Sampling of pending and resolved matters

Scott Gizer and Mary Kaufman Obtain Summary Judgment on Behalf of Sun West

Scott Gizer and Mary Kaufman obtained summary judgment on behalf of client Sun West Mortgage Company in Causey v. Sun West Mortgage Company Inc. The MSJ victory came on Willie J. Causey Jr.’s complaint for declaratory relief and violations of the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”). Sun West denied claims that the company had violated TILA, moving for summary judgment on the grounds that any purported failure to disclose was either not required by law or fell within the safe harbor tolerances of TILA, and that because no TILA violation occurred, Causey's rescission demands were properly rejected. The Court agreed with Sun West and granted Sun West’s motion in its entirety. The ruling was significant in that the Court clarified that the safe harbor provisions of TILA and Regulation Z apply to both the finance charge and the amount financed, which has been an area of dispute.

Billy Wright Earns Successful Final Judgment on Behalf of First American Title Insurance Company

In Jaisinghani v. U.S. Bank, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. SC125165, Judge Lisa Hart Cole, Billy Wright successfully represented First American Title Insurance Company in connection with the defense of an action brought by a borrower/developer who asserted numerous tort and contract-based claims relating to a multi-million dollar property in Malibu. The Court awarded First American with a favorable judgment after four rounds of demurrers brought by the Firm.

Early Sullivan Successfully Defends Warner/Chappell Music Against Breach of Contract Action

In Johnny Gill v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. et al., the firm successfully defended Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. against a breach of contract action brought by musician Johnny Gill, relating to the alleged failure to pay songwriting royalties owed to Gill.

Early Sullivan Obtains Dismissal of Action on Behalf of Fidelity National Title Insurance Company

In Pennymac Holdings, LLC v. Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, et al., Case No. A-16-746790-C, Nevada, the Firm represented Fidelity National Title Insurance Company against a lender claiming to have a priority lien. The case arose from Nevada’s controversial homeowners’ association lien priority laws. The Firm’s motion to dismiss caused the action to be dismissed in its entirety.

The Firm Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of Beverly Hills Homeowner

The firm obtained summary judgment on behalf of client Behrooz Salim in Saud v. Salim, et al., Case Number SC122618, Santa Monica, Judge Nancy Newman. Salim purchased a $7 million home in Beverly Hills, but Saudi Arabian Princess Seeta bint Abdulaziz Al Saud claimed she owned and never sold the property. The Princess sued Salim for ejectment and quiet title. Litigation in the case spanned three different Federal and State courts and several years. The Firm eventually filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Princesses’ action was barred by the three year statute of limitations governing quiet title actions based in fraud. The Court agreed with the Firm and granted summary judgment in favor of Salim, which ended the dispute and allowed Salim and his family to keep the Beverly Hills property.   

The Firm Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of Sun West

A class action lawsuit (Johnson v. Sun West Mortgage Company, Inc., et al., Case Number BC541571, Los Angeles Superior Court, Honorable John Shepard Wiley) was filed against our client, Sun West Mortgage Company, alleging that the company, as a reverse mortgage servicer, would obtain excessively priced lender placed insurance for its borrowers in exchange for various alleged kickbacks from insurers, and allegedly improperly backdated those policies even if there was no evidence of damage to the property being insured. On behalf of Sun West, the Firm filed a motion for summary judgment as to all five claims. The Court agreed with Sun West and granted the motion in its entirety. The Court found that class plaintiff Johnson provided no evidence to support his unsubstantiated claims, and that Johnson failed to provide any evidence to support his or the class’s theories that Sun West and Proctor Financial Inc. received “kickbacks” or commissions.

The Firm Wins Favorable Settlement for Actress

In Doherty v. Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson, et al., LASC Case No. BC591881, the Firm helped a famous actress sue her accounting firm and obtain a favorable settlement. The lawsuit against the firm was for professional negligence that was alleged to have lead to the actress's breast cancer. 

Early Sullivan Obtains Full Dismissal of Charges Against Reconstruction Engineering Firm

The firm represented a collision reconstruction engineering firm at trial and obtained a full dismissal of charges that had been brought against the client by the California Attorney General’s Office. The case involved an Administrative Hearing before the State Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists and Dept. of Consumer Affairs. The matter, In re Alvin Lowi, Citation No. 10368-L, Office of Administration Hearings No. 2016021000, Hon. Jennifer M. Russell, was confirmed on appeal on what was essentially a matter of first impression. 

Early Sullivan Successfully Wins Appeal of Trial Court Order on Behalf of Client

In Manapat v. Hoffman, et al., LASC Case No. LC101642, Appellate Case No. B268328, the firm represented respondents/defendants in an appeal of a trial court order dismissing the entire case on demurrer. Our clients prevailed completely on appeal.

Early Sullivan Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of Afkarian

The firm obtained summary judgment for client Afkarian in Wells Fargo v. Afkarian, et al., Case No. 37-2014-00075037-CU-OR-CTL, San Diego Superior Court; Judge Judith Hayes, a case brought by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo claimed to hold a $1.2 million lien on Afkarian's property.

Early Sullivan Obtains Summary Adjudication, Near Immediate Case Settlement for Nursing Home Operator

The firm represented one of the leading nursing home operators in California against 18 causes of action arising from alleged financial malfeasance and investor-related fraud in Remba v. Preimesberger, LASC Case No. BC575724, Los Angeles Superior Court, Hon. Gregory Keosian. We obtained summary adjudication on behalf of our client on 17 of the 18 causes of action, which led to near immediate settlement of the case on favorable terms.

Tribe Member Knew Of Flaws In Trust Land Leases, Court Told – Law360

Tribe Member Knew Of Flaws In Trust Land Leases, Court Told By Jack Newsham Law360, New York (March 3, 2016, 7:17 PM ET) -- A group of Nevada homeowners being sued by a Native American man who says they illegally built their homes on his trust land asked a Nevada federal judge Tuesday to keep their counterclaims alive, saying Leon Mark Kizer took payments and signed off on leases he knew might be illegal. More than 180 people asked U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones to let their counterclaims against Kizer move forward, saying he unjustly profited from payments from them and PTP Inc., the developer of their subdivision, while failing to disclose communications with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California that suggested PTP's 99-year master lease on Kizer's land is illegal. The homeowners sublet their plots from PTP and have poured millions of dollars into building their homes there. Kizer is seeking a declaratory judgment that PTP's lease and all the subleases are invalid because the law only allows 25-year leases for Native American land. He has argued that the subletters’ beef lies with PTP and their title insurers, which are sophisticated companies and have profited much more than he did from the development of the Pine View Estates subdivision. Kizer has said he didn’t have an attorney when he signed off on the master lease or the subleases and said homeowners should have looked into the matter themselves. But the homeowners, which seek unspecified damages in their counterclaims, blasted those arguments on Thursday, saying what Kizer called black-letter law that makes the master lease invalid is actually “hotly contested.” “Kizer[] argues that counterclaimants’ reliance on his misrepresentations about the master lease’s validity was not justified because counterclaimants supposedly could have determined from publicly available information that the master lease was not valid,” the opposition said. “This argument is nonsense.” The homeowners, who are being sued by Kizer along with their association, PTP and the BIA, also said two cases cited by Kizer to argue that federal policy barred their claims — Narragansett Indian Tribe v. RIBO Inc. and Heckman v. United States — actually support their argument. Both of those cases acknowledged a Native American could be held liable for luring people into signing void contracts and damaging them as a result, as the homeowners allege Kizer did in the nearly two decades that elapsed between when he leased his land to PTP and when he filed suit. Jerome Miranowski, an attorney for Kizer, told Law360 his client didn’t learn about questions to the validity of the leases until 2008 or later, not 2006 as the homeowners allege, and he said the BIA alerted the homeowners to concerns shortly thereafter, in 2010.
A smaller group of subletters asserted counterclaims against Kizer in January. According to his complaint, Kizer entered into a master lease with PTP for his land in 1997 that was approved by a BIA official. The complaint claimed that the BIA indicated to then-Washoe tribal chairman Brian Wallace in 2006 that both the length of the 99-year lease and the purchase option violated federal law. Leases on Indian trust land for business purposes can’t exceed 25 years, or 50 with an extension, and non-Indians can only buy trust land at fair market value and with BIA approval, the complaint said. Lawyers for the homeowners didn’t reply to a request for comment. Kizer is represented by Aaron J. Harkins and Jerome A. Miranowski of Faegre Baker Daniels and Douglas R. Brown of Lemons Grundy & Eisenberg. The homeowners are represented by Scott E. Gizer, Eric P. Early and Diane M. Luczon of Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae LLP. The case is Kizer v. PTP et al., case number 3:15-cv-00120, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The Firm Obtains Dismissal of Case Midway Through Deposition

In Jorgensen, et al. v. First American, Case No. 2:2016CV00068 — a lawsuit against an escrow company filed in the State of Washington — the Firm exposed the plaintiffs’ real estate broker’s perjurious testimony in the middle of his deposition and leveraged that testimony to cause the plaintiffs to immediately dismiss the case against our client midway through the broker’s deposition.

Early Sullivan Obtains Summary Adjudication for Nursing Home Operator

In Dalsukhbhai K. Patel v. Preimesberger, et al., LASC Case No. VC064586, Los Angeles Superior Court, Hon. Margaret Bernal, the firm obtained summary adjudication for one of the leading nursing home operators in California on claims of corporate alter ego status, thereby gutting the plaintiff’s entire case.

Early Sullivan Successfully Defends First American Title Insurance Company Against Tort and Contract-Based Claims

The Firm represented First American Title Insurance Company in Gul Jaisinghani v. U.S. Bank, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case, No. SC125165.  We defended an action brought by a borrower/developer who asserted numerous tort and contract-based claims relating to a multi-million dollar property in Malibu, California. After four rounds of the Firm’s demurrers, and following multiple efforts by opposing counsel to add numerous legal theories and claims in several amended complaints, the Court entered judgment in favor of the Firm’s client First American.

Early Sullivan Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of Secured Lenders

In Wolkowitz v. Fidelity Mortgage Lenders, et al., a bankruptcy trustee for a recording studio filed adversary proceeding against certain secured lenders, arguing that the $1.5 million deed of trust securing their debt was invalid because the loan was not approved by a supermajority of the debtor’s principals. The Firm obtained summary judgment on behalf of the secured lenders and against the bankruptcy trustee, after arguing that the subject provision of the written partnership agreement was not enforceable against the secured lenders. 

Bryan Sullivan Represents Marcel Granier in Sale of Rare Ferrari
Bryan Sullivan represented Venezuela media mogul, Marcel Granier, in the sale of Mr. Granier’s multi-million dollar collector’s item Ferrari to Ferrari dealer DK Engineering. The Ferrari was a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB of which only 200 were made and far less still available in the world. The transaction involved significant customs issues with the Ferrari being transported from Venezuela to the United States.

Judge Grants Salma Hayek Permanent Restraining Order Against Alleged Stalkers
Early Sullivan Partner Bryan Sullivan recently obtained a permanent restraining order on behalf of Oscar-nominated actress Salma Hayek. According to the court filings, two women repeatedly harassed Ms. Hayek, impersonating her on multiple occasions and threatening to kidnap her daughter. Today, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carol Boas Goodson extended the temporary order, ruling that the individuals must stay away from Ms. Hayek and her family, and not attempt to contact her for the next three years.

Devin McRae Named in The Best Lawyers in America 2016 for Intellectual Property Litigation
Early Sullivan Partner Devin McRae was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2016 edition of The Best Lawyers in America in Litigation - Intellectual Property.  Best Lawyers® is one of the oldest and most respected guides to the legal industry.  Inclusion is exclusive, based on a comprehensive peer-review process designed to capture the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.  Corporate Counsel magazine has called The Best Lawyers in America “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice."

Salma Hayek Gets Temporary Restraining Order Against Women Accused Of Impersonating Her
Early Sullivan Partner Bryan Sullivan recently obtained a temporary restraining order on behalf of well-known actress Salma Hayek. According to the filing, two women repeatedly impersonated Ms. Hayek and made threats to kidnap her child. After hearing Mr. Sullivan’s petition on Friday, Superior Court Judge M.D. Fried ordered that the individuals must stay 100 yards away from Ms. Hayek and her family.

Early Sullivan Successfully Represents United General Title Insurance Company on Appeal in RNT Holdings, LLC v. United General Title Insurance Company
Early Sullivan successfully represented United General Title Insurance Company (“United General”) in opposing RNT Holding’s appeal of Early Sullivan’s underlying summary judgment victory for United General. RNT is a company owned by billionaire mogul Ronald N. Tutor. The Court of Appeal’s decision in RNT Holdings, LLC v. United General Title Insurance Company, Case No. B250089 is of paramount importance to the title insurance industry. The decision provides clarity regarding the interpretation of key title insurance Exclusion 3(a) (which language is included in most title insurance policies) ruling that Exclusion 3(a) is triggered if the insured’s conduct was intentional, regardless of: (a) whether the insured actually intended to create a title defect through its conduct, and (b) whether the insured knew that a title defect might occur from the insured’s intentional act. The decision also establishes for the first time that an insured lender’s release of its insured interest in a subject property terminates the insurer’s potential liability under the policy, regardless of the occurrence of a covered risk at the time of the release. Click on “Download PDF” to the right to read the full decision.

Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae’s Appeal Prevails in Moorefield Construction, Inc. v. Intervest Mortgage Investment Company
In the recently published appellate decision Moorefield Construction, Inc. v. Intervest Mortgage Investment Company, et al., D065464, the California Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's decision awarding a general contractor $2.2 million on its mechanic's lien. The Court of Appeals upheld a subordination agreement that the general contractor (Moorefield Construction, Inc.) had signed with Early Sullivan client Intervest Mortgage (formerly known as Sterling Savings Bank), "subordinating" Moorfield's mechanic's lien claim to Intervest’s Deed of Trust, which was security for the construction loan. This Court of Appeals' reversal establishes case law ensuring that via the subordination agreement (standard in deals between lenders and general contractors) a lender’s deed of trust is in first position, trumping the general contractor's mechanic's lien. Subordination agreements are the lifeline of construction lending because they provide construction lenders with confidence that they will always be in first position in the event of a default. If the Court of Appeals would have upheld the trial court ruling, then the uncertainty of a lender’s position in the event of a default would have dramatically impacted construction lending. Click on "Download PDF" to read the published decision.

Croft Holding Corp. v. Healstone Investment Real Estate, Inc. et al.
Early Sullivan’s strategic use of law and motion and discovery to focus on the fatal flaws in plaintiff’s $35 million breach of fiduciary duty and professional negligence action brought so much pressure to bear on plaintiffs that they walked from their case for a $17,500 settlement.

Domini and Morros v. Ticor Title of Nevada, Inc. and Ticor Title Insurance Company
Early Sullivan represented Ticor Title of Nevada, Inc. (an escrow company) and Ticor Title Insurance Company (a title insurance company) in two separate actions filed by plaintiffs in Reno, Nevada, arising from a $15 million Ponzi-scheme orchestrated by an unscrupulous Reno lender who is currently under federal indictment. We vigorously defended both actions in Washoe County, Nevada, leading to favorable settlements for Ticor.

Lindell v. Chicago Title Company, et al.
Early Sullivan’s Motion to Dismiss was granted in the trial court in Washoe County, Reno, Nevada, in another of the actions arising from the $15 million Ponzi-scheme in Reno. The ruling resulted in the complete dismissal with prejudice of plaintiff’s action against Chicago Title in which it had been sued for breach of contract, conspiracy, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, deceit, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, conversion, false advertising, and deceptive trade practices. The Court granted Chicago Title’s motion on several grounds, including plaintiffs failure to allege that they had suffered an actionable loss and because by law, plaintiffs could not assert negligence based claims against Chicago Title based on the issuance of a title policy.

Derek Fisher v. Fox Sports
Early Sullivan currently represents Los Angeles Laker and National Basketball Players Association President, Derek Fisher, in his dispute with Fox Sports regarding statements published about Mr. Fisher by Fox Sports and writer Jason Whitlock.

Holder v. Howe
Early Sullivan obtained voluntary dismissal, with prejudice, of all causes of action against Ozzie Silna, an American businessman best known for his success in the textile industry and pioneering ownership of the Spirits of St. Louis of the original American Basketball Association. The Court sustained our demurrer to all causes of action, including corporate director liability, illegal distribution, breach of fiduciary duty, and aiding and abetting.

Howie Mandel
Early Sullivan is currently representing Howie Mandel in a dispute against International Imagination, Inc. over a licensing agreement that required Mr. Mandel to provide video shooting and voice over production related to three separate and unique DVD games entitled “Would You Rather,” “Fact or Crap,” and “The Wrong Game.”

Illeana Douglas
Early Sullivan represented actress, director, screenwriter, and producer Illeana Douglas in connection with a request for a restraining order arising from alleged harassment.

JMA Architects v. Vestin Realty Mortgage I, Inc., et al.
Early Sullivan appeared before the Nevada Supreme Court on behalf of Vestin Realty Mortgage I, Inc. The state’s highest court upheld a trial court’s order granting Vestin summary judgment. The action involved the validity of mechanic’s lien claims and JMA’s purportedly unpaid architectural fees. JMA asserted that its mechanic’s liens had priority over Vestin’s deeds of trust because Vestin had actual knowledge of JMA’s work, and that the 2003 revisions to Nevada’s mechanic’s lien statute created an actual knowledge requirement. In a question of first impression regarding the impact of the 2003 revisions, the Nevada Supreme Court agreed with our appellate briefing that the 2003 revisions did not create an actual knowledge requirement. The Court, instead, reaffirmed the requirement that for a mechanic’s lien to have priority, work must be visible on the property.

Bodo Scriba v. Twentieth Century Fox
Early Sullivan is currently representing German media tycoon Bodo Scriba and Gemini Film International in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, against claims brought by Twentieth Century Fox International Corporation over monies purportedly owed under various film distribution agreements for the distribution of Fox films in Russia.

Aviva Sports, Inc. v. Fingerhut Direct Marketing, Inc.
Early Sullivan represented Aviva Sports in its action to enforce a subpoena in connection with discovery disputes pending in Los Angeles, California arising out of a trademark infringement/unfair competition case pending in United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Following a finding that defendant engaged in significant efforts to evade service of a subpoena, Aviva Sports was able to obtain an order to depose a key knowledgeable, third-party witness.

Majestic Empire Holdings, LLC. V. Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company
Early Sullivan obtained evidence in discovery (after successfully defeating plaintiff’s assertion of privilege as to numerous key documents) undermining the plaintiff’s case, forming the basis for our summary judgment motion, and leading to a favorable settlement of plaintiff’s claim for breach of title insurance policy and insurance bad faith in this case involving the right of a Nevada restaurant to have gaming machines on its premises.

Organized Noize
Early Sullivan currently represents famed hip-hop music writers Organized Noize in a dispute with music publisher Bug Music, Inc. regarding underpaid royalties. Plaintiffs sued its music publisher, Bug Music, Inc., alleging that Bug Music, Inc. intentionally underpaid royalties owed to Plaintiffs to devalue the catalogue of songs in order to purchase Plaintiffs’ rights at a discount.

The Halcyon Company
Early Sullivan has represented The Halcyon Company, which produced the feature film Terminator Salvation, the most recent installment in the Terminator Franchise, in several matters, including in a dispute with a producer of Terminator Salvation, The Halcyon Company’s efforts to remove from the internet copywritten material of Terminator Salvation, and in several disputes arising out of The Halcyon Company’s bankruptcy.

First American Title Insurance Company v. Lochland Holdings, LLC
Early Sullivan currently represents First American against a Colorado corporation in an action to determine which of two vastly different arbitration agreements apply towards resolving an underlying dispute involving several large parcels of ocean front property in Hawaii.

Roadside Attractions
Early Sullivan is currently representing independent film distribution company Roadside Attractions, LLC in a dispute arising out of the distribution of the film From Mexico With Love. The guarantors of the loan for the print and advertising fund for the film, have asserted a claim for intentional and negligent misrepresentation based upon alleged fraudulent estimates for domestic box office returns.

Rosansky v. Fidelity National Financial, Inc., et al.
Early Sullivan represented Fidelity in an action for wrongful termination and discrimination in the Orange County Superior Court, and demurred to plaintiff’s Labor Code 970 cause of action. We next obtained evidence that completely undermined plaintiff’s case, forming the basis of a motion for summary judgment, and leading to a favorable settlement in our client’s favor while the summary judgment motion was still pending.

Various Pending Actions against Bank of America and Point Break Escrow
Early Sullivan presently represents several home buyers in lawsuits brought against among others, Bank of America and Point Break Escrow, regarding a spate of fraudulent short sale transactions in which the unwitting buyers purchased homes in short sale transactions for which Bank of America now asserts that the short sales were unauthorized.

Trace Cyrus
Early Sullivan represented Trace Cyrus, brother of Miley Cyrus, against Mason Musso and Anthony Improgo, in connection with a corporate dispute over control of Metrostation, Inc., the holding company for the band Metro Station. In this action, Mr. Musso and Mr. Improgo, the other two purported shareholders of Metrostation, Inc., asserted that they voted Mr. Cyrus out of his officer and director position at a shareholder meeting while Mr. Cyrus asserted that Mr. Improgo left the band and had no voting rights in the company, rendering any such vote void. We successfully obtained denial of Mr. Musso’s and Mr. Improgo’s application for a temporary restraining order to enjoin defendants from: (1) acting on any instructions, or taking any actions, with respect to the assets of Metrostation, Inc., other than those instructions issued from a duly elected and authorized officer of Metrostation, Inc., and (2) compelling the immediate production of all corporate ledgers, correspondence, books and records.

Great Western Bank v. Multibank 2009-1 RES-ADC Ventures, LLC
Early Sullivan was brought into this action at the eleventh hour (before a scheduled foreclosure on certain commercial property in Clark County, Nevada), and successfully obtained a temporary restraining order on behalf of our client Great Western Bank, barring defendant Multibank from “land locking” a 62 unit condominium complex on which Great Western Bank had a multi-million dollar deed of trust.

Stoneridge v. Van Vactor
Six months after appearing in a mechanic’s lien foreclosure action in Los Angeles Superior Court (that had already been pending for years), Early Sullivan obtained judgment on the pleadings on all causes of action that had been filed against its client, Clarion Mortgage Capital, Inc., after demonstrating that the plaintiff’s contractor’s license had been automatically suspended as a matter of law, thus barring the plaintiff from recovering on any claims, whatsoever, arising in connection with the subject construction project.

RNT Holdings, LLC v. United General Title Insurance Company
Early Sullivan is currently representing United General Title Insurance Company in connection with the defense of a breach of contract claim under a lenders title policy issued by our client. The plaintiff, lender RNT Holdings, contends that is was supposed to receive (and was allegedly insured for) a first position deed of trust on a residence owned by film producer David Bergtein, but only received a second position deed of trust behind another multimillion dollar lien on the property. RNT contends it was required to pay off the earlier lien and is now seeking to recoup that amount ($3.5 million) from United General Title.

Federal National Mortgage Association v. Wachovia Mortgage Corporation (a Division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.)
Early Sullivan was brought into this matter just two days before a scheduled foreclosure sale, and successfully obtained a temporary restraining order in Riverside County, California Superior Court, for lender Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”), halting the trustee’s sale on the morning that it was scheduled to occur. Early Sullivan thus preserved the validity and priority of Fannie Mae’s deed of trust on the subject property. Our efforts included the filing of a complaint for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, statutory penalties, equitable subrogation and negligence, the recording and filing of a lis pendens, and corresponding ex parte briefing and argument, just two business days after being retained.