California Court of Appeals, Second District, Second Division
[As Modification on June 30, 2015]
APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. BC476282. Richard L. Fruin, Jr., Judge.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Locke Lord, Jon L. Rewinski; and Christopher Dove for Defendants and Appellants.
Law Offices of Saied Kashani and Saied Kashani for Defendant and Respondent.
Kendrick Jan; Chassman & Seelig and Mark B. Chassman for Plaintiff and Respondent.
The question presented is: Does a judgment granting a fraudulent transfer claim, as well as monetary damages, relate back to the date on which the claimants recorded a lis pendens? We conclude that it does. Following a bench trial on reciprocal claims for declaratory relief regarding the priority of judgment liens, the trial court determined that the judgment lien of respondent Mira Overseas Consulting, Ltd. (Mira) had priority over the judgment lein of appellants’ Muse Family Enterprises, Ltd. (the Muse Parties), because it was filed first. We reverse, finding that the Muse Parties’ judgment lien relates back to the date they recorded a lis pendens.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The Underlying Facts
The Muse Parties are 20 investor entities that made loans to BTM Funding, Inc. (BTM), a company wholly owned by David T. Smith (David). In 2008, David used BTM to purchase a residence in Pacific Palisades, California (the property) for approximately $10 million. David had BTM take title to the property to hide it from his former wife during their contentious divorce proceedings. David married respondent Carmen Copple Silva (Carmen), who is also trustee of the Carmen Copple Silva Revocable Living Trust (trust). In November 2008, David caused to be executed a quitclaim deed which transferred the property from BTM to himself. On the same day, David signed a quitclaim deed transferring the property to Carmen. A year later, Carmen executed a quitclaim deed transferring the property from herself to her trust. None of these quitclaim deeds were recorded until 2009, after financial problems with BTM surfaced. Because David had listed the property as the primary asset of BTM, the effect of the quitclaim deeds was to render BTM insolvent.
Meanwhile, during the divorce proceedings, Davids former wife claimed that he hid assets from her, including the property. She and David eventually settled the issue by having Mira, a British Virgin Islands entity, ...