Monday, February 4, 2019
Court of Appeal:
Where Co-Plaintiffs Have Not Been Paid, Opinion Says, Such Acknowledgement Would Prejudice Their Interests by Extinguishing Lien on Debtor’s Property
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A judgment creditor who was paid in full properly declined to execute an acknowledgement of the full satisfaction of the judgment where three other plaintiffs in the action had not been paid, the First District Court of Appeal has declared.
There was, Presiding Justice Peter J. Siggins of Div. Three said in an unpublished opinion filed Thursday, a judgment lien on real property owned by the defendant, Jessica Ma. Agreeing with Alameda Superior Court Judge Sandra Bean’s denial of Ma’s motion to compel plaintiff Ken Roe to execute the acknowledgement, Siggins wrote:
“[R]ecording an acknowledgement that Ma had fully satisfied the judgment would have extinguished the judgment lien to the prejudice of the three remaining judgment creditors who still had not been paid and could rightly rely on the judgment lien to enforce judgment. In these circumstances, Roe was not in a position to acknowledge full satisfaction of the judgment.”
Siggins Sees ‘Conundrum’
The jurist commented:
“We recognize that Ma claims denying her motion to satisfy the judgment presents her with a conundrum given her view that the satisfaction would allow her to remove the judgment lien from her property so she could refinance it to pay off the remaining judgment creditors. We express no view on Ma’s claim. Whatever its merits, it is clear that on the issue that is before us—whether the trial court erroneously denied her motion to require full satisfaction of judgment—the trial court did not err.”
Ma made payment in full to Roe, by cashier’s check, on July 27, 2016. On Sept. 8 of that year, he recorded a “partial” acknowledgement of satisfaction of judgment, and Ma sought relief.
Attorney Fee Award
In denying Ma’s motion that Roe be forced to acknowledge full satisfaction of his 2011 judgment, Bean on Nov. 16, 2016, also granted Roe’s motion for attorney fees incurred in attempting to enforce the judgment, awarding $13,511.
Ma contended on appeal that the motion was untimely, citing Code of Civil Procedure §685.080 which provides that such a motion “shall be made before the judgment is satisfied in full….” Payment in full to Roe on July 27, 2016, Ma asserted, cut-off any opportunity to seek the fees.
Roe’s position was that the judgment was not satisfied in full because his co-plaintiffs had received no payment.
Siding with Ma, Siggins said:
“Ma delivered the $113,187 cashier’s check to Roe, with the understanding that it resolved her obligation to Roe in full. When Roe accepted it, he effectively confirmed her obligation had been satisfied. Allowing him to prolong their dispute with his motion for attorney’s fees more than two months later would unravel the finality and certainty conferred by his acceptance of the payment.”
The case is Roe v. Ma, A150320.
The judgment against Ma was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in a brief 2011 unpublished decision by Siggins which says that Ma, who represented herself, “contends that the judgment is not supported by substantial evidence, but her argument fails because she has not included the reporter’s transcript of the trial in the record on appeal.”
Ma, an investment advisor, was sued over losses incurred by the plaintiffs after their moneys were placed in high-risk ventures in contravention of a conservative strategy that was agreed upon.
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