Tuesday, September 15, 2015

AP-Colton LLC v. Ohaeri (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 15, 2015)

I love it when the Court of Appeal makes my job incredibly easy.  Especially on a rainy day in San Diego.

Justice Ramirez tells you everything you need to know in the first three paragraphs of this opinion.  Just look how crisp, clean, and comprehensive those paragraphs are:

"Defendants Charles and Stella Ohaeri (Ohaeris) leased space for a thrift store in a shopping center owned by plaintiff AP-Colton LLC (AP-Colton). The thrift store was not a success, and the Ohaeris stopped paying rent. According to the Ohaeris, AP-Colton had fraudulently induced them to enter into the lease by stating that a church was going to move into the space next to theirs, but a competing store moved in instead.

AP-Colton originally filed the case as a limited civil action, in which damages are limited to $25,000. The Ohaeris filed a cross-complaint seeking more than $25,000, but they did not pay the $140 fee required to reclassify the case as an unlimited civil action. Thereafter, AP-Colton filed an amended complaint seeking more than $25,000; as the Ohaeris should already have paid the reclassification fee, AP-Colton did not pay it. After a bench trial, the trial court rejected the Ohaeris’ fraud claims and awarded AP-Colton $126,437.25.

The Ohaeris now contend, among other things, that the case remained a limited civil action, and thus, the trial court erred by awarding damages of more than $25,000. We do agree that the case should have remained a limited civil action. The Ohaeris, however, took the position below that the case had become an unlimited civil action, and the trial court accepted this position by awarding AP-Colton damages in excess of $25,000; we will hold that, as a result, the Ohaeris are judicially estopped to deny that the case was an unlimited civil action. Accordingly, on condition that it pays the $140 reclassification fee, AP-Colton can recover the full award."

How awesome of a summary is that?