Equitable Subrogation Gives Effect to Parties Intention re Lien Priority

  The doctrine of equitable subrogation allows a court to give effect to the intentions of the parties with respect to lien priority in secured real estate transactions. The doctrine can be stated as follows: A lender who advances money to pay off an encumbrance on real property, at the request of the owner or holder of the encumbrance, with the understanding that the advance is to be secured by a first priority lien: 1) Is not a volunteer; 2) In the event the new security is not a first lien, the holder will be subrogated to the rights of the prior encumbrancer, unless the new encumbrancer is charged with “culpable and inexcusable neglect” or the superior or equal equities of others would be prejudiced.  Continue reading

Real Estate Broker Not Liable for Factually Accurate Statement in MLS

  Real estate brokers owe their clients fiduciary duties—they owe third parties, including adverse parties in a real estate transaction, only duties imposed by statute. The statutory duties owed to third parties include a general obligation of honesty, fairness, and full disclosure. A broker’s specific duties with respect to any listing or information posted with a Multiple Listing Service are specified in Civil Code section 1088. Continue reading

Unlawful Detainer: Personal Service of Notice to Quit Must Be Attempted; Post Forclosure Plaintiff Must Prove Duly Perfected Title

  In an unusual move, the California Supreme Court ordered publication of an opinion issued by the Santa Clara County Superior Court, Appellate Division, in an limited jurisdiction unlawful detainer case: Bank of New York Mellon v. Preciado. The decision specified two errors in the unlawful detainer proceedings: 1) the proofs of service of the 3-day notice failed to show that personal service was attempted; 2) the post foreclosure plaintiff failed to prove its title was duly perfected. Each defect required reversal of the judgment and a new and different judgment in favor of defendants. Continue reading

Liquidated Damages: Provision in Stipulation for Judgment an Unenforceable Penalty

  Plaintiff sued on a promissory note for $85,000. The parties agreed to settle for the sum of $38,000, payable in installments over 24 months and entered into a stipulation for entry of judgment. The stipulation provided that if a payment was not made on time the original amount of $85,000 became due.

  Can plaintiff recover the sum of $85,000, minus credit for payments made under the agreement? No. Plaintiff is limited to the sum of $38,000, minus credit for payments made under the stipulation. Purcell v. Schweitzer. Continue reading

Judges: Disqualification Not Required Where Judge Officiates at Wedding

  Code of Civil Procedure section 170.1 provides that a judge shall be disqualified if “a person aware of the facts might reasonably entertain a doubt that the judge would be able to be impartial.” Does the fact that a judge officiates at a wedding of a close relative of the adverse party’s attorney require disqualification?

  No, writes the court in Wechsler v. Superior Court citing California Supreme Court authority. When a judge has no personal or social relationship with the attorney and the judge’s only role at the wedding is that of an officiant, disclosure is required but disqualification is not mandated absent additional facts which clearly establish the appearance of bias. [Statutes relating to the disqualifications of judges can be found at Code of Civil Procedure sections 170-170.9.]

Dissolution of Marriage: Judgment Properly Entered Nunc Pro Tunc Following Death of Party

  If a party dies between the time the court orally grants a judgment of dissolution and the time the court enters a written judgment — does the court lose jurisdiction to enter judgment nunc pro tunc? No, writes the court in Marriage of Martin. Continue reading

Unlawful Detainer: Relief from Forfeiture Available After Default Judgment

  The Appellate Division, County of Los Angeles, holds that the trial court must exercise its discretion and consider the merits of a motion for relief from forfeiture made pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1179, where plaintiff has obtained a default judgment in an unlawful detainer action. Continue reading

Bona Fide Lease Survives Foreclosure Under PTFA

  The Sixth Appellate District concludes, in Nativi v. Deutche Bank, that the Protecting Tenants Against Foreclosure Act of 2009 (scheduled to sunset the end of 2014) causes a bona fide lease for a term to survive foreclosure through the end of the lease term — subject to the limited authority of the immediate successor in interest to terminate the lease, with proper notice, upon sale to a purchaser who intends to occupy the unit as a primary residence. The Act impliedly overrides state laws that provide less protection but expressly allows states to retain the authority to enact greater protections. Bona fide tenancies for a term that continue by operation of the PTFA remain protected by California law.

Davis-Stirling: Partial Payments Reducing Assessments Must Be Accepted

  The Orange County Appellate Division concludes in Huntington Continental v. JM Trust that the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act compels a homeowner’s association to accept and apply partial payments that reduce delinquent assessments owed, but not any other amounts due such as late fees, interest, attorney fees, and costs. This is true even if an action has been commenced to foreclose the lien since there is nothing in the Act precluding the acceptance of partial payments of delinquent assessments once litigation has commenced. Continue reading

Enforcement of Judgment: Attorney Fees as Costs, Privity Not Required

  Code of Civil Procedure section 685.040 authorizes the court to award a judgment creditor attorney fees incurred in enforcing a judgment if the underlying judgment included an award of fees as costs. Continue reading