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Sweeting v. Murat

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fourth Division

November 13, 2013

ROBERT SWEETING, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
SUSAN MURAT et al., Defendants and Respondents.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court for Los Angeles County, No. NC043235 Roy Paul, Judge.

Page 508

COUNSEL

Robert Sweeting, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Law Office of James A. Flanagan and James A. Flanagan for Defendants and Respondents.

OPINION

WILLHITE, Acting P. J.

Code of Civil Procedure section 1011, subdivision (b) (section 1011(b)) provides that personal service on a party to a lawsuit “shall be made in the manner specifically provided in particular cases, or, if no specific provision is made, service may be made by leaving the notice or other paper at the party’s residence, between the hours of eight

Page 509

in the morning and six in the evening, with some person of not less than 18 years of age.”[1] This case presents an issue of first impression regarding personal service on a party who is not represented by counsel and does not have a permanent residence. If that party has filed a notice of change of address that lists an address for a UPS store at which he rents a mailbox and states that “[a]ll notices and documents regarding the action should be sent to [that] address, ” is personal service effectuated by personal delivery of a notice of motion to the UPS store? We conclude that it is. Accordingly, we reject plaintiff and appellant Robert Sweeting’s contention on appeal that the trial court erred in granting the discovery and summary judgment motions filed by defendants and respondents Susan and Mary Murat (the Murats) because the motions were not properly served.

BACKGROUND

Sweeting filed a lawsuit in September 2008 against various defendants regarding several shipping containers, which he alleges held his personal property valued at over $2.5 million, that he stored at a storage and shipping yard. In the operative fourth amended complaint, filed in August 2011, Sweeting alleges two causes of action against the Murats, for conversion (the fourth cause of action) and negligence (the fifth cause of action).

The complaint alleges that Sweeting contracted with other defendants (referred to as the ADL Defendants) to store the containers at the ADL Defendants’ storage and shipping facility. In the conversion cause of action, Sweeting alleges that the real property on which the ADL Defendants operated their storage and shipping facility was owned by the Murats, Joseph Murat, and the Murat Family Trust (collectively, the Murat Defendants).[2] Sweeting alleges that in March 2009, he had a telephone conversation with Joseph Murat, who he alleges was acting on behalf of the Murats, in which Mr. Murat agreed to allow Sweeting to store his personal property at the facility. He alleges that beginning in June 2009, at the direction of the Murat Defendants, the ADL Defendants refused to allow him access to his property stored at the facility. Shortly thereafter, the Murat Defendants terminated the lease under which the ADL Defendants operated their storage facility. Sweeting alleges that when the ADL Defendants moved from the real property sometime between August and November 2009, they left behind a large portion of his personal property, which the Murat Defendants then sold, scrapped, gave away, kept for personal use and/or destroyed. In the negligence cause of action, Sweeting alleges that the Murat Defendants failed to

Page 510

follow statutory procedures for evicting him, and lost, sold, scrapped, or otherwise disposed of his ...


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