Beach Cities Partition Lawyers

The "Beach Cities" is a nickname for the coastal area of Los Angeles County for the cities of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach on the south end of the Santa Monica Bay to the west, south of downtown Los Angeles, north of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, with Torrence California to the East. These three cities share public agencies, including the Beach Cities Transit District and the Beach Cities Health District. According to Redfin, in May 2023, Hermosa Beach home prices were up 22.5% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $3.0M. On average, homes in Hermosa Beach sell after 63 days on the market compared to 19 days last year. There were 16 homes sold in May this year, down from 22 last year. There are at least four types of situations where a Beach Cities Partition Attorney may be helpful:

  • Investor-Developer co-ownership of property;
  • Ex Romantic Partner co-ownership of property;
  • Shared Family co-ownership of property; and
  • Parent-Child co-ownership of property;
What is a Partition Action in California?

A partition action occurs when there are two or more title holders to a piece of property, and these title holders are unable to reach an agreement on splitting the subject property. Typically, a litigant brings a partition action to have the court force the sale of or split the subject property. Therefore, when a piece of personal property is concurrently owned by several people, one of the owners may bring a partition action to have the court divide the subject property. In the past, California courts have partitioned not only real estate but also, shares of stock, cash, and businesses.

Generally, an action for partition can be brought forth by a co-owner of real property and a co-owner of personal property. Notably, a court can partition not only real property or real estate but also personal property of any kind. (CCP § 872.230(a).) The best Beach Cities Partition Lawyer will be able to share information on this process with you.

What are the steps in a Partition Action?

Generally, a partition action has four stages, which include (1) the filing of the lawsuit (2) an appraisal of the Property under the Partition of Real Property Act, (3) the determination of the parties' interests, and appointment of a referee to sell the property, and (4) the division of the proceeds from the sale.

In California partition actions, the court must enter an interlocutory judgment where the court finds that the Plaintiff in a partition action is entitled to a partition. (CCP § 872.720.) The interlocutory judgment "determines the interests of the parties in the property and, unless it is to be later determined, the manner of partition." (CCP § 872.720.) A top Beach Cities Partition lawyer will be familiar with the process.

Can You Negotiate a Partition Action?

Generally, anyone considering filing a lawsuit should consider all of their alternatives, including an informal resolution of the problem. This can take the form of a discussion with the other owner or owners about agreeing to sell the property, negotiating with the co-owner to create a formula to divide the proceeds from the sale, or retaining a lawyer to engage in a mediation with the other owners.

Throughout the partition process, and even on the day of trial, any of the owners can make an agreement about the sale of the property. This can happen through a phone call, through negotiations between the parties' lawyers, or through a mediation session with a retired judge or trained mediator. There are many benefits from a mediation session, including confidentiality provisions contained in the law in Evidence Code sections 1115 through 1129.

Specifically, Evidence Code section 1119, subdivision (a), provides "no evidence of anything said or any admission made for the purpose of, in the course of, or pursuant to, a mediation or a mediation consultation is admissible or subject to discovery, and disclosure of the evidence shall not be compelled in any arbitration, administrative adjudication, civil action, or other noncriminal proceeding in which, pursuant to law, testimony can be compelled to be given." A knowledgeable Beach Cities Partition Attorney will be able to give you good advice on these issues.

What are Claims for "Contribution"?

Under the law, a property owner can make a claim for contribution for anything that they have expended for the common benefit of all the parties as it relates to their jointly-owned property. Code of Civil Procedure section 874.410 states that "the court may, in all cases, order allowance, accounting, contribution, or other compensatory adjustment among the parties according to the principles of equity." For example, the credits can include expenditure in excess of the co-tenants fractional share for necessary repairs and improvements that enhance the value of the property. (Wallace v. Daley (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 1028, 1035-1036.) Similarly, payments for interest, taxes, and insurance made by any co-tenant could be the subject of a reimbursement claim. (Hunterv. Schultz (1966) 240 Cal.App.2d 24.) An experienced Beach Cities Partition Attorney will be intimately familiar with these matters.

A Partition Case Study: Luo V. Rahgoshay

In litigation, evidence is obviously incredibly important. Evidence, along with arguments backed by legal authorities, is the backbone of a party's case. Generally, every argument that a party makes before a court should be supported with evidence and legal authorities.

In certain cases, courts may even require a certain showing of evidence for an issue in a case to even be heard. In these instances, it is not enough for a party to make factual contentions. Actual evidential support is needed, or the court may dismiss the case altogether.

The property at issue in Luo v. Rahgoshay (2021) Cal.App.Unpub. WL 3464251 was owned by Mohammad Rahgoshay and Hongyun Luo, who each paid half of the purchase price. (Id., at 1.) Though Rahgoshay apparently recorded a deed with him as the sole owner of the property and himself as the trustee, such a trust was never found. (Id.) For a period of time, Luo lived at the property and collected rent from the property's tenants. (Id.)

At some point, Rahgoshay and Luo's relationship deteriorated. (Id.) Rahgoshay initially sued Luo for unlawful detainer, and later added claims for partition, constructive trust, and an accounting. (Id.) The trial court found that Rahgoshay and Luo were tenants in common who each held fifty percent ownership. (Id.) In 2015, The trial court entered judgment for a partition and appointed a partition referee. (Id.) The property was sold in 2018. (Id.)

While the partition action was ongoing in 2015, Luo filed a separate complaint against Rahgoshay for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and numerous other claims. (Id.) Luo contended that Rahgoshay found her in family court during her divorce, where he learned that she would soon be able to access a lot of money, and he asked her about joint investments. (Id.)

After they bought the property, Luo alleged that she acted as the manager and incurred various expenses for the property. (Id., at 2.) Rahgoshay, however, apparently directed a tenant to pay rent to him directly. (Id.) Luo alleged that after the tenant ended his lease, Rahgoshay tried to lease the property and keep the rent to himself. (Id.)

In 2014, Rahgoshay put the property up for sale without Luo's knowledge. (Id.) Luo moved into the property and changed the locks. (Id.) Rahgoshay then filed the unlawful detainer lawsuit, which later changed into a partition action. (Id.) Luo claimed that Rahgoshay continued to harass her, even when the court ruled that they each owned fifty percent interest. (Id.)

The trial court decided to exclude mention of the partition case in this action, with some exceptions. (Id.) At the jury trial, Luo only won on the breach of fiduciary duty claim. (Id.) Rahgoshay appealed, and the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment. (Id.)

Luo is a cautionary tale of a party ignoring evidence and legal support. While doing so certainly reflects poorly on a party's case, many courts require a showing of evidence as a threshold matter. It is important for parties to be prepared for court proceedings so that they can present the best possible case before the court.

At the outset, Rahgoshay's statement of facts challenging the sufficiency of the evidence cited his own testimony while ignoring Luo's testimony. (Id.) He claims certain facts were disputed when they were decided by the trial court to not be disputed. (Id.)

Rahgoshay claimed that his opening brief cited only to "uncontested evidence and argument," but this was obviously false. (Id., at 3.) Rahgoshay repeatedly cited his own testimony without acknowledging any of Luo's testimony on the same points. (Id.) The Court of Appeal held that Rahgoshay's statement of facts was legally insufficient because the statement was so one-sided (Id.)

Since the statement of facts were insufficient, the Court of Appeal ruled that Rahgoshay waived his challenge of sufficient evidence. (Id.) Rahgoshay had a duty to adhere to the rules and state the facts in a fair manner, which he failed to do. (Id.) This was especially egregious because the case was fairly complex and also had a separate case involved. (Id.)

Even giving Rahgoshay the benefit of the doubt, Rahgoshay's arguments were not convincing. (Id.) His claims contained no legal arguments or evidence, only excerpts of certain facts. (Id.) The Court of Appeal held that, even if Rahgoshay did not waive his claims of a lack of substantial evidence, his arguments would fail. (Id., at 4.)

Next, Rahgoshay argued that the judgment should be reversed because the court did not give the jury specific jury instructions telling the jurors not to consider attorney fees and court costs. (Id.) This particular jury instruction should not be given where attorney fees are a jury issue, and attorney fees were an issue for this case. (Id.) The Court of Appeal concluded that there was no error regarding the jury instructions. (Id.)

Rahgoshay then argued it was erroneous for the trial court to exclude mention of the partition action in the case regarding breach of fiduciary duty and other claims. (Id.) The Court of Appeal held that the trial court wanted to avoid misleading the jury into thinking Luo had "lost" the partition complaint, and so properly excluded mention of the partition action. (Id., at 5.)

Rahgoshay next contended that Luo's claims were barred. (Id.) Claims are precluded when the claim is identical to one raised in a prior proceeding, the prior proceeding resulted in a final judgment on the merits, and the party the claim is levied against in the prior proceeding was the same party in the present proceeding. (Id.) The Court of Appeal held there was no final judgment on the merits, so Luo's claims were not precluded. (Id.)

Finally, Rahgoshay argued that Luo violated the trial court's order to not mention the partition action. (Id.) Rahgoshay, however, admitted that he did not object to any of these alleged violations. (Id.) The Court of Appeal also concluded that the alleged violations were not violations or were trivial. (Id.) The Court of Appeal rejected Rahgoshay's argument and affirmed the trial court's judgment. (Id.)

Luo is illustrative of what happens when a party does not take court rules seriously. One cannot simply lob contentions at the court without any legal or factual support. Parties must always be prepared to present legal authorities and factual evidence to assist their case and convince the court. Many courts even require such evidence as a first hurdle to having one's case heard in the first place.

How Underwood Law Firm Can Help

As seen in Luo, issues in a partition lawsuit can be sprawling and complex. A partition lawsuit can come out of a lawsuit for a different issue, or vice versa. It is vital that parties are prepared in any event for all arguments with proper legal and evidentiary support.

Here at Underwood Law Firm, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help navigate the complex web of case law and statutes surrounding partitions. If you are trying to plan a partition order, or just have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.

Learn more here.

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