This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/11/2019 at 11:13:20 (UTC).

ZB N.A. VS MERUELO PROPERTIES INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 10/13/2017 ZB N A filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against MERUELO PROPERTIES INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****9554

  • Filing Date:

    10/13/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

CALIFORNIA BANK & TRUST

ZB N.A.

ZB N.A. DBA CALIFORNIA BANK & TRUST

Respondents and Defendants

MERUELO RICHARD

MERUELO PROPERTIES INC

DOES 1 TO 20

MARTIN VIVIAN

MERUELO PROPERTIES INC.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorney

SMITH BARRY A. ESQ.

Defendant Attorney

MARKS PAUL SEVERIN ESQ.

 

Court Documents

PLAINTIFF'S REPLY TO ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE FAILURE TO FILE PROOF OF SERVICE; DECLARATION OF MICHAEL B. FISHER

1/3/2018: PLAINTIFF'S REPLY TO ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE FAILURE TO FILE PROOF OF SERVICE; DECLARATION OF MICHAEL B. FISHER

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

1/11/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

Minute Order

1/12/2018: Minute Order

AFFIDAVIT OF DUE DILIGENCE

1/17/2018: AFFIDAVIT OF DUE DILIGENCE

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

1/19/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF STATUS CONFERENCE AND HEARING ON ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE PROOF OF SERVICE

1/19/2018: NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF STATUS CONFERENCE AND HEARING ON ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE PROOF OF SERVICE

PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

2/16/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT

2/16/2018: REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT

REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT- FIRST AMENDED

2/27/2018: REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT- FIRST AMENDED

Minute Order

2/28/2018: Minute Order

DEFENDANT''S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

3/1/2018: DEFENDANT''S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

NOTICE OF HEARING ON ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE DEFAULT JUDGMENT

3/6/2018: NOTICE OF HEARING ON ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE DEFAULT JUDGMENT

REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT

3/9/2018: REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT

PLAINTIFF?S WAIVER OF PUNITIVE DAMAGES AS TO DEFENDANT RICHARD MERUELO

3/9/2018: PLAINTIFF?S WAIVER OF PUNITIVE DAMAGES AS TO DEFENDANT RICHARD MERUELO

DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

3/23/2018: DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Minute Order

3/29/2018: Minute Order

DECLARATIONS OF: 1. STEVE HILL; ETC.

4/13/2018: DECLARATIONS OF: 1. STEVE HILL; ETC.

NOTICE OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION OF ISSUES

4/13/2018: NOTICE OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION OF ISSUES

77 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/14/2019
  • Docketat 11:00 AM in Department 58; Voluntary Settlement Conference - Held

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  • 05/14/2019
  • Docketat 11:00 AM in Department 58; Jury Trial - Held

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  • 05/14/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Jury Trial; Voluntary Settlement Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department 58; Jury Trial - Held - Continued

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 58; Voluntary Settlement Conference - Held - Continued

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  • 05/13/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Jury Trial; Voluntary Settlement Conference;)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/06/2019
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department 58; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 05/06/2019
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department 58; Voluntary Settlement Conference - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

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  • 05/06/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Voluntary Settlement Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/26/2019
  • DocketStipulation and Order (TO CONTINUE TRIAL); Filed by ZB, N.A. (Plaintiff)

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125 More Docket Entries
  • 12/04/2017
  • DocketFIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR: 1) BREACH OF COMPLETION GUARANTY 2) FRAUD 3) TORT IN ESSENCE

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  • 12/04/2017
  • DocketComplaint ((1st)); Filed by ZB, N.A. (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/04/2017
  • DocketFirst Amended Complaint; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 10/23/2017
  • DocketORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING

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  • 10/23/2017
  • DocketOSC-Failure to File Proof of Serv; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/23/2017
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 10/23/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/13/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR: 1) BREACH OF COMPLETION GUARANTY ;ETC

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  • 10/13/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 10/13/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by ZB, N.A. (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

b'

Case Number: ****9554 Hearing Date: September 10, 2021 Dept: 58

Judge John P. Doyle

Department 58


Hearing Date: September 10, 2021

Case Name: ZB, N.A. v. Meruelo Properties, Inc., et al.

Case No.: ****9554

Matter: Motion for Attorneys’ Fees

Moving Party: Defendant Richard Meruelo

Responding Party: Plaintiff ZB, N.A.


Tentative Ruling: The Motion is denied.


On December 4, 2017, Plaintiff ZB, N.A. filed a First Amended Complaint alleging, in relevant part, fraud and tort in essence against Defendant Richard Meruelo. The allegations of the FAC are as follows. Plaintiff was assigned unpaid debt relating to a promissory note secured by a construction deed of trust. Defendant Ricahrd Meruelo forged the borrowers signatures on the deed of trust. The borrowers thereafter defaulted and Plaintiff’s assignor could not collect the entirety of the outstanding debt. Had the assignor known the deed of trust was forged, it would not have made the loan.

On February 5, 2021, the Court entered judgment pursuant to a referee award rendered by Judge Michael Johnson. The judgment is in favor of Defendant Richard Meruelo on all causes of action.

Defendant Richard Meruelo seeks attorneys’ fees in the amount of $170,517.47.

Defendant admits it is a non-signatory with respect to all contracts that were presented in this action, but contends he is entitled to fees on the basis of provisions in Plaintiff’s assignment agreements which provide as follows: “If any type of legal proceeding is necessary to enforce the terms of this Agreement, the prevailing party will be entitled to attorneys\' fees, expenses and costs.”

With respect to the above provisions, Defendant summarizes his argument as follows:

• CB&T [(Plaintiff)] would be entitled to recover legal fees for winning "any type" of legal case to enforce the assignment agreement;

• The assignment agreement had to be enforced for CB&T to do anything;

• The clause was intended to cover non-signatories that the assignee, CB&T might sue, since another fee clause covered claims among the signers;

• The assignment agreement was in fact litigated (see Exh. A at pp. 14-15);

• What was assigned was the "Remaining Indebtedness," which CB&T necessarily argued included the fraud and tort in essence claims, and which the Construction Loan Agreement stated include legal fees; and

• As prevailing party, Mr. Meruelo is entitled to his legal fees.

Defendant also argues that while he “was not a party to the governing loan documents, he was in fact alleged to have signed them, and that was the whole basis for the lawsuit against him. The governing legal fee clause in the Construction Loan Agreement includes legal fees as ‘expenses,’ and also allows the plaintiff to recover legal fees for trying to ‘collect the Loan.’ [¶] [It provides:] ‘Borrower agrees to pay all of Lender\'s costs and expenses, including Lender\'s attorneys\' fees and Lender\'s legal expenses, incurred in connection with the enforcement of this Agreement. Lender may hire or pay someone else to help enforce this Agreement or to collect the Loan. and Borrower shall pay the costs and expenses of such enforcement Costs and expenses include Lender\'s attorneys\' fees and legal expenses . . . .’ ”

Civ. Code ; 1717(a) states in relevant part, “In any action on a contract, where the contract specifically provides that attorney’s fees and costs, which are incurred to enforce that contract, shall be awarded either to one of the parties or to the prevailing party, then the party who is determined to be the party prevailing on the contract, whether he or she is the party specified in the contract or not, shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees in addition to other costs.

Civ. Code ; 1717 is interpreted to “provide a reciprocal remedy for a nonsignatory defendant, sued on a contract as if he were a party to it, when a plaintiff would clearly be entitled to attorney\'s fees should he prevail in enforcing the contractual obligation against the defendant.” (Diamond Heights Vill. Assn., Inc. v. Fin. Freedom Senior Funding Corp. (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 290, 306.)

Defendant’s arguments lack merit and conflate the right to bring this action with the issue of whether this action was brought against Defendant for the purposes of enforcing the assignment agreements. Defendant is not and was not alleged to be a party to any contract at issue. No contract claims were asserted against Defendant. The assignment agreements give Plaintiff the right to bring this action because they give it an interest in the loan at issue. Importantly, however, this lawsuit did not seek to enforce the assignment agreements. Rather, this was a lawsuit alleging tort claims for Defendant’s alleged act of forging a deed of trust. Notably, if Plaintiff prevailed in this action, the Court would find that it was not entitled to contractual fees against Defendant. Therefore, the Court cannot find that Defendant is entitled to fees.

Because there is no contractual or statutory basis for attorneys’ fees, the Motion is denied. (Code Civ. Proc. ; 1033.5.)

'


Case Number: ****9554    Hearing Date: May 3, 2021    Dept: 58

Judge John P. Doyle

Department 58


Hearing Date: May 3, 2021

Case Name: ZB, N.A. v. Meruelo Properties, Inc., et al.

Case No.: ****9554

Matter: Motion to Tax Costs

Moving Party: Plaintiff ZB, N.A.

Responding Party: Defendant Richard Meruelo


Tentative Ruling: The Motion is granted in part.


On February 5, 2021, the Court entered judgment pursuant to a referee award rendered by Judge Michael Johnson. The judgment is in favor of Defendant Richard Meruelo but provides that “plaintiff shall be entitled to recovery of costs from defendant in the amount of $14,100.00 (fourteen thousand, one hundred dollars), representing defendant's share of reference fees that were advanced by plaintiff (which award of $14,100.00 in costs to plaintiff shall be subject to adjustment for any costs awarded to defendant by this Court).”

On March 9, 2021, Defendant Richard Meruelo filed a memorandum of costs in the amount of $30,053.21.

Plaintiff ZB, N.A. seeks to strike the following costs:

; “Filing and motion fees” for a total of $16,055.00;

; “Court-ordered transcripts” for a total of $3,795.93;

; “Models, enlargements, and photocopies of exhibits” for a total of $830.60; and

; “Other” (Computer research) for a total of $7,805.82.

As to research costs in the amount of $7,805.82, these costs are not explicitly allowed by Code Civ. Proc. ; 1033.5 and the Court, in its discretion, will not award such costs. These costs are sticken.

As to transcript costs, Plaintiff argues that these costs are not recoverable because the transcripts were not ordered by the Court. Defendant fails to respond to this argument, such that it is conceded. These costs are stricken.

As to costs associated with exhibits, Plaintiff argues that Defendant did not photocopy anywhere near the number of pages claimed for the purposes of trial. Defendant does not respond to this argument such that these costs are stricken.

As to filing fees, Plaintiff argues none of the costs are substantiated but that particularly $14,100 in referee fees are unwarranted under Code Civ. Proc. ; 1033.5. Defendant argues the referee costs are warranted under Code Civ. Proc. ; 998 as Defendant’s 998 offer was rejected by Plaintiff who did not obtain a better result after trial. Defendant also argues the parties amended their agreement to split referee fees.

The referee costs are not apparently warranted as Code Civ. Proc. ; 998 does not relate to these costs. (See Chaaban v. Wet Seal, Inc. (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 49, 55.) Further, Judge Johnson specifically stated he would make a ruling as to referee fees; that ruling was in favor of Plaintiff.

In sum, the Motion is granted in part. All costs at issue for the Motion are sticken except $1,955 in filing fees. Thus, the amount in costs to be awarded to Defendant is $3,520.86. Of course, the judgment still provides for $14,100 for Plaintiff such that there should be an offset. So in reality, Defendant should pay Plaintiff $10,579.14.



Case Number: ****9554    Hearing Date: March 18, 2021    Dept: 58

Judge John P. Doyle

Department 58


Hearing Date: March 18, 2021

Case Name: ZB, N.A. v. Meruelo Properties, Inc., et al.

Case No.: ****9554

Matter: Motion to Tax Costs

Moving Party: Defendant Richard Meruelo

Responding Party: Plaintiff ZB, N.A.


Tentative Ruling: The Motion is denied.


On February 5, 2021, the Court entered judgment pursuant to a referee award rendered by Judge Michael Johnson. The judgment is in favor of Defendant Richard Meruelo but provides that “ plaintiff shall be entitled to recovery of costs from defendant in the amount of $14,100.00 (fourteen thousand, one hundred dollars), representing defendant's share of reference fees that were advanced by plaintiff (which award of $14,100.00 in costs to plaintiff shall be subject to adjustment for any costs awarded to defendant by this Court).”

Defendant Richard Meruelo seeks to tax Plaintiff’s $14,100 in costs. Defendant argues that Plaintiff is not entitled to costs because Defendant made a 998 offer before trial which was rejected by Plaintiff. Because Defendant then prevailed at trial, Defendant argues that under Code Civ. Proc. ; 998 Plaintiff must pay Defendant’s post-offer costs.

Defendant’s Motion is improper because Plaintiff did not file a memorandum of costs. (See Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1700.) Rather, the subject cost award has already been entered as a judgment. Therefore, in reality, Defendant requests that the judgment be amended. This, however, is not permissible. There are very limited bases upon which there can be an amendment: specifically, clerical error, or the need to add a joint debtor or alter ego. (Wegner et al., Cal. Prac. Guide Civ. Trials & Ev. (The Rutter Guide 2020) Ch. 18-C.)

Thus, to the extent Defendant contends he is entitled not to pay the subject cost award, then Defendant can attempt to obtain his own cost award as an offset. Based on the Court’s docket, it appears Defendant is already attempting this.

In sum, the Motion is denied.



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