Martin v. Bridgeport Community Assn., Inc., No. B206686.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtJackson
Citation93 Cal. Rptr. 3d 405,173 Cal.App.4th 1024
PartiesJAMES A. MARTIN et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. BRIDGEPORT COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendant and Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. B206686.
Decision Date07 April 2009
173 Cal.App.4th 1024
93 Cal. Rptr. 3d 405
JAMES A. MARTIN et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
BRIDGEPORT COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendant and Respondent.
No. B206686.
Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Seven.
April 7, 2009.

[173 Cal.App.4th 1027]

Law Offices of David L. Hoffman and David L. Hoffman for Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Kulik, Gottesman, Mouton & Siegel, Leonard Siegel, Francesca Dioguardi and Thomas Ware for Defendant and Respondent.

OPINION

JACKSON, J.—


INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs James A. Martin and his wife, RaeAnn, appeal from a judgment against them, including the award of attorney's fees and costs, entered after the trial court sustained a demurrer in favor of defendant Bridgeport Community Association. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND1

Richard and Rachel Peterson (the Petersons) purchased a home constructed by Richmond American Homes (Richmond) in a planned development community named Bridgeport in Santa Clarita at 23944 Windward Lane, Lot 33 (the Property). The Bridgeport Community Association, Inc. (BCA), was the homeowners association responsible for managing the common areas and enforcing the master declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions for Bridgeport (the CC&R's) and rules and regulations (the R&R's) for the community.

Pursuant to an arrangement with the Petersons, James Martin and his wife, RaeAnn (the Martins), agreed that the Martins would live at the Property and

173 Cal.App.4th 1028

pay all the costs involved with the Property, including the mortgage payments. RaeAnn Martin is the Petersons' daughter. They also agreed that the Martins would deal directly with BCA on any issues regarding the Property. The Petersons executed a power of attorney to that effect which was accepted by BCA. The Petersons agreed to assign all their rights, title, and interest in their causes of action stated in the FAC to the Martins.

During construction of the home on the Property, the Petersons and the Martins observed that the size of Lot 33 where the construction was occurring was smaller than represented in the purchase transaction. Richmond agreed to move the northern property line 10 feet to include approximately 5,593 square feet within the Lot 33 lot lines (Adjustment Area). This required two separate lot line adjustments (Lot Line Adjustment No. 1 and Lot Line Adjustment No. 2). Before either adjustment could be completed, Richmond transferred the Adjustment Area to BCA as part of the common area.

As the result of negotiations with BCA by the Martins on behalf of the Petersons, BCA agreed to deed the Adjustment Area to the Petersons under certain terms and conditions (BCA Lot Line Agreement), as shown by a May 8, 2004 letter from Nancy O'Neil on behalf of the BCA board of directors and an August 10, 2004 letter from the attorney for BCA.2 Both letters were addressed to the Martins. The Martins accepted the terms of the agreement proposed by BCA on behalf of themselves and the Petersons. Both letters represented that the BCA board had agreed to completing the Lot Line Adjustment No. 2 and the transfer of land, subject to the conditions that the homeowners would pay BCA's attorney's fees to prepare and execute the necessary documents and the homeowners would pay for the relocation of the common area sprinklers from the Adjustment Area.

After receiving notice of BCA's agreement, the Martins invested money for fencing, landscaping and the import of dirt on the Adjustment Area. The Martins also represented that the Petersons were not able to landscape and hardscape their front yard because they did not yet have ownership of the Adjustment Area and thus lost use of the yard for more than four years.

After lengthy delays, the City of Santa Clarita (City) approved Lot Line Adjustment No. 1. When BCA did not thereafter cooperate in order to begin

173 Cal.App.4th 1029

the required City-approval process for Lot Line Adjustment No. 2, the Martins sought specific performance of the BCA Lot Line Agreement by filing the instant lawsuit on October 20, 2006. The original complaint named the Petersons and the Martins as plaintiffs and BCA as defendant. BCA filed a demurrer to the complaint, in part on the ground that the Martins lacked standing.

Then the Martins filed the FAC, the operative complaint in this action. The FAC named only the Martins as plaintiffs. The first cause of action was for damages for breach of, and the second cause of action was for specific performance of, the BCA Lot Line Agreement. As a part of the allegations, the Martins requested that the court order BCA "to transfer title and cooperate in the approval and transfer of title to the property regarding Lot Line Adjustment No. 2 to Plaintiffs [the Martins]."

The third cause of action was for breach of the R&R's of, and the fourth cause of action was for breach of the CC&R's of, the Bridgeport Community. The fifth cause of action was for violation of Civil Code section 1363 et seq.3

The sixth cause of action was for intentional infliction of emotional distress. In part, the Martins alleged BCA took certain actions "in order to punish, and retaliate against, the Plaintiffs [the Martins] for enforcing their rights with respect to the Property."

The seventh cause of action was for negligence arising from the duty of BCA to the Martins, "as residents and members of the BCA," to use reasonable care in maintaining the common areas. The eighth cause of action was for negligence per se for violation of sections 1363 and 1364.

At the hearing on July 16, 2007, the trial court ruled that the demurrer to the FAC was sustained with leave to amend as to the first through the fifth, and the seventh and eighth causes of action, on the ground that the Martins lacked standing. With regard to the scope of the leave to amend, the trial court stated: "I am going to allow [plaintiffs' counsel] leave to amend to bring in the Petersons, and I will give [counsel] one last shot at seeing if there's any other claims the Martins have that can be pled." As to the sixth cause of action, the trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend, on the ground that the facts did not support a finding of sufficiently outrageous conduct as is necessary for recovery based upon intentional infliction of emotional distress.4

173 Cal.App.4th 1030

The second amended complaint (SAC) was filed on August 6, 2007. The Petersons were the only named plaintiffs. They alleged only four causes of action: first cause for breach of the R&R's, second cause for breach of the CC&R's, third cause for violation of sections 1363 and 1364, and fourth cause for negligence per se based on the violation of the same statutes.

BCA filed a demurrer to the SAC. After hearing on December 10, 2007, the trial court sustained the demurrer with leave to amend as to the first, second and third causes of action on the ground of failure to allege sufficient facts to support the causes of action. The court sustained the demurrer to the SAC without leave to amend as to the fourth cause of action.

The Petersons filed the third amended complaint on January 4, 2008. Only the Petersons were named as plaintiffs.

Also on January 4, 2008, BCA filed a request that the court enter judgment against the Martins in favor of BCA. The request represented that on July 16, 2007, the trial court granted BCA's demurrer to the FAC "without leave to amend," except leave to amend to substitute the Petersons, as the real parties in interest, for the Martins as plaintiffs, and the Petersons filed the SAC.

BCA also filed a motion for an award of attorney's fees pursuant to sections 1354, subdivision (c), and 1717, subdivision (a). The trial court granted BCA's motion for award of attorney's fees in the amount of $29,371.39 for defense against the Martins. The trial court entered judgment in favor of BCA against the Martins and included the award of attorney's fees and costs to BCA.5

DISCUSSION

The Martins contend that the trial court erred in sustaining BCA's demurrer on the ground that they lacked standing to assert the first through fifth, seventh and eighth causes of action. They claim they had standing as to all the causes of action, in that the Petersons assigned "all of their rights, title, and interest in their causes of action stated in the First Amended Complaint . . . to the Martins." As to individual causes of action, the Martins also

173 Cal.App.4th 1031

present other grounds upon which they contend they have standing. The Martins further claim that the trial court erred in including in the judgment an award of attorney's fees and costs pursuant to section 1354. We disagree and affirm the judgment.

I. Standard of Review

When a demurrer is sustained by the trial court, we review the complaint de novo to determine whether, as a matter of law, the complaint states facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. (Zelig v. County of Los Angeles (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1112, 1126 [119 Cal.Rptr.2d 709, 45 P.3d 1171].) Reading the complaint as a whole and giving it a reasonable interpretation, we treat all material facts properly pleaded as true. (Ibid.) The plaintiff has the burden of showing that the facts pleaded are sufficient to establish every element of the cause of action and overcoming all of the legal grounds on which the trial court sustained the demurrer, and if the defendant negates any essential element, we will affirm the order sustaining the demurrer as to the cause of action. (Cantu v. Resolution Trust Corp. (1992) 4 Cal.App.4th 857, 879-880 [6 Cal.Rptr.2d 151].) We will affirm if there is any ground on which the demurrer can properly be sustained, whether or not the trial court relied on proper grounds or the defendant asserted a proper ground in the trial court proceedings. (Id. at p. 880, fn. 10.)

A trial court has discretion to sustain a demurrer with or without leave to amend. (Zelig v. County of Los Angeles, supra,...

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145 practice notes
  • Agence France Presse v. Morel, No. 10 Civ. 02730 (AJN).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • May 21, 2013
    ...person is whether an intent to benefit a third person appears from the terms of the contract. Martin v. Bridgeport Cmty. Assoc., Inc., 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1034, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 405 (Cal.App.2d Dist.2009); Prouty v. Gores Tech. Group, 121 Cal.App.4th 1225, 1232, 18 Cal.Rptr.3d 178 (Cal.App.......
  • Rossberg v. Bank of Am., N.A., G047028 (cons. with G047355)
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 26, 2013
    ...the defendant asserted a proper ground in the trial court proceedings. [Citation.]” (Martin v. Bridgeport Community Assn., Inc. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1031, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 405 (Martin ); Sui v. Price (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 933, 938, 127 Cal.Rptr.3d 99 (Sui ).) “When a demurrer is sust......
  • Jay v. Rock, C068400
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 12, 2019
    ...court proceedings." (Lewis v. YouTube, LLC (2015) 244 Cal.App.4th 118, 121 (Lewis); Martin v. Bridgeport Community Assn., Inc. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1031 (Martin); see also Integen, supra, 214 Cal.App.4th at p. 1052; Scott v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 743, 752......
  • Jay v. Rock, C068400
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 12, 2019
    ...court proceedings." (Lewis v. YouTube, LLC (2015) 244 Cal.App.4th 118, 121 (Lewis); Martin v. Bridgeport Community Assn., Inc. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1031 (Martin); see also Integen, supra, 214 Cal.App.4th at p. 1052; Scott v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 743, 752......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
145 cases
  • Agence France Presse v. Morel, No. 10 Civ. 02730 (AJN).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • May 21, 2013
    ...person is whether an intent to benefit a third person appears from the terms of the contract. Martin v. Bridgeport Cmty. Assoc., Inc., 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1034, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 405 (Cal.App.2d Dist.2009); Prouty v. Gores Tech. Group, 121 Cal.App.4th 1225, 1232, 18 Cal.Rptr.3d 178 (Cal.App.......
  • Rossberg v. Bank of Am., N.A., G047028 (cons. with G047355)
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 26, 2013
    ...the defendant asserted a proper ground in the trial court proceedings. [Citation.]” (Martin v. Bridgeport Community Assn., Inc. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1031, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 405 (Martin ); Sui v. Price (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 933, 938, 127 Cal.Rptr.3d 99 (Sui ).) “When a demurrer is sust......
  • Jay v. Rock, C068400
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 12, 2019
    ...court proceedings." (Lewis v. YouTube, LLC (2015) 244 Cal.App.4th 118, 121 (Lewis); Martin v. Bridgeport Community Assn., Inc. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1031 (Martin); see also Integen, supra, 214 Cal.App.4th at p. 1052; Scott v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 743, 752......
  • Jay v. Rock, C068400
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 12, 2019
    ...court proceedings." (Lewis v. YouTube, LLC (2015) 244 Cal.App.4th 118, 121 (Lewis); Martin v. Bridgeport Community Assn., Inc. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1024, 1031 (Martin); see also Integen, supra, 214 Cal.App.4th at p. 1052; Scott v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 743, 752......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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