Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co., No. B063912

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtORTEGA; MIRIAM A. VOGEL, J., and ARANDA
Citation17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356,14 Cal.App.4th 16
PartiesJim SZADOLCI, et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. HOLLYWOOD PARK OPERATING CO., et al., Defendants and Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. B063912
Decision Date11 March 1993

Page 356

17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356
14 Cal.App.4th 16
Jim SZADOLCI, et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
HOLLYWOOD PARK OPERATING CO., et al., Defendants and Respondents.
No. B063912.
Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 1, California.
March 11, 1993.

Page 357

[14 Cal.App.4th 17] Laurence D. Strick, Beverly Hills, for plaintiffs and appellants.

Irell & Manella, Alexander F. Wiles and Brian Pass, Los Angeles, for defendants and respondents.

[14 Cal.App.4th 18] ORTEGA, Acting Presiding Justice.

We affirm the summary judgment granted in favor of defendants.

BACKGROUND

James Farenbaugh went to Hollywood Park on June 14, 1989, and put down $4,860 on a "Pick-9" ticket. A Pick-9 requires the bettor to pick the winners of the nine races run that day. Picking all nine winners results in a large return.

But Farenbaugh had something else in mind. He cancelled the ticket and bribed the parimutuel clerk to let him keep the worthless ticket. Farenbaugh then set out to sell shares in the ticket to other patrons at the track. The record does not reveal whether this was an ongoing scam by Farenbaugh. In any event, since the chance of hitting a big winner is remote, any shares sold would result in clear profit to Farenbaugh, who, having cancelled the ticket, had none of his own money at risk.

Plaintiffs Jim Szadolci and Daniel Teich bought into the ticket before the first race started. Each paid approximately $240 for a 5 percent share. Teich left the track shortly thereafter. Plaintiff Mardy Loewy apparently bought in for 5 percent after the day's racing program had commenced. The record is not clear at what point Loewy invested (he said probably after the second or third race) or how much he paid for his share (possibly around $300).

But, lo and behold, Farenbaugh (much to his dismay, we assume) picked all nine winners. A valid ticket would have paid $1,380,000. Farenbaugh's cancelled ticket was worth zero.

Szadolci and Loewy (jubilant, we presume, at the prospect of realizing $69,000 each) accompanied Farenbaugh (feigning aplomb, no doubt) to the pay window, only to learn of the ticket cancellation. Unfortunately, the record does not reveal what happened at that moment.

The three plaintiffs sued Hollywood Park, the parimutuel clerk, another track employee, and Farenbaugh for negligence, conspiracy, and negligent hiring. Defendants secured summary judgment and plaintiffs appeal.

14 Cal.App.4th 19

STANDARD OF REVIEW

After examining the facts before the trial judge on a summary judgment motion, an appellate court independently determines their effect as a matter of law. (Bonus-Bilt, Inc. v. United Grocers, Ltd. (1982) 136 Cal.App.3d 429, 442, 186 Cal.Rptr. 357.)

Despite this independent review, the appellate court applies the same legal standard as did the trial court. Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (c), requires the trial court to grant summary judgment if no triable issue exists as to a material fact, and if the papers entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law. Emphasizing triable issues rather than disputed facts, summary judgment law turns on issue finding rather than issue determination. (Walsh v. Walsh (1941) 18 Cal.2d 439, 441-442, 116 P.2d 62.)

The appellate court must examine only papers before the trial court when it considered the motion, and not documents filed later. (Wiler v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. (1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 621, 627, 157 Cal.Rptr. 248.) Moreover, we construe the moving party's affidavits strictly, construe the opponent's affidavits liberally, and resolve doubts about the propriety of granting the motion in favor of the party opposing it. (Stationers Corp. v. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. (1965) 62 Cal.2d 412, 417, 42 Cal.Rptr. 449, 398 P.2d 785.)

The trial court's stated reasons supporting its ruling, however, do not bind this court. We review the ruling, not its rationale. (Barnett v. Delta Lines, Inc. (1982) 137 Cal.App.3d 674, 682, 187 Cal.Rptr. 219.)

Page 358

DISCUSSION

The trial court's ruling was based on the conclusion that the transactions between plaintiffs and Farenbaugh were illegal bets. Since plaintiffs' complaint relied on a theory which put them in pari delicto, the trial court held, they were barred from recovery. " 'The general rule is that the courts will not recognize such an illegal contract [betting] and will not aid the parties thereto, but will leave them where it finds them. This rule has been rigidly enforced in this state to deny any relief in the courts to...

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    ...judgment are not binding on us because we review its ruling, not its rationale. (Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 16, 19, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356; Barnett v. Delta Lines, Inc. (1982) 137 Cal.App.3d 674, 682, 187 Cal.Rptr. 219.) B. There Are No Triable Issues of Mate......
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    ...DISCUSSION A. Standard of Review "We review the grant of summary judgment de novo. (Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 16, 19 [17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356].) We make `an independent assessment of the correctness of the trial court's ruling, applying the same legal standar......
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    ...for his appeal. STANDARD OF REVIEW We review the grant of summary judgment de novo. (Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 16, 19, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356.) We make "an independent assessment of the correctness of the trial court's ruling, applying the same legal standar......
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    ...A. Standard of Review "We review the grant of summary judgment de novo. (Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 16, 19 [17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356].) We make `an independent assessment of the correctness of the trial court's ruling, applying the same legal standard as t......
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    ...summary judgment is not binding on us because we review its ruling, not its rationale. (Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 16, 19, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356; Barnett v. Delta Lines, Inc. (1982) 137 Cal.App.3d 674, 682, 187 Cal.Rptr. The issue of whether plaintiff is ent......
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    ...about the propriety of granting the motion in favor of the party opposing it." (Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 16, 19, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356.) Because we review the trial court's ruling, not its rationale, we are not bound by the explanation the lower court......
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    ...for his appeal. STANDARD OF REVIEW We review the grant of summary judgment de novo. (Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 16, 19, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 356.) We make "an independent assessment of the correctness of the trial court's ruling, applying the same legal st......
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