Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Order Definitively Disposing of Matters in Contention Wasn’t a Judgment—C.A.
Says That Actual Judgment Must Be in a Document Separate From Order Granting Summary Judgment
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has issued a writ of mandate in an unusual case in which a plaintiff sought an order to the trial court to enter a judgment against him.
The losing plaintiff in a case, Masayuki Arikawa, contended that he has been precluded from appealing following an order granting summary judgment to the defendant in his wrongful termination case because the Los Angeles Superior Court refuses to enter a final appealable judgment against him.
In granting the relief Arikawa sought, Div. Seven, in an unpublished opinion Thursday, differed with the interpretation by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Doyle as to the effect of a May 11, 2016 order, by another judge, granting summary judgment to the defendant. In light of the wording of what was denominated an “order,” Doyle viewed it as a judgment.
Doyle denied an April 17, 2017 motion by Arikawa for entry of judgment, which would have set a new start point for the time within which to appeal. If the 2016 order constituted a judgment, the time for an appeal would already have lapsed.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven J. Kleifield said in his 2016 order:
“Plaintiff MASAYUKI AR1KAWA shall take nothing by his Complaint in this action against Defendants…and Defendants shall have judgment in Defendants’ favor and against Plaintiff, together with their attorneys’ fees and costs of suit.”
When Arikawa sought 11 months later to have a judgment entered, Doyle, to whom the case was now assigned, saw no need to oblige. The minute order recites:
“The matter is argued and the Court declines to sign the proposed Judgment.”
Div. Seven countermanded that decision Thursday in an unpublished opinion signed by Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss, Justice John Segal, and Acting Justice Frank J. Menetrez, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge serving on assignment.
Labels on Documents
It says, stressing the labeling of the documents in the Superior Court:
“A party may not appeal from an order granting summary judgment….Rather, a party who wishes to appeal from a summary judgment must await the trial court’s entry of judgment….
“The record in this case makes clear that the trial court has not entered an appealable judgment. The court’s May 11, 2016 summary judgment ruling is styled as an order, and real parties’ notice of entry filed on May 19, 2016 was titled a ‘Notice of Entry of Judgment or Order.’ ”
The opinion adds that “Arikawa’s later attempts to pursue trial and appellate remedies requiring a judgment did not absolve the trial court of its duty to enter judgment to enable Arikawa to appeal.”
Reference to Arikawa’s effort to invoke appellate court remedies points to his appeal from a denial of his motion to tax costs which was dismissed based on his failure to file an opening brief.
The writ was issued in the first instance, with the court declaring:
“There are no disputed factual issues, the legal error is clear, and the matter should be expedited.”
The case is Arikawa v. Superior Court, B283862.
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