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Gary Weiss et al v. Antonia A. Salazar

April 3, 2012


(Super. Ct. No. 165406)

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

Weiss v. Salazar



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Defendant and cross-complainant Antonia A. Salazar filed a timely appeal in propria persona from the judgment entered (following a trial to the court) in favor of plaintiff Gary Weiss granting reformation, and in favor of cross-defendants Gary and Amelia Weiss*fn1 (except as to property tax payments, for which the judgment directed that Salazar be given credit). Salazar questions the judgment in several respects, none of which have merit. The Weisses assert this appeal is frivolous and request sanctions. We shall affirm the judgment and deny the request for sanctions.


Gary Weiss filed the verified complaint in February 2009 seeking reformation of the sales contract, the grant deed, and the deed of trust involved in the 2006 sale of a mobile home and lot on Lamoine Drive in Redding to Salazar in exchange for a note (the payments on which were to commence a year after the sale). Gary alleged these documents contained the wrong book/page numbers and lot numbers, and that Salazar had refused to execute corrected documents. Gary also sought to accelerate the balance due on the promissory note (on which Salazar had made only three payments), and to recover property taxes she had failed to pay (as obliged under the sales contract).

Salazar filed a cross-complaint in April 2009 in propria persona against Gary and Amelia Weiss. She alleged the Weisses had given her a promissory note for $42,400 as part of their purchase from her of a mobile home and lot on Gulch Trail in Redding in March 2003. She reconveyed the note and deed of trust to them in July 2006 as a payment for the Lamoine Drive property. She also alleged that the Weisses had assumed responsibility for unpaid property taxes in the 2003 sales contract, and had agreed in July 2006 to apply her mortgage payments on the Lamoine Drive property to taxes still delinquent on both properties. Although the pleading is not entirely clear, Salazar contended the Weisses were in breach of contract and committed fraud in failing to pay the accrued taxes on the Gulch Trail property, in failing to pay the interest that had accrued on the note's principal before she reconveyed it, and in lacking title to the Lamoine Drive property when Gary purported to convey it to her.

The testimony at the first day of trial in this matter is mostly devoted to matters not relevant to this appeal. We note only that at the time of the Lamoine Drive transaction, the Weisses had offered the property first to their tenants for $105,000. The county assessor-recorder's office notified Gary in August 2007 that there was an incorrect legal description in the 2006 grant deed.

Apparently there was an unreported second day of trial testimony. As a result, we deem the trial court's findings supported by substantial evidence, and Salazar is accordingly barred from challenging them on this basis because we must presume "that the unreported trial testimony would demonstrate the absence of error"; she is thus limited to errors that appear on the face of the record. (Estate of Fain (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 973, 992; accord, Nielsen v. Gibson (2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 318, 324.)*fn2 Salazar's status as a self-represented litigant does not change this rule. (Nwosu v. Uba (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 1229, 1246-1247.)

In its statement of decision, the trial court found that there had been a mutual mistake regarding the identification of the Lamoine Drive property, for which reason it granted reformation of the deed, deed of trust, and sales contract. Salazar does not present any argument contesting this element of the trial court's ruling, and we therefore do not consider it further. (Imagistics Internat., Inc. v. Department of General Services (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 581, 591, fn. 8, 593 (Imagistics Internat.).)

With respect to the Lamoine Drive transaction in 2006, the trial court found that both parties were in breach of their respective obligations. It declined on that basis to find either party entitled to damages for breach of contract. It also found that the purchase price stated in the 2006 Lamoine Drive sales contract already took into account a credit against the value of the property for the reconveyed 2003 note, because the amount of the payments due on the 2006 note (about $495) reflected amortization of the purchase price and not the purchase price less the amount of the reconveyed 2003 note. Moreover, in a "Beneficiary's Demand" letter dated December 2007, Salazar had offered to pay Gary $67,500 to satisfy the note in exchange for proper title.

Regarding the 2003 Gulch Trail transaction, the trial court noted that the Weisses admitted being in breach of their obligations under the note. However, it found these contractual obligations had been modified as part of the 2006 transaction, which had included the superseding tax agreement and the reconveyance of the note; this resulted in the waiver or relinquishment of Salazar's claims for the failure to pay interest or taxes. It also found that Salazar's failure to make any payments on her note to the Weisses was a breach of her obligations under the tax agreement, which precluded her from recovering damages for the failure of the Weisses to credit the payments to the accrued outstanding ...

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