This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/10/2022 at 11:20:30 (UTC).

TRIPHARMA LLC, A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, ET AL. VS JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG, P.C., ET AL.

Case Summary

On 10/14/2021 TRIPHARMA LLC, A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY filed an Other - Declaratory Judgment lawsuit against JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG, P C . This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are LAURA A. SEIGLE and MICHAEL L. STERN. The case status is Other.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******8148

  • Filing Date:

    10/14/2021

  • Case Status:

    Other

  • Case Type:

    Other - Declaratory Judgment

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

LAURA A. SEIGLE

MICHAEL L. STERN

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

DAMESHEK EVAN

TRIPHARMA LLC A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Defendants

HAAG JOHN RANDOLPH

JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG P.C. AKA LAW OFFICES OF JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG P.C. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Not Classified By Court

WALTON LAW GROUP P.C.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

DE BRETTEVILLE JASON

Not Classified By Court Attorney

ROSING HEATHER

 

Court Documents

Request for Dismissal

5/4/2022: Request for Dismissal

Status Conference Statement

2/1/2022: Status Conference Statement

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE: CONTINUANCE OF STATUS CONFERENCE) OF 02/02/2022

2/2/2022: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE: CONTINUANCE OF STATUS CONFERENCE) OF 02/02/2022

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE: CONTINUANCE OF STATUS CONFERENCE)

2/2/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE: CONTINUANCE OF STATUS CONFERENCE)

Opposition - OPPOSITION OF DEFENDANT LAW OFFICES OF JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG, P.C. TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

11/29/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION OF DEFENDANT LAW OFFICES OF JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG, P.C. TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

Opposition - OPPOSITION OPPOSITION OF DEFENDANT JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

11/29/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION OPPOSITION OF DEFENDANT JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

Objection - OBJECTION OF DEFENDANTS TO DECLARATION OF JASON DE BRETTEVILLE FILED IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

11/29/2021: Objection - OBJECTION OF DEFENDANTS TO DECLARATION OF JASON DE BRETTEVILLE FILED IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

Declaration - DECLARATION OF JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS' OPPOSITIONS TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

11/29/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS' OPPOSITIONS TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

Declaration - DECLARATION OF EVAN DAMESHEK IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

12/2/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF EVAN DAMESHEK IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

Declaration - DECLARATION OF REID WINTHROP IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS TRIPHARMA LLC, AND EVAN DAMESHEKS MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

12/2/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF REID WINTHROP IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS TRIPHARMA LLC, AND EVAN DAMESHEKS MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

Supplemental Declaration - SUPPLEMENTAL DECLARATION OF JASON DE BRETTEVILLE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS TRIPHARMA LLC, AND EVAN DAMESHEKS MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

12/2/2021: Supplemental Declaration - SUPPLEMENTAL DECLARATION OF JASON DE BRETTEVILLE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS TRIPHARMA LLC, AND EVAN DAMESHEKS MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

Objection - OBJECTION EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO DECLARATION OF JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG AND JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG, P.C.S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL AR

12/2/2021: Objection - OBJECTION EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO DECLARATION OF JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG AND JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG, P.C.S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL AR

Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

12/2/2021: Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION) OF 12/06/2021

12/6/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION) OF 12/06/2021

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION)

12/6/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION)

Notice of Ruling

12/8/2021: Notice of Ruling

Proof of Service by Mail

11/8/2021: Proof of Service by Mail

Proof of Service by Mail

11/8/2021: Proof of Service by Mail

31 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/04/2022
  • DocketRequest for Dismissal; Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/15/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 48; Case Management Conference - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 02/08/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 48; Status Conference (reArbitration) - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

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  • 02/02/2022
  • Docketat 4:30 PM in Department 48, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Court Order

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  • 02/02/2022
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Court Order re: Continuance of Status Conference) of 02/02/2022); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/02/2022
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Court Order re: Continuance of Status Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/01/2022
  • DocketStatus Conference Statement; Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/29/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 48; Hearing on Motion to Compel Arbitration - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 12/08/2021
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/06/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 48, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Arbitration - Held

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31 More Docket Entries
  • 11/09/2021
  • DocketDeclaration in Support of Ex Parte Application; Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/08/2021
  • DocketDeclaration (OF JASON DE BRETTEVILLE RE SERVICE OF THE SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT); Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/08/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/08/2021
  • DocketDeclaration (Special Appearance Declaration of John Randolph Haag in Opposition to Ex Party Application of Tripharma); Filed by JOHN RANDOLPH HAAG (Defendant)

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  • 11/08/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/18/2021
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/14/2021
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/14/2021
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/14/2021
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/14/2021
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by TRIPHARMA LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (Plaintiff); EVAN DAMESHEK (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******8148 Hearing Date: December 6, 2021 Dept: 48

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND STAY ACTION

On October 14, 2021, Plaintiffs Tripharma LLC and Evan Dameshek (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against Defendants John Randolph Haag P.C. aka Law Offices of John Randolph Haag P.C. (“Firm”) and John Randolph Haag (“Haag”) (collectively, “Defendants”). On November 15, 2021, Plaintiffs filed a motion to compel arbitration and an ex parte application for an order shortening time. On November 16, 2021, the Court granted the ex parte application, advanced the hearing date, and set a briefing schedule.

A. Evidentiary Objections

Much of the evidence submitted was argumentative, irrelevant, and not material to the Court’s decision.

Plaintiffs’ Objections

Much of Plaintiffs’ evidence is argumentative and irrelevant. The Court did not consider argumentative and irrelevant evidence. Otherwise, the objections are overruled.

Defendants’ Objections to the Declaration of Jason de Bretteville

Defendants’ objections contained long arguments and were not in the proper format.

Paragraphs 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 11-23, 25: Overruled.

Paragraphs 3, 5, 7, 8, 24: Sustained for lack of personal knowledge or relevance.

Paragraph 4: Sustained for lack of personal knowledge accept with respect to Exhibit A, as Haag admits “Exhibit A to the DeBretteville Declaration is indeed the T/D-MSARP Assignment Agreement.” (See Evid. Code, ; 1414, subd. (b).)

Paragraph 26: Sustained as argumentative.

B. Discussion

When seeking to compel arbitration, the movant must allege the existence of an agreement to arbitrate. (Condee v. Longwood Management Corp. (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 215, 219.) The burden then shifts to the opponent to prove the falsity of the agreement. (Ibid.) After the Court determines that an agreement to arbitrate exists, it then considers objections to its enforceability. (Ibid.) The Court must grant a petition to compel arbitration unless the opponent has waived the right to compel arbitration or if there are grounds to revoke the arbitration agreement. (Ibid.; Code Civ. Proc., ; 1281.2.) “[A] contractual waiver of the right to a jury trial ‘must be clearly apparent in the contract and its language must be unambiguous and unequivocal, leaving no room for doubt as to the intention of the parties.’ [Citation.]” (Badie v. Bank of America (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 779, 804.) “Where it is doubtful whether a party has waived his or her constitutionally-protected right to a jury trial, the question should be resolved in favor of preserving that right.” (Ibid.)

The complaint alleges that Plaintiffs and Defendants entered into a fee agreement in August 2017 for legal representation on an hourly basis and a lien over funds Plaintiffs received in certain cases (“2017 Fee Agreement”). (Complaint ¶ 8.) In February 2019, Defendants demanded an assignment of certain prior attorney lien rights. (Complaint ¶¶ 4, 12.) Because Plaintiffs could not pay Defendants for their legal services, Defendants had not been billing Plaintiffs. Instead in about February 2019, the parties entered into the Assignment Agreement postponing billing statements and providing security to Defendants in the form of a lien, among other things. (Complaint ¶¶ 13-16.) In December 2020, Plaintiffs demanded time entries and billing statements from Defendants related to the cases, but Defendants did not provide them. (Complaint ¶ 21.) In July 2021, Plaintiffs asked again. (Complaint ¶ 24.) Defendants for the first time provided billing statements showing over $2.1 million in fees. (Complaint ¶ 25.) According to Plaintiffs, Defendants admitted that they did not keep contemporaneous time entries. (Complaint ¶ 26.) Plaintiffs therefore elected to void the 2017 Fee Agreement under Business and Professions Code section 1648. (Complaint ¶ 26.) In August 2021, Defendants asserted they had a first priority lien, which frustrated Plaintiff’s settlement in another case and prevented the disbursement of funds to Plaintiffs. (Complaint ¶ 27.) The complaint alleges one cause of action for declaratory relief, seeking a declaration that the parties are compelled to arbitrate their claims under the Assignment Agreement, including the voidability of the prior fee agreement and the amount of attorney fees due.

Plaintiffs submit the Assignment Agreement, which is also attached to the complaint. (Motion at p. 3; de Bretteville Decl., Ex. A [“Assignment Agreement”].) The Assignment Agreement states existing fee agreements exist between the parties, and “This Agreement is an amendment to all such EFAs.” (Assignment Agreement, ¶ 2.) It states, “A major purpose, but not the sole purpose of this Agreement is to mitigate the prejudice to [Defendants] from the foregoing circumstances, to better assure payments to the lawyers handling the Cases, as consideration for past efforts, and to facilitate further efforts.” (Id. at ¶ 4.) The agreement goes on to say Defendants “have done little or no billing for services” to Plaintiffs because Plaintiffs have not been in a position to pay bills, and the parties agree Defendants “shall defer issuance of all further bills” for a period of time. Plaintiffs “acknowledge[] that [Defendants] have already performed extensive legal services for [Plaintiffs] in the Cases, and therefore, it is presumed that [Defendants] have been working roughly half time on the Cases, and that such work will [be] deemed to have been billed and approved by [Plaintiffs], although this shall be subject to [Plaintiffs’] right to review the final bills and object to any improper charges.” The parties tolled the statute of limitations and delay-based defenses. (Id. at ¶ 5.) The agreement next gave Defendants liens on the proceeds of the cases, stating “payments to [Defendants] pursuant to liens shall be on a pro rata basis based on the amounts due to [Defendants] in the Cases.” (Id. at ¶ 6.) The agreement assigned Defendants certain rights in settlements “to partially or fully offset fees and expenses owed to [Defendants].” (Id. at ¶ 7.) The agreement ends with a paragraph beginning, “In the event of a dispute arising from this Agreement [that] cannot be resolved by good faith negotiations, the dispute will be resolved by binding arbitration before a sole retired judge in a one day proceeding conducted within 30 days of demand by any of the Parties.” (Assignment Agreement ¶ 11.) Plaintiffs have shown the existence of an agreement to arbitrate.

The Firm argues that the arbitration provision does not apply to disputes about the preexisting fee agreements and it is limited to disputes arising from the Assignment Agreement. (Firm Opposition at p. 2.) It argues the parties expressly excluded arbitration clauses from the preexisting fee agreements. (Id. at p. 3.) If the parties had intended for the arbitration provision in the Assignment Agreement to apply to the preexisting fee agreements, they would have expressly stated so. (Id. at p. 4.) The Firm and Haag argues the arbitration provision does not require arbitration of a quantum meruit claim. (Id. at p. 8; Haag Opposition at pp. 3-6.) Plaintiffs argue the issues are too complicated to resolve in a one day arbitration.

The Assignment Agreement states disputes “arising from” the agreement are to be resolved by arbitration. “[N]arrow clauses requiring arbitration of claims ‘ “arising from” or “arising out of” an agreement, i.e., excluding language such as “relating to this agreement” or “in connection with this agreement,” are “generally considered to be more limited in scope” ’ [citation] and ‘have generally been interpreted to apply only to disputes regarding the interpretation and performance of the agreement.’ [Citation.]” (Howard v. Goldbloom (2018) 30 Cal.App.5th 659, 664.)

The Assignment Agreement states on its face that its major purpose is to facilitate the payment of fees owed to Plaintiffs by amending earlier fee agreements including the 2017 Fee Agreement. The 2017 Fee Agreement required Plaintiffs to pay Defendants hourly fees at rates of $450 and $600 per hour, due upon Plaintiffs’ receipt of each invoice from Defendants, and did not contain a binding arbitration provision. (Complaint, Ex. A, ¶¶ 17, 19, 20, 38.) The terms of the Assignment Agreement show the parties intended to amend the 2017 Fee Agreement regarding how Defendants would send bills and how Plaintiffs would pay the bills. The Assignment Agreement acknowledged the amount Plaintiffs owed was uncertain because Defendants had not submitted bills and would not be sending bills for some time, because further legal work was to be done, and because Plaintiffs retained the right to review the final bills and object to improper charges. It allowed Defendants to refrain from sending bills until a later time while giving Defendants security, and it tolled the statutes of limitations. It set out a procedure for Plaintiffs to pay Defendants on the liens on a pro rata basis based on the amount of fees owed in each case.

The issue of the amount of fees Plaintiffs owed Defendants permeates the Assignment Agreement, and the provisions of that agreement reveal the parties understood that issue could end up in litigation. The Assignment Agreement allowed the parties to defer that dispute, and the insertion of the arbitration provision shows the parties intended to arbitrate the fee issue if they could not resolve it. Now the fee dispute has come to a head, with the parties contesting the amount of fees owed and Plaintiffs objecting to the bills Defendants finally sent.

This dispute over the amount Plaintiffs owe to Defendants arises out of both the Assignment Agreement and the 2017 Fee Agreement. Defendants’ right to payment for legal work performed arose in the 2017 Fee Agreement as amended by the Assignment Agreement. The performance of those amended terms is now at issue, and according to the arbitration clause, disputes about the performance of the agreement (which includes the amended terms) are subject to arbitration. In addition, the Assignment Agreement expressly gives Plaintiffs the right to review the final bills and object to improper charges. Plaintiffs contend the charges in the final bills are improper because they are excessive, Defendants did not keep contemporaneous time entries, and Defendants did not provide timely billing statements. (Complaint, ¶¶ 24, 26, 40.) This dispute about the propriety of the final bills and the amounts owed thus arises from the Assignment Agreement and is subject to arbitration.

Whether the amount of fees due Defendants should be determined by reference to the amended 2017 Fee Agreement or the doctrine of quantum meruit is not relevant to the threshold question whether an arbitrator or court makes that determination. Likewise, whether Business and Professions Code section 1648 is a defense to paying the amount stated in the bills is a substantive matter to be decided by the arbitrator.

The Court cannot conclude that a one day arbitration is impossible here. If the parties are efficient, stipulate to undisputed facts and exhibits, and focus on the relevant disputed matters, they should be able to complete an arbitration hearing in one full day. Many trials could be much shorter if the parties followed these rules.

The motion to compel arbitration is GRANTED, and the action is stayed. The request for sanctions is denied. The Court sets a status conference regarding arbitration for February 8, 2022 at 8:30 a.m. Five court days before, the parties are to file a joint report regarding the status of the arbitration.

Moving party to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SMCDEPT48@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit. Parties intending to appear are STRONGLY encouraged to appear remotely.


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