Hidalgo v. Anderson

Decision Date30 August 1978
Citation84 Cal.App.3d 378,148 Cal.Rptr. 557
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesLidia HIDALGO et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. Theodore ANDERSON, Larry Anderson and Naomi Anderson, Defendants and Respondents. Civ. 42105.

B. V. Yturbide, Gunnar G. Gunheim, San Francisco, for plaintiffs and appellants.

Thomas R. Fellows, Wines, Robinson, Wood & Anderson, Inc., San Jose, for defendants and respondents.

HALVONIK, Associate Justice.

Appellants brought suit for wrongful death and personal injuries resulting from an automobile accident. Defendant driver of the other vehicle, Larry Christensen, had traded his old car for the 1965 Lincoln Continental which was involved in the accident. The trade was not reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The former owner of the vehicle, Kevin Larson, had purchased the car from respondents for $100 and some stereo equipment. Respondents had signed and dated the pink slip and delivered it, the registration and the vehicle to Kevin Larson. Kevin Larson maintained that he had asked the Andersons to place the name of his father, Earl Larson, on the notice of transfer to the Department of Motor Vehicles because he was on welfare at the time and feared that if the welfare department knew that he had a Lincoln Continental "it just wouldn't set." Respondents did place the name Earl Larson on the notice but they insist that they were under the impression that "Earl" was Kevin's given name.

Respondents moved for summary judgment on the ground that they had been relieved of liability by complying with the transfer provisions of Vehicle Code section 5602(b). 1 Respondent Naomi Anderson filed a declaration saying that she sold the car to Earl Larson for valuable consideration and that she had endorsed the certificate of ownership at the time of sale and had given it, along with the car keys, to Kevin Larson. She further declared that her husband, Theodore Anderson, had completed and signed a Department of Motor Vehicles "Notice of Transfer of Ownership" form and deposited it in the United States mail. Mr. Anderson filed a declaration similar to his wife's.

Summary judgment was granted. Appellants moved for a new trial on the ground that respondents had not complied with section 5602(b) because the notice of transfer did not list the true buyer's name and that recent deposition testimony of respondents and Kevin Larson revealed that there was a factual conflict about how the name Earl Larson came to be used in the transaction.

The motion for new trial was granted.

Respondents again moved for summary judgment, this time on the ground that the evidence showed that they were released from liability by virtue of compliance with section 5602(a). The motion was granted. This appeal is from that judgment.

Appellants contend that respondents' second motion for summary judgment was barred by the principles of res judicata, the order granting a new trial having been a conclusive disposition of the matters at issue between the parties. Res judicata, however, is applicable only where there has been a judgment on the merits and an order granting a new trial is not such a judgment.

There is a factual dispute between the parties about how the name Earl Larson came to appear on the notice of transfer. Respondents say they were under the impression that Earl and Kevin Larson were the same person. Kevin Larson says that respondents were knowing participants in his scheme to mislead the welfare department about his ownership of the Lincoln. The presence of factual conflict, however, will not defeat a motion for summary judgment unless the fact in dispute is a material one. (Code Civ. Proc. section 437c.) The question then is whether, as a matter of law, respondents have complied with section 5602 notwithstanding their knowledge that "Earl Larson" was a misnomer employed for purposes of deception.

Section 5602 provides alternative methods for persons to avoid civil liability when transferring ownership of a vehicle. Respondents tried both methods. If they indeed wilfully misstated the transferee's name they would not have complied with section 5900 and compliance with 5900 is an express requirement of 5602(b). When appellants established that there was a conflict in the evidence regarding the participation of respondents in Kevin Larson's deception, the trial court, which had granted respondents a summary judgment on the assumption they had complied with 5602(b), properly granted appellants' motion for new trial. That there is a triable issue of material fact regarding respondents' compliance with 5602(b), however, tells us nothing about their success in attempting to comply with 5602(a). (Lerner v. Superior Court (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 656, 139 Cal.Rptr. 51; Woods v. Eastridge (1950) 99 Cal.App.2d 625, 222 P.2d 296.)

Section 5602(a) provides that the transferor avoids civil liability: "When he has made proper endorsement and delivery of the certificate of ownership and delivered the certificate of registration as provided in this code." Unlike 5602(b), it does not require the owner to state the name of the transferee. Appellant would have us interpret "proper endorsement" to include that requirement, but we cannot do so because the Legislature has placed that duty elsewhere. 5750 provides that "the transferor shall write his signature, and the transferee shall write his signature and address, in the appropriate spaces provided on the certificate of ownership issued for the vehicle." 2

But absent a "bona fide sale or transfer" respondents cannot avoid liability under either of 5602's alternatives and how, ask appellants, can this sale have been "bona fide" when Kevin Larson says respondents participated in his deception?

In order to construe the term "bona fide" we must look to the context in which it is used. (Merrill v....

To continue reading

Request your trial
12 cases
  • Akins v. Sacramento Mun. Utility Dist.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • June 2, 1992
    ...not defeat a motion for summary judgment unless the fact in dispute is one which is material to the action. (Hidalgo v. Anderson (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d 378, 381, 148 Cal.Rptr. 557.) And the facts which are material to the action are defined by the scope of the pleadings; counterdeclarations i......
  • Springmeyer v. Ford Motor Co.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • January 27, 1998
    ...the owner liability law, but rather on "the nature of the agreement between the parties to the transaction." (Hidalgo v. Anderson (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d 378, 382, 148 Cal.Rptr. 557.) The issue in this case is whether the accident vehicle was "effectively transferred" between Avis and Harveste......
  • Seibert Security Services, Inc. v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • August 3, 1993
    ...dispute concerning an immaterial fact does not deprive the court of the power to grant summary judgment. (See Hidalgo v. Anderson (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d 378, 381, 148 Cal.Rptr. 557, citing the language of the statute itself.) In this category are such "disputed facts" as whether or not Seiber......
  • Banks v. Dominican College
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • May 26, 1995
    ... ... Globe-Weis Systems Co. (1991) 233 Cal.App.3d 1505, 1518, 285 Cal.Rptr. 385, citing Hidalgo v. Anderson (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d ... Page 115 ... 378, 381, 148 Cal.Rptr. 557 [Per Justice Halvonik.].) ...         Summary judgment ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT