Beautiful Gate Holy Church of Deliverance v. Whitmire, 011019 CAAPP1, A152597

Docket Nº:A152597
Opinion Judge:Tucher, J.
Party Name:BEAUTIFUL GATE HOLY CHURCH OF DELIVERANCE, et al. Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. AVA WHITMIRE, Defendant and Appellant.
Judge Panel:We concur: Pollak, P.J., Streeter, J.
Case Date:January 10, 2019
Court:California Court of Appeals

BEAUTIFUL GATE HOLY CHURCH OF DELIVERANCE, et al. Plaintiffs and Respondents,


AVA WHITMIRE, Defendant and Appellant.


California Court of Appeals, First District, Fourth Division

January 10, 2019


Alameda County Super. Ct. No. RG15764483

Tucher, J.

Ava Whitmire appeals from a judgment resolving a dispute over ownership and control of property in Oakland that was previously used as a church (the church property). Whitmire, who is representing herself on appeal, has failed to articulate a valid claim of error. Accordingly, we will affirm the judgment.

I. Background

A. The Parties

Beautiful Gate Holy Church of Deliverance (Beautiful Gate) was incorporated in California as a nonprofit religious corporation in 1971. In 1997, Beautiful Gate acquired grant deeds to the church property that became the subject of this litigation. Marcello Jack Sowell was a founder of Beautiful Gate and its first pastor. Pastor Sowell became incapacitated with dementia in 2001. Between 2006 and 2008, Beautiful Gate became inactive, and by 2014 it had permanently lost its tax exempt nonprofit status.

Respondent Scott Phipps has been the duly appointed conservator of Pastor Sowell since May 2012. In January 2014, Phipps was also appointed director of Beautiful Gate and charged with winding up the corporation and selling its property.

In her appellate brief, Whitmire describes herself as a member and officer of Beautiful Gate. In the lower court, she alleged that she is the agent of Beautiful Gate and spiritual leader of its members.

B. The Claims Against Whitmire

In April 2015, Phipps and Beautiful Gate (collectively Phipps) filed a quiet title action against Whitmire, the “God All Over Crisis Center, ” and others (collectively Whitmire). In a first amended complaint, Phipps alleged that Whitmire forcibly entered church property, refusing to leave, and when police were called to the scene, Whitmire produced a fraudulent deed purporting to transfer ownership of the church property to herself as a gift. Phipps sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief pursuant to four causes of action: (1) quieting title to church property; (2) cancellation of instrument; (3) trespass; and (4) ejectment.

In March 2016, Phipps's quiet title action was consolidated with another case he filed against Whitmire for wrongful detainer, with the quiet title action designated as the lead case.

In March 2017, Phipps filed a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication. In June 2017, the trial court granted summary adjudication of his claims to quiet...

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