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Kalta v. Fleets 101, Inc.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division

October 29, 2019

MIKE KALTA et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents,
v.
FLEETS 101, INC., Defendant and Appellant.

          APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. BC640449, Elizabeth A. White, Judge. Affirmed.

          Law Office of Steven A. Simons and Steven A. Simons for Plaintiffs and Respondents.

          Gross Law Firm and Jared Gross for Defendant and Appellant.

          GRIMES, J.

         This is an appeal from a jury verdict in favor of plaintiff Mike Kalta on his claim against defendant for violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA; Civ. Code, § 1750 et seq.) Defendant contends the judgment must be reversed because Mr. Kalta is not a consumer with standing to sue under the CLRA. We affirm.

         FACTS

         We glean the following facts from the rather limited record on appeal, which did not include the pleadings, a transcript of the hearing on the motions in limine, the trial exhibits, or jury instructions.

         It appears plaintiffs Mike Kalta and his business, Greenfield Landscaping, Inc., sued defendant Fleets 101, Inc. for violation of the CLRA based on misrepresentations made during the sale of a used truck to plaintiffs.

         Defendant admitted in response to plaintiffs' request for admissions that the vehicle was purchased for Mr. Kalta's personal use. Before trial, defendant moved in limine to preclude plaintiffs from introducing this admission at trial, and to preclude any reference at trial to plaintiffs as “consumers” under the CLRA. These motions were denied. Defendant makes no claim of error in the court's ruling denying these motions in limine.

         The evidence at trial was that Mr. Kalta purchased the vehicle through his company, Greenfield Landscaping, Inc., due to his poor credit. Title was taken in the business's name. However, Mr. Kalta testified the vehicle was for his personal use, and the Retail Installment Sale Contract states the truck was purchased for personal and not commercial purposes. The trial court instructed the jury it had been “conclusively established” that the vehicle “was purchased for personal use.”

         The jury found by special verdict that Mr. Kalta suffered damages of $10, 435.88, and awarded punitive damages of $10, 000. Judgment was entered in favor of both plaintiffs.

         On appeal, defendant contends Mr. Kalta lacks standing to sue because his business purchased the vehicle. Defendant also contends Mr. Kalta is not a “consumer” within the meaning of the CLRA.

         Defendant does not tell us the standard of review; does not summarize the facts, detailed ante, supporting a finding that the vehicle was purchased for Mr. Kalta's personal use; does not challenge the trial court's ruling on its motions in limine, which precluded defendant from arguing at trial that Mr. Kalta was not a consumer; and the record on appeal creates more questions than it provides answers. Plainly, defendant has failed to satisfy its burden of demonstrating prejudicial error. (People v. Stanley (1995) 10 Cal.4th 764, 793 [a brief must contain reasoned argument and legal authority to support its contentions or the court may treat them as waived]; Foreman & Clark Corp. v. Fallon (1971) 3 Cal.3d 875, 881 [failure to state all evidence fairly in appellate briefs waives alleged error]; Denham v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 557, 564 [appellant must provide an adequate record to establish prejudicial error, because the lower court's judgment is presumed correct].)

         We find substantial evidence Mr. Kalta was a consumer within the meaning of the CLRA, and had standing to sue. (See Civ. Code, § 1761, subd. (d) [“ ‘Consumer' means an individual who seeks or acquires, by purchase or lease, any goods or services for personal, family, or household purposes.”]; San Luis Rey Racing, Inc. v. California Horse Racing Bd. (2017) 15 Cal.App.5th 67, 73 [trial court's factual findings concerning standing are ...


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