Judge: Daniel M. Crowley, Case: 21SMCV01059, Date: 2023-03-21 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 21SMCV01059    Hearing Date: March 21, 2023    Dept: 207



This action concerns the real property located at 1870 Old Topanga Canyon Road, Topanga, California 90290. On June 16, 2021, Plaintiff Jessica Jacobs (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint against Defendant Steven Ray Ritchie (“Defendant”) for injunctive relief, quiet title, declaratory relief, trespass, nuisance, and ejectment. Plaintiff contends she and her husband are sole owners of the property, which they lawfully purchased from the former owner, Lauren Ivester (“Ivester”), Plaintiff contends Defendant is improperly occupying the property, claiming to have a valid interest in the property by virtue of a lease agreement between himself and Ivester entered into prior to the sale of the property to Plaintiff. On July 26, 2021, Defendant filed a Cross-Complaint against Plaintiff, asserting causes of action for quiet title, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, trespass, nuisance, breach of contract, and specific performance.


In a related action between the parties, Case No. 21STCV40908, the Court adjudicated the issue of possession at a bench trial on Plaintiff’s claim for unlawful detainer. The Court found for Plaintiff and on December 16, 2022, entered judgment in her favor on her claim for unlawful detainer.


Plaintiff now moves the Court to add Ivester as a Defendant to her Complaint in this action. Plaintiff’s motion is unopposed.


Legal Standard


Leave to amend is permitted under Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (a) and section 576. The policy favoring amendment and resolving all matters in the same dispute is “so strong that it is a rare case in which denial of leave to amend can be justified. . ..” “Although courts are bound to apply a policy of great liberality in permitting amendments to the complaint at any stage of the proceedings, up to and including trial [citations], this policy should be applied only ‘where no prejudice is shown to the adverse party . . .. [citation]. A different result is indicated ‘where inexcusable delay and probable prejudice to the opposing party’ is shown. [Citation].” (Magpali v. Farmers Group (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 471, 487.)


A motion for leave to amend a pleading must also comply with the procedural requirements of California Rules of Court, rule 3.1324, which requires a supporting declaration to set forth explicitly what allegations are to be added and where, and explicitly stating what new evidence was discovered warranting the amendment and why the amendment was not made earlier. The motion must also include (1) a copy of the proposed and numbered amendment, (2) specifications by reference to pages and lines where allegations would be deleted and added, and (3) a declaration specifying the effect, necessity and propriety of the amendments, date of discovery and reasons for delay. (See CRC 3.1324, subds. (a), (b).)




Plaintiff has not complied with the procedural requirements imposed by California Rules of Court, rule 3.1324 in bringing the instant motion. Plaintiff’s motion does not expressly state what allegations are proposed to be added to her current Complaint or where she intends to add them. Her motion also does not include a copy of the proposed First Amended Complaint she wishes to file. Plaintiff states generally that she wishes to “add Lauren Ivester aka Lauren Goldman (hereafter “Lauren”) as an additional defendant to this action.” (Motion at 1.) It is not clear from this statement whether Plaintiff is seeking to file a First Amended Complaint which adds new allegations and causes of action against Ivester or whether Plaintiff is seeking to amend her Complaint to substitute Ivester for a Doe defendant pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 474 without further amendment to the allegations or causes of action already asserted in her operative Complaint.


As the Court cannot discern what specific relief Plaintiff is requesting, her motion to add a defendant is DENIED without prejudice to be re-filed in a form that complies with the requirements of California Rules of Court, rule 3.1324.



Plaintiff’s motion for leave to add a defendant to her operative Complaint is DENIED without prejudice.