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Faith N. Woodall v. County of Lassen et al

April 30, 2012

FAITH N. WOODALL, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
COUNTY OF LASSEN ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



(Super. Ct. No. 50065)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robie , Acting P. J.

Woodall v. County of Lassen

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Faith N. Woodall appeals from the judgment entered in favor of defendants the County of Lassen (county) and its community development department (department) after the trial court sustained defendants' demurrer without leave to amend.

Woodall does not dispute that her original complaint was flawed or that the demurrer was properly sustained. She contends only that the trial court erred in failing to give her even a single opportunity to amend the complaint.

We agree Woodall should have been allowed to amend her complaint. We shall reverse and remand.

BACKGROUND

Reviewing the judgment entered after a demurrer has been sustained, we assume the truth of all material facts properly pled by the complaint, but not its contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law. (Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311, 318.)

The original (and operative) complaint is a partially completed judicial council form complaint filed pro se by Woodall. In it, Woodall seeks damages under causes of action for breach of contract, a common count for money had and received, and claims for fraud and general negligence. The breach of contract cause of action neither incorporates the alleged written agreement nor recites its terms. It states only that Woodall agreed with the department that Woodall would borrow $100,000 for home repairs and remodeling to make her home safe, but "[n]o cooking stove or refrigerator was provided as agreed," the wiring remains unsafe, and the repairs made by the contractor violate building code provisions.

Woodall also sought relief under theories of negligence, alleging that defendants failed to ensure that the loan proceeds were spent on necessary repairs; fraud, alleging that she has been unable to live in her home for over a year, her health has deteriorated drastically, and the "emotional stress has been overwhelming"; and common counts. She sought general damages of $300,000, and exemplary damages of $3 million, based on allegations the department failed to "look after [her] best interests in the completion of the remodeling of her home by the contractor" and did nothing to address her concerns about the inadequacy of the work done to her home.

Defendants demurred to the complaint, arguing that each of the four causes of action Woodall attempts to assert is fatally defective. They asserted the contract claim fails to allege the terms of the loan or how defendants breached the agreement and, as a matter of law, defendants had no duty to inspect the contractor's work; the common counts claim makes no sense, because it purports to allege that defendants received money for Woodall's use and benefit, when the contract claim asserts that defendants loaned money to Woodall; the fraud claim "is devoid of the allegations required by the form" and, in any event, is barred by defendants' immunity for injury arising from misrepresentation (Gov. Code, § 818.8); and the negligence claim fails to allege why defendants are responsible for the contractor's inadequate work and cannot survive because a lender owes no duties to the borrower beyond those expressed in the loan document.

Defendants also moved to strike the punitive damages claim, asserting they are immune from claims for exemplary ...


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