Monday, August 5, 2019
Court of Appeal:
C.A.’s Order to Retry Spousal Support Issue Didn’t Preclude Ending Action As Sanction
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has rejected the contention of a woman that a judge’s dismissal of her action was a void act because he was under orders by the appeals court to conduct a retrial on the issue of spousal support.
Justice Brian Hoffstadt of Div. Two acknowledged in an unpublished opinion on Thursday that the panel did, in 2011, call for a retrial. But, he said, that did not preclude the torpedoing of her action, without a retrial, as a sanction for misconduct in connection with discovery.
The order on appeal was that of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard J. Burdge Jr. who on Feb. 8, 2017, declined to vacate as “void” a Dec. 13, 2016 order by then-Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen O. Diesman (whom Burge replaced when she retired) imposing a terminating sanction.
Diesman also ordered that the former wife make installment payments to her ex-husband of $50,000 in attorney fees he incurred.
A Feb. 7, 2011 opinion by then-Presiding Justice Roger Boren (now retired) said:
“The portion of the judgment relating to spousal support is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings on the issue of spousal support.”
The opinion in the case—In re Marriage of Adela Gregory and John R. Ohanesian—explained:
“[T]he court’s award of spousal support was an abuse of discretion: the court failed to acknowledge the parties’ opulent, upper class marital lifestyle, or John’s stable annual income of $410,000, or that Adela was unlikely to become self-supporting as a real estate salesperson because the job and real estate markets were collapsing by the time that judgment was entered. The court’s support order of $5,000 per month—with step-downs to zero in four years, after a marriage of long duration—did not accomplish substantial justice.”
Hoffstadt’s opinion on Thursday said:
“[W]e disagree with Adela that the trial court’s order dismissing her claim for spousal support due to her discovery abuse ‘material[ly] var[ies]’ from our remittitur….Adela is effectively arguing that the trial court lacked any and all authority to dismiss her claim once we remanded the matter for retrial on that claim. This argument is flatly inconsistent with the plain language of the Civil Discovery Act….”
Although Diesman’s attorney-fee order was not a subject of the appeal, Burdge’s order that Adela Ohanesian pay John Ohanesian $7,700 was in issue. Hoffstadt said:
“Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s finding that the $7,700 sanction—to be paid at a rate of $500 per month—would not “impose an unreasonable financial burden” on Adela. Although Adela claimed that she was and continues to be ‘destitute,’ the trial court found her representations not to be credible and the court had a basis to do so—namely, that Adela had obtained substantial assets in the 2008 judgment and, even after being ordered to do so previously, had failed to provide any information regarding her current assets or income.”
The case is Ohanesian v. Ohasesian, B288155.
Thousand Oaks attorney Stephen M. Feldman represented Adela Ohanesian. Attorneys for John Ohanesian were Tammy L. Andrews of West Los Angeles and Gregory R. Ellis of Pasadena.
Adela Ohanesian, writing as Adela Gregory, is co-author of “Crypt 33: The Saga of Marilyn Monroe: The Last Word,” published in 1993. The acknowledgement begins:
“Special thanks to my husband, John Ohanesian for his sustained love and support….”
Adela Ohanesian has been declared a vexatious litigant.
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