Judge: Shirley K. Watkins, Case: 22VECV00137, Date: 2022-08-03 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 22VECV00137    Hearing Date: August 3, 2022    Dept: T











CASE NO:  22VECV00137





Dept. T

8:30 a.m.

August 3, 2022


            [TENTATIVE] ORDER:  Defendant Amir H. Tabib Khoei’s Motion to Strike Complaint Based on Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction is DENIED.

  1. Introduction

                On January 28, 2022, Davoud Ghorabi (“Plaintiff”) initiated the present action by filing a Complaint against Amir H. Tabib Khoei (“Defendant”) and Does 1 through 25.  Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges the following causes of action against Defendant: (1) Forgery; and (2) Fraud and Deceit.

                Plaintiff’s Complaint arises from the following allegations.  Plaintiff alleges, on July 20, 2021, Defendant filed a Complaint before an Iranian Court, which made the following representations.  (Compl., ¶ 7.)  Defendant’s Complaint alleged, on June 11, 2020, he and Plaintiff entered into an agreement (“Agreement”) whereby Defendant agreed to assign Plaintiff the rights to a third-party contract, which Defendant previously entered into with an Italian tile manufacturer named, SACMI IMOLA S.A. (“SACMI Contract”), in exchange for Plaintiff’s transfer of title of three (3) real properties located in Iran to Defendant.  (Id. ¶¶ 7-8, Ex. 1.)  Defendant’s Complaint contended, although Defendant effectively assigned the rights to the SACMI Contract to Plaintiff, Plaintiff breached the terms of the Agreement by failing to, in turn, transfer title of the three (3) properties to Defendant.  (Id. Ex. 1 at p. 2.)  Defendant’s Complaint alleged Plaintiff’s failure to transfer title is attributable to the fact that “said properties do not exist at all and are not under the Defendant’s name”.  (Ibid.)  Defendant’s Complaint prayed for contract damages under the Agreement, as opposed to specific performance.  (Ibid. [“Accordingly, it is hereby requested to issue a judgment ordering the Defendant to pay daily market value of the properties specified in the contract as per expert appraisal as well as the daily contractual damages . . . .
    ].)  Upon review of Defendant’s Complaint, an Iranian Court awarded Defendant damages under the Agreement, and against Plaintiff, equal to approximately $30,000,000 euro.  (
    Id. ¶ 17, Ex. 5.)

                Presently, Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges the Agreement upon which Defendant’s Complaint was based, and upon which Plaintiff’s signature was purportedly included, constitutes a forgery and a fraudulent contract.  (Compl., ¶ 16.)  Plaintiff alleges Defendant forged Plaintiff’s signature upon the Agreement, and subsequently, while knowing the Agreement was based upon a forgery, initiated a fraudulent action in an Iranian Court for the purposes of wrongfully seeking damages against Plaintiff .  (Id. ¶¶ 16, 21, 31.)  Plaintiff’s Complaint prays for an award of damages against Defendant based upon Defendant’s committed forgery and fraudulent misrepresentations.

                On June 15, 2022, Defendant filed a Motion to Strike Complaint Based on Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction.  Defendant’s Motion to Strike Complaint Based on Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction is now before the Court for consideration.

  2. Discussion

                Defendant presently moves for an Order dismissing Plaintiff’s Complaint, with prejudice, on the ground this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s Complaint.  Defendant’s central argument contends, as Plaintiff’s Complaint concerns real property outside California’s jurisdiction (i.e., real property in Iran) and constitutes a “local action”, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s Complaint.

                Ultimately, following a review of the parties’ arguments, the Court finds Defendant’s arguments inherently flawed and unpersuasive.  The Court begins with the constitutional and statutory principles governing the subject matter jurisdiction held by superior courts of the State of California.  Article VI, Section 10 of the California Constitution provides superior courts of the State of California with “original jurisdiction”, or general jurisdiction. (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 10.)  “Courts of general jurisdiction have the power to hear and determine all matters, legal and equitable, except insofar as these powers have been expressly denied.”  (20 Am.Jur.2d (2015) Courts, § 66, p. 464; Quigley v. Garden Valley Fire Protection Dist. (2019) 7 Cal.5th 798, 808 [“California's superior courts are courts of general jurisdiction, which means they are generally empowered to resolve the legal disputes that are brought to them.”].) 

                There are two categories within which a superior court’s general subject matter jurisdiction has been “expressly denied”.  (Ibid.; Cal. Judges Benchbook: Civil Proceedings Before Trial (CJER 2022) Jurisdiction, § 8.23; Cal. Civ. Prac. Proc. (2022), § 4.30 [“Exceptions to the superior court jurisdiction”].)  A superior court’s general subject matter jurisdiction does not extend to “[c]ases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts”, including, but limited to, bankruptcy actions, where the United States is a necessary or indispensable party, patent and copyright actions, admiralty actions, immigration actions, and actions brought against Indian tribes.  (Cal. Judges Benchbook: Civil Proceedings Before Trial (CJER 2022) Jurisdiction, §§ 8.23 [Original Jurisdiction “In General”], 8.12 [“Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction”].)  Further, a superior court’s general subject matter jurisdiction does not extend to “[c]ases that, by statute are heard by administrative tribunals, such as the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, the Public Utilities Commission, and other state agencies.”  (Ibid.)

                Presently, Defendant fails to demonstrate that Plaintiff’s Complaint sufficiently falls into either of the two (2) categories of cases in which this Court’s authority has been “expressly denied”.  (20 Am.Jur.2d (2015) Courts, § 66, p. 464.)  Indeed, upon the Court’s independent review, the Court finds Plaintiff’s Complaint does not fall into either category of exemption.  Plaintiff’s Complaint concerns causes of action arising from fraudulent conduct.  (Compl., ¶¶ 18-36 [alleging causes of action of “Forgery” and “Fraud and Deceit”].)  Plaintiff’s Complaint may not be characterized as a case of which federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction.  Similarly, Plaintiff’s Complaint is not one which is mandated to be heard by an administrative tribunal.  Accordingly, as this Court’s constitutional grant of general subject matter jurisdiction has not been “expressly denied” with respect to Plaintiff’s Complaint, the Court finds, despite Defendant’s contentions, this Court affirmatively holds subject matter jurisdiction to hear and resolve the causes of action alleged Plaintiff’s Complaint.

                The Court recognizes, rather than base the present Motion upon the governing principles of subject matter jurisdiction of superior courts in the State of California, Defendant advances a different argument.  Rather, Defendant bases the present Motion upon a legal principle which is cited within Ophir Silver Min. Co. v. Superior Court (1905) 147 Cal. 467 (Ophir) and River Farms Inc. v. Superior Court (1967) 252 Cal.App.2d 604 (River Farms).  In Ophir and River Farms, the Supreme Court of California, and California Court of Appeal, each opine,  “[t]rial of an action which involves determination of title to real property in another state is beyond the jurisdiction of the superior court of this state . . . .”  (River Farms, supra, 252 Cal.App.2d at p. 609; Ophir, supra, 147 Cal. at p. 478.)  However, Defendant’s reliance upon Ophir and River Farms is misplaced as Plaintiff’s Complaint does not involve a determination of title to real property outside of California.  Rather, Plaintiff’s Complaint prays for an award of monetary damages arising from a purported forgery and fraudulent misrepresentation committed by Defendant.  While the underlying alleged fraudulent contract (referenced above as “Agreement”) did concern real property in Iran, such real property is entirely unrelated to Plaintiff’s Complaint.  Plaintiff’s Complaint does not pray for any rights with respect to the real property contemplated within the Agreement.  Accordingly, the Court is unpersuaded by Defendant’s central argument, and is unpersuaded this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction with respect to the fraud-based causes of action within Plaintiff’s Complaint.

                In light of the foregoing, Defendant’s Motion to Strike Complaint Based on Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction is DENIED.