R. D. Reeder Lathing Co. v. Allen

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtTRAYNOR
Citation425 P.2d 785,66 Cal.2d 373,57 Cal.Rptr. 841
Parties, 425 P.2d 785 R.D. REEDER LATHING CO., Inc., Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Francis E. ALLEN, J., Defendant and Appellant. L.A. 28821. In Bank
Decision Date18 April 1967

Page 841

57 Cal.Rptr. 841
66 Cal.2d 373, 425 P.2d 785
R.D. REEDER LATHING CO., Inc., Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Francis E. ALLEN, J., Defendant and Appellant.
L.A. 28821.
Supreme Court of California,
In Bank.
April 18, 1967.
Rehearing Denied May 17, 1967.

Page 842

[425 P.2d 786] [66 Cal.2d 375] George Magit, Beverly Hills, for defendant and appellant.

Mantalica, Barclay & Teegarden and Lewis C. Teegarden, Los Angeles, for plaintiff and respondent.

TRAYNOR, Chief Justice.

Defendant appeals from a summary judgment for plaintiff in an action to foreclose a mechanic's lien. The judgment decreed that defendant was personally liable to plaintiff for the value of the labor and materials it supplied and impressed the improved property with mechanic's liens.

[66 Cal.2d 376] The part of the judgment that defendant is personally liable to plaintiff is clearly erroneous. In the absence of a contract between a lien claimant and the property owner, the right to enforce a mechanic's lien against real property does not give rise to personal liability of the owner. (Golden Gate Bldg. Materials Co. v. Fireman (1928) 205 Cal. 174, 177--178, 270 P. 214; Roberts v. Security Trust & Sav. Bank (1925) 196 Cal. 557, 573--584, 238 P. 673.) Although the complaint states that plaintiff performed its work at the request of defendant, it appears from plaintiff's own affidavits that the request came, not from defendant directly, but from his prime contractor.

The complaint alleged that plaintiff supplied lathing materials and performed labor, for which it had not been paid, in the construction of houses on 18 separate lots owned by defendant. In an amended answer defendant denied that plaintiff had performed the work alleged and set up affirmative defenses of waiver and estoppel.

Plaintiff then filed its motion for summary judgment (Code Civ.Proc., § 437c), supported by the affidavit and declaration of its president, Robert D. Reeder, and the

Page 843

[425 P.2d 787] declaration of Robert M. Thomas, a materialman. Defendant filed counteraffidavits.

In considering a motion for summary judgment the trial court must determine whether the defendant has by affidavit presented any facts that give rise to a triable issue. (Stationers Corp. v. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. (1965) 62 Cal.2d 412, 417, 42 Cal.Rptr. 449, 398 P.2d 785; Eagle Oil & Ref. Co. v. Prentice (1942) 19 Cal.2d 553, 555, 122 P.2d 264.) The court does not resolve conflicting factual allegations, for the purpose of the procedure is to discover whether the parties have evidence requiring assessment at a trial. Such summary procedure is drastic and should be used with caution so that it does not become a substitute for trial. (Towne Development Co. v. Lee (1965) 63 Cal.2d 147, 148, 45 Cal.Rptr. 316, 403 P.2d 724; Stationers Corp. v. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc., supra; Desny v. Wilder (1956) 46 Cal.2d 715, 725--726, 299 P.2d 257; Coyne v. Krempels (1950) 36 Cal.2d 257, 260--261, 223 P.2d 244; Eagle Oil & Ref. Co. v. Prentice, supra, 19 Cal.2d at p. 556, 122 P.2d 264.) Accordingly, the affidavits of the moving party are strictly construed and those of his opponent, even if in conclusionary terms, are liberally construed. Summary judgment is proper only if the [66 Cal.2d 377] affidavits in support of the moving party are sufficient to sustain a judgment in his favor and his opponent does not by affidavit show facts sufficient to present a triable issue.

Examination of the affidavits in this case shows that plaintiff has established for purposes of its motion that it performed the claimed work on defendant's houses and that it has not been paid. It did the work pursuant to a contract with the prime contractor for the lathing and plastering, West Valley Plastering, Inc., which is now bankrupt. The critical issue is whether plaintiff has waived its lien or is estopped to assert it.

Defendant contends that plaintiff conspired with West Valley to keep defendant ignorant of plaintiff's contribution to the construction so that defendant would be unable to protect himself against plaintiff's potential lien. According to defendant's affidavits, toward the end of 1962 West Valley was experiencing difficulty getting finances to carry on its business. In disregard of West Valley's weak financial condition and relying for security primarily on its access to lien rights, plaintiff offered West Valley extended credit in exchange for West Valley's agreement to subcontract all its lathing work to plaintiff. West Valley agreed to those terms and also that plaintiff 'would either furnish WEST VALLEY with labor lien releases signed in blank, or permit WEST VALLEY to prepare its own labor releases, which WEST VALLEY could then in turn complete as progress payments became due from buildings and owners, thereby permitting WEST VALLEY to receive its money when due. In this connection, (plaintiff) would provide WEST VALLEY with a list of all lathers employed by...

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58 practice notes
  • Whitney's At for Beach v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 6, 1970
    ...Joslin v. Marin Mun. Water Dist. (1967) 67 Cal.2d 132, 146--147, 60 Cal.Rptr. 377, 429 P.2d 889; R. D. Reeder Lathing Co. v. Allen (1967) 66 Cal.2d 373, 376--377, 57 Cal.Rptr.; Coyne v. Krempels (1950) 36 Cal.2d 257, 260--261, 223 P.2d 244; Petersen v. City of Vallejo (1968) 259 Cal.App.2d ......
  • In re Gonzalez, Case No. 2:15-bk-25283-RK
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Central District of California
    • March 27, 2019
    ...Silence may be used as evidence of fraudulent intent. In re Lua , 529 B.R. at 777 (citing R.D. Reeder Lathing Company, Inc. v. Allen , 66 Cal.2d 373, 378, 57 Cal.Rptr. 841, 425 P.2d 785 (1967) ).620 B.R. 322 The preponderance of the evidence shows that Debtor intended to induce Trustee to r......
  • Blair v. Pitchess
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • July 1, 1971
    ...449, 452, 398 P.2d 785, 788.) The court, of course, may not decide the factual issue itself. (R. D. Reeder Lathing Co. v. Allen (1967) 66 Cal.2d 373, 376, 57 Cal.Rptr. 841, 425 P.2d 785.) Thus, if on a motion for summary judgment a single issue of fact is found, the trial court may not proc......
  • Howe v. Pioneer Mfg. Co.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 21, 1968
    ...in the declaration filed in connection with the motion. Principles governing summary judgment In R. D. Reeder Lathing Co. v. Allen (1967) 66 Cal.2d 373, 57 Cal.Rptr. 841, 425 P.2d 785, the rules governing consideration of a motion for summary judgment were tersely stated as follows: 'In con......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
58 cases
  • Whitney's At for Beach v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 6, 1970
    ...Joslin v. Marin Mun. Water Dist. (1967) 67 Cal.2d 132, 146--147, 60 Cal.Rptr. 377, 429 P.2d 889; R. D. Reeder Lathing Co. v. Allen (1967) 66 Cal.2d 373, 376--377, 57 Cal.Rptr.; Coyne v. Krempels (1950) 36 Cal.2d 257, 260--261, 223 P.2d 244; Petersen v. City of Vallejo (1968) 259 Cal.App.2d ......
  • Howe v. Pioneer Mfg. Co.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 21, 1968
    ...in the declaration filed in connection with the motion. Principles governing summary judgment In R. D. Reeder Lathing Co. v. Allen (1967) 66 Cal.2d 373, 57 Cal.Rptr. 841, 425 P.2d 785, the rules governing consideration of a motion for summary judgment were tersely stated as follows: 'In con......
  • In re Gonzalez, Case No. 2:15-bk-25283-RK
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Central District of California
    • March 27, 2019
    ...Silence may be used as evidence of fraudulent intent. In re Lua , 529 B.R. at 777 (citing R.D. Reeder Lathing Company, Inc. v. Allen , 66 Cal.2d 373, 378, 57 Cal.Rptr. 841, 425 P.2d 785 (1967) ).620 B.R. 322 The preponderance of the evidence shows that Debtor intended to induce Trustee to r......
  • Thornton v. Victor Meat Co., No. 120
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 27, 1968
    ...of the sufficiency of the affidavits presented by that section. 6 The terse statement in R.D. Reeder Lathing Co. v. Allen (1967) 66 Cal.2d 373, 57 Cal.Rptr. 841, 425 P.2d 785, will suffice: 'In considering a motion for summary judgment the trial court must determine whether the (opponent) h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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