Judge: Stephen I. Goorvitch, Case: 23STCV07201, Date: 2023-05-18 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 23STCV07201    Hearing Date: May 18, 2023    Dept: 39

Mario Cazares v. TGB Promotions, LLC, et al.

Case No. 23STCV07201

Motions to Quash


            Plaintiff Mario Cazares (“Plaintiff”), who is a professional boxer, allegedly retained Defendants to manage and promote him.  Plaintiff asserts nine causes of action: (1) Specific performance for breach of contract, (2) Breach of contract, (3) Violation of the Professional Boxing Safety Law, 15 U.S.C. § 6308(b); (4) Violation of the Professional Boxing Safety Law, 15 U.S.C. § 6307e(b); (5) Violation of the Professional Boxing Safety Law, 15 U.S.C. § 6304(4); (6) Conspiracy to violate the Professional Boxing Safety Law; (7)  Unfair business practices; (8) Promissory estoppel; and (9) Declaratory relief.  Now, two defendants—Alan Haymon and Luis de Cubas Jr.—move to quash service of the summons and complaint.


            As an initial matter, Plaintiff filed his oppositions late.  Based upon a hearing date of May 18, 2023, Plaintiff’s oppositions were due nine (9) court days before the hearing, which was May 5, 2023.  Plaintiff filed his oppositions on May 12, 2023.  Therefore, the Court strikes the oppositions and grants the motions under California Rules of Court, rule 8.54(c).  In the alternative, the Court grants the motions on the merits. 


A.        Alan Haymon


Plaintiff served Alan Haymon via substituted service under Code of Civil Procedure section 415.20, care of “Daniel Belushi, Attorney Representing Alan Haymon,” purportedly located at 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Suite #815, Los Angeles, California 91436.  Haymon does not reside at that address; Haymon does not have an attorney named “Daniel Belushi;” and there is no attorney named “Daniel Belushi” listed on the California State Bar Association’s website.  (Declaration of Jeremiah Reynolds, ¶¶ 3-5.)  In his opposition, Plaintiff does not address the issue that no attorney named “Daniel Belushi” exists.  Rather, Plaintiff argues that the summons and complaint were served at Haymon’s business address.  However, service is not valid unless Plaintiff served a person “apparently in charge of” Defendant’s business affairs at that address.  Plaintiff’s failure to identify the person who purportedly was served is fatal. 


Based upon the foregoing, the Court grants Alan Haymon’s motion to quash service of the summons and complaint.  This order is without prejudice to Plaintiff attempting to serve Haymon again, e.g., via personal service, substituted service, service by publication, etc.  The Court suggests that the parties meet-and-confer concerning this issue, since Plaintiff previously filed an application to serve via publication and is free to do so again. 


B.        Defendant Luis DeCubas Jr.


Defendant Luis de Cubas Jr. (moves to quash based upon a lack of general and specific jurisdiction over him.  Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, state courts may exercise personal jurisdiction over nonresidents who have “minimum contacts” with the forum state.  Minimum contacts exist when the relationship between the nonresident and the forum state is such that the exercise of jurisdiction does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”  (International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945) 326 U.S. 310, 316, internal quotations omitted.)  “Personal jurisdiction may be either general or specific.  A nonresident defendant may be subject to the general jurisdiction of the forum if his or her contacts in the forum state are substantial[,] continuous and systematic.  In such a case, it is not necessary that the specific cause of action alleged be connected with the defendant's business relationship to the forum.  Such a defendant's contacts with the forum are so wide-ranging that they take the place of physical presence in the forum as a basis for jurisdiction.”  (Vons Companies, Inc. v. Seabest Foods, Inc. (1996) 14 Cal.4th 434, 445-446, internal quotations and citations omitted.)


Even if a nonresident defendant does not have sufficient contacts with California such that the defendant is subject to suit in California generally, the defendant may nonetheless be subject to jurisdiction in California for claims based on the defendant’s activities in the state.  To assert “limited” or “specific” personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, the plaintiff must demonstrate that: (a) the out-of-state defendant purposefully established contacts with the forum state; (b) the plaintiff's cause of action “arises out of” or is “related to” defendant's contacts with the forum state; and (c) the forum's exercise of personal jurisdiction in the particular case comports with “fair play and substantial justice.”  (Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz (1985) 471 U.S. 462, 477-478.)


“[W]hen jurisdiction is challenged by a nonresident defendant, the burden of proof is upon the plaintiff to demonstrate that ‘minimum contacts’ exist between defendant and the forum state to justify imposition of personal jurisdiction.”  (Elkman v. National States Ins. Co. (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1305, 1313.)  If the plaintiff meets the initial burden, “it becomes the defendant’s burden to demonstrate that the exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable.” (Buchanan v. Soto (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 1353, 1362.)


Plaintiff relies on his own declaration, stating that he negotiated the boxing contract with Luis de Cubas Jr. and communicated with him via telephone and the Whatsapp platform.  (Declaration of Mario Cazares, ¶¶ 2-4.)  Plaintiff also states that Luis de Cubas Jr. “presented the actual written Boxing Contract . . . .”  (Id., ¶ 6.)  Plaintiff states that he signed the contract and emailed it back to Luis de Cubas Jr., following which he received a signed copy back from Luis de Cubas Jr.  (Id., ¶¶ 7-8.)  Finally, Plaintiff states that he sent his photograph to Luis de Cubas Jr.  (Id., ¶ 9.)  However, neither Plaintiff’s declaration nor the exhibits establish any connection to the State of California.  Nor did Luis de Cubas Jr. sign the contract at issue.  (See First Amended Complaint, Exhs. #1 & #2.)  Plaintiff admits that Luis de Cubas Jr. resides in Nevada.  (First Amended Complaint, ¶ 6.)  Plaintiff presents no evidence that either of the two contracted fights were held within the State of California.  To the contrary, the first contracted fight, which apparently gives rise to this dispute, was held in Minnesota.  (See Declaration of Mario Cazares in Opposition to Warriors Boxing and Promotions LLC’s Motion to Quash, ¶ 6; see also First Amended Complaint, ¶¶ 38, 46-56, 104.)


Based upon the foregoing, the Court finds that there is no general jurisdiction over Luis de Cubas Jr.  Nor is there a sufficient connection between this dispute and the State of California, as it relates to Defendant Luis de Cubas Jr.  Therefore, the Court grants his motion to quash service of the summons and complaint. 


C.        Conclusion and Order


Based upon the foregoing, the Court orders as follows:


1.         The Court grants Alan Haymon’s motion to quash.  This order is without prejudice to Plaintiff attempting to serve Alan Haymon again.


2.         The Court grants Luis De Cubas Jr.’s motion to quash, as there is a lack of general or specific jurisdiction over him.


3.         Counsel for Alan Haymon shall provide notice and file proof of service.