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Golden West Nuts, Inc v. Willadsen Orchards

June 30, 2011

GOLDEN WEST NUTS, INC., PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
WILLADSEN ORCHARDS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



(Super. Ct. No. 39200900207871CUCOSTK)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hoch , J.

Golden West Nuts v. Willadsen Orchards

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

This appeal arises from a declaratory relief action in which appellant Golden West Nuts, Inc. (Golden West) sought judicial confirmation that it had paid the correct contract price for almonds grown by respondents Willadsen Orchards, Inc., and related entities (collectively, Willadsen).*fn1 The trial court sustained Willadsen's demurrer without leave to amend because there was no ongoing relationship between the parties that warranted declaratory relief.

On appeal, Golden West contends the trial court erred in dismissing a case that involves an actual controversy between the parties. Golden West further argues that the trial court's award of attorney fees to Willadsen as prevailing party must be reversed.

We affirm the judgment of dismissal and the order awarding attorney fees.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Original Complaint

In April 2009, Golden West filed a four-page complaint seeking declaratory relief to confirm it had properly paid Willadsen under terms of "various written contracts" for sale of almond crops. Golden West also sought damages in the amount of any overpayments made to Willadsen. The complaint did not allege any ongoing relationship between the parties. Willadsen demurred. Rather than oppose the demurrer, Golden West amended its complaint in September 2009.

Amended Complaint

The amended complaint alleged that in September 1999, Golden West and Willadsen had "entered into a written pool contract no. L-1206 for the purchase by [Golden West] and sale by [Willadsen] of its entire crop of almonds to be produced on its 356-acre almond orchard which contract was entered into, to be performed in, and under which any obligation or liability arose in, San Joaquin County, California ('WOI Pool Contract'). The WOI Pool Contract was an evergreen contract in that it was originally for three crop years but rolled over for additional three-year periods unless terminated by one of the parties thereto at the end of the then current three-year period." Also in September 1999, the parties entered into another evergreen contract (contract no. 9917) with an initial three-year term for the sale of almond crops. Although the amended complaint emphasized that the parties had entered into evergreen contracts, it failed to allege any ongoing contractual relationship between the parties.

The amended complaint again sought declaratory relief to confirm that Golden West had properly paid Willadsen under the terms of the contracts. However, the amended complaint omitted ...


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