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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 04/29/2021 at 19:07:39 (UTC).

STEVENS GLOBAL LOGISTICS, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION VS TEXAS AVIATION GROUP, LLC, A TEXAS LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Case Summary

On 04/19/2019 STEVENS GLOBAL LOGISTICS, INC , A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against TEXAS AVIATION GROUP, LLC, A TEXAS LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Torrance Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are RAMONA G. SEE and DEIRDRE HILL. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******0370

  • Filing Date:

    04/19/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Torrance Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

RAMONA G. SEE

DEIRDRE HILL

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

STEVENS GLOBAL LOGISTICS INC. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

SUMMIT SKY ADVISORY LLC

Defendants

TEXAS AVIATION GROUP LLC A TEXAS LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

SUMMIT SKY ADVISORY LLC DOE 1

STEVENS GLOBAL LOGISTICS INC.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Defendant Attorneys

ROBERTS CAMERON WILLIAM

FAY THOMAS

MURTAUGH DEVIN

BREW SEAN

 

Court Documents

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

3/12/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Separate Statement

3/12/2021: Separate Statement

Declaration - DECLARATION OF AUSTIN FRAVER ISO OPPOSITION TO MSJ

3/3/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF AUSTIN FRAVER ISO OPPOSITION TO MSJ

Opposition - OPPOSITION TO STEVENS GLOBAL MSJ

3/3/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION TO STEVENS GLOBAL MSJ

Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF DEVIN MURTAUGH ISO TO STEVENS GLOBAL LOGISTICS, INC.S MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS AND FURTHER RESPONSES TO INTERROGATORIES AND FOR MONETARY SANCT

1/29/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF DEVIN MURTAUGH ISO TO STEVENS GLOBAL LOGISTICS, INC.S MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS AND FURTHER RESPONSES TO INTERROGATORIES AND FOR MONETARY SANCT

Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION TO WITHDRAW AND RESCHEDULE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

10/13/2020: Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION TO WITHDRAW AND RESCHEDULE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

9/30/2020: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Motion for Summary Judgment

9/4/2020: Motion for Summary Judgment

Separate Statement

9/4/2020: Separate Statement

Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF BREW ISO MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

9/4/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF BREW ISO MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Answer

9/23/2020: Answer

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

9/23/2020: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Case Management Statement

8/12/2019: Case Management Statement

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

6/12/2019: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Proof of Personal Service

6/14/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Notice of Case Management Conference

4/22/2019: Notice of Case Management Conference

Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

4/19/2019: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

Civil Case Cover Sheet

4/19/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet

60 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 11/01/2022
  • Hearing11/01/2022 at 10:30 AM in Department B at 825 Maple Ave., Torrance, CA 90503; Jury Trial

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  • 10/25/2022
  • Hearing10/25/2022 at 10:30 AM in Department B at 825 Maple Ave., Torrance, CA 90503; Final Status Conference

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  • 08/03/2022
  • Hearing08/03/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department B at 825 Maple Ave., Torrance, CA 90503; Status Conference

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  • 04/16/2021
  • Docketat 09:30 AM in Department B; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 04/16/2021
  • Docketat 09:30 AM in Department B; Trial Setting Conference - Held

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  • 04/16/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment; Trial Setting Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/12/2021
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Stevens Global Logistics, Inc., a California corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/12/2021
  • DocketObjection (Objection to Supplemental Opposition); Filed by Stevens Global Logistics, Inc., a California corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/02/2021
  • DocketObjection (to Evidence in Support of Opposition to MSJ); Filed by Summit Sky Advisory, LLC (Doe 1) (Defendant)

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  • 04/02/2021
  • DocketOpposition (Supplemental Opposition to Stevens' Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication); Filed by Summit Sky Advisory, LLC (Doe 1) (Defendant)

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83 More Docket Entries
  • 07/05/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department M, Deirdre Hill, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 06/21/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department M, Deirdre Hill, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 06/14/2019
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Stevens Global Logistics, Inc., a California corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/12/2019
  • DocketNotice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/22/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Failure to File Proof of Service; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/22/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Stevens Global Logistics, Inc., a California corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Stevens Global Logistics, Inc., a California corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/19/2019
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Stevens Global Logistics, Inc., a California corporation (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19TRCV00370    Hearing Date: April 16, 2021    Dept: B

LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT – SOUTHWEST DISTRICT

Honorable Gary Y. Tanaka

Department B

Friday, April 16, 2021

Calendar No. 6

PROCEEDINGS

Stevens Global Logistics, Inc. v. Texas Aviation Group, LLC, et al.

19TRCV00370

  1. Stevens Global Logistics, Inc.’s Motion for Summary Adjudication and Summary Judgment

    TENTATIVE RULING

    Stevens Global Logistics, Inc.’s (“Stevens”) Motion for Summary Adjudication and Summary Judgment is denied.

    Objections

    Stevens’ Objections to the Declaration of Austin Fraver: Objections 1 to 20 are overruled.

    Summit Sky Advisory, LLC’s Objections dated April 2, 2021: Objection 1 is overruled as Summit Sky was provided an opportunity to respond to this new evidence. Objection 2 is sustained.

    Stevens’ Objection dated April 12, 2021: Objection is sustained because the supplemental opposition was only allowed to address the new evidence submitted with the Reply.

    Request for Judicial Notice

    Stevens’ request for judicial notice of the Complaint in 20TRCV00199 is granted pursuant to Evid. Code § 452(d).

    Background

    On April 19, 2019 Stevens Global Logistics, Inc. filed its Complaint in 19TRCV00370 alleging the following facts: Stevens is a freight forwarding company which arranges for the transportation of cargo for its customers. Texas Aviation Group, LLC (“Texas Aviation”) and Summit Sky Advisory, LLC (“Summit Sky”) hired Stevens to arrange for the shipment of aircraft engines from Australia to Serbia. Stevens contacted ACS Logistics GmbH & Co KG (“ACS Logistics”) to arrange for the trucking segment to Serbia. Stevens performed the contract, but Texas Aviation and Summit Sky failed to pay Stevens’ invoice of $35,936.93. Stevens alleged causes of action for: (1) Breach of Contract; (2) Open Book Account; (3) Account Stated; and (4) Quantum Meruit.

    Texas Aviation and Summit Sky deny liability on the grounds that Stevens failed to perform because the cargo was damaged in transit. In addition, Texas Aviation denies that it is a party to the contract.

    On February 28, 2020, Summit Sky filed its own Complaint in Case No. 20TRCV00199. Summit Sky’s operative First Amended Complaint was filed on July 17, 2020 alleging causes of action for: (1) Breach of Contract; and (2) Negligence.

    On September 4, 2020, the Court granted the parties request to relate and consolidate the two actions, with Case No. 19TRCV00370 to serve as the lead case.

    Motion for Summary Judgment

    The purpose of a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication “is to provide courts with a mechanism to cut through the parties’ pleadings in order to determine whether, despite their allegations, trial is in fact necessary to resolve their dispute.” (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843.) “Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (c), requires the trial judge to grant summary judgment if 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.” (Adler v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1992) 7 Cal. App. 4th 1110, 1119.)

    “On a motion for summary judgment, the initial burden is always on the moving party to make a prima facie showing that there are no triable issues of material fact.” (Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal. App. 4th 1510, 1519.) A defendant moving for summary judgment or summary adjudication “has met his or her burden of showing that a cause of action has no merit if the party has shown that one or more elements of the cause of action . . . cannot be established, or that there is a complete defense to the cause of action.” CCP § 437c(p)(2). “Once the defendant . . . has met that burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff . . . to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action or a defense thereto.” CCP § 437c(p)(2). “If the plaintiff cannot do so, summary judgment should be granted.” Avivi v. Centro Medico Urgente Medical Center (2008) 159 Cal. App. 4th 463, 467.

    “A plaintiff or cross-complainant has met his or her burden of showing that there is no defense to a cause of action if that party has proved each element of the cause of action entitling the party to judgment on the cause of action. Once the plaintiff or cross-complainant has met that burden, the burden shifts to the defendant or cross-defendant to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action or a defense thereto.” CCP § 437c(p)(1).

    “When deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the court must consider all of the evidence set forth in the papers (except evidence to which the court has sustained an objection), as well as all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from that evidence, in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.” (Avivi, 159 Cal.App.4th at 467; CCP § 437c(c).)

    Stevens moves as follows:

  1. In the lead case, Case No. 19TRCV00370, Stevens, as Plaintiff, moves for summary adjudication of its first cause of action for Breach of Contract against Texas Aviation and Summit Sky;

  2. In the related case, Case No. 20TRCV00199, Stevens, as Defendant, moves for summary judgment, or in the alternative, summary adjudication of issues as to the causes of action for breach of contract and negligence by Summit Sky against Stevens.

Case No. 19TRCV00370

As to the first cause of action for Breach of Contract in Case No. 19TRCV00370, triable issues of material fact exist. “The elements of a cause of action for breach of contract are: (1) the contract, (2) plaintiff's performance or excuse for nonperformance, (3) defendant's breach, and (4) the resulting damages to plaintiff.” Coles v. Glaser (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 384, 391.

Stevens has met its initial burden of showing that there is no defense to the cause of action by proving each element of the cause of action entitling Stevens to judgment on that cause of action. However, Texas Aviation and Summit Sky have met their burden to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action by setting forth specific facts to show the existence of a triable issue of material fact. CCP § 437c(p)(1).

First, a triable issue of material fact exists as to whether Texas Aviation is a party to the contract. (Texas Aviation/Summit Sky Separate Statement of Facts and Supporting Evidence, 97-121). Texas Aviation argues that it is not a party to the contract. Interpretation of a contract is a matter of law generally for the Court to determine. Super 7 Motel Associates v. Wang (1993) 16 Cal.App.4th 541, 545, fn. 1. “It is therefore solely a judicial function to interpret a written instrument unless the interpretation turns upon the credibility of extrinsic evidence.” De Guere v. Universal City Studios, Inc. (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 482, 501. Stevens argues that the conduct of Texas Aviation, and specifically of Austin Fraver, Executive Vice President of both Texas Aviation and Summit Sky, in the account set up process, the acceptance of the quotes, and email confirmations all support the finding that Texas Aviation was a party to the contract. (Stevens’ Separate Statement of Facts and Supporting Evidence, 3-7, 15, 18).

Texas Aviation argues that it did not own the engine and that Fraver intended to contract solely on behalf of Summit Sky. Texas Aviation refers to the email in which Fraver stated: “On behalf of Texas Aviation Group affiliate Summit Sky Advisory, the attached quote . . .is confirmed to ship.” Stevens argues that this statement is much too ambiguous to clearly identify that only Summit Sky was intended to be the contracting party as opposed to Texas Aviation. Here, the issue of whether Texas Aviation is a contracting party turns on the credibility of the extrinsic evidence submitted by both parties. Triable issues of fact exist as to whether Texas Aviation was or was not intended to be a contracting party based on the numerous representations and conduct of the parties. As to Summit Sky, Summit Sky does not dispute that it is a party to the contract, setting forth its own breach of contract claim in Case No. 20TRCV01099.

Stevens has provided facts and supported with competent evidence that it performed the contract. Texas Aviation and Summit Sky argue that Stevens failed to perform the contract because the cargo was damaged. A triable issue of material fact exists as to whether Stevens performed the contract.

First, Stevens argues that the contract limits Stevens’ liability. The limitation of liability is set forth on the face of the quote. “Stevens is not responsible for any damage due to improper loading and/or bracing of freight.” (Stevens’ Separate Statement, 16). The contract’s Terms and Conditions also preclude liability for “any loss, damage, delay, mis[-]delivery, non-delivery or other result not caused by its own negligence.” (Id. at 32.) Texas Aviation and Summit Sky argue that the instructions on the Account Set-Up and Quotes direct these parties to go to the website to view the terms. Thus, Texas Aviation and Summit Sky argue that these conditions cannot be imposed upon them. However, parties to a contract may be required to view contractual terms via a website hyperlink. See, Net2Phone, Inc. v. Superior Court (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 583, 588. On the other hand, depending on the format and layout of the website, such hyperlink terms, when a party is not required to affirmatively click on the link, may be held to be unenforceable. See, Long v. Provide Commerce, Inc. (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 855, 862.

Here, Stevens itself does not deny that the limitations provision does not preclude liability for its own negligence. Because a triable issue of material fact exists as to whether Stevens acted negligently, a triable issue of fact exists as to the element of Stevens’ own performance of the contract. Whether Stevens complied with its own checklist that it had developed for shipping of engines presents a trial issue of material fact. (Texas/Summit Separate Statement, 88-93). Further, Stevens was specifically informed that an air ride truck/freight would be required. Stevens reassured Summit Sky that its partners/agents that would be transporting the engine would utilize an air ride truck. (Id. at 95-96, 106). Stevens now denies that the transportation companies were its agents or partners contending that these terms were used loosely and actually were meant to refer to non-agent/partner third parties. (Suppl. Decl., Timothy K. Hewey.) However, this statement relies on credibility and the weighing of evidence, and, thus, a triable issue of material fact exists as to whether these entities were in fact acting as agents or partners of Stevens.

Second, as a freight forwarder, Stevens argues that its potential liability is limited. The following passage in the U.S. Supreme Court case U.S. v. American Union Transport (1946) 327 U.S. 437, 442–443 is instructive:

“They are primarily forwarders of freight, as that term is generally understood, for transshipment in foreign commerce. The foreign freight forwarding business is a medium used by almost all export shippers. An exporter, intending to send goods abroad, consigns the merchandise to a forwarder who then makes all the arrangements for dispatching it to a foreign port. The forwarder must arrange for necessary space with the steamship companies, procure and prepare the many documents, obtain permits for the acceptance of freight at piers, and at times must find available storage space for the shipment until steamers are available. If requested to do so, a forwarder will secure whatever insurance is needed. [¶] Forwarders also have many other incidental duties. They check the marks on shipping papers and containers in order to be certain that they are in accordance with the regulations of the country of destination. They convert weights and measurements into the metric system when necessary. They keep records, for the convenience of the exporter, of all shipments dispatched. They also prosecute such claims as may be required by the exporter against carriers, insurance companies, and any other parties in interest. [¶] By engaging in these many activities of the forwarding business, independent forwarders—and particularly the appellees—act as agents of the shipper. They assume no responsibility for the transportation of goods.” Id.

Here, a triable issue of material fact exists as to whether Stevens was acting solely as a “freight forwarder.” Stevens specifically agreed to move the engine from its place of origin to its final destination, and specifically agreed to use an air-ride truck for the ground transportation. (Texas/Summit Separate Statement, 11, 14, 95-96, 106). In addition, Texas Aviation/Summit Sky provided evidence that Stevens holds itself out as an international shipping specialist, and not merely a freight forwarder. (Id. at 126). Finally, as noted above, Stevens’ own contractual language establishes that it may be held liable for its own negligence.

Stevens also argues that Texas Aviation/Summit Sky purchased insurance to cover possible damage to the engine while in transit. (Stevens, Separate Statement, 39-41.) According to Stevens, this purchase demonstrates these parties’ awareness of the limitation of liability provision. However, Summit provided evidence that this insurance purchase was made before entering into the contract. (Texas/Summit Separate Statement, 115-116).

Case No. 20TRCV00199

As to the first cause of action for Breach of Contract in Case No. 20TRCV00199, triable issues of material fact exist. “The elements of a cause of action for breach of contract are: (1) the contract, (2) plaintiff's performance or excuse for nonperformance, (3) defendant's breach, and (4) the resulting damages to plaintiff.” Coles v. Glaser (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 384, 391.

As to the second cause of action for Negligence, a triable issue of material fact exists. “The elements of a cause of action for negligence are duty, breach, causation, and damages.” Johnson v. Prasad (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 74, 78. “The determination whether a duty exists is an issue of law.” Chee v. Amanda Goldt Property Management (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 1360, 1369.

The same facts and evidence noted above demonstrates the existence of a triable issue of material fact as to whether Stevens breached the contract based on the damage incurred by Summit Sky to its engines.

Stevens argued that the first cause of action (as well as the second cause of action) is barred by the one-year statute of limitations imposed upon Summit Sky in the Terms and Conditions. However, as noted above, the Terms and Conditions were only set forth as a direction to the website. Triable issues of material fact exist as to whether these Terms and Conditions were imposed upon Summit Sky. (Summit Sky, Separate Statement, 99-105).

As to the second cause of action for Negligence, the same facts above show the existence of a triable issue of fact as to breach, causation, and damages. Stevens does show that the requirement of a separate duty sounding in tort as opposed to the duties imposed by contract do not appear to exist here. BFGC Architects Planners, Inc. v. Forcum/Mackey Construction, Inc., (2004) 119 Cal.App.4th 848.

However, here, Stevens failed to adequately comply with Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1350. Stevens failed to specifically repeat verbatim the issues sought to be adjudicated both in the notice of motion and the separate statement of facts. Thus, based on this procedural defect, the Court cannot adjudicate the second cause of action in favor of Stevens.

Thus, for the foregoing reasons, Stevens’ Motion for Summary Judgment and/or Summary Adjudication of Issues is denied.

Texas Aviation/Summit Sky is ordered to give notice of this ruling.

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