Case Number: BC631617??? Hearing Date: January 03, 2017??? Dept: 34

Plaintiff?s Request for Entry of Default Judgement is DENIED.

BACKGROUND:

Plaintiff commenced this action on 8/19/15 as a limited action for quiet title, cancellation of instrument, and declaratory relief. The action pertains to the subject real property which was owned by decedent Elnora Jones. At the time of her death in 1995, there were seven individual owners on the title to the property. Plaintiff DeMeo, administrator CTA of the Estate of Elnora Jones, perfected title in the property to the Estate through a series of probate proceedings. DeMeo alleges that clouds appear on the title in the form of fraudulent deeds recorded naming defendants as partial owners.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiff is seeking to quiet title in the property. According to the Rutter Guide:

In actions to determine plaintiff’s title to property, the court ?shall not enter judgment by default but shall in all cases require evidence of plaintiff’s title and hear such evidence as may be offered respecting claims of any of the defendants.? [CCP ? 764.010 (emphasis added)]

One case holds that this statutory prohibition on default judgments in quiet title actions simply means plaintiff does not have a right to judgment in his or her favor as a matter of course following entry of defendant’s default. Rather, competent evidence of plaintiff’s title must be provided in a prove-up hearing before the court. Live witnesses must testify, and complete authentication of the underlying real property records is essential. [See Yeung v. Soos (2004) 119 CA4th 576, 582, 14 CR3d 502, 506 (citing earlier version of text)]
But more recent cases disagree with Yeung, supra. The statute does not simply increase the standard of proof; defaulting defendants in quiet title actions are entitled to present such evidence as they may wish to offer about their claims at an open-court evidentiary hearing. Under the ?unambiguous language? of ? 764.010, default judgment is ?flatly prohibited in every quiet title action.? [Nickell v. Matlock (2012) 206 CA4th 934, 944, 142 CR3d 362, 369 (emphasis in original) (citing text)?applies even when default entered as discovery sanction; Harbour Vista, LLC v. HSBC Mortg. Services Inc. (2011) 201 CA4th 1496, 1503-1504, 134 CR3d 424, 430 (citing text)?? 764.010 prohibition on default judgments in quiet title actions ?is absolute?]

(Weil & Brown, Civ. Proc. Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2016) ? 5:271.)

Moreover, plaintiff does not provide admissible evidence in support of the request. The evidence primarily consists of hearsay statements to which plaintiff lacks personal knowledge. (See DeMeo Decl., ?? 5-6, 9-11.)

Therefore, Plaintiff?s request for Entry of a Quiet Title Default Judgement is DENIED.