General Demurrer (Judge Deborah Servino)

Defendant Avalon Cold Storage, LLC’s (“Defendant Avalon”) general demurrer to the first, third, and fourth causes of action of Plaintiff Affluent Staffing, LLC’s Complaint, is sustained with 15 days leave to amend.

Plaintiff’s request for judicial notice is denied as to Exhibit A and granted as to Exhibit B.  Exhibit A appears to be a duplicate of Exhibit B.  Defendant Avalon’s request for judicial notice filed with its Reply is denied as untimely.  It should have been filed with the moving papers to allow Plaintiff an opportunity to respond. (See Evid. Code, § 453 [“trial court shall take judicial notice of any matter specified in Section 452 if a party requests it and [g]ives each adverse party sufficient notice of the request, through the pleadings or otherwise, to enable such adverse party to prepare to meet the request.”].)

A demurrer presents an issue of law regarding the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the complaint. (Lambert v. Carneghi (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 1120, 1126.)  The challenge is limited to the “four corners” of the pleading (which includes exhibits attached and incorporated therein) or from matters outside the pleading which are judicially noticeable under Evidence Code sections 451 or 452.  Although California courts take a liberal view of inartfully drawn complaints, it remains essential that a complaint set forth the actionable facts relied upon with sufficient precision to inform the defendant of what plaintiff is complaining, and what remedies are being sought.  (Leek v. Cooper(2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 399, 413.)

A “plaintiff is required only to set forth the essential facts of his case with reasonable precision and with particularity sufficient to acquaint a defendant with the nature, source and extent of his cause of action.”(Doe v. City of Los Angeles (2007) 42 Cal.4th 531, 550 [citing Doheny Park Terrace Homeowners Assn. Inc. v. Truck Ins. Exchange (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 1076, 1099].)  When a plaintiff sues fictitious Doe defendants, the charging allegations in the complaint must run against those Doe defendants.  “It is not enough, of course, simply to name ‘Doe’ defendants. Rather, the complaint must allege that they were responsiblein some way for the acts complained of.” (Winding Creek v. McGlashan(1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 933, 941.)

Here, Defendant Avalon was originally sued as a Doe defendant.  Plaintiff’s causes of action are each prefaced with the indication that they are against “All Defendants.”  But, Plaintiff only states specifics as to American Logistics, which is defined as “American Logistics International, L.P., American Logistics International, LLC, American Logistics International Holdings LLC, American Logistics International Warehousing & Distribution, L.P., and American Logistics International Warehousing & Distribution, LLC.  (Complaint, ¶ 7.)  For example, Plaintiff alleges that: (1) it and American Logistics entered into an agreement, which American Logistics breached; (2) American Logistics owes Plaintiff money as a result of the services Plaintiff provided it; and (3) unless American Logistics, Kagan, and Vahadat pay Plaintiff the amount owed, they will be unjustly enriched.  (See Complaint, ¶¶ 31-32, 38, 45)

Because the alleged facts in the Complaint only concern American Logistics as defined by the Complaint, Defendant Avalon is not apprised of the factual basis for Plaintiff’s claims against it.  Accordingly, the demurrer as to the first, third, and fourth causes of action of the Complaint is sustained with 15 days leave to amend.

Defendant Avalon’s special demurrer based on uncertainty is overruled.  Although the Complaint lacks sufficient factual allegations as discussed above, it is not so confusing Defendant cannot tell what counts or claims are directed against it. (See Khoury v. Maly’s of Calif., Inc. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 612, 616.)

Defendant Avalon shall give notice of the ruling.