Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Starview Property, LLC v. Lee

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division

October 17, 2019

STARVIEW PROPERTY, LLC, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
STEPHEN Y. LEE et al., Defendants and Appellants.

          APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. No. SC127365 Gerald Rosenberg, Judge. Reversed and remanded with directions.

          Davis Wright Tremaine, Mary H. Haas and Rochelle L. Wilcox for Defendants and Appellants.

          McGarrigle, Kenney & Zampiello, Patrick C. McGarrigle and Marianne Fratianne for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          BIGELOW, P. J.

         In this acrimonious dispute between neighbors over a driveway easement, defendants Stephen and Tracy Lee appeal the trial court's denial of a motion pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, the anti-SLAPP statute, [1] directed at three claims plaintiff Starview Property, LLC asserted for the first time in its first amended complaint. Although the Lees' motion was timely filed within 60 days after the filing of the amended complaint, the trial court denied the motion as untimely because the new claims were based on facts alleged in the original complaint and the motion was filed more than 60 days after service of the original complaint. (Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16, subd. (f) [60-day deadline to file motion after service of “complaint”].)[2]

         The court erred. An anti-SLAPP motion may be brought within 60 days of service of an amended complaint “ ‘if the amended complaint pleads new causes of action that could not have been the target of a prior anti-SLAPP motion, or adds new allegations that make previously pleaded causes of action subject to an anti-SLAPP motion.' ” (Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism (2018) 4 Cal.5th 637, 641 (Newport Harbor II).) Starview's three newly pled causes of action in its amended complaint plainly could not have been the target of a prior motion, even if they arose from protected activity alleged in the original complaint. We reverse the court's order. We express no views on the merits of the motion and remand for the court to consider the merits in the first instance.

         BACKGROUND

         The parties own neighboring parcels of land in Brentwood-Starview owns 816 Glenmere Way (the 816 property) and the Lees own 815 Glenmere Way (the 815 property). In 1958, the Lees' predecessor granted an easement to Starview's predecessor over a driveway entirely situated on the Lees' property for ingress, egress, and driveway purposes. In 1959, the parties' predecessors modified the easement with an agreement containing this clause: “Should any further documents be necessary to be placed of record for the purpose of perfecting title to the matters set forth in this agreement, the parties hereto mutually agree to execute such additional documents.”

         In 2016, Starview purchased the 816 property, and it intended to remodel the existing home. In 2017, it submitted architectural plans to the City of Los Angeles (the City). As a condition of permit approval, the City required Starview to sign a Covenant and Agreement for Community Driveway and to secure the Lees' signature on the document as well. The document was required because anyone accessing one of the five required parking spaces on Starview's property would have to use the driveway on the Lees' property.

         The Lees declined to sign the covenant. Starview alleged the Lees claimed they were entitled to new consideration and to condition their performance on extra-contractual demands for indemnity, construction, releases, and payment of $5, 000. Starview eventually installed a vehicle lift system that was approved by the City, which avoided the parking problem and avoided requiring the Lees to sign the Covenant.

         Starview filed the original complaint on April 11, 2017, alleging three contract-based claims: (1) breach of contract; (2) specific performance; and (3) injunctive relief. All three claims were based on the Lees' failure to sign the covenant in breach of the easement agreement. The Lees did not file an anti-SLAPP motion to strike any of these causes of action.

         The parties conducted some discovery and filed motions for summary judgment/adjudication. Then, over a year after filing the original complaint, Starview filed a first amended complaint (FAC) on May 17, 2018. The FAC added factual detail but alleged the same basic acts of the Lees refusing to sign the covenant in breach of the easement agreement and making extra-contractual demands for additional concessions and consideration. The FAC realleged causes of action for breach of contract and injunctive relief, but added claims for breach of the implied covenant of good faith, negligent and intentional interference with easement, and private nuisance. The newly added claims were based on both the Lees' failure to sign the covenant and on their extra-contractual demands.

         On July 11, 2018-55 days after the FAC was deemed filed-the Lees filed their anti-SLAPP motion. It sought to strike the newly added causes of action for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and for negligent and intentional interference with easement. Alternatively, it sought to strike certain factual allegations of “pre-litigation communications” related to the Lees' extra-contractual demands, including factual allegations that appeared in the original complaint. In the motion, the Lees argued their failure to sign the covenant and their pre-litigation communications were protected activity, and Starview could not prevail on the three new claims.

         In opposition, Starview argued the motion was untimely because the claimed protected activity was alleged in the original complaint and the motion was filed more than 60 days after the original ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.