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Giorgio v. Synergy Management Group, LLC

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fifth Division

October 14, 2014

JOHN GIORGIO, Defendant and Appellant,
v.
SYNERGY MANAGEMENT GROUP, LLC, Plaintiff and Respondent.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. LC094005 Frank J. Johnson, Judge.

Page 242

COUNSEL

Bitton & Associates and Ophir J. Bitton for Defendant and Appellant.

Page 243

Buchalter Nemer, Michael B. Fisher and Oren Bitan, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

KRIEGLER, J.

In this intentional tort action, the trial court denied defendant John Giorgio’s motion, made pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 473, subdivision (d), [1] to set aside the entry of default and any subsequent default judgment, in favor of plaintiff Synergy Management Group, LLC (Synergy). Giorgio contends on appeal that the court erred in denying the motion because he was never properly served with either the original or the first amended complaint. We affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURE

On May 6, 2011, Synergy, on behalf of its predecessor in interest ASI Management, LLC, filed its original complaint in this action. The original complaint alleged Giorgio “converted the assets of [Synergy]’s assignor by submitting false expense reports resulting in the misappropriation of assets belonging to [Synergy]’s assignor” and “committed fraud by submitting false expense reports to [Synergy]’s assignor with the intent to deceive [Synergy]. [Synergy] reasonably relied on the accuracy of expense reports submitted by [Giorgio]. As a direct result of [Synergy]’s reliance on the representations made by [Giorgio], [Synergy]’s assignor paid moneys to [Giorgio] to which he was not entitled.” Synergy sought compensatory and punitive damages according to proof, in an amount greater than $10, 000 but less than $25, 000, thereby designating the case as a limited civil case.

On May 7, 2011, Synergy personally served Giorgio with the original complaint at a North Carolina airport.[2] Giorgio never responded to the original complaint. In his declaration, Giorgio claimed he had been living and working in Europe since October 1, 2009, and was only visiting the United States at the time of service.

On June 13, 2011, Synergy filed its first amended complaint which sought increased damages in the amount of $254, 687.11, reclassifying the matter

Page 244

from a limited to an unlimited civil case.[3] On June 13, 2011, Synergy mailed the amended complaint to an address in the Netherlands (Prinsengracht 694, 1017 KZ Amsterdam), thought to be Giorgio’s residence. Giorgio never responded to the amended complaint. In his declaration, Giorgio claimed he did not ...


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