Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
March 23, 2022, Decided; March 23, 2022, Filed
2022 Cal. Super. LEXIS 6860 *
DAVID L HADDER v. ANEUDI BERNARDINO DOMINGUEZ DOMINGUEZ, et al.
demurrer, judicial notice, cause of action, motor vehicle, allegations, affiliate, ownership, leasing, first amended complaint, appearing, matters, business of renting, complaint states, sufficient facts, material fact, defects, pleaded, rented, tests, pled
Judges: [*1] Serena R. Murillo.
Opinion by: Serena R. Murillo
NATURE OF PROCEEDINGS:
Judicial Assistant: A. Rising
Courtroom Assistant: None
Deputy Sheriff: None
For Plaintiff(s): Eric B Seuthe by: Terrence Swinson appearing via LACC
For Defendant(s): Adam Isaac Miller by: Scott David Miller appearing via LACC
Hearing on Demurrer – without Motion to Strike The matter is not called for hearing.
The Court’s Tentative Ruling is posted on the court’s website for review.
Counsel for the defendant submits to the Court’s Tentative Ruling.
The The Court having reviewed and considered the moving papers, adopts its Tentative Ruling as the order of the Court as follows:
The Demurrer – without Motion to Strike TO PLANTIFF’S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT filed by EAN Holdings LLC on 01/20/2022 is Overruled.
Defendant requests judicial notice of the Statements of Information for EAN Holdings, LLC and Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Los Angeles, LLC filed with the California Secretary of State. The Court takes judicial notice of the filing of these document as the filing is an official act of California. (See Evid. Code § 452, subd. (c).) However, the Court cannot take judicial notice of the facts within these document as [*2] they are reasonably subject to dispute and are not capable of immediate and accurate determination. (See Evid. Code § 452, subd. (h).)
A demurrer for sufficiency tests whether the complaint states a cause of action. (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747.) When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context. (Taylor v. City of Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (2006) 144
Cal.App.4th 1216, 1228.) The court “treat[s] the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded, but not contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law ….” (Berkley v. Dowds (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 518, 525).) In a demurrer proceeding, the defects must be apparent on the face of the pleading or via proper judicial notice. (Donabedian v. Mercury Ins. Co. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 968, 994).) A demurrer tests the pleadings alone and not the evidence or other extrinsic matters; therefore, it lies only where the defects appear on the face of the pleading or are judicially noticed. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 430.30, 430.70.) The only issue involved in a demurrer hearing is whether the complaint, as it stands, unconnected with extraneous matters, states a cause of action. (Hahn, supra, 147 Cal.App.4th at 747.)
Meet and Confer
The demurrer is accompanied by the declaration of Adam I. Miller which satisfies the meet and confer requirements. (Code Civ. Proc. § 430.41(a).)
Defendant EAN Holdings, LLC first argues that the demurrer [*3] should be sustained because Plaintiff has not stated sufficient facts against EAN because the first amended complaint (FAC) contains conclusory statements, and fails to allege any material facts supporting each legal conclusion.
However, Plaintiff has pled ownership liability against Defendant. Under California law, every owner of a motor vehicle is liable and responsible for injuries caused by an individual operating the vehicle with the owner’s permission. (See Cal. Vehicle Code, § 17150; Marquez v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 319, 322; Rashtian v. BRAC-BH, Inc. (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 1847, 1852.) As Plaintiff has pled ownership, the demurrer cannot be sustained for failure to plead sufficient facts. (See Sheehan v. San Francisco 49ers, Ltd. (2009) 45 Cal.4th 992, 998 (stating that the sustaining of a demurrer may only be upheld if the complaint fails to state a cause of action under any possible legal theory).)
Thus, although Defendant takes fault with many allegations in the FAC, the complaint states a cause of action under one possible theory, and the Court therefore does not need to address each argument. The demurrer is overruled on this ground.
(a) In general.– An owner of a motor vehicle that rents or leases the vehicle to a person (or an affiliate [*4] of the owner) shall not be liable under the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, by reason of being the owner of the vehicle (or an affiliate of the owner), for harm to persons or property that results or arises out of the use, operation, or possession of the vehicle during the period of the rental or lease, if—
(1) the owner (or an affiliate of the owner) is engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles; and
(2) there is no negligence or criminal wrongdoing on the part of the owner (or an affiliate of the owner). (42 U.S.C. § 30106.)
First, there are no allegations in the FAC that Defendant is engaged in the business of renting or leasing motor vehicles. Further, the Court has declined to take judicial notice of the truth of the matters asserted within the Secretary of State Statement of Information for EAN Holdings LLC. The Court therefore cannot determine that the Graves Amendment applies to Defendant at the pleading stage. Additionally, Plaintiff has sufficiently advanced a negligent entrustment theory of liability against Defendant. As these allegations are premised on Defendant’s own negligence and not on Defendant’s mere ownership of the rented vehicle, Defendant [*5] has failed to show that the Graves Amendment is applicable based on the FAC.
As such, the demurrer is also overruled on this ground.
Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint is OVERRULED.
Moving party is ordered to give notice.
End of Document