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Civil Tentative Rulings Announcement

CIVIL TENTATIVE RULING ANNOUNCEMENT

If the Tentative Ruling in your case is satisfactory, you need not appear at the scheduled time, the ruling becomes final, and the prevailing party prepares the order.

However, if you are not satisfied with the Tentative Ruling, and wish to appear and argue the matter, YOU MUST NOTIFY the Clerk’s Office and opposing counsel of your intent before 4:00 p.m. TODAY. If a TELEPHONIC HEARING is requested per CCP §367.5, you MUST register online to appear telephonically using Vcourt.

When doing so, you must indicate as to which issue(s) and/or motion(s) a hearing is being requested. If requesting a hearing for clarification of a tentative ruling, specify what matter(s) and/or issue(s) need clarification.

 You may request a hearing by calling the calendar line at (209) 530-3162 or the main line at (209) 530-3100, prior to 4:00 p.m. - OR- by e-mailing at civil.tentatives@stanct.org Email requests must be made prior to 4:00 p.m. AND confirmed by return e-mail. If you do not receive confirmation e-mail from the clerk, you MUST call (209) 530-3162 to request your hearing.

Please refer to Local Rule of Court 3.12 concerning Court reporter fees.

 If a Hearing is required or you have requested a Hearing for a Law and Motion Matter Scheduled in Department 21, 22, 23 or 24 in Modesto, please contact the Court Reporter Coordinator at (209) 530-3105 to request a reporter and determine availability. If a Staff Reporter is not available, you may need to provide your own.

 Effective April 2, 2012

Staff Court Reporters may be available, though it is not guaranteed, to report law and motion matters on the following schedule:

Department 21 - Wednesdays and Fridays only. Staff Reporters may be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please call to confirm.

Department 22 - Tuesdays and Thursdays only. Staff Reporters may be available on Wednesdays and Fridays. Please call to confirm.

 Department 23 - Wednesdays and Fridays only. Staff Reporters may be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please call to confirm.

Department 24 - Tuesdays and Thursdays only. Staff Reporters may be available on Wednesdays or Fridays. Please call to confirm.

If a Staff Reporter is not available, counsel can make arrangements to have their hearing reported by a private CSR. Please contact the Court Reporter Coordinator at (209)530-3105 to request a Staff Reporter and to determine if a Staff Reporter will be available for your hearing

February 22, 2024

The following are the tentative rulings for cases calendared before Judge John R. Mayne in Department 21:

CV-23-001386 – FLORES, GUADALUPE FLORES vs TABER, CRAIG ALTON – Plaintiff, Jose Faustino Flores Reyes’ Attorney’s Motion to be Relieved as Counsel – GRANTED, and unopposed.

The effective date of the order shall be delayed until proof of service of the signed order on the client is submitted. (Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 3.1362(e).)  In addition, the order needs to be revised to reflect the current hearing date for the Case Management Conference, which is now set for 4-15-24.  Counsel shall submit a revised form of order for the Court’s signature in this regard.

CV-23-005559 – REAL, ARMAND vs BYMA, JENNIFER – Plaintiffs’ Attorney’s Motion to be Relieved as Counsel – DENIED, without prejudice.

Proof of service is insufficient in that it fails to describe a valid method of service on the clients.  While counsel’s supporting declaration attests to service by mail, the proof of service does not include sufficient information for the Court to conclude that the same was properly accomplished.

CV-23-006478 – KB HOME NORTH BAY LLC vs VOP 21 LLC – Plaintiff’s Application for Right to Attach Order for Issuance of Writ of Attachment – HEARING REQUIRED (Code Civ. Proc. § 484.040).

Plaintiff’s reply brief was filed late, but the Court intends to consider it. If Defendant requests a delay until February 27, 2024, this will be granted.

The Court is likely to grant the writ in the reduced amount of $209,553.89.

The fundamental dispute in this case is whether an offset is warranted. The fees listed appear to be due to the City of Patterson under the terms of the agreement. The City is acting as a pass-through for the funds, but appears to exercise control over those funds and thus the parties are not the same despite the pass-through arrangement.

The Court is also unconvinced that the current amount allegedly owed by Plaintiff is probably valid. Defendant refers to portions of the Operating Agreement, specifically 4(c) and 4(f), that render this number valid. The Court was unable to make this calculation based on the information provided.

The Court is sufficiently uncertain about the validity of the claim regarding irrigation that it is likely to deny the writ as to that portion of Plaintiff’s claim.

The following are the tentative rulings for cases calendared before Judge Stacy P. Speiller in Department 22:

CV-20-001720 – CALIFORNIA SPORTFISHING PROTECTION ALLIANCE vs EASTERN SAN JOAQUIN GROUNDWATER AUTHORITY – Defendants, South San Joaquin Irrigation District and South San Joaquin GSA’s Demurrer to First Amended Complaint – OVERRULED, in part, and SUSTAINED, in part, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

“[A] demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of the allegations in a complaint.” (Lewis v. Safeway, Inc. (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 385, 388.) The courts “treat the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded, but not contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law. [Citation.] The courts “also consider matters which may be judicially noticed.” (Serrano v. Priest (1971) 5 Cal.3d 584, 591.)

First Cause of Action

Defendants contend that the statute at issue does not authorize a reverse validation action. Water Code § 10726.6(a) states, “A groundwater sustainability agency that adopts a groundwater sustainability plan may file an action to determine the validity of the plan pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 860) of Title 10 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure no sooner than 180 days following the adoption of the plan.”

It appears to the Court that reverse validation is typically activated when validation is activated, unless specifically stated otherwise. Defendants’ arguments to the contrary are not persuasive. For example, Plaintiff cites to Gov’t Code 53511(a), which concerns bonds and states, “A local agency may bring an action to determine the validity of its bonds, warrants, contracts, obligations or evidences of indebtedness pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 860) of Title 10 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure.” The Court notes the parallelism of the language between this section and Water Code § 10726(a). And under that language in Gov’t Code § 53511(a), reverse validation actions have been brought. (See, e.g., McGee v. Torrance Unified School District (2020) 49 Cal.App.5th 814, disapproved of on inapposite grounds by Davis v. Fresno Unified School Dist. (2023) 14 Cal.5th 671.)

The main case relied on by Defendants to argue against reverse validation—Bonander v. Town of Tiburon (2009) 46 Cal.4th 646—is clearly distinguishable because Bonander centered on a statute that expressly stated, “Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, the action authorized by this section shall not be brought by any person other than the legislative body or the contractor…” (Sts. & Hy. Code, § 10601 [emphasis added].) Defendants contend that this language was a “belt-and-suspenders” approach because the amendment adding this clause was made during the same 1961 legislative session when the general validation procedure was newly created. Be that as it may, the Legislature is clearly able to add language excluding reverse validation when it thinks it necessary to do so, and it did not do so in this instance. Moreover, Defendants do not provide any specific example of parallel language where a court found that the Legislature intended to activate validation without activating reverse validation.

Consequently, the demurrer to the first cause of action is OVERRULED.

Second Cause of Action

Defendants argue that reverse validation and mandamus relief are mutually exclusive; because Water Code § 10726.6(e) specifically provides for mandamus relief, then reverse validation is not an option. Defendants cite in support of their position Barratt American Inc. v. City of Rancho Cucamonga (2005) 37 Cal.4th 685, 705. (See Def.’s Mem. at p. 14.) But the statutory language in this instance clearly provides for both application of validation proceedings through § 10726.6(a) and mandamus relief through § 10726.6(e). In addition, see Planning and Conservation League v. Department of Water Resources (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 892, as modified on denial of reh'g (Oct. 16, 2000), which involved both mandamus and reverse validation proceedings.

Defendants attempt to use the stipulated stay order filed on June 18, 2020, to argue that the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is the appropriate Defendant, not the groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) that were sued. However, the stay order also cuts the other way: by signing the stipulation (which stated in paragraph 5 that “within 30 days after termination of the stay …, Plaintiff may file an Amended Complaint that may include a petition for writ of mandate pursuant to Water Code section 10726.6(e) or and [sic] California Code of Civil Procedure section 1085 et seq. against Defendants or DWR, or both…”), Defendants expressly agreed that a petition for writ of mandate could be brought against the GSAs, not just the DWR.

With that noted, Defendants’ citation to Kaczorowski v. Mendocino County Board of Supervisors (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 564 is persuasive on the issue that the DWR is a necessary party. It appears to the Court that, at a minimum, the Court’s decision in the current case would be subject to collateral attack by the DWR, as the DWR approved the groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) at issue. There is also a sense that the Court would be violating the hierarchical structure of state oversight if the DWR were not involved in these proceedings.

Accordingly, the demurrer to the second cause of action is SUSTAINED with 30 days’ leave to amend so that the DWR can be added as a necessary party.

Request for Judicial Notice

Defendants’ unopposed request for judicial notice is GRANTED.

CV-23-003433 – BROOKS, DAVONTAE AVALON vs STANISLAUS COUNTY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH – Defendant’s Motion to Compel Responses to Request for Production of Documents, Set One – CONTINUED, to February 28, 2024, at 8:30 am in Department 22.

This matter is continued on the Court’s own motion to February 28, 2024, at 8:30 am in Department 22, to be heard with the related motion for order deeming requests for admissions admitted.

PR-21-001020 – ESTATE OF BRANTLEY, DAVID – Petitioner’s Attorney’s Motion to be Relieved as Counsel – DENIED, without prejudice.

The motion is procedurally defective. Moving Counsel indicates on the supporting declaration (Judicial Council form MC-052) that the address of the client is the “current” address. But the only action undertaken to confirm the current address was to consult “Whitepages,” according to the declaration. Moving Counsel then contrarily checked the “last known” address box on the proposed order and also filed a separate declaration on pleading paper indicating that the listed address was the client’s “last known.” The declaration states that reasonable efforts were made to locate a more current address for the client, but the declaration does not specify what those efforts were.

If this is the “last known” address of the client, then box 3b(2) should be checked on the supporting declaration, not box 3b(1). And the declaration needs to specify the efforts that were undertaken to confirm the address or to locate a more current address.

The following are the tentative rulings for cases calendared before Judge John D. Freeland in Department 23:

CV-23-002904 – PINACASTANEDA, DULCE vs HARDY, KYMANEE G – a) Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Form Interrogatories; Request for Monetary Sanctions against Defendant and its Counsel of Record in the sum of $1,410.00; b) Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Special Interrogatories; Request for Monetary Sanctions against Defenant and its Counsel of Record in the sum of $1,410.00 –

a), b) CONTINUED at the request of counsel to March 22, 2024, at 8:30 a.m. in Department 23.

CV-23-004618 – CARRILLO, ROBERT RAY vs CERES PIPE & METAL – Joint Petition for Appointment of Neutral Arbitrator – GRANTED, and CONTINUED to March 1, 2024, at 8:30 am in Department 23 for selection of the arbitrator.

Based on the joint submission of the parties, the Court nominates the following 5 potential arbitrators:

1. Hon. Luis Cardenas (JAMS)

2. Elliot K. Gordon (JAMS)

3. Hon. Lesley D. Holland (Herum Crabtree Suntag)

4. John M. Harris (Mohan Harris Ruiz)

5. Hon. David I. Brown (JAMS)

Pursuant to the procedures described in Code Civ. Proc. § 1281.6, the parties shall have 5 days from the date of this ruling to mutually agree on an arbitrator.  The parties shall submit a Joint Statement advising the Court of their selection of arbitrator, or their inability to agree on such selection, no later than February 27, 2024. If the parties are unable to agree, the Court will select the arbitrator at the continued hearing.

The following are the tentative rulings for cases calendared before Judge Sonny S. Sandhu in Department 24:

CV-20-002374 – PRADO, VERONICA vs CENTER FOR SIGHT OF STOCKTON – a) Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Defendant to Provide Further Responses to Plaintiff’s Special Interrogatories (Set Two) and Request for Monetary Sanctions – MOOT; b) Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Defendant to Provide Further Responses to Plaintiff’s Request for Production of Documents (Set One) and Request for Monetary Sanctions – MOOT.

a) Based on the parties’ declaration of settlement, this matter is moot and dropped from the Court’s calendar. 

b) Based on the parties’ declaration of settlement, this matter is moot and dropped from the Court’s calendar. 

CV-22-001471 – OROS, ARIEL JACOBO vs M&R ONTIME TRANSPORT LLC – Defendants, M&R Ontime Transport LLC and Richard Pinon’s Motion for Leave to File Cross-Complaint – DENIED, without prejudice.

The Court finds that the cause of action alleged in the proposed cross-complaint is related to the cause of action asserted against defendant in the complaint, that defendant acted in good faith in not pleading the cause of action when defendant filed his answer to the complaint, and that leave should be granted in order to avoid forfeiture of the cause of action. (California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 426.50, 428.50, City of Sacramento v. Superior Ct. In & For Sacramento Cnty., (1962) 205 Cal. App. 2d 398; Del Monte Corp. v. Superior Ct., (1982) 127 Cal. App. 3d 1049Castro v. Fowler Equip. Co., (1965) 233 Cal. App. 2d 416) 

However, the Court notes that Defendants asserts a cause of action for express indemnity without supporting its claim with the agreement on which said cause of action is based.  (Lab. Code § 3864). The Court also notes that claims for implied indemnity are not available to Defendant.  (Lab. Code § 3864)

Defendant’s motion is accordingly denied, without prejudice.

The following is the tentative ruling for a case calendared before Commissioner Jared D. Beeson in Department 19 located at the Turlock Division at 300 Starr Avenue, Turlock, CA:

UD-23-001484 – BREESE, GAIL vs WISDOM, WALLY – Defendant’s Motion to Set Aside Default and Default Judgment – HEARING REQUIRED.

 

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