Judge: Robert S. Draper, Case: 20STCV20423, Date: 2022-08-01 Tentative Ruling



Case Number: 20STCV20423    Hearing Date: August 1, 2022    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California 

County of Los Angeles 

Department 78 

 

JACKIE ROBERTS, et al., 

Plaintiffs; 

vs.

4647 COLDWATER LLC, et al.,

Defendants.

 

 

Case No.: 

20STCV20423

Hearing Date: 

August 1, 2022

 

 

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:  

PLAINTIFFS’ PETITION FOR AN ORDER APPROVING COMPROMISE OF CLAIM FOR A MINOR.

Plaintiffs’ Petition for an Order Approving Compromise of the Claim for a Minor is GRANTED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND   

This is an action for uninhabitability of a rental property. The Complaint alleges as follows.

Plaintiffs Jackie Roberts (“Roberts”) and Wyatt Fitchew (“Fitchew”, and with Roberts, “Plaintiffs”) rented a unit (the “Apartment”) in an apartment complex owned and/or managed by Defendants 4647 Coldwater LLC (“Coldwater LLC”) and Cornerstone R/E Management Inc. (“Cornerstone” and with Coldwater LLC, “Defendants”). (Compl. ¶¶ 1-4.)

Defendants failed to maintain the property thereby creating substandard living conditions in violation of California Civil Code section 1941.1 and Health and Safety Code section 17290.3. (Compl. ¶ 9.)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY 

On May 29, 2020, Plaintiffs filed the Complaint asserting five causes of action:

1.     Breach of Contract;

2.     Breach of Implied Warranty of Habitability;

3.     Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress;

4.     Nuisance; and

5.     Negligence.

On March 30, 2022, Defendants filed an answer.

On June 21, 2022, Plaintiffs file the instant Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim.

 

 

DISCUSSION

I.                PETITION TO CONFIRM MINOR’S COMPROMISE 

An enforceable settlement of a minor’s claim or that of a person lacking the capacity to make decisions can only be consummated with court approval. (Prob. Code., §§ 2504, 3500, 3600 et seq.; Code Civ. Proc., § 372; see Pearson v. Super. Ct. (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1333, 1337.) 

“[T]he protective role the court generally assumes in cases involving minors, [is] a role to assure that whatever is done is in the minor’s best interests. . . .[I]ts primary concern is whether the compromise is sufficient to provide for the minor’s injuries, care and treatment.” (Goldberg v. Super. Ct. (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1378, 1382.) 

A petition for court approval of a compromise or covenant not to sue under Code of Civil Procedure section 372 must comply with California Rules of Court, rules 7.950, 7.951 and 7.952. The petition must be verified by the petitioner and contain a full disclosure of all information that has “any bearing upon the reasonableness” of the compromise or the covenant. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 7.950.) The person compromising the claim on behalf of the minor or person who lacks capacity, and the represented person, must attend the hearing on compromise of the claim unless the court for good cause dispenses with their personal appearance. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 7.952.) 

An order for deposit of funds of a minor or person lacking decision making capacity and a petition for the withdrawal of such funds must comply with California Rules of Court, rules 7.953 and 7.954. (Cal. Rules of Court 3.1384; see also Super. Ct. L.A. County, Local Rules, rules 4.115-4.118.) 

A.   THE SETTLEMENT

Here, Plaintiffs have agreed to a settlement for Fitchew in the amount of $1,000, and for his mother, Roberts, in the amount of $60,000. (Petition, attachment 11(b)(3).) Plaintiffs note that the discrepancy in the settlement amounts is because much of the damages paid to Roberts include compensation for her frustration in attempting to get Defendants to maintain the property, and her anger in being ignored by Defendants. (Ibid.) Additionally, the damages to Roberts include rent abatement, as she exclusively paid rent. (Ibid.)

 

B.   ATTORNEY’S FEES

Generally, to support attorney’s fees in a Petition to Confirm Compromise for a Minor, the attorney must include a declaration explaining why his or her fees are reasonable. Here, however, the entirety of Counsel’s 33.33% contingency fee will come from Roberts’s settlement proceeds; therefore, a declaration or consideration of reasonableness is not necessary.

 

The Court finds that the settlement compromise adequately compensates Fitchew for his injuries in living in a substandard apartment complex. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Petition to Approve Compromise of a Claim for a Minor is GRANTED.

 

 

 

 

 

DATED: August 1, 2022       

 

_______________________________ 

Hon. Robert S. Draper 

Judge of the Superior Court