that one of the purposes of the amendments was to clarify that the standard applied in Code of Civil Procedure § 128.5 is a “subjective bad faith standard.” “[A] showing that a party’s action or tactic is totally and completely without merit does not settle the issue of whether that action or tactic was in bad faith. Such a showing is certainly evidence that the action is brought in bad faith, because a trial court is entitled to infer from the utter lack of merit that the party knew that it lacked such merit, and yet continued to pursue the action for some ulterior motive. However, the trial court may not be willing to draw that inference if it is convinced that, despite the complete lack of merit, the party was acting in the good faith (albeit erroneous and even unreasonable) belief that the action was meritorious. Thus, the inference of bad faith is one which the trial court may make, but it is not mandatory that it do so.” (Summers v. City of Cathedral City (1990) 225 Cal. App. 3d 1047, 1073.)

Discussion

CVUSD moves the court for an order, per Code of Civil Procedure § 128.5, subdivision (a), imposing monetary sanctions in the amount of $12,272.50 against Plaintiff, on the basis that Plaintiff engaged in “actions of tactics, made in bad faith, that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay” in this matter; more specifically, CVUSD contends that Plaintiff filed a frivolous lawsuit, refused to dismiss the complaint and opposed CVUSD’s demurrer.

CVUSD’s motion is denied for failure to comply with the safe harbor provision. The motion here is based on Plaintiff’s action of filing the July 15, 2020 complaint, which led to CVUSD’s September 17, 2020 filing of a demurrer (which was sustained by the court, without leave to amend, on October 16, 2020); as such, the 21-day safe harbor provision under Code of Civil Procedure § 128.5, subdivision (f)(1)(B) applies. Although CVUSD asserts that it sent correspondence to Plaintiff on September 1, 2020, notifying Plaintiff that his complaint violated Code of Civil Procedure § 128.5 and that CVUSD would seek sanctions if Plaintiff refused to dismiss his lawsuit, it does not appear from the record that CVUSD served Plaintiff with a copy of the motion for sanctions at that time. Service of the motion starts the safe harbor period during which the motion cannot be filed with the court. The proof of service for the motion only indicates that it was served by mail and by e-mail on December 15, 2020, the same day it was filed.

Case Number: 20PSCV00457    Hearing Date: October 16, 2020    Dept: J

HEARING DATE: Friday, October 16, 2020

NOTICE: OK

RE: Fisch v. Covina Valley Unified School District (20PSCV00457)

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Defendant Covina-Valley Unified School District’s DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

Responding Party: Plaintiff, Scott Fisch

Tentative Ruling

Defendant Covina-Valley Unified School District’s Demurrer to Plaintiff’s Complaint for Damages is SUSTAINED, without leave given to amend.

Background

Plaintiff Scott Fisch (“Plaintiff”) alleges as follows: On or about February 13, 2014, Plaintiff and

Defendant Covina Valley Unified School District (“CVUSD”) entered into a Resignation Agreement and General Release (“Contract”). On September 7, 2018, CVUSD breached the Contract by sending correspondence which contained false, misleading and erroneous information to the California Commission on Teaching Credentials for the specific purpose of denying Plaintiff reinstatement of his professional teaching and counseling credentials. Plaintiff discovered the September 7, 2018 CVUSD correspondence on June 13, 2019.

On July 15, 2020 Plaintiff filed a complaint, asserting a cause of action against CVUSD for:

  1. Breach of Contract

A Case Management Conference is set for December 8, 2020.

Legal Standard

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. 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.) “A demurrer tests the pleadings alone and not the evidence or other extrinsic matters. Therefore, it lies only where the defects appear on the face of the pleading or are judicially noticed. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 430.30, 430.70.) At the pleading stage, a plaintiff need only allege ultimate facts sufficient to apprise the defendant of the factual basis for the claim against him. (Semole v. Sansoucie (1972) 28 Cal. App. 3d 714, 721.) A “demurrer does not, however, admit contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law alleged in the pleading, or the construction of instruments pleaded, or facts impossible in law.” (S. Shore Land Co. v. Petersen (1964) 226 Cal.App.2d 725, 732 (internal citations omitted).)

Discussion

CVUSD demurs to Plaintiff’s complaint, on the basis that Plaintiff’s breach of contract cause of action fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action and is barred based on the principles of collateral estoppel and/or res judicata.

Request for Judicial Notice/Exhibits

The court rules on CVUSD’s Request for Judicial Notice (“RJN”) as follows: Denied as to Exhibit 3 (i.e., August 13, 2018 CTC letter); Denied as Exhibit 4 (i.e., March 31, 2014 letter to CTC); Granted as to Exhibit 5 (i.e., complaint filed September 28, 2018 in case styled Fisch v. Covina Valley Unified School District, Case No. KC070648 [“Underlying Case”]); Granted as to Exhibit 6 (i.e., December 2, 2019 tentative ruling in Underlying Case [adopted as final on December 3, 2019]); Granted as to Exhibit 7 (i.e., December 3, 2019 minute order in Underlying Case); Granted as to Exhibit 8 (i.e., “Judgment in Favor of the Defendant” filed December 19, 2019 in the Underlying Case); Granted as to Exhibit 9 (i.e., Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant’s 2019 Motion for Summary Judgment) and Granted as to Exhibit 10 (i.e., Defendant’s Reply in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment.)

Merits

“If all of the facts necessary to show that an action is barred by res judicata are within the complaint or subject to judicial notice, a trial court may properly sustain a general demurrer. In ruling on a demurrer based on res judicata, a court may take judicial notice of the official acts or records of any court in this state.” (Frommhagen v. Board of Supervisors (1987) 197 Cal.App.3d 1292, 1299 [citations omitted].)

“The doctrine of res judicata has a double aspect. First, it precludes parties or their privies from relitigating the same cause of action that has been finally determined by a court of competent jurisdiction. Second, although a second suit between the same parties on a different cause of action is not precluded by a prior judgment, the first judgment operates as an estoppel or conclusive adjudication as to such issues in the second action as were actually litigated and determined in the first action. This second aspect of res judicata is commonly referred to as collateral estoppel. (Id. [citations omitted; emphasis in original].)

“The collateral estoppel aspect of res judicata will apply as to all issues which were involved in the prior case even though some factual matters or legal arguments which could have been presented in the prior case in support of such issues were not presented. Thus, where two lawsuits are brought and they arise out of the same alleged factual situation, and although the causes of action or forms of relief may be different, the prior determination of an issue in the first lawsuit becomes conclusive in the subsequent lawsuit between the same parties with respect to that issue and also with respect to every matter which might have been urged to sustain or defeat its determination.” (Id. at 1301 [citations omitted; emphasis in original]; Shine v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (2018) 23 Cal.App.5th 1070, 1076 [“Collateral estoppel precludes the litigation of a claim that was related to the subject matter of the first action and could have been raised in that action, even though it was not expressly pleaded”].)

The prerequisite elements for applying the doctrine of res judicata to either an entire cause of action or one or more issues are the same: (1) a claim or issue raised in the present action is identical to a claim or issue litigated in a prior proceeding; (2) the prior proceeding resulted in a final judgment on the merits; and (3) the party against whom the doctrine is being asserted was a party or in privity with a party to the prior proceeding. (People v. Barragan (2004) 32 Cal.4th 236, 253.)

On September 28, 2018, Plaintiff filed his complaint in the Underlying Case, asserting a cause of action against District and Does 1-10 for Breach of Contract. Plaintiff alleged therein that on or about February 11, 2014, Plaintiff and District entered into the Resignation Agreement and General Release (“Agreement.”) (RJN, Exh. 5, ¶BC-1.) Plaintiff alleged that District violated ¶5 of the Agreement by pursuing administrative discipline through participating in the California Teacher Credentialing (“CTC”) disciplinary process and ¶8 of the Agreement by disclosing confidential information to the State of California Teacher Credential Department which resulted in an investigation and the subsequent revocation of Plaintiff’s teaching credential. (Id., ¶ BC-2.)

On December 3, 2019, the court granted CVUSD’s Motion for Summary Judgment in the Underlying Action; the court’s tentative ruling (adopted as final) stated, in relevant part, as follows:

“The court determines that District has met its initial burden. Plaintiff, in opposition, concedes that District “correctly argues that Picton. . . and. . . Section 80303 must be used when analyzing the facts of the present case,” but urges that District violated Section 80303 when District sent a letter to the CTC on August 20, 2013 and again on September 7, 2018. (Opposition, 3:3-6.) Again, the pleadings determine the scope of relevant issues on a summary judgment motion. Plaintiff is not suing District for a violation of Section 80303, but rather, District’s purported breach of Paragraphs 5 and 8 of the Agreement. At any rate, Plaintiff’s position that the August 20, 2013 District correspondence to the CTC violated Paragraphs 5 and 8 of the Agreement is nonsensical, inasmuch as the aforesaid correspondence predated the execution of the Agreement by nearly six months. An agreement cannot be breached before it is made. Also, when entering into the settlement agreement, Plaintiff released the District from “any and all claims, demands, and causes of action of any nature and kind whatsoever, known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which he may have against any of them” and waived any rights under Civil Code § 1542. (Complaint, Exh. A, ¶9.) Additionally, Plaintiff has alleged that District breached the Agreement “[o]n or about 11/3/2014.” (Complaint, ¶BC-2.) Plaintiff has nowhere referenced either the August 20, 2013 or September 7, 2018 letters in his complaint. As to the September 7, 2018 correspondence, the evidence reflects that on or about August 13, 2018, the CTC notified the District that Plaintiff was seeking reinstatement and requested the District to provide any information that might be helpful to the CTC’s consideration of his request. (Ormond Decl., ¶6, Exh. 17.) The District replied with its September 7, 2018 letter. (Plaintiff’s Decl., ¶17, Exh. 2.) Again, the Agreement permitted District to disclose pertinent information about Plaintiff’s resignation to the CTC. To the extent Plaintiff asserts that any disclosures to or communications with the CTC that occurred after the District’s report of Plaintiff’s resignation in March 2014 went above and beyond the reporting requirements of Section 80303 and thus violated the Agreement, Picton has rejected such argument, stating:

‘Anderson had to provide the Committee with all of the facts on which Picton’s resignation was based, and let the Committee investigate the matter. . . Providing anything less would have made a mockery of one of the principal reasons for the existence of the Commission and the Committee: the job-related oversight of those holding teaching credentials. There would be no genuine oversight by the Commission and the Committee if the credential holder could contractually dictate what the Commission and the Committee could see.’ (Picton, supra, 50 Cal.App.4th at 735.)

Plaintiff, then, has failed to raise any triable issues of material fact. . .”

It is undisputed that Plaintiff and CVUSD were parties to the Underlying Case, and that the decision in the Underlying Case is final and on the merits. (See RJN, Exhs. 7 and 8.) The above ruling explicitly noted that Plaintiff had not referenced the September 7, 2018 letter in his complaint. However, it is clear that the issue of the September 7, 2018 letter was related to the subject matter of the Underlying Claim and was raised in that action, even though it was not expressly pleaded.

The demurrer, then, is sustained.

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