Bacquet v. Aleksanyan (In re Aleksanyan), 1:19-bk-11692-MT

CourtUnited States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Central District of California
Writing for the CourtMaureen A. Tighe United States Bankruptcy Judge.
PartiesIn re: Robert Aleksanyan Debtor(s). v. Robert Aleksanyan Defendant(s). Charles Bacquet, Victoria Bacquet Plaintiff(s),
Docket Number1:19-bk-11692-MT,Adv 1:21-ap-01072-MT
Decision Date19 August 2022

In re: Robert Aleksanyan Debtor(s).

Charles Bacquet, Victoria Bacquet Plaintiff(s),

Robert Aleksanyan Defendant(s).

No. 1:19-bk-11692-MT

Adv No. 1:21-ap-01072-MT

United States Bankruptcy Court, C.D. California, San Fernando Valley Division

August 19, 2022


Maureen A. Tighe United States Bankruptcy Judge.

Courtroom: 302 (via At the above date and time, the Court held a hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment (the "Motion"), filed by Plaintiff . Appearances are as noted on the record for the hearing. At the hearing, the Court adopted its tentative ruling on the Motion. A copy of the Court's tentative ruling is attached to this cover page.


On or about February 9, 2012, Charles and Victoria Bacquet ("Plaintiffs") entered into a written agreement (the "Contract") with Defendant to perform work on Plaintiffs' swimming pool. First Amended Complaint to Determine the Dischargeability of Debt Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §523(A)(3), (the "FAC") ¶ 7. Based on the work specified in the Contract, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant knew the work had to be performed by a licensed contractor or it would not be completed properly, and that Defendant knew that Plaintiffs were certain to suffer substantial damages if the work was done by an unlicensed contractor. Id. ¶ 9.

Defendant completed the work described in the Contract on or about May 2013. Decl. of Alexander Yoffe ISO MSJ ("Yoffe Decl."), Ex. H, California Superior Court, First Amended Complaint (the "State Court FAC"), ¶19. Plaintiffs paid Defendant $67,384 for the work done under the Contract. Decl. of Victoria Bacquet ISO MSJ (the "Bacquet Decl."), ¶ 5. Defendant also performed regular pool maintenance through January 26, 2015. FAC, ¶ 16. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant intentionally and falsely represented to Plaintiffs, in writing and orally, that Defendant and "Quality Pool" were properly licensed contractors under the Contractors State License Board. Id., ¶ 14. Defendant provided Plaintiffs with a business card that represented Quality Pool and Defendant obtained a California Contractors License numbered No. 962818. 16. Id., ¶ 15. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant knew that: (1) he was not a licensed contractor, (2) he was not capable of correctly performing the complex work stated in the Contract, and (3) Plaintiffs would suffer substantial damages if he performed the work. Id., ¶ 16.

Plaintiffs allege that because it appeared Defendant had obtained the necessary permits, the business card he presented, and that his oral representations made it seem as if he was capable of performing the work stated in the Contract, Plaintiffs contend that they reasonably and justifiably relied on Defendant's misrepresentations and they believed Defendant was a licensed contractor. FAC, ¶ 26; Bacquet Decl., ¶3. Prior to May 2018, Plaintiffs state that they began to discover that Defendant did not correctly perform the work under the Contract and that there were numerous defects with the work Defendant performed on the pool. Id., ¶ 6. Plaintiffs were substantially damaged by Defendants defective work and his failure to complete the work correctly. FAC, ¶ 33.

After Plaintiffs discovered Defendant did not correctly perform the work and the work suffered from numerous defects, Plaintiffs began to explore potential remedies against Defendant. As part of their efforts, they attempted to look up Defendant's contractor's license and, for the first time, Plaintiff allege they discovered State Contractor's Board License number 962818 was actually registered to "George's Crystal Pool", and not to Quality Pool and/or Defendant. Bacquet Decl., 8. Plaintiffs also allege that they discovered Gevork Zargaryan was the principal of George's Crystal Pool. Id. Defendants also discovered the Contractors State License Board had no listing for anyone named "Aleksanyan", nor was there any listing for a "Quality Pool and Spa Service." Id. Prior to their investigation of Defendant Aleksanyan, Plaintiffs maintain that they had not heard of "George's Pool" or Zargaryan. Id. Plaintiffs state that they had never met Zargaryan and that he had never been to Plaintiffs' residence. FAC, 21. Zargaryan had not performed any work on Plaintiffs' pool. Id.

On February 10, 2015, Plaintiffs allege that an attorney, Michael Kraut of Kraut Law Group wrote that he represented Quality Pool and that he had spoken with Zargaryan. FAC, 22. Plaintiffs did not attach this communication to the FAC or provide it in support of the MSJ.


Plaintiffs allege that Kraut said that Zargaryan informed him he oversaw the complex work stated in the Contract, and Zargaryan authorized Defendant to perform the work stated therein. Id. Kraut also advised that Zargaryan said all of the permits for Plaintiffs' pool were pulled under the license of George's Pool. Id. When Plaintiffs attempted to make a claim on George's Pool's license bond, however, Plaintiffs contend that Zargaryan stated in writing that he stopped doing construction in the beginning of 2012 due to his health condition from a big accident, and he had not done any construction since then. Yoffe Decl., Ex. L. Zargaryan also stated he did not have any contract or paperwork related to Plaintiffs' pool and that he never received any money or anything from Plaintiffs. Id. Plaintiffs state that after all this, they realized that Defendant's prior representations that he was a properly licensed contractor under license number 962818 were false. Bacquet Decl., ¶ 8.

On April 5, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in the Superior Court of California County of Los Angeles (the "State Court Action"). In the State Court Action, Plaintiffs alleged that prior to entering the Contract, Defendant knowingly and intentionally misrepresented he was a licensed contractor to induce Plaintiffs to hire enter the Contract with him. Yoffe Decl., Ex. H. In their State Court FAC, Plaintiffs also described: (1) certain incorrect work performed by Defendant; (2) the resulting latent defects and deficiencies they had discovered to date; and (3) how they expected to discover additional incorrect work, latent defects, and deficiencies in the future. Id.

Plaintiffs alleged Defendant materially breached the Contract by incorrectly designing, constructing, and performing the work stated in the Contract. Id. They alleged the incorrect design, construction, and other work caused latent defects and deficiencies. Id. In the State Court FAC, Plaintiffs alleged causes of action for Breach of Contract, violation of Business and Professions Code Section 7031, Fraudulent Inducement, Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Negligence, Breach of Implied Warranty of Fitness, and Violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200. Id. After Plaintiffs commenced the State Court Action, the State of California commenced a criminal action against Defendant styled as People of the State of California v. Robert Aleksanyan, Case No. 6CJ00003A (the "State Criminal Case").

The Office of the City Attorney advised Plaintiffs Defendant was convicted of unlawfully performing work without a contractor's license and they were invited to provide evidence of their damages at Defendant's restitution hearing. Yoffe Decl., Ex. M; N; and O. On June 8, 2017, the City Attorney's office filed Plaintiff's Brief re: Amounts of Victim Restitution (the "Restitution Brief"). Yoffe Decl., Ex. P. In the Restitution Brief, the City Attorney detailed the charges against Defendant and stated it was uncontroverted that the nature of the work performed by Defendant required a contractor's license and Defendant did not have a license as issued by the Contractor's State License Board. Plaintiffs also received a subpoena to testify at Defendants' restitution hearing. Id., Ex. N and O.

On July 9, 2019, Defendant filed a voluntary chapter 7 petition and did not list Plaintiffs as creditors, nor did he list the State Court Action in the required Statement of Financial Affairs. 1:19-bk-11692-MT, ECF doc. 1.

Plaintiffs contend that Defendant never responded to the State Court FAC and so, on December 8, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Request (Application) for Judgment. Yoffe Decl., ¶ 22. On December 11, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiffs application for judgment on all causes of action


and the Court awarded Plaintiffs a judgment in the amount of $286,679.94 (the "State Court Judgment"). The State Court Judgment was entered post-petition, without relief from the automatic stay having been granted.

Thereafter, Plaintiffs attempted to execute on the State Court Judgment but were unsuccessful. Yoffe Decl., ¶ 24. In September 2021, attorney Vernon Nelson joined the law firm representing Plaintiff and was tasked with assisting Plaintiffs with judgment enforcement efforts. Id., ¶ 25. As the State Court Judgment was obtained just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Nelson conducted a search using PACER to determine whether Defendant had filed for bankruptcy. Id. Mr. Nelson discovered that Defendant filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy petition in July 2019 and that discharge was entered, without Plaintiffs having gotten notice, on January 13, 2020. 1:19-bk-11692-MT, ECF doc. 26.

While he was addressing the possibilities of filing a Nondischargeability Complaint, Mr. Nelson learned Plaintiffs did not receive notification that Defendant had filed for bankruptcy and that they did not have actual knowledge that Defendant had filed for bankruptcy. Bacquet Decl., ¶ 13. Plaintiffs allege that they did not receive actual or constructive notice of Defendant's Petition in this case because Defendant did not include Plaintiffs on his list of creditors, or otherwise identify Plaintiffs as creditors on the Schedules included as part of his Petition.

II. Standard

Summary judgment should be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to...

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