This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/11/2019 at 13:06:50 (UTC).

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA VS RICHARD B SEGERBLOM

Case Summary

On 07/13/2017 THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against RICHARD B SEGERBLOM. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is MONICA BACHNER. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****8604

  • Filing Date:

    07/13/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

MONICA BACHNER

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

SEGERBLOM RICHARD B.

SEGERBLOM KIM

MALIBU BEACH VIEW CORPORATION

FOREIGN COASTAL INVESTMENTS LTD

ADAMSON COMPANIES

MG VENTURES LLC

MANSARD HOLDINGS INC.

LITCHFIELD CAPITAL LLC

KO VENTURES LLC

ATICHSON GERTRUDE R.

COMMONWEALTH LAND TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY

DOEL-FIN INC.

MASSROCK INC.

7 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

KAMIZOLAS WILLIAM TOM ESQ.

Defendant Attorney

SQUIRE RYAN CHRISTOPHER

Cross Plaintiff Attorney

BRISCOE JOHN

 

Court Documents

Unknown

3/5/2018: Unknown

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

3/5/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

Unknown

3/5/2018: Unknown

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

3/5/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

Minute Order

3/6/2018: Minute Order

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS LITCHFIELD CAPITAL LLC AND MG

3/19/2018: REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS LITCHFIELD CAPITAL LLC AND MG

DEFENDANTS LITCHFIELD CAPITAL LLC'S AND MG VENTURES LLC'S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

3/19/2018: DEFENDANTS LITCHFIELD CAPITAL LLC'S AND MG VENTURES LLC'S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

DEFENDANTS LITCHFIELD CAPITAL LLC AND MG VENTURES LLC'S DFMURRER TO COMPLAINT

3/19/2018: DEFENDANTS LITCHFIELD CAPITAL LLC AND MG VENTURES LLC'S DFMURRER TO COMPLAINT

DECLARATION OF DEMURRING PARTY REGARDING MEET AND CONFER

3/19/2018: DECLARATION OF DEMURRING PARTY REGARDING MEET AND CONFER

PROOF OF SERVICE

3/19/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE

DEFENDANTS LITCIIFIELD CAPITAL LLC AND MG VENTURES, LLC'S NOTICE OF DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

3/19/2018: DEFENDANTS LITCIIFIELD CAPITAL LLC AND MG VENTURES, LLC'S NOTICE OF DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

4/25/2018: AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

4/25/2018: AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

4/26/2018: AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

PROOF OF SERVICE AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

4/26/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

4/27/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

REQUEST FOR JUDICAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS LITCHFIELD CAPITAL, LLC AND MG VENTURES, LLCS DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

5/1/2018: REQUEST FOR JUDICAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS LITCHFIELD CAPITAL, LLC AND MG VENTURES, LLCS DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

PLAINTIFFS MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO LITCHFIELD CAPITAL, LLC AND MG VENTURES, LLCS DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

5/1/2018: PLAINTIFFS MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO LITCHFIELD CAPITAL, LLC AND MG VENTURES, LLCS DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT

92 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/07/2019
  • DocketExhibit List; Filed by Litchfield Capital, LLC (Defendant); MG Ventures, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 06/07/2019
  • DocketMotion for Summary Judgment; Filed by Litchfield Capital, LLC (Defendant); MG Ventures, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 06/07/2019
  • DocketDeclaration (of Karl Huish in Support of Defendant and Cross-Complainant Litchfield Capital, LLC's Motion and Motion for Summary Judgment); Filed by Litchfield Capital, LLC (Defendant); MG Ventures, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 06/07/2019
  • DocketSeparate Statement; Filed by Litchfield Capital, LLC (Defendant); MG Ventures, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 06/07/2019
  • DocketDeclaration (of Scott B. Mahler in Support of Defendant and Cross-Complainant Litchfield Capital, LLC's Motion and Motion for Summary Judgment); Filed by Litchfield Capital, LLC (Defendant); MG Ventures, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 06/07/2019
  • DocketRequest for Judicial Notice; Filed by Litchfield Capital, LLC (Defendant); MG Ventures, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 05/15/2019
  • DocketMotion for Summary Judgment; Filed by The People of the State of California (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/15/2019
  • DocketDeclaration (OF DEBORAH PROCHNOW IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT); Filed by The People of the State of California (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/15/2019
  • DocketRequest for Judicial Notice; Filed by The People of the State of California (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/15/2019
  • DocketDeclaration (OF CHR!STINA RUANO lN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT); Filed by The People of the State of California (Plaintiff)

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166 More Docket Entries
  • 11/13/2017
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by The People of the State of California, (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/23/2017
  • Docketat 2:30 PM in Department 71; Court Order (Court Order; Court makes order) -

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  • 10/23/2017
  • DocketMinute order entered: 2017-10-23 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/23/2017
  • DocketMinute Order

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  • 07/24/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/24/2017
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 07/13/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT TO QUIET TITLE [CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 760.020, 761.020]

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  • 07/13/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by The People of the State of California, (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/13/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 07/13/2017
  • DocketNOTICE OF PENDENCY OF PROCEEDING

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Tentative Rulings

b"

Case Number: ****8604 Hearing Date: October 5, 2021 Dept: 71

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

DEPARTMENT 71

TENTATIVE RULING

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, acting by and through the Department of Transportation,

vs.

RICHARD B. SEGERBLOM, et al.

Case No.: ****8604

Hearing Date: October 5, 2021

Cross-Defendant County of Los Angeles’s demurrer to the 3rd and 4th causes of action in Litchfield Capital, LLC’s second amended cross-complaint is sustained without leave to amend.

Cross-Defendant/Plaintiff The People of the State of California’s demurrer to the 2nd cause of action is sustained with leave to amend as a remedy within 10 days, and is sustained without leave to amend as to the 3rd cause of action in the second amended cross-complaint.

The State’s motion to strike is moot as to the 2nd and 3rd causes of action. The motion to strike is granted as to the request for attorneys’ fees and denied as to ¶¶10, 17(b), (c), (d), (f), and (g) of the second amended cross-complaint.

Intervenors Latigo Cove Property Owners Civic Association, Inc. and Alan Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment on their Complaint in Intervention is denied. Intervenors’ motion for summary adjudication is denied.

A. County of Los Angeles’s Demurrer

Cross-Defendant County of Los Angeles (“the County”) demurs to 3rd (just compensation for taking of property), 4th (declaratory relief) causes of action in the second amended cross-complaint (“SACC”) of Cross-Complainant Litchfield Capital, LLC (“Litchfield”).

Background

On July 13, 2017, Plaintiff The People of the State of California, acting by and through the Department of Transportation (the “State”) filed a complaint against Litchfield and other named defendants (private owners of the Property since 1968) alleging a single cause of action for quiet title with respect to the real property located in Los Angeles, California, and commonly known as APN 4460-019-142 (“Property”). The County is not a defendant in the State’s complaint since the County did not claim title to the Property. On July 23, 2019, Litchfield filed its cross-complaint against Cross-Defendants the State, the County, and All Persons Unknown, Claiming Any Legal or Equitable Right, Title, Estate, Lien, or Interest in the Property Described in the Cross-Complaint Adverse to Litchfield’s Title or Any Cloud Upon Litchfield’s Title Thereto (“Persons Unknown”) (collectively, “Cross-Defendants”) alleging causes of action for (1) quiet title [against the State and Persons Unknown], (2) injunctive relief [against the State and Persons Unknown], (3) just compensation for taking of property [against all Cross-Defendants], and (4) breach of contract. On January 22, 2020, the County filed its answer to the cross-complaint. On April 13, 2021, the Court granted the County’s motion for judgment on the pleadings with 30 days leave to amend as to the 3rd cause of action and without leave to amend as to the remaining causes of action. On April 27, 2021, Litchfield filed its first amended cross-complaint (“FACC”), in which it added a fourth cause of action for declaratory relief. On June 21, 2021, the Court issued its ruling on submitted matter, sustaining the County’s demurrer to the 3rd and 4th causes of action in the FACC with 15 days leave to amend. On July 9, 2021, Litchfield filed its SACC. The County filed the instant demurrer on August 10, 2021, and its amended demurrer on September 3, 2021.

Litchfield alleges that on March 8, 1965, the County issued Street Improvement Bond 1, Series One, pursuant to the Improvement Act of 1911, which created a lien of assessment on the Property, which the State alleges it owned at the time of the issuance of the Bond. (SACC ¶9.) Litchfield alleges the assessments on the Property remained unpaid for two and a half years, and on November 27, 1968, the County issued a Certificate of Sale of the Property to Richard B. Segerblom (“Segerblom”), which stated that consideration was paid in the amount of unpaid assessments for Bond 1. (SACC ¶11.) On January 8, 1970, the County issued its Treasurer’s Deed, recorded April 20, 1970, to Segerblom who had satisfied the conditions of the Certificate of Sale. (FACC ¶12.) The Property was thereafter sold and many times until 2012, when Litchfield purchased the Property and ownership vested in Litchfield. (SACC ¶13.) Throughout the transfers, the County collected transfer taxes and the owners all paid property taxes assessed on the Property. (SACC ¶13.) No later than 1999, the State had knowledge the County had sold the Property to Segerblom in 1970. (SACC ¶14.) No later than 1999, the County had actual knowledge that the State claimed an interest in the Property; however, neither the State nor the County took any legal action to resolve the dispute over the property. (SACC ¶14.)

Demurrer

The County argues Litchfield failed to allege the essential elements of the claims for the following reasons: (1) just compensation is not a standalone cause of action but a remedy a private property owner may have against the state for unlawful dispossession, and as such inapplicable to the instant action; and (2) restitution and/or unjust enrichment are not standalone causes of action. (Demurrer, pgs. 11-13.) The County also argues Litchfield’s amended pleading goes beyond the scope of amendment permitted by the Court in ruling on the demurrer to the FACC by adding new claims against the County inapplicable to this case. (Demurrer, pgs. 13-14.) In the alternative, the County argues Litchfield’s claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitations set forth in the Streets and Highways Code. (Demurrer, pgs. 14-16.) The County argues Litchfield’s claims against it, which are based on the County’s improper sale of the Property to Segerblom, itself an administrative proceeding incidental to the collection of a tax, fail because the County is immune for matters relating to the collection of a tax or for interpretation or application of any law relating to a tax pursuant to Government Code ;860.2. (Demurrer, pgs. 16-17.) Finally, the County argues Litchfield’s causes of action fail because it is barred from obtaining a refund of taxes it paid to the County with respect to the Property pursuant to Section 5096 of the California Tax Code which only allows for a refund of tax on specific grounds and requires Litchfield exhaust its administrative remedies and comply with other filing requirements, which it has failed to do. (Demurrer, pgs. 17-18.)

Just Compensation for Taking of Property (3rd COA)

In support of its just compensation cause of action, Litchfield alleges that if the State prevails in invalidating the sale of the Property to Segerblom, the State will have taken Litchfield’s Property without payment of just compensation, and Litchfield will therefore be entitled to such compensation in the fair market value of the Property. (SACC ¶27.) Litchfield also alleges that it has paid at least $1,216,226.17 in property taxes, penalties, and interest to the County in connection with the Property, that the County accepted these payments despite knowledge of the State’s alleged claim of ownership, and as such, if it is determined the State has superior title to the Property, the County will have been unjustly enriched in the amount of property taxes. Litchfield alleges it is therefore entitled to compensation based on multiple grounds, including but not limited to restitution, common counts, money had and received, and unjust enrichment. (SACC ¶28.) [The Court notes Litchfield no longer alleges it is entitled to compensation pursuant to Tax Code ;;3728, 3729, and 3731.]

The only essential allegations of a common count are: (1) the statement of indebtedness in a certain sum, (2) the consideration, i.e., goods sold, work done, etc., and (3) nonpayment. (Farmers Ins. Exchange v. Zerin (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 445, 460.)

“The elements of an unjust enrichment claim are the ‘receipt of a benefit and [the] unjust retention of the benefit at the expense of another’… [T]he ‘mere fact that a person benefits another is not of itself sufficient to require the other to make restitution therefor.’’ ‘There is no equitable reason for invoking restitution when the plaintiff gets the exchange which he expected.’” (Peterson v. Cellco Partnership (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 1583, 1593 (Citations Omitted).)

A cause of action for money had and received requires the following elements: (1) defendant received money that was intended to be used for the benefit of plaintiff; (2) the money was not used for the benefit of plaintiff; and (3) defendant has not given the money to plaintiff. (CACI 370.)

As a preliminary matter, the Court finds Litchfield did not exceed the scope of amendment permitted by the Court in sustaining the County’s demurrer with leave to amend since the Court allowed Litchfield to allege unjust enrichment and/or common counts as a cause of action based on the County’s collection of property taxes while aware of the State’s ownership claim. However, Litchfield failed to allege sufficient facts to support its cause of action for just compensation for taking of property based on unjust enrichment and/or the common count of money had and received.

The Court notes the parties dispute whether unjust enrichment qualifies as a standalone cause of action. Assuming, arguendo, a standalone cause of action exists, Litchfield has not alleged sufficient facts to support the cause of action. Namely, Litchfield has not alleged facts suggesting that the taxes it has paid to the County in connection with the Property since acquiring it qualify as funds the County unjustly retained even if the Court were to determine the State prevails in invalidating the County’s sale of the Property to Segerblom. Litchfield does not allege how the County’s knowledge of the State’s adverse claims to the Property renders its collection of property taxes on said property unjust enrichment. Arguably, the County would no longer be entitled to collect property taxes on property it is determined Litchfield does not own; however, until such a determination is made, Litchfield does hold title to the Property and has made improvements to it, notwithstanding the State’s adverse claims. As such, Litchfield has not alleged how the County has been adversely enriched as a result of the tax payments.

To the extent Litchfield seeks to allege a common count for money had and received, Litchfield has not sufficiently alleged the elements of the cause of action. Namely, the allegations underlying Litchfield’s claim do not align with the theory of recovery for a money had and received common count since there is no allegation that the tax money (and/or other funds) received by the County was to be used for the benefit of Litchfield. Rather, the taxes were owed by Litchfield as the owner of the Property, which Litchfield has owned since 2012.

To the extent Litchfield seeks to allege a cause of action for “restitution,” such allegations fail to state a cause of action, since restitution is a remedy and not a separate cause of action. (See Munoz v. MacMillan (2011) 195 Cal. App. 4th 648, 661 (2011) [“There is no freestanding cause of action for ‘restitution’ in California.”].) In opposition, Litchfield fails to cite to authority supporting a position that a separate cause of action for restitution can be alleged.

Finally, while Litchfield has captioned its 3rd cause of action as “just compensation for taking of property,” Litchfield must still allege a proper claim for relief. Notably, just compensation is itself not a standalone cause of action and Litchfield fails to cite to authority supporting its assertion of a “just compensation” cause of action. Rather, just compensation is not a standalone case of action but a remedy for a private property owner who may not otherwise have a remedy against the State or its subdivisions for unlawful dispossession, destruction, or damage to property as a result of a taking. (See Frustuck v. City of Fairfax (1963) 212 Cal. App. 2d 345, 357-358.) Here, it is undisputed that the State, not the County, seeks to quiet title in the Property in its favor against Litchfield, as such any claims of entitlement to just compensation would be directed at the State.

Based on the foregoing, the County’s demurrer to the 3rd cause of action is sustained without leave to amend.

Declaratory Relief (4th COA)

A cause of action for declaratory relief requires the following elements: (1) person interested under a written instrument or a contract; or (2) a declaration of his or her rights or duties (a) with respect to another or (b) in respect to, in, over or upon property; and (3) an actual controversy. (C.C.P. ;1060.)

Litchfield’s declaratory relief cause of action is based on allegations that an actual controversy exists between Litchfield and the County as to Litchfield’s rights to monetary damages and/or compensation in the event the Court declares the sale of the Property to Segerblom void such that Litchfield does not hold valid title to the Property since, in such a case, Litchfield contends it is entitled to monetary damages and/or compensation from the County since Litchfield has paid the county at least $1,216,226.17 in property taxes, penalties, and interest, which the County accepted despite knowing the State’s alleged claim of ownership in the property. (SACC ¶¶29-30.) Litchfield alleges that, in such a case, County will have been unjustly enriched in the amount of property taxes and Litchfield accordingly is entitled to compensation based on restitution, common counts, money had and received and unjust enrichment and Litchfield desires a judicial determination of the respective rights and duties of the parties. (SACC ¶30.)

The declaratory relief cause of action is therefore based on the same underlying allegations and theory of recovery as Litchfield’s just compensation cause of action. As discussed above, Litchfield cannot allege sufficient facts to state a cause of action for just compensation.

Based on the foregoing, the County’s demurrer to the 4th cause of action is sustained without leave to amend.

Government Code ;860.2 Immunity & Statutes of Limitations

In light of Litchfield’s failure to allege facts sufficient to support the causes of action in its SACC, the Court does not reach the parties’ arguments as to whether the claims are barred by the County’s immunity pursuant to Government Code ;860.2 or the applicable statutes of limitations.

The Court notes in opposition to the County’s assertion that Litchfield’s claims are barred by Section 860.2, Litchfield argues the Tax Code provides Litchfield with statutory remedies as to which the immunity provision does not apply. (Opposition, pgs. 14-15.) However, this argument is misplaced, since th Court has previously found that Litchfield failed to sufficiently allege the bond foreclosure sale of the Property to Segerblom, qualified for the protections Tax Code ;;3728, 3729, and 3731. Moreover, aside from raising the statutory remedies of these Tax Codes as a reason government immunity does not apply, Litchfield’s SACC no longer alleges any entitlement to compensation pursuant to Tax Code ;;3728, 3729, and 3731.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, the County’s demurrer to the 3rd and 4th causes of action in the FACC is sustained without leave to amend.

B. State of California Demurrer

The State demurs to the 2nd (injunctive relief) and 3rd (just compensation for taking of property) causes of action in Litchfield’s SACC. The Court notes the State does not demur to the 1st (quiet title) cause of action.

Background

In addition to the general allegations discussed above, Litchfield’s SACC against the State is based on the following allegations: (1) despite the State’s knowledge since 1970 and no later than 1999 that the County had sold the Property to Segerblom, the State recently decided to claim it, not Litchfield, is the Property’s rightful owner despite the State’s acquiescence in the title of Litchfield and it predecessors; (2) the State’s claim against Litchfield is defective because the 1970 sale of the Property to Segerblom was valid, the State’s claims are time-barred, the State’s claims that no limitations period began to run for various reasons are misplaced, the State is estopped from contesting title, the State’s action violate the California Constitution, and the State’s title claim attempts to take Property without just compensation. (SACC ¶¶14-17.)

Injunctive Relief (2nd COA)

Litchfield’s injunctive relief cause of action is based on the following allegations: (1) if the State is not enjoined from persisting to publish its wrongful title claims Litchfield will be irreparably harmed; (2) land is unique and the wrongful title claims have made the Property undevelopable and unmarketable; and (3) Litchfield has no adequate remedy at law. (SACC ¶¶24-25.)

Injunctive relief in the form of a TRO or preliminary injunction is a remedy, not a cause of action. (See City of South Pasadena v. Department of Transportation (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 1280, 1293.) In opposition, Litchfield does not dispute the State’s assertion that injunctive relief is a remedy rather than a cause of action, but maintains its entitlement to seek injunctive relief as a remedy. (Opposition, pg. 6.) The State’s demurrer as to the 2nd cause of action is sustained with leave to amend injunctive relief as a remedy.

Just Compensation for Taking of Property (3rd COA)

Litchfield’s just compensation cause of action against the State is based on allegations that, if the State prevails in invalidating the 1970 Treasurer’s Deed to Segerblom, it will have taken Litchfield’s Property without the payment of just compensation and Litchfield will be entitled to just compensation in the fair market value of the property, which, as of the filing of the FACC was no less than $20,0000. (SACC ¶27.)

The State demurs to the 3rd cause of action on the following grounds: (1) just compensation is a measure of damages not a cause of action; (2) Litchfield’s claim for money damages against the State is barred by its failure to allege compliance with the Government Claims Act; and (3) Litchfield failed to allege a statutory basis authorizing money damages against the State given the State is immune to non-statutory claims pursuant to Government Code ;815. (Demurrer, pgs. 6-7.) In opposition, Litchfield argues the State’s action is an improper attempt to obtain Property without paying just compensation to Litchfield and Litchfield is entitled to seek the remedy of just compensation via its other causes of action. (Opposition, pg. 4.) However, Litchfield has not properly stated a cause of action or statutory basis for claiming money damages against the State. Litchfield’s opposition asserts that the Government Claims Act does not apply to liability as required by state or federal constitutions, like inverse condemnation; however, Litchfield has not alleged a cause of action for inverse condemnation against the State. (Opposition, pg. 5.) Litchfield argues that given the State seeks to obtain the Property without paying Litchfield just compensation, and given, “the law on condemnations and physical takings is governed by the simple rule that when the government physically takes possession of an interest in property for some public purpose, it has a categorical duty to compensate the former owner,” the State is entitled to just compensation from the State if the State prevails in quieting title in its favor. (Opposition, pg. 4; citing Tahoe–Sierra Pres. Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Reg'l Planning Agency (2002) 535 U.S. 302, 322 [whether a moratorium on development constituted a taking of property under eminent domain]; Rancho de Calistoga v. City of Calistoga (9th Cir. 2015) 800 F.3d 1083, 1088 [whether a mobile home rent control ordinance constituted a regulatory taking as to a mobile home park owner].) However, Litchfield fails to cite to authority suggesting the instant case’s facts, in the event the State prevails in quieting title in its favor based thereon, are equivalent to an eminent domain action requiring just compensation, since such an action involves a taking whereas the instant action is based on the State’s claim that the original transfer of the Property to Segerblom was invalid. Accordingly, if the State prevails, it will have established that Litchfield never obtained title to the Property, not that it is entitled to take Litchfield’s private property by eminent domain. Litchfield has failed to allege sufficient facts to state a cause of action for just compensation against the State.

Based on the foregoing, the State’s demurrer to the 3rd cause of action is sustained without leave to amend.

C. State of California Motion to Strike

The State moves to strike the following from Litchfield’s SACC: (1) the 2nd (injunctive relief) cause of action; (2) the 3rd (just compensation) cause of action; and (3) irrelevant false or improper materials in ¶¶10, 17(b), (c), (d), (f), (g) and the prayer for attorneys’ fees [Prayer ¶5]. (Notice of Motion, pg. 2.)

As a preliminary matter, in light of the Court’s ruling on the demurrer, the State’s motion to strike the 2nd and 3rd causes of action is moot.

C.C.P. ;436 provides that the Court may, upon a motion made pursuant to C.C.P. ;435, or at any time within its discretion and upon terms it deems proper, “strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading” and/or “strike out all or part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of this state, a court rule, or an order of the court.”

Irrelevant and/or False Allegations

The Court declines to strike the irrelevant and/or false allegations contained in Paragraphs ¶¶10, 17(b), (c), (d), (f), and (g) of the SACC.

Request for Attorneys’ Fees

The State is entitled to an order striking the request for attorneys’ fees. The remaining cause of action alleged by Litchfield does not authorize an award of attorneys’ fees. In addition, C.C.P. ;1021.5 only authorizes attorneys’ fees for parties enforcing a right affecting the public interest and that have obtained a significant benefit for the general public or large class of persons; however, Litchfield’s claims relate to its private ownership interests in the Property and the SACC alleges no facts suggesting Litchfield would be entitled to attorneys’ fees pursuant to C.C.P. ;1021.5. In addition, Litchfield’s reliance on Government Code ;800 as authority for attorneys’ fees is misplaced since that section only applies to appeals or review of awards, findings, or determinations after administrative proceedings which are not at issue in the instant litigation.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, the State’s motion to strike is moot as to the 2nd and 3rd causes of action. The motion to strike is granted as to the request for attorneys’ fees and denied as to ¶¶10, 17(b), (c), (d), (f), and (g).

Dated: October _____, 2021

Hon. Monica Bachner

Judge of the Superior Court

Motion for Summary Judgment

Intervenors Latigo Cove Property Owners Civic Association, Inc. (“Association”) and Alan Armstrong (“Armstrong”) (collectively, “Intervenors”) move for summary adjudication against Defendants Litchfield Capital, LLC (“Litchfield”), MG Ventures, LLC (“MG”), Malibu Beach View Corporation (“MBVC”), Mansard Holdings, Inc. (“MHI”), Foreign Coastal Investments, LTD (“FCI”), Massrock Inc. (“MI”), Richard B. Segerblom (“R. Segerblom”) and Kim Segerblom (“K. Segerblom”) (collectively, “Defendants”) on their complaint in intervention on the grounds there are no triable issues of material fact as to the causes of action asserted therein. In the alternative, Intervenors move for summary adjudication of: (1) Count 1 of the First Cause of Action: quiet title to real property by express grant easement in favor of Armstrong and against Defendants; (2) Count 2 of the First Cause of Action: quiet title to real property by prescriptive easement in favor of Intervenors and against Defendants; and (3) Second Cause of Action: declaratory relief in favor of Intervenors against Defendants. Intervenors stipulate that in the event the at-issue facilities are located on property owned by Plaintiff The People of the State of California (“Plaintiff”), they do not assert a claim of easement by prescription per C.C.P. ;1007. (Notice of Motion, pg. 2.)

As a preliminary matter, Litchfield argues that Intervenors’ motion is premature because the Court has not yet determined whether Plaintiff or Litchfield owns the property at issue, and in the event the Court finds Plaintiff owns the subject property, a prescriptive easement cannot be acquired on real property owned by a governmental entity pursuant to C.C.P. ;1007. (Opposition, pgs. 6-7, 17, 22.) However, this argument fails to acknowledge Intervenors’ stipulation that they are not asserting a claim of easement by prescription if it is determined Plaintiff owns the property. Given the Intervenors’ action and the instant motion seek to quiet title only with respect to the interests asserted by Litchfield (and other private owners) and given Intervenors do not seek to quiet any title rights against Plaintiff, the motion is not premature.

Plaintiff filed its its first amended complaint (“FAC”), alleging a single cause of action for quiet title in connection with two parcels it acquired in 1946 and 1947, with Assessor Parcel Number (“APN”) 4460-019-142 (collectively, “State Property”) against Litchfield and other named defendants (previous private owners). The County of Los Angeles (“County”) is not a defendant in Plaintiff’s FAC, since the County does not claim title to the Property. On July 23, 2019, Litchfield filed a cross-complaint against Plaintiff, the County, and All Persons Unknown, Claiming Any Legal or Equitable Right, Title, Estate, Lien, or Interest in the Property Described in the Cross-Complaint Adverse to Litchfield’s Title or Any Cloud Upon Litchfield’s Title Thereto (“Persons Unknown”) alleging causes of action for quiet title, among others, with respect to a 3.5-acre parcel of real property in Malibu (“Litchfield Property”), also assigned APN No. 4460-019-142, the footprint of which is larger than the State Property, such that the State Property is contained within the purported Litchfield Property. On December 4, 2020, the Court granted Intervenor’s motion to file a complaint in intervention against Litchfield and its claims asserted in its cross-complaint against Persons Unknown based on Intervenors’ claims of an easement interest in the Litchfield Property. In connection with that motion, Intervenors asserted their easement interests exist in the portion of the Litchfield Property that does not overlap with the State Property.

On December 16, 2019, the Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment against Defendants, and as such, Plaintiff’s FAC is the operative pleading. Following the County’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and subsequent demurrers to Litchfield’s cross-complaint and first amended cross-complaint, Litchfield filed its second amended cross-complaint (“SACC”) on July 9, 2021. County has demurred to the SACC, the hearing for which is scheduled for the same day as the hearing on the instant motion, October 5, 2021. The instant motion involves only Intervenors’ verified complaint in intervention. [Intervenors filed their verifications in a Notice of Errata, after filing the complaint in intervention.] While the instant motion is brought against all Defendants, only Litchfield has filed an opposition.

Requests for Judicial Notice

Intervenors’ 6/23/21 request for judicial notice of “I. Facts Not Reasonably Subject to Dispute” Nos. A.1 (Historically Active Landslide Conditions) and A.2 (Relocation of Coast Highway) is denied. Intervenors’ request for judicial notice of the fact the Association’s dewatering wells were and still are installed and maintained at the Litchfield Property is denied. (RJN, No. I.B.1.) Intervenors’ request for judicial notice of “III. Official Records and Acts of the County of Los Angeles and City of Malibu” is granted as to No. 1 (10/17/78 Joint Tenancy Grant Deed) and denied as to No. 2 (location of dewatering wells on Litchfield Property). Intervenors’ request for judicial notice of Diagrams depicting Litchfield Property, submitted by Litchfield in its 11/18/19 ex parte application for TRO as a “III. Records and Proceedings of the Courts in this State” is granted for the existence of the document, but not for the truth of the matter asserted therein.

Litchfield’s 8/26/21 request for judicial notice is denied as to the documents in the instant case file, namely, Plaintiff’s FAC and Intervenors’ complaint in intervention, for which there is no need to take judicial notice because the Court can always review the file for the case at hand.

Intervenors’ 9/3/21 request for judicial notice of Exhibit K [Google Maps aerial photo] is denied. The request for judicial notice of the Grant Deeds recorded December 26, 2012 as Instruments No. 20122005107 and No. 20122005108 [Exhibits Land M] and the December 20, 1989 Declaration of William Armstrong [Exhibit N] is granted. However, the Court does not take judicial notice of the truth of the matters asserted in the Declaration. Intervenors’ request for judicial notice of Litchfield’s cross-complaint in the instant action [Exhibit O] is denied, as there is no need to take judicial notice of documents in the instant case file because the Court can always review the file for the case at hand.

Evidentiary Objections

Litchfield’s 8/26/21 evidentiary objection to the Declaration of Donald Schmitz (“Schmitz”) is overruled as to No. 1. Litchfield’s evidentiary objections to the Declaration of Armstrong are sustained as to Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 (sustained only to the extent the statements in the letter Armstrong received on 12/4/03 are submitted for the truth of the matters asserted therein; overruled to the extent Armstrong submits the letter for a non-hearsay purpose), and overruled as to No. 9. Litchfield’s evidentiary objection No. 10 to the Declaration of E. Barry Haldeman (“Haldeman”) is overruled as to “we summarily ignored a letter from Schmitz & Associates (addressed to Alan Armstrong as a representative of our organization)” and is otherwise sustained (as to the contents of the letter for the truth of the matters asserted therein). Litchfield’s evidentiary objections to Exhibits attached to Intervenors’ Compendium of Evidence (“I-COE”) are sustained as to No. 11 (Exh. B), 12 (Exh. C), 13 (Exh. D), 14 (Exh. E), 15 (Exh. F), 16 (Exh. G), and 17 (Exh. H).

Intervenors’ 9/3/21 evidentiary objection to the Declaration of Michael Pallamary (“Pallamary”) is sustained as to No. 1.

Intervenors’ evidentiary objections to the Declaration of Carl Huish (“Huish”) are overruled as to Nos. 2-4.

Intervenors’ evidentiary objections to the Deposition Transcript of Alan Armstrong and Exhibits thereto are overruled as to Nos. 5 [statement not for truth of matter asserted, but for Armstrong’s belief], 7 [Exh. 42, pgs. AA0035-AA0040], 8 [AA0042-AA0043], 9 [AA0048-AA0054], 10 [AA0092-AA0101], 11 [Exh. 2], 12 [Exh. 7], 13 [Exh. 12], 14 [Exh. 17], and sustained as to No. 6 [except as to Armstrong’s observations, to which the objection is overruled].

Intervenors’ evidentiary objections to the Deposition Transcript of E. Barry Haldeman and exhibits thereto are overruled as to Nos. 15 [no specific citation to portion objected to], 16, 17, and 18.

Litchfield’s evidentiary objections to the Joint Declaration of Lea Anderson and Lani Netter is sustained as to No. 1, and thus are moot as to Nos. 2 and 3.

Litchfield’s evidentiary objections to the Supplemental Declaration of Armstrong are overruled as to Nos. 1 and 4 (except sustained as to “they did not notice”), and sustained as to Nos. 2 (only as to My parents acquired… part hereof” otherwise overruled) and 3.

Litchfield’s evidentiary objections to the Supplemental Compendium of Evidence are Sustained as to No. 1 [Exh. K] and overruled as to No. 2.

Issues

Intervenors fail to attach the Joint Tenancy Grant Deed recorded on October 17, 1978, as Instrument No. 78-1147939 as Exhibit J to their Compendium of Evidence in support of the motion. Rather, the final exhibit attached is Exhibit I. The Court notes the Grant Deed is attached as Exhibit 3 to the Complaint in Intervention, and as such, is part of the record.

Undisputed Facts

The Court notes Litchfield improperly asserts evidentiary objections to Intervenors’ evidence in support of certain undisputed facts, and then refers the Court to specific objections. The Court has ruled on the specific objections. Specifically, Litchfield objects to the evidence in support of Separate Statement of Facts (“SSF”) Nos. 1-6, which involve the historical background of the State Property, the Litchfield Property, the highway that originally ran along the coast before being moved inland, the installation of hydraugers in or around 1965, an earth slide in the former roadway in 1968, and the installation of the 29 dewatering wells—22 of which are purportedly on the Litchfield Property (collectively, the “Wells”)—following heavy, damaging rains in 1978. (See SSF Nos. 1-6.) Litchfield also objects to Disputed Separate Statement of Fact (“D-SSF”) No. 7, in which Intervenors assert the Wells were installed “on the Litchfield Property” on the grounds Litchfield did not own the subject property at the time the Wells were installed, rather Adamson Companies, a Partnership (“Adamson”) were the owners, and Litchfield does not dispute that it claims title to the subject property presently. However, notwithstanding these evidentiary objections, Litchfield does not dispute the facts supported by the evidence and does not cite to or submit evidence creating a triable issue of fact as to the facts asserted in Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

It is undisputed that the Wells cost $100,000 to install, they were paid for by the Association’s members, they pump 1.8 million gallons per year, the Association has had the Wells’ pumps inspected semiannually, and the Wells’ maintenance and repairs average $7,500 annually. (USSF Nos. 8, 9 (“USSF” refers to undisputed facts).) It is undisputed that the Wells were significantly damaged by the 2018 Woolsey Fire, the Association repaired them at a cost of $50,000, and the Wells became and are now fully operational. (USSF No. 12.)

Quiet Title: Easement by Express Grant – Armstrong (1st COA)

A complaint to quiet title must be verified and include the following: (1)

description of the property; (2) plaintiff’s title or interest and the basis; (3) defendant’s asserting adverse claim or antagonistic property interest; (4) date as of which the determination is sought; and (5) prayer for determination of title. (C.C.P. ;761.020.)

The description of the property must be sufficiently precise to enable the defendants to identify the property. (C.C.P. ;761.020(a), Law Revision Comm’n Comment.) In the case of real property, the description must include both its legal description and its street address or common designation, if any. (C.C.P. ;761.020(a).) In addition, a complaint in quiet title must identify the date as of which the determination is sought. (C.C.P. ;761.020(d).)

An easement is an interest in land which may be created by grant, express or implied. (Jones vs. Harmon (1959) 175 Cal.App.2d 869, 875). “The creation or transfer of an easement must comply with the requirements of an instrument to convey real property… An express easement can only be created and conveyed by a grant or quitclaim deed that satisfies the requirements of a transfer of real property, or by an oral agreement that is substantially performed by the grantee.” (Miller and Starr California Real Estate 4th, Easements ; 15:14.)

“An easement can be created by a recorded covenant that becomes a covenant running with the land, or an equitable servitude between two or more parcels of land upon the conveyance of a parcel that is benefited or burdened by the easement. (Bryan v. Grosse (1909) 155 Cal. 132, 135.) However, under general principles, an easement is not created by a recorded covenant unless it is created in connection with an agreement between owners or in relation to a conveyance of land. [(Citing ;15:5, Cal. Civil Code ;1462.)] […] The recorded covenant of easement must be executed by the property owner and describe the property benefited and the property burdened by the easement, and the approval, permit, or designation granted that relied upon or required the covenant. (Cal. Gov. Code ;; 65871(c) and 65873.) […] The benefits and burdens of the covenant ‘run with the land’ and can be enforced by the covenantor while he or she owns the property benefited by the covenant, and any successor in interest of the covenantor. The covenant can be enforced by the covenantee or his or her successors. (Cal. Gov. Code, ;65871(d).)” (Miller and Starr California Real Estate 4th, Easements ; 15:42 (emphasis added).)

The quiet title by express easement cause of action is based on allegations that Armstrong claims an interest in the Litchfield Property by virtue of the Grant Deed recorded as Instrument No. 78-114739 (“Grant Deed”) and seeks to have title quieted in his favor against any claim of Litchfield in contravention of Armstrong’s easement and related rights to the Litchfield Property. (Complaint in Intervention (“CI”) ¶13.)

Intervenors argue they are entitled to summary adjudication of the quiet title by express easement cause of action in favor of Armstrong and against Defendants on the grounds the Grant Deed issued in favor of “the Armstrong Family” is dispositive of the Armstrong’s easement rights. (Motion, pg. 8.) Intervenors submitted evidence that in or about October of 1978, “the Armstrong family” received a Grant Deed duly recorded, conveying a 20-foot-wide easement for ingress and egress and the right to construct and maintain utilities with the right to

grant to others over the southerly-most portion of the Litchfield Property. ([D-SSF No. 14] Decl. of Armstrong ¶15; CI, Exh. 3.) Specifically, the Grant Deed, signed on July 20, 1978, provides as follows: “For valuable consideration, receipt of which is hereby acknowledge, [Adamson], hereby grant(s) to William C. Armstrong and Virginia C. Armstrong, husband and wife, as joint tenants… a 20 foot wide easement for ingress and egress and the right to construct and maintain utilities within the right to grant to others…” (CI, Exh. 3.)

As a threshold matter, Litchfield argues Intervenors have not met their burden since they have not provided a date as of which they seek to quiet title and/or a legal description of the property as to which they seek to quiet title, and as such, they cannot state a claim for quiet title (express easement). (Opposition, pg. 15.) However, the Grant Deed attached as Exhibit 3 to the Complaint in Intervention and incorporated by reference includes a legal description of the purported easement. For the purposes of the express easement cause of action, which is based on the Grant Deed, the legal description is sufficient. However, the complaint in intervention does not allege the date as of which Intervenors seek to quiet title. In reply, intervenors argue that such determination is deemed the date of filing of the complaint, and as such, the date of filing applies. (Reply, pg. 6.) However, Intervenors cite no authority for their position that even if they seek to quiet title as of the date the complaint was filed, the complaint need not allege this date. Notably, C.C.P. ;761.020 requires that a complaint for quiet title include, “[t]he date as of which the determination is sought[;] [i]f the determination is sought as of a date other than the date the complaint is filed, the complaint shall include a statement of the reasons why a determination as of that date is sought.” While it is assumed that a quiet title action seeks to quiet title as of the date the complaint is filed, Intervenors must still include an allegation that they seek to quiet title as of this date, in this case, December 4, 2020. Accordingly, the pleading is lacking an essential element of the cause of action, and Armstrong cannot meet his burden of summary adjudication of his quiet title cause of action based on express easement.

In addition to not sufficiently alleging a required element of the cause of action, Intervenors did not meet their burden of establishing Armstrong is entitled to an ordering quieting title in his favor based on the existence of an express easement. Notably, Armstrong’s evidence suggests the Grant Deed was only conveyed to William and Virginia Armstrong, not Armstrong himself. To the extent Armstrong is the successor-in-interest to William and Virginia, he submitted no evidence suggesting as much and, as the moving party, did not meet his burden of establishing he is entitled to enforce the Grant Deed as to the successors-in-interest Adamson, as owners of the burdened property. In reply, Armstrong asserts that as the natural child of William and Virginia Armstrong, he is their heir at law and pursuant to Probate Code ;9650 [former Probate Code ;581] he may maintain an action against anyone to quiet title to real property of a decedent. (Reply, pg. 12; citing Bohn vs. Smith (1967) 252 Cal.App.2d 678, 681.) However, Armstrong has the evidentiary burden in moving for summary judgment/adjudication, and he failed to raise this argument and any evidence in support thereof in his moving papers to give Litchfield the opportunity to respond. Armstrong also argues that he received grant deeds recorded in the Official Records of the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office on December 26, 2012, that memorialized the transfer of ownership of William and Virginia Armstrong’s easement rights to Armstrong. (Reply, pg. 12, Reply-RJN.) However, here too Armstrong cannot meet his evidentiary burden on the motion by introducing new evidence in reply.

The Court notes the original easement was conveyed to William and Virginia as individuals granting certain rights to access and maintain utilities without identifying whether such access is for the benefit of certain property owned by William and Virginia. Intervenors have not met their burden of establishing Armstrong is entitled to an order quieting title of his easement interests in the property described in the Grant Deed based on an express grant of such an easement.

Based on the foregoing, Intervenors’ motion for summary judgment of their complaint in intervention is denied. Intervenors’ motion for summary adjudication of whether Armstrong is entitled to an order quieting title to the Litchfield Property on the grounds he has an express easement (Count 1 of the 1st COA) is denied.

Quiet Title: Prescriptive Easement – Intervenors (1st COA)

A prescriptive easement is established by adverse use of property, in an open and notorious, continuous and uninterrupted manner, hostile to the rights of the true owner under claim of right for a period of five years. (Main Street Plaza v. Cartwright & Main, LLC (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 1044, 1054; Civil Code ;1007; C.C.P. ;321.) As noted above, an action quiet title must be verified and include: (1) description of the property; (2) plaintiff’s title or interest and the basis; (3) defendant’s asserting adverse claim or antagonistic property interest; (4) date as of which the determination is sought; and (5) prayer for determination of title. (C.C.P. ;761.020.)

As a preliminary matter, Litchfield argues Intervenors’ burden on summary adjudication of their prescriptive easement claim is clear and convincing evidence. (Opposition, pgs. 13-14, citing Connolly v. Trabue (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 1154, 1162.) However, there is a split of authority over the standard of proof for a prescriptive easement. (Compare Vieira Enterprises, Inc. v. McCoy (2017) 8 Cal.App.5th 1057, 1074 [preponderance of evidence] with Grant v. Ratliff (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 1304, 1310 [clear and convincing evidence].) In addition, decisions of every division of every district of the California Courts of Appeal are binding on all Superior Courts in the State, and if appellate court decisions conflict, then the lower court must choose between the conflicting decisions. (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450, 455-456.) Notwithstanding the split in authority, Intervenors have failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence and/or by clear and convincing evidence of their entitlement to a prescriptive easement.

Intervenors’ quiet title by prescriptive easement cause of action is based on the following allegations: (1) for a continuous and uninterrupted period of at least five years prior to August 2020, Association installed, maintained, repaired, and replaced the Wells located on the Litchfield Property in an open, notorious, and hostile fashion; (2) the existence of the Wells on the Litchfield Property was well known because the facilities were readily visible; (3) the presence of the Wells was acknowledged by Litchfield and its predecessor; (4) Intervenors seek to have title quieted in their favor against any claims of Litchfield in contravention of Intervenors’ easement rights relating to the Litchfield Property and/or any portion thereof including but not limited to their rights to enter onto the Property and maintain, repair and replace the Wells. (CI ¶¶15-16, Exhs. 6, 7, 8.)

Intervenors argue the undisputed facts reveal that Intervenors used the Wells in a manner that was open and notorious, continuous and uninterrupted, in a hostile manner, and for considerably longer than the five-year prescriptive period. (Motion, pgs. 8-12.)

As a threshold matter, as with the express easement claim, the cause of action for quiet title by prescriptive easement fails to allege an essential element—the date as of which Intervenors seek to quiet title to the at-issue property. Moreover, while the cause of action incorporates the complaint’s other allegations, including allegations relating to the Grant Deed, Intervenors’ alleged interest in the subject property is not by virtue of the Grant Deed. While it is likely that Intervenors seek to quiet their interest in the property as described in the Grant Deed, as much is not alleged in the pleading, and as such, for the purposes of this claim, Intervenors have not alleged a legal description of the real property, an essential element of the cause of action.

In addition, Intervenors did not meet their burden of establishing their entitlement of an order quieting title by prescriptive easement given their own evidence suggests the Wells were built with the permission of Litchfield’s predecessor-in-interest, Adamson, pursuant to the issuance of the Grant Deed. As such, Intervenors’ evidence suggests they did have permission to use the Litchfield Property to build and maintain the Wells and accordingly, they cannot establish the required element that their use was without permission, notwithstanding Litchfield’s present and/or recent objection to such use.

Based on the foregoing, Intervenors’ motion for summary adjudication of whether they are entitled to an order quieting title to the Litchfield Property on the grounds they have a prescriptive easement (Count 2 of the 1st COA) is denied.

Declaratory Relief

A cause of action for declaratory relief requires the following elements: (1) person interested under a written instrument or a contract; or (2) a declaration of his or her rights or duties (a) with respect to another or (b) in respect to, in, over or upon property; and (3) an actual controversy. (C.C.P. ;1060.)

Intervenors’ cause of action for declaratory relief is based on the following allegations: (1) an actual controversy has arisen between Intervenors and Litchfield regarding their respective rights in the Litchfield Property and claimed easement rights relating thereto; (2) Intervenors contend easement rights exist in their favor vis vis the Wells and Grant Deed in favor of Armstrong and his/his family’s use of the Litchfield Property in connection therewith and Intervenors believe Litchfield contend to the contrary; and (3) Intervenors desire a judicial determination and affirmation of their rights and interest in the Litchfield Property to avoid a multiplicity of actions and enable them to ascertain their rights and obtain adjudication of their easement and related interest in the Litchfield Property. (CI ¶¶18-20.) Accordingly, Intervenors’ declaratory relief cause of action seeks the same declaration of the parties’ respective rights and interests as in the quiet title cause of action.

Intervenors argue no triable issues of material fact exist as to their cause of action for declaratory relief; however, Intervenors only cite to authority setting for the pleading requirements for declaratory relief, without actually discussing whether they can meet their burden on summary adjudication of the cause of action if they have not sufficiently met their burden on the quiet title cause of action. (Motion, pgs. 12-13.) Intervenors’ assertion that the Court should declare the rights of the parties, whether or not the facts alleged establish Intervenors are entitled to a favorable declaration, “if the requirements for pleading the cause of action are met and no basis for declining declaratory relief appears” is not sufficiently supported as it fails to address how they are entitled to prevail on the cause of action when asserted alone. (Motion, pgs. 12-13.) Intervenors do not meet their burden on summary adjudication. As discussed above, Intervenors did not meet their burden of establishing an easement interest in the Litchfield Property, either by express grant or prescriptive easement. As such, to the extent the declaratory relief cause of action is based on these same easement interests, Intervenors have not met their burden.

Based on the foregoing, Intervenors’ motion for summary adjudication of the 2nd (declaratory relief) cause of action is denied.

Dated: October _____, 2021

Hon. Monica Bachner

Judge of the Superior Court

"


Case Number: ****8604    Hearing Date: May 25, 2021    Dept: 71

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

DEPARTMENT 71

TENTATIVE RULING

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, acting by and through the Department of Transportation,

vs.

RICHARD B. SEGERBLOM, et al.

Case No.: ****8604

Hearing Date: May 25, 2021

Plaintiff The People of the State of California’s motion to compel Cross-Defendant The County of Los Angeles to provide further responses to Requests for Production of Documents (Set Two) Nos. 33 and 35 is granted. Further responses are to be provided within 10 days.

Plaintiff’s request for an order of issue sanctions against the County is denied.

Plaintiff The People of the State of California, acting by and through the Department of Transportation (“Plaintiff” or “State”) moves to compel Cross-Defendant The County of Los Angeles (“the County”) to provide further responses to Requests for Production (Set Two) Nos. 33 and 35. (Notice of Motion, pg. 2; Separate Statement.)

Plaintiff also moves for an order for issue sanctions against the County and requests it be deemed admitted that the County was aware AIN Nos. 4460-019-900, 4460-019-904, 4460-019-140 and 4460-019-141 (collectively, “Prior AINs”), which later became the subject property AIN No. 446-019-142 (“Subject Property AIN”), were the State-owned Tax-exempt property at the time the County issued the certificate of Sale of Property to Defendant Richard B. Segerblom (“Segerblom”) on November 27, 1968, and that the County neither sought approval nor notified the State of changes to the tax status of the Prior AINs. (Notice of Motion, pg. 2.)

Background

The County waived the right to assert objections to the discovery requests. Plaintiff propounded the Requests in March 2020, and after agreeing to several extensions, responses were due on July 31, 2020. (Decl. of Yoo ¶4.) On August 10, 2020, the County provided untimely responses to the Requests that consisted of objections without including responsive documents. (Decl. of Yoo ¶5.) The County thereafter served documents on August 26, 2020 and supplemental responses October 16, 2020 (“First Supplemental Response”), and on December 2, 2020, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel the County to provide further responses. (12/2/21 Ruling, pgs. 1-3.) The Court ordered the County to produce supplemental responses to the Requests without objections within 10 court days. The Court notes the Requests at issue in the instant motion were also at issue in Plaintiff’s prior motion. On December 23, 2020, Plaintiff was served with the County’s second supplemental responses (“Second Supplemental Responses”); however, the responses did not substantively change and provided identical responses to the First Further Responses with no additional documents. (Reply-Decl. of Yoo ¶4, Exh. A (10/16/20 Further Responses), Exh. B (12/23/20 Further Responses).)

Plaintiff filed the instant motion on March 15, 2021. Plaintiff asserts that the County continues to refuse to comply with the Court’s order and is withholding responsive privileged and nonprivileged documents. (Decl. of Yoo ¶5.) Plaintiff asserts that at the Informal Discovery Conferences, the County’s counsel admitted that communications relating to the government claim of Defendant Litchfield Capital, LLC (“Litchfield”) on the subject property exist, but the County refuses to produce them. (Decl. of Yoo ¶8.) Plaintiff asserts the County has refused to produce documents showing changes to the tax status of the subject property even thought the County Assessor’s Portal shows such changes. (Decl. of Yoo ¶9.)

Motion to Compel Further

C.C.P. ;2031.310 provides that on receipt of a response to a request for production, the demanding party may move for an order compelling further response if it deems: (1) a statement of compliance is incomplete, (2) a representation of inability to comply is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive, and/or (3) an objection in the response is without merit or too general. As previously ruled, by failing to timely serve responses to the Request, the County waived all objections. (C.C.P. ;2031.300(a).)

Plaintiff is entitled to an order compelling the County to provide further responses to the Requests. Specifically, to the extent responsive documents to the Requests exist but have not been produced, the County is ordered to produce them. Unlike in the prior motion in which Plaintiff also took issue with the noncompliance of the responses themselves, in the instant motion Plaintiff asserts the County is still withholding documents that are responsive to the requests. To the extent such documents Plaintiff asserts exist do not actually exist, as claimed by the County, the County’s responses are sufficient.

Request No. 33

No. 33 requests the County produce all documents related to sales from March 8, 1965 to the present of State-owned property located within the County due to unpaid bond assessments assessed pursuant to the Improvement Act of 1911. In its Second Supplemental Response, the County asserted that on August 31, 2020, it produced “those documents in its possession, custody or control responsive to this request” and that those documents represent those the County could collect with reasonable effort and diligent inquiry given the delay in filing the action and that the November 27, 1968 Certificate of Sale is responsive to this request. (Reply-Decl. of Yoo, Exh. B, pg. 9.) The Court notes this is the same response provided in the First Supplemental Response. (Reply-Decl. of Yoo, Exh. A.)

Plaintiff argues the County should be compelled to produce documents relating to changes in tax status of certain APNs, which Plaintiff asserts must exist based on the County’s website reflecting the 1985 tax status change, and all documents related to the sale of State-owned property by the County including communications regarding efforts to search for such documents. (Motion, pgs. 4-5; Separate Statement, pg. 2.)

The County asserts documents relating to changes in tax status are not covered by No. 33’s request for documents relating to sales, and as such, Plaintiff is not entitled to compel the County to produce such documents. (Opposition, pg. 8.) However, the County does not explain why such documents would not be responsive to No. 33 to the extent a sale of State-owned property due to unpaid bond assessments did result in a change in tax status. The Court finds such documents fall within the scope of the request. In addition, the County’s assertion that the Court did not order it to produce documents in its December 2, 2020 ruling is without merit. The ruling orders production of documents in 10 days and notes the deficiencies in the County’s responses. To the extent such documents exist, the County is ordered to produce them.

Request No. 35

No. 35 seeks all documents related to any government claims filed by Litchfield with the County from January 1, 2010 to the present. In its Second Supplemental Response, the County stated that, “[o]n August 31, 2020, the County’s counsel informed Rachel Yoo in writing that the documents responsive to this request were Bates numbered County 0001-6.” (See Separate Statement; Reply-Decl. of Yoo, Exh. B.) The Court notes that this response differs from the First Supplemental Response by removing an assertion that the County has not produce, nor is it required to produce, privileged documents relating to that claim. (See Reply-Decl. of Yoo, Exh. A.) However, the County has not produced any documents. To the extent such documents exist, the County is ordered to produce them. As discussed above, the County waived all objections by serving untimely responses. The County’s assertion that Plaintiff’s motion as to this request should be denied because request was already subject to the prior motion to compel and that it was not ordered to produce documents is without merit. The ruling addressed deficiencies in the responses and ordered document production.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses is granted. The County is ordered to produce documents responsive to Nos. 33 and 35, including documents relating to the change in tax status.

Issue Sanctions

Plaintiff requests the Court grant issue sanctions in the form of ordering it be deemed admitted that the County was aware the Prior AINs, which later became the Subject Property, were State-owned Tax-exempt property at the time the County issued the certificate of Sale of Property to Segerblom on November 27, 1968, and that the County neither sought approval nor notified the State of changes to the tax status of the Prior AINs.

C.C.P. ;2031.310(i) provides that, “[i]f a party fails to obey an order compelling further response [to a request for production], the court may make those orders that are just, including the imposition of an issue sanction…”

The Court, after notice to any affected party and after opportunity for hearing, may impose an issue sanction for misuses of the discovery process by either ordering that designated facts shall be taken as established in accordance with the claim of the adversely affected party, or by an order prohibiting any party engaging in the misuse of the discovery process from supporting or opposing designated claims or defenses. (C.C.P. ;2023.030(b).) Misuses of the discovery process include failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery and disobeying a court order to provide discovery. (C.C.P. ;;2023.010(d) and (g).)

Plaintiff is not entitled to the requested issue sanctions against the County. Plaintiff has not established that the County’s Second Supplemental Responses constitute a misuse of the discovery process warranting issue sanctions. The County disputed that the Court ordered it to produce documents in the prior ruling, and accordingly served supplemental responses that removed objections and corrected issues in its First Supplemental Responses. In the instant ruling, the Court has made clear the County has been ordered to produce documents. To the extent the County fails to obey the Court’s order compelling this further response and Plaintiff can establish the willfulness of such a failure, the Court may consider issue sanctions.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s motion for issue sanctions against the County is denied.

Dated: May _____, 2021

Hon. Monica Bachner

Judge of the Superior Court



Case Number: ****8604    Hearing Date: April 13, 2021    Dept: 71

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

DEPARTMENT 71

TENTATIVE RULING

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, acting by and through the Department of Transportation,

vs.

RICHARD B. SEGERBLOM, et al.

Case No.: ****8604

Hearing Date: April 13, 2021

Cross-Defendant County of Los Angeles’s motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted without leave to amend.

Cross-Defendant County of Los Angeles (“the County”) moves for judgment on the pleadings as to the 1st (quiet title), 2nd (injunctive relief), 3rd (just compensation for taking of property), 4th (damages for breach of contract) causes of action in the cross-complaint of Cross-Complainant Litchfield Capital, LLC (“Litchfield”).

Requests for Judicial Notice

County’s 12/3/21 request for judicial notice is granted. However, the Court will not take judicial notice of the truth of the matters asserted within the documents. (C-RJN, Exhs. 1, 2, 3, 4.)

Litchfield’s 2/23/21 request for judicial notice is granted. However, the Court does not take judicial notice of the truth of the matters asserted within the Proof of Service. (L-RJN, No. 1; Decl. of Mahler, Exh. A.)

Background

On July 13, 2017, Plaintiff The People of the State of California, acting by and through the Department of Transportation (the “State”) filed a complaint against Litchfield and other named defendants (private owners of the Property since 1968) alleging a single cause of action for quiet title with respect to the real property located in Los Angeles, California, and commonly known as APN 4460-019-142 (“Property”). The County is not a defendant in the State’s complaint since the County did not claim title to the Property. On July 23, 2019, Litchfield filed its cross-complaint against Cross-Defendants the State, the County, and All Persons Unknown, Claiming Any Legal or Equitable Right, Title, Estate, Lien, or Interest in the Property Described in the Cross-Complaint Adverse to Litchfield’s Title or Any Cloud Upon Litchfield’s Title Thereto (collectively, “Cross-Defendants”). On January 22, 2020, the County filed its answer to the cross-complaint. The County filed the instant motion on December 3, 2021.

Litchfield alleges that on March 8, 1965, the County issued Street Improvement Bond 1, Series One, pursuant to the Improvement Act of 1911, which created a lien of assessment on the Property, which the State alleges it owned at the time of the issuance of the Bond. (Cross-Complaint ¶9.) Litchfield alleges that assessments on the Property remained unpaid, and on November 27, 1968, the County issued a Certificate of Sale of the Property to Richard B. Segerblom (“Segerblom”), which stated that consideration was paid in the amount of unpaid assessments for Bond 1. (Cross-Complaint ¶11.) On January 8, 1970, the County issued its Treasurer’s Deed to Segerblom who had satisfied the conditions of the Certificate of Sale. (Cross-Complaint ¶13.) The Property was thereafter sold and many times until 2012, when Litchfield purchased the Property and ownership vested in Litchfield. (Cross-Complaint ¶13.) Throughout the transfers, the County collected transfer taxes and the owners all paid property taxes assessed on the Property. (Cross-Complaint ¶13.) No later than 1999, the State had knowledge that the County had sold the Property to Segerblom in 1970. (Cross-Complaint ¶14.)

Procedural Issues

Litchfield argues the instant motion is untimely since it should have been filed no later than April 3, 2020, which was 30 days prior to the initial trial date given a pretrial conference order had been entered. (Opposition, pg. 8; C.C.P. ;438(e) [“No motion may be made pursuant to this section if a pretrial conference order has been entered pursuant to Section 575, or within 30 days of the date the action is initially set for trial, whichever is later, unless the court otherwise permits.”].) However, given the Court’s vacating of the trial date following the filing of the complaint in intervention by non-parties Alan Armstrong and Latigo Cove Property Owners Civil Association, Inc. on December 4, 2020, a pretrial conference order has not yet been entered for the new trial date, which has not yet been set. Even if untimely, the Court, in its discretion, elects to rule on the County’s motion.

Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

The County argues it is entitled to judgment on the pleadings because Litchfield cannot allege sufficient facts to support its individual causes of action against the County and/or the causes of action are for remedies and do not constitute proper causes of action. (Motion, pgs. 6-9.) In the alternative, the County argues Litchfield’s claims against it fail because the County is immune for matters relating to the collection of a tax or for interpretation or application of any law relating to a tax pursuant to Government Code ;860.2. (Motion, pg. 10.) Finally, the County argues Litchfield’s claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. (Motion, pgs. 10-12.)

Quiet Title (1st COA)

A cause of action for quiet title requires the following elements: (1) description of the property; (2) plaintiff’s title or interest and the basis; (3) defendant’s asserting adverse claim or antagonistic property interest; (4) date as of which the determination is sought; and (5) prayer for determination of title. (C.C.P. ;761.020.) In addition, with respect to defendant’s adverse claim, the cause of action must name the specific adverse claims as to which the plaintiff seeks to quiet title. (C.C.P. ;761.020, Comment.)

Litchfield’s quiet title cause of action is based on the following allegations: (1) Cross-Defendants each claim some right, title or interest in the Property adverse to the title of Litchfield; (2) Cross-Defendants’ claims are without merit, are unlawful and Cross-Defendants have no right, title or interest in the Property; and (3) Litchfield seeks a determination from the Court quieting its title in the Property against the adverse claims of Cross-Defendants and seeks that determination as of November 6, 2012, when Litchfield’s Deed was recorded. (Cross-Complaint ¶¶20-24.) Litchfield also alleges the title claims of the State are invalid, and the state has no title, right, or interest in the Property. (Cross-Complaint ¶25.)

Litchfield did not sufficiently allege its quiet title cause of action against the County. Litchfield failed to allege facts suggesting the County is asserting an adverse claim or antagonistic property interest with respect to the Property. Litchfield alleges no facts in support of its conclusory assertion that the County claims some right, title, or interest in the Property.

In opposition, Litchfield argues the County is an indispensable party to the quiet title cause of action because the County held an interest in the property in the form of a tax assessment lien that is at the heart of the litigation. (Opposition, pgs. 8-9.) However, this argument is without merit. Litchfield fails to cite to authority supporting its contention that, the County’s prior lien on the Property makes the County an indispensable party to the present title dispute. Litchfield does not allege or argue that the County has a present lien or interest on the Property. The fact the dispute originates from the County’s prior interest in the Property does not mean the County is presently asserting an interest such that it would be a necessary party to the action. Litchfield also argues Revenue and Taxation Code ;3950 permits the quiet title cause of action against the County because Section 3951, “permits Litchfield to name the ‘state,’ which presumably would include the County as the state’s political subdivision, as defendant.” (Opposition, pg. 9.) However, the argument that the State “presumably would include the County” is unsupported. Moreover, Litchfield has brought the instant action against the State.

The burden is on Litchfield to demonstrate in what manner it could amend its cross-complaint and how such amendment would change the effect of the pleading. (Satten v. Webb (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 365, 374.) In opposition, Litchfield argues it should be allowed leave to amend; however, Litchfield submits no offer of proof as to how it could amend the cross-complaint to state a quiet title cause of action against the County, which claims no adverse interest in the Property.

Based on the foregoing, the County’s motion is granted as to the 1st cause of action without leave to amend.

Injunctive Relief (2nd COA)

Litchfield’s injunctive relief cause of action is based on the allegation that if Cross-Defendants are not enjoined from persisting to publish their wrongful title claims, Litchfield will be irreparably harmed since land is unique and the wrongful title claims have made the Property undevelopable and unmarketable. (Cross-Complaint ¶27.) In the Prayer, Litchfield requests a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining Cross-Defendants from asserting any right, title, or interest in the Property adverse to Litchfield or its successors-in-interest. (Prayer ¶2.)

Litchfield cannot allege sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action for injunctive relief, which is not an independent cause of action, but a remedy. (See City of South Pasadena v. Department of Transportation (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 1280, 1293.) In addition, Litchfield has not alleged facts suggesting the County is asserting any title claim on the Property which must be enjoined, and Litchfield has already alleged injunctive relief as a remedy. Litchfield does not address the sufficiency of its injunctive relief cause of action in opposition.

As such, the County’s motion as to the 2nd cause of action is granted without leave to amend.

Just Compensation for Taking of Property (3rd COA)

Litchfield’s just compensation cause of action is based on the following allegations: (1) if the State prevails in invalidating the sale of the Property to Segerblom, it will have taken Litchfield’s Property without payment of just compensation, and (2) Litchfield will therefore be entitled to such compensation in the fair market value of the Property. (Cross-Complaint ¶30.)

Litchfield cannot allege sufficient facts to state a cause of action for just compensation against the County since the relief sought is a remedy and not a standalone cause of action. (Frustuck v. City of Fairfax (1963) 212 Cal.App.2d 345, 357-358.) Moreover, Litchfield has failed to allege facts suggesting it would be entitled to this remedy from the County given the County claims no interest in the Property, is not the party condemning the Property (which is the state), and has not taken anything from Litchfield that might require a refund.

In opposition, Litchfield argues statutory authority entitles it to just compensation in the event the County’s tax sale is declared void or the Court determines the Property should not have been sold. (Rev. Code ;;3729, 3731.) However, Litchfield does not cite to authority suggesting it can assert an independent cause of action seeking this remedy and why it is entitled to seek such a remedy from the County.

Damages for Breach of Contract (4th COA)

“The essential elements of a breach of contract claim are: ‘(1) the contract, (2) plaintiff's performance or excuse for nonperformance, (3) defendant's breach, and (4) the resulting damages to plaintiff.’” (Hamilton v. Greenwich Investors XXVI, LLC (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 1602, 1614.)

The breach of contract cause of action is based on the following allegations: (1) on July 20, 2018, Litchfield timely submitted claims to the State and County under the Government Claims Act for damages arising from the conduct of the State and County including their breach of contract; (2) Cross-Defendants’ adverse title claims are repudiation of the contract created by the 1968 Certificate of Sale of Property entered into between the State’s political subdivision, the County, and Segerblom; (3) Litchfield is successor-in-interest to the rights created in Segerblom by the contract; and (4) the repudiation constitutes a breach of that contract which has caused Litchfield pecuniary damage. (Cross-Complaint ¶¶32-33.)

As such, Litchfield’s breach of contract cause of action relies on allegations that the State and the County are branches of the same entity, such that the State’s instant action against Litchfield constitutes a breach of the County’s tax sale contract with Litchfield, as a successor-in-interest to Segerblom. Moreover, the County’s alleged “breach” of the contract is its alleged “adverse title claims” which repudiate the County’s 1968 Certificate of Sale to Segerblom. However, as discussed above, Litchfield has not alleged facts suggesting the County has present adverse title claims with respect to the Property and against Litchfield; rather, the State’s action against Litchfield amounts to a present adverse title claim.

The Court notes the County argues Litchfield failed to allege the existence of a contract with the County since the County did not own or sell the Property to Segerblom, and the Certificate of Sale only reflects that the County foreclosed on the Property for the benefit of Segerblom on behalf of the bondholder. (Motion, pg. 9.) The County also argues that even if a contract once existed, Litchfield was not in privity on it given the land was purchased and sold numerous times before Litchfield’s purchase. (Motion, pg. 9.) However, in reply, the County does not maintain these arguments, and instead asserts that the cause of action fails as to the County because even if a contract existed, the County has no contractual duty to Litchfield or Litchfield’s predecessor as a purchaser of a tax sale property. (Reply, pgs. 6-7.)

Litchfield cannot allege sufficient facts to constitute the breach of contract cause of action against the County if the tax sale is found to be void. While Litchfield may be entitled to seek statutory remedies against the State in the event the State succeeds in ruling the County’s tax sale of the Property to Segerblom void, Litchfield is not entitled so bring an action against the State or County for breach of contract in connection with the tax sale, for which the State and County do not owe purchasers contractual duties. (See Craland, Inc. v. State of California (1989) 214 Cal.App.3d 1400, 1407–1408. [“[T]he State and County are not subject to contractual liability and… purchasers at a tax sale are limited to statutory remedies.”].) Moreover, Litchfield has not alleged a breach by the County, which asserts no interest in the Property and does not contend the 1968 tax sale of the property to Segerblom was improper.

Litchfield has the burden of demonstrating the deficiencies in its pleadings can be cured by amendment; however, Litchfield does not address how its breach of contract cause of action can be amended to state a claim against the County.

Based on the foregoing, the County’s motion as to the 4th cause of action is granted without leave to amend.

Government Code ;860.2 Immunity & Statutes of Limitations

In light of Litchfield’s failure to allege facts sufficient to support the causes of action in its cross-complaint, the Court does not reach the parties’ arguments as to whether the claims are barred by the County’s immunity pursuant to Government Code ;860.2 or the applicable statutes of limitations.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, the County’s motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted without leave to amend.

Dated: April _____, 2021

Hon. Monica Bachner

Judge of the Superior Court



Case Number: ****8604    Hearing Date: December 09, 2020    Dept: 71

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

DEPARTMENT 71

TENTATIVE RULING

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, acting by and through the Department of Transportation,

vs.

RICHARD B. SEGERBLOM, et al.

Case No.: ****8604

Hearing Date: December 9, 2020

Plaintiff The People of the State of California’s motion to compel Cross-Defendant The County of Los Angeles to provide further responses to Requests for Production (Set Two) is granted. The County is to provide a supplemental response to the Requests without objections within 10 court days.

Plaintiff’s request for monetary sanctions is denied.

Plaintiff The People of the State of California, acting by and through the Department of Transportation (“Plaintiff”) moves to compel Cross-Defendant The County of Los Angeles (“the County”) to serve verified amended responses, without objections, to Plaintiff’s Requests for Production of Documents (Set Two) (“Requests”). Plaintiff also requests an award of monetary sanctions against the County in the amount of $4,840, plus the court reporter fee. (Notice of Motion, pg. 2.)

As a preliminary matter, the County waived the right to assert objections to the discovery requests. In March 2020, Plaintiff propounded the Requests, along with other discovery requests, on the County and, after agreeing to several extensions following the County’s May 29, 2020 substitution of counsel to Nossaman LLP (“Nossaman”), the County’s discovery responses were due on July 31, 2020. (Decl. of Yoo ¶¶4-5, Exh A.) On July 15, 2020, County’s counsel emailed Plaintiff requesting to confirm the extent of its discovery, which noted the Requests, which Plaintiff confirmed. (Decl. of Yoo ¶5, Exhs. B-002, B-003.) While it provided timely responses to Plaintiff’s other discovery requests, the County concedes it did not provide timely responses to the Requests, indicating that the Requests were “overlooked,” and notified Plaintiff responses would be served “in due course.” (Decl. of Yoo ¶7, Exh. C-004; Decl. of Macaulay ¶3.) On August 10, 2020, the County provided untimely responses asserting objections, without including responsive documents, and on August 26, 2020, the County produced 58 pages of documents, without identifying to which requests they were responsive. (Decl. of Yoo ¶8.) Plaintiff filed the instant motion on September 25, 2020. On October 16, 2020, the County served further responses to the Requests which removed all objections except for privilege; however, the County also determined it was not withholding any privileged documents responsive to the Requests. (Decl. of Macaulay ¶11, Exh. B.) By failing to timely serve responses to the Requests, the County waived all objections. (See C.C.P. ;2031.300(a).) The Court notes the County has not moved for relief from waiver due to its untimely responses based on mistake, inadvertence, or excusable neglect. (C.C.P. ;2031.300(a).)

Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses to the Requests is granted. The County initially served untimely responses to the Requests on August 10, 2020, in which the County agreed to provide responsive documents to the requests, with the exception of No. 23, to which it asserted an objection on the basis of privilege. (Decl. of Yoo ¶8; Decl. of Macaulay ¶5.) After meet and confer efforts, the County served a supplemental response on October 16, 2020. (Decl. of Macaulay ¶11; Exh. B) The response improperly contains a “Preliminary Statement,” a privilege objection and an “Introduction;” however, the County no longer asserts an objection to Request No. 23, and the supplemental responses to the individual Requests do not assert objections. As discussed above, the County waived the right to assert objections by failing to timely respond to the Requests. Therefore, the County’s Preliminary Statement and privilege objection are without merit. (See C.C.P. ;2031.310(a)(3).) However, the County’s responses to the individual requests do include statements of compliance and/or inability to comply and otherwise identify the documents responsive to each request. (See C.C.P. ;;2031.210(a), 2031.220, 2031.230, 2031.280.) As such, Plaintiff is entitled to a supplemental response that does not include the privilege objection, Preliminary Statement and Introduction.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses is granted.

Plaintiff’s request for monetary sanctions is denied. The Court finds circumstances including Plaintiff’s filing of the instant motion in the midst of the County’s meet and confer efforts and despite the County’s agreement to provide the requested responses makes imposition of monetary sanctions unjust. (Decl. of Macaulay ¶10, Exh. A; C.C.P. ;2031.300(c).) As noted above, once the County had the opportunity to provide supplemental responses to the Requests, it no longer asserted its privilege objection to Request No. 23 and otherwise agreed to provide documents responsive to the Requests for which documents existed, rendering the instant motion predominately moot.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s request for monetary sanctions is denied.

Dated: December _____, 2019

Hon. Monica Bachner

Judge of the Superior Court



Case Number: ****8604    Hearing Date: December 04, 2020    Dept: 71

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

DEPARTMENT 71

TENTATIVE RULING

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, acting by and through the Department of Transportation,

vs.

RICHARD B. SEGERBLOM, et al.

Case No.: ****8604

Hearing Date: December 4, 2020

Intervenors’ motion to file a complaint in intervention is granted.

Intervenors Latigo Cove Property Owners Civic Association Inc. (“the Association”) and Alan Armstrong (“Armstrong”) (collectively, “Intervenors”) move for leave to intervene in the instant matter because they each claim an easement interest in the real property parcel identified by Defendant and Cross-Complainant Litchfield Capital, LLC (“Litchfield”) in its cross-complaint that is adverse to Litchfield’s asserted interest. Intervenors move to intervene on the grounds that disposition of the action without their involvement will impair their ability to protect their respective interests which are not being adequately represented by the existing parties, making Intervenors indispensable or conditionally necessary parties. (Notice of Motion, pgs. 2-3; C.C.P. ;;387, 389.)

Intervenors filed the instant motion as an ex parte application on September 14, 2020, which on September 15, 2020, the Court specially set for hearing on December 4, 2020 and deemed the ex parte application the moving papers. Intervenors assert Plaintiff The People of the State of California (“the State”) is not opposed to the intervention; however, Litchfield’s failure to agree necessitated the instant motion. (Notice of Motion, pg. 3.) On November 13, 2020, Intervenors filed a Notice of Errata to the Declaration of Armstrong, which includes a page that was inadvertently omitted from the originally filed declaration. On November 13, 2020, Litchfield and MG Ventures, LLC (“MG Ventures”) (collectively “Litchfield Parties”) filed an opposition to the instant motion. However, the proof of service attached to the opposition indicates it was not served on counsel for Intervenors and was only served on counsel for the State and for Cross-Defendant the County of Los Angeles (“the County”). As such, Litchfield parties failed to comply with C.C.P. ;1005(c), which requires service of an opposition on the moving party. On November 20, 2020, Intervenors filed a reply, which, in addition to addressing arguments raised in the opposition, requested the Court not consider the improperly filed opposition. (Reply, pg. 6.) The Court will consider the Litchfield Parties’ opposition.

C.C.P. ;387(a) provides as follows: “Upon timely application, any person, who has an interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both, may intervene in the action or proceeding. An intervention takes place when a third person is permitted to become a party to an action or proceeding between other persons, either by joining the plaintiff in claiming what is sought by the complaint, or by uniting with the defendant in resisting the claims of the plaintiff, or by demanding anything adversely to both the plaintiff and the defendant, and is made by complaint, setting forth the grounds upon which the intervention rests, filed by leave of the court and served upon the parties to the action or proceeding who have not appeared in the same manner as upon the commencement of an original action, and upon the attorneys of the parties who have appeared, or upon the party if he has appeared without an attorney, in the manner provided for service of summons or in the manner provided by Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1010) Title 14 of Part 2. A party served with a complaint in intervention may within 30 days after service move, demur, or otherwise plead to the complaint in the same manner as to an original complaint.”

C.C.P. ;387(b) provides as follows: “(b) If any provision of law confers an unconditional right to intervene or if the person seeking intervention claims an interest relating to the property to transaction which is the subject of the action and that person is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede that person's ability to protect that interest, unless that person's interest is adequately represented by existing parties, the court shall, upon timely application, permit that person to intervene.”

Intervenors are entitled to file a complaint in intervention in the instant action. Intervenors submitted evidence they each have interests in the real property in which Litchfield seeks to quiet title, specifically the property described in Litchfield’s Ex Parte Application for a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO Ex Parte”) as a 3.5-acre parcel in Malibu assigned the Assessor Parcel Number (“APN”) of 4460-019-142 located as shown in Exhibit C to the TRO Ex Parte (herein, “Litchfield Property”). (Motion, pg. 5; Exh. 2.) In its cross-complaint Litchfield seeks to quiet title against all persons unknown “ ‘claiming any legal or equitable right, title, estate, lien, or interest in the property described in the complaint adverse to Cross -Complainant's title, or any cloud upon Cross -Complainant's title thereto’ ” any right or interest in the Litchfield Property. (XC ¶7.) The Court notes the State also seeks to quiet title to real property that has the same APN as the Litchfield Property (herein, “State Property”); however, the footprint of the State Property, which is identified as parcels “A” and “B” in the State’s Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment, is smaller than the Litchfield Property, and contained within the Litchfield Property. Intervenors assert their easement interests exist in the portion of the Litchfield Property that does not overlap with the State Property.

Intervenors submitted evidence the Association is a voluntary organization composed of the owners of the 29 houses located on Latigo Shore Drive, a private road between the Litchfield Property and the Pacific Ocean. (Decl. of Haldeman ¶2.) Interveners submitted evidence the Association has an interest in the Litchfield Property in the form prescriptive rights of 29 dewatering wells located on the Litchfield Property, which were installed in 1978 following heavy winter rains that triggered landslide conditions. (Decl. of Haldeman ¶4; Decl. of Armstrong ¶10, Exhs. 5, 5-A.) Intervenors submitted evidence the Association has maintained the wells since they were installed at an approximate cost of $7,500 per year, and, after the wells were damaged during the November 2018 Woolsey fire, the Association repaired the wells at a cost of approximately $50,000. (Decl. of Haldeman ¶¶5-6; Decl. of Armstrong ¶¶13-14.) Intervenors submitted evidence the Association never sought nor received permission to install, access, maintain, replace, or otherwise operate the wells. (Decl. of Haldeman ¶6.) Intervenors assert the Association’s interest in the portion of the Litchfield Property on which the wells are located arises under the doctrine of prescription based on the Association’s open, notorious, hostile and continuous use and maintenance of the wells. (Motion, pg. 8.)

Intervenors also submitted evidence Armstrong has his own interest in the southern-most portion of Litchfield Property in the form of a 20-foot wide easement for ingress and egress and the right to construct and maintain utilities, which was conveyed to Armstrong’s family in 1978 by a Grant Deed recorded as Instrument No. 78-1147939 on October 17, 1978. (Decl. of Armstrong ¶9, Exh. 4.) Intervenors argue that, in addition to the express easement, Armstrong has openly, notoriously, and continuously used the easement rights under the Grant Deed, and as such, Armstrong has an interest in a portion of the Litchfield Property based on an express grant and prescriptive easement. (Motion, pg. 8.)

Intervenors submitted evidence suggesting they first learned about the State’s instant action to quiet title on July 22, 2020, when Armstrong received a call from the State’s lead Counsel. (Decl. of Armstrong ¶17.) Armstrong declared that, at the time of the call, it was unclear whether the interests of Armstrong and the Association were implicated by the action; however, following an investigation, Intervenors determined their rights could be affected by the cross-complainant brought by Litchfield and, shortly thereafter sought to protect their interests in the action. (Decl. of Armstrong ¶¶17-18.)

The submitted evidence suggests Intervenors have interests in the Litchfield Property that entitle them to intervene in the action. Litchfield Parties’ argument in opposition that their cross-complaint does not seek to involve any alleged claims made by Intervenors fails to acknowledge that the Associations’ wells and Armstrong’s express easement lie within the Litchfield Property, as to which Litchfield Parties seek to quiet title. (Opposition, pg. 4, fn. 1.)

Litchfield Parties’ argument that Intervenors’ motion is untimely is without merit. (Opposition, pgs. 6-7.) Litchfield Parties rely on Armstrong’s familiarity with the history of the dispute between the State and private owners over ownership of the property adjacent to Latigo Shore Drive; however, this is not evidence Armstrong or the Association were aware of the instant lawsuit in which Litchfield is presently seeking to quiet title to the Litchfield Property. Rather, Intervenors submitted evidence they did not have notice of the lawsuit and its potential infringement on Intervenors’ interests in the property until July 2020, and Litchfield Parties submit no evidence suggesting otherwise.

Based on the foregoing, Intervenors’ motion for leave to file a complaint in intervention is granted.

Dated: December _____, 2020

Hon. Monica Bachner

Judge of the Superior Court



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