You are on page 1of 13

1

Please try www.CaseFox.com (Timekeeping, Billing, Trust Accounting, Calendaring, etc.)


2 Xxxxxxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxx
3 Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
4
5 Attorney for Defendants, appearing in limited scope
6
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
7
SANTA CLARA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT
8
CIVIL DIVISION, DOWNTOWN FACILITY
9
10 )
XXXX,
) Case No.:
11 )
Plaintiff, ) DEFENDANTS’ NOTICE OF MOTION
12 ) AND MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE
v. ) OF SUMMONS AND AMENDED
13 )
) COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF
14 XXXX, ) POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN
) SUPPORT THEREOF
15 Defendants. )
) SPECIAL APPEARANCE
16 )
)
17 ) Hearing Date: October xx, 2010
) Time: 9:15 a.m.
18 ) Dept.: 11
) Judge: Hon. Leslie Nichols
19 )
) Date action filed: September 13, 2010
20 )
Trial date: Not Set
21
22 NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION
23
To xxxxxxxxxx AND HIS ATTORNEY OF RECORD:
24
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Defendants, xxx and xxx will move for an order
25
quashing service of summons in this action. This motion is made through Defendants’
26
special appearance. The hearing will take place on October xx, 2010 at 9:15 a.m., or as
27
28

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
1
1 soon thereafter as the matter may be heard, in Department 11 of this Court, located at 191
2
North First Street, San José, California.
3
This Motion is made on the ground that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the
4
Defendants because Defendants were improperly served with a copy of the Summons and
5
6 Amended Complaint, and that the Amended Complaint fails to state a cause of action. In

7 addition, the Plaintiff’s notice to Defendants is defective for failure to comply with

8 provisions of California Code of Civil Procedure § 1161 and 1162.


9 This Motion will be based on this Notice, the Memorandum of Points and
10
Authorities below, on the Declarations of xxx and xxx, and on the records and the file
11
herein, and on such evidence as may be presented at the hearing of this Motion.
12
13
Dated: September 30, 2010
14
___________________________
15 xxxxxxx
16 Attorney for Defendants

17
18 MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

19 I. STATEMENT OF FACTS
20 Darmin Jin (hereafter “Plaintiff”) filed an original action for Unlawful Detainer on
21
August 24, 2010. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶9). This Unlawful Detainer action concerns the
22
premises located at xxxxxxxxx.
23
Jie Gao and Nan Wu (hereinafter “Defendants”) filed an Answer to this action on
24
25 August 30, 2010. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶10). Plaintiff filed and mailed to Defendants an

26 incomplete copy of an Amended Complaint on September 16, 2010. The Amended


27
Complaint was missing material information and did not include page 3 of 3 of the Judicial
28
Council form Amended Complaint (UD-100). (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶15). On September

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
2
24, 2010, Defendants filed and served Plaintiff with an original Motion to Quash the
1
2 service of the Amended Complaint improperly served on September 16, 2010, which was

3 to be heard by the Court on October 7, 2010. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶17).


4
On Sunday, September 26, 2010, at approximately, 3:30 p.m., Defendants
5
discovered a new copy of a Summons and Amended Complaint on their doorstep. (Gao
6
7 and Wu Decls. ¶18) (A true and correct copy is attached hereto as “Exhibit A”). This copy

8 was complete; however, it was not properly served. Defendants left their house to go to
9 church on the morning of Sunday, September 26, 2010, and did not see any documents
10
lying on the floor near their front door. The Defendants returned home at approximately
11
12:00 p.m. and there were still no documents by their front door. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶19).
12
13 At approximately 3:30 p.m., Defendants were leaving the premises when they discovered a

14 copy of the Summons and Amended Complaint lying on the floor by their front door.
15 Defendants did not hear anyone knock on their door and no one attempted to personally
16
serve Defendants. Defendants have not received a copy of the Summons and Amended
17
Complaint by any other method. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶20).
18
19 The Summons and Amended Complaint improperly served on September 26, 2010,

20 is based upon a three-day notice improperly served on the Defendants on August 31, 2010
21
for nonpayment of rent. (Gao and Wu Decls.¶¶11-12).
22
Defendants received a “Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit” posted on their
23
24 door on approximately August 31, 2010. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶11). The notice stated that

25 $1,600 for August 2010 rent was in arrears. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶11). Defendants were
26 home on August 31, 2010 and did not hear anyone knock on their door, or in any way
27
attempt to personally serve them with the notice. Defendants did not receive this three-day
28

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
3
notice by any other method, and specifically did not receive a copy of the notice by first
1
2 class mail. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶12).

3 Defendant Jie Gao, entered into a written residential lease agreement for the
4
premises, with Zhiyun Luo and Fei Wang, on approximately, February 14, 2010. (A true
5
and correct copy is attached hereto as “Exhibit B”). Defendant Nan Wu did not sign this
6
7 renal agreement. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶4). The Plaintiff claims to have purchased the

8 subject property and to have become a successor at interest to the lease agreement with
9 Luo and Wang, however, Plaintiff has given Defendants no written evidence of rightful
10
ownership of the property or entitlement to rent payments under the residential lease
11
agreement. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶5). Defendants withheld August 2010 rent due to this
12
13 fact. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶6). Defendants wrote Plaintiff and his attorney at the time Amy

14 Yimei Gu, on August 18, 2010, to inform them that Defendants sought proof of Plaintiff’s
15 ownership of the property and that Defendants were withholding the rent until this proof
16
was provided. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶7) (A true and correct copy is attached hereto as
17
“Exhibit C”).
18
19 The residential lease agreement states that Defendants are to pay rent of $1600 per

20 month due on the 15th of each month. On approximately, July 17, 2010, Defendants paid
21
July 2010 rent of $1630 which covers the period from July 15, 2010 through August 15,
22
2010 by cashier’s check. Defendants kept a copy of the cashier’s check as proof of
23
24 payment, therefore the amount stated in the notice of $1600 for the period August 2010 is

25 incorrect, because Defendants were current on their rent through August 15, 2010. (Gao
26 and Wu Decls. ¶8) (A true and correct copy is attached hereto as “Exhibit D”).
27
II. A DEFENDANT MAY FILE A MOTION TO QUASH WHEN THE COURT
28 LACKS JURISDICTION OVER THE DEFENDANT.

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
4
1 Section 418.10(a)(1) of the California Code of Civil Procedure (“C.C.P.”), in
2 conjunction with section 1167 provides that a Motion to Quash Service of Summons may
3
be filed on the grounds that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the Defendant. The Court has
4
no jurisdiction over an improperly served party that does not voluntarily appear. A
5
judgment entered without jurisdiction over the party subject to judgment is void.
6
(Sternbeck v. Buck (1957) 148 Cal.App.2d 829, 834 [307 P.2d 970].) Mere knowledge of
7
8 the proceeding, without a voluntary appearance by the improperly served party, is

9 insufficient for a court to assert jurisdiction over that party. (Coulston v. Cooper (1966)

10 245 Cal.App.2d 866, 870 [54 Cal.Rptr. 302].)


11
III. THE PLAINTIFF’S SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT ARE DEFECTIVE
12 BECAUSE DEFENDANTS WERE IMPROPERLY SERVED.
13 A. A Motion to Quash is the currently accepted method for challenging
14 the sufficiency of an Unlawful Detainer Complaint.

15 Although California Code of Civil Procedure § 1170 provides that a Defendant can

16 either “answer or demur,” the California Court of Appeals, in Delta Imports v. Municipal

17 Court, held that “a motion to quash service is the only method by which the defendant can
18 test whether the complaint states a cause of action for unlawful detainer and, thereby,
19 supports a five-day summons.” ((1983) 146 Cal.App.3d 1033, 1036 [194 Cal.Rptr. 685,
20
687].) While this position has not been explicitly endorsed by the California Supreme
21
Court, Greener v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (1993) 6 Cal.4th 1028, 2036 [25
22
Cal.Rptr.2d 539,544] (citing Delta Imports) acknowledges (in dicta) that this is the
23
currently acceptable practice in Unlawful Detainer cases.
24
25 B. California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 415.10-415.50 set forth the
permissible modes of service.
26
In California, the Code of Civil Procedure provides that proper service may be
27
28 affected in one of six ways:

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
5
1  By personal delivery (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.10);
2  By substituted service (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.20, subd. (a));
3
 Substituted service, when the defendant is not a natural person (Code Civ. Proc., §
4
415.20, subd. (b));
5
 By mail (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.30 for in state service);
6
 By posting and mailing (the “nail and mail” method) when any of the above for
7
8 methods are insufficient to effect service (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.45);

9  If, with reasonable diligence, the defendants cannot be served by one of the above

10 methods, then the court may order publication of the summons, with copies mailed
11 to the tenant’s address, if ascertainable (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.50).
12
C. Plaintiff failed to serve Defendants according to any statutorily
13 prescribed method of service.
14
1. Plaintiff did not personally serve the Defendants, as set forth in Code
15 Civ. Proc. § 415.10.

16 This method of service requires actual personal delivery of the Summons and

17 Complaint to the Defendants. Both Defendants certify that at the time the Summons and
18 Amended Complaint was delivered, no person present at 887 Water Walk, saw or spoke
19 with the person who delivered the Summons and Amended Complaint. (Gao and Wu
20
Decls. ¶20 ). Thus, there was no service by personal delivery.
21
2. Plaintiff did not properly affect substituted service, as set forth in Code
22
Civ. Proc. § 415.20(b).
23
Proper substituted service requires that:
24
a copy of the summons and complaint cannot with reasonable diligence be
25 personally delivered to the person to be served, . . . a summons may be served by
26 leaving a copy of the summons and complaint at the person's dwelling house, . . . in
the presence of a competent member of the household . . . at least 18 years of age,
27 who shall be informed of the contents thereof, and by thereafter mailing a copy of
the summons and of the complaint . . . to the person to be served at the place where
28

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
6
a copy of the summons and complaint were left. (Emphasis added.) (Code Civ.
1
Proc., § 415.20, subd. (b)).
2
In this case, no person present at 887 Water Walk, saw or spoke with a person acting as a
3
process server. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶20 ). Absent personal contact by a member of the
4
Defendants’ household, there can be no substituted service.
5
Code Civ. Proc. § 415.20(b) also requires that the Plaintiff send a copy of the
6
7 Summons and Complaint to the Defendants via mail. Defendants have not received a copy

8 of the Summons and Amended Complaint in the mail. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶20 ).

9 Additionally, Code Civ. Proc. § 417.10(a) requires the person making the
10 substituted service submit an affidavit stating the facts showing that service was made in
11 accordance with Code Civ. Proc. § 415.20(b) and facts that establish reasonable diligence
12
in attempting personal service. As of October 1, 2010, no such affidavit has been filed with
13
this Court, further establishing that there has been no substituted service.
14
15 3. Substituted service as set forth in Code Civ. Proc. § 415.20(a) does not
apply.
16
Since Defendants are natural persons, Code Civ. Proc. § 415.20(a) (specifying
17
substituted service for nonhuman entities) does not apply.
18
19 4. Plaintiff did not properly allow for service to be made via first class mail as
specified in Code Civ. Proc. § 415.30(a).
20
According to Code Civ. Proc. § 415.30(a), service via first class mail requires that
21
two copies of a written acknowledgement of receipt must be served with the Summons and
22
Complaint. Since there were no forms, Judicial Council or otherwise, attached to
23
24 Plaintiff’s Summons and Amended Complaint, there was no service by mail.

25 5. Plaintiff did not properly serve by mailing and posting as specified in Code
Civ. Proc.§§ 415.45 and 415.50.
26
27 The “nail and mail” method requires that the Plaintiff show the Court, through

28 reasonably diligent efforts, that the Defendants cannot be served in any other manner than

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
7
1 by publication. (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.45 subd. (a).) In this case, the Superior Court has
2 not issued any order allowing service via the “nail and mail” method, nor has the Plaintiff
3
alleged any difficulty in finding the Defendants. Furthermore, as of the time of this Notice
4
of Motion, Defendants have not received a copy of the Summons & Amended Complaint
5
in the mail. Accordingly, there has been no valid service by posting and mailing.
6
Plaintiff has failed to serve Defendants by any method allowable under the
7
8 California Code of Civil Procedure therefore, the Summons and Amended Complaint must

9 be dismissed without leave to amend.

10 D. Improper service is strictly construed against the Plaintiff under


11 California law.

12 California Courts have explicitly held that service of process is strictly construed

13 against the Plaintiff. In Bishop v. Silva, the Court, quoting the California Law Revision
14 Commission, noted that “[t]he excuse of impossibility, impracticability, or futility should
15 be strictly construed in light of the need to give a defendant adequate notice of the action
16
so that the defendant can take necessary steps to preserve evidence.” ((1991) 234
17
Cal.App.3d 1317, 1321 [285 Cal.Rptr. 910], quoting Cal.L.Rev.Comm. Reports 905
18
(1984).)
19
20 Unlawful Detainer is a summary proceeding meaning that the normal civil

21 procedures and deadlines do not apply. The Unlawful Detainer statues, CCP §§1161-
22
1179a, provide for expedited response times for tenants, limited discovery and trial
23
calendar precedence. Because of the summary nature of Unlawful Detainer proceedings,
24
California Courts require that landlords must strictly comply with all statutory
25
26 requirements when pursuing an Unlawful Detainer. (Kwok v. Bergen (1982) 130

27 Cal.App.3d 596, 599, 181 Cal.Rptr. 795; Briggs v. Electronic Memories & Magnetics
28
Corp., (1975) 53 Cal.App.3d 900, 126 Cal.Rptr. 34).

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
8
Plaintiff must fully comply with the state and local procedures for proper service of
1
2 the Summons and Amended Complaint. For the Court to allow Plaintiff’s invalid

3 Summons and Amended Complaint to go forward would work a great hardship on the
4
Defendants and undermine the clear mandate for strict compliance with statutory
5
requirements in Unlawful Detainer cases. Service of the Summons and Amended
6
7 Complaint is an integral part of an Unlawful Detainer proceeding, and Plaintiff should be

8 held to this strict compliance standard.


9 Plaintiff’s service of the Summons and Amended Complaint was improper,
10
therefore this Court lacks jurisdiction over the Defendants and this action should be
11
dismissed without leave to amend.
12
13 III. THE COURT LACKS JURISDICTION OVER DEFENDANTS BECAUSE
SERVICE OF THE SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT IS BASED UPON A
14 FATALLY DEFECTIVE NOTICE.
15 A. The California Code of Civil Procedure requires that all notice
16 requirements be strictly construed against the Plaintiff in an Unlawful
Detainer case.
17
The California Code and California Code of Civil Procedure govern the
18
19 circumstances under which an Unlawful Detainer action may be filed. Statutory notice

20 requirements for Unlawful Detainer are strictly construed. C.C.P. § 1161, C.C.P. § 1442.
21
One who seeks the summary remedy of unlawful detainer, which involves, a “forfeiture”
22
of the tenant’s right to possession, must strictly comply with the terms of the requirements.
23
24 (Horton-Howard v. Payton (1919) 44 Cal 108, 112 [186 P 167]).

25 The rule of liberal construction of pleadings provided by C.C.P. §452 is


26 inapplicable in unlawful detainer actions. Because Unlawful Detainer is an action seeking
27
forfeiture and is a summary proceeding in which the Defendant’s normal procedural rights
28

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
9
are limited, the Courts strictly construe the statutory procedures that regulate Unlawful
1
2 Detainers and require strict compliance with all statutory requirements. California Civil

3 Code §1442; See also Kwok v. Bergren (1982) 130 Cal.App.3d 596, 599; Briggs v.
4
Electronic Memories & Magnetic (1975) 53 Cal. App.3d 900, 905; Liebovich v.
5
Shahrokhkany (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 511, 513. Stating correct amount due on the three-
6
7 day notice is a prerequisite to an action in unlawful detainer.

8 B. The Three-Day Notice is void under C.C.P. 1161(2) because it specified


more rent than was actually due.
9
While C.C.P. § 1161(2) merely states that the notice must provide “the amount that
10
is due,” California Courts have construed this language to mean that the Plaintiff must
11
12 state the exact sum due in the notice, and that a notice is invalid when it overstates the

13 amount of rent due. (Johnson v. Sanches (1942) 56 Cal.App2d 115, 116, [132 P.2d 853,

14 854]. (holding that an overstatement of $750 invalidated the notice.)


15 Furthermore, California courts have consistently held that fairness requires that the
16
landlord demand the precise sum due and that the notice must be no more than the amount
17
actually due. (See Budaeff v. Huber, (1961) 194 Cal.App2d 12, 18 [14 Cal.Rptr. 729];
18
Nourafchan v. Miner, (1985) 169 Cal.App3d 746, 753 [215 Cal.Rptr. 450].
19
The “Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit,” at issue in this case states that $1,600
20
21 in rent is due for the period August 2010; however the residential rental agreement signed

22 by Defendant, Jie Gao and attached hereto as “Exhibit A,” states that rent is due on the 15th

23 day of each month. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶8) Defendants paid their monthly rent payment
24 for July 2010; therefore no rent was past due for the period July 15, 2010 through August
25 15, 2010. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶8) On approximately, July 17, 2010, Defendants tendered
26
to Plaintiff a cashier’s check in the amount of $1,600 as payment for July 2010 rent.
27
28

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
10
1 Defendants kept a copy of this cashier’s check as proof of their rent payment. (Gao and
2 Wu Decls. ¶8).
3
The notice seeks payment for all of August and therefore the $1,600 amount is
4
invalid. Since this notice failed to comply with the specific statutory prescriptions of
5
C.C.P. 1161(2), the Summons and Amended Complaint is not legally supported by the
6
notice.
7
8 C. The Three-Day Notice is void under C.C.P. 1162 because it was
improperly served on defendants.
9
10 C.C.P. § 1162(3) states that a three-day notice must be served upon a

11 Defendant to be valid. The statute sets out a variety of acceptable service methods,
12 including personal service, substituted service and post and mail service. Plaintiff
13
alleges in the Amended Complaint that the three-day notice was served on
14
Defendants by posting a copy on Defendants’ door and then mailing a copy by first
15
16 class mail. On August 31, 2010, a copy of the three-day notice at issue in this case was

17 discovered by Defendants posted to their front door. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶11)
18
Defendants were present at the premises on the evening of August 31, 2010, when the
19
notice was allegedly posted, but no person knocked on their door or attempted to
20
personally serve them with the notice. (Gao and Wu Decls. ¶12) Defendants never
21
22 received a copy of the notice by first class mail, as required by C.C.P. § 1162(3). (Gao and
23 Wu Decls. ¶12).
24
Plaintiff seemingly attempted to serve the notice by post and mail service however,
25
because the notice was never received in the mail by Defendants, the notice was not
26
27 correctly served and cannot properly stand as the basis for Plaintiff’s Summons and

28 Amended Complaint. As a result of the defects with the amount requested and service of

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
11
the Three-Day Notice, this Unlawful Detainer action should be dismissed without leave to
1
2 amend.

3 IV. THE COURT LACKS JURISDICTION OVER DEFENDANTS BECAUSE


PLAINTIFF’S SUMMONS AND AMENDED COMPLAINT FAILS TO
4
STATE A CAUSE OF ACTION FOR UNLAWFUL DETAINER.
5
C.C.P. § 1166, sets forth the requirements for the Unlawful Detainer complaint.
6
7 To establish a cause of action for Unlawful Detainer, Plaintiff must plead in the Complaint

8 and prove the following elements:


9  That Plaintiff has a possessory interest in the premises;
10
 The existence of a landlord-tenant relationship between the Plaintiff and the
11
Defendant;
12
13  Service of a proper notice to quit;
14
 Expiration of the notice to quit, and non-compliance with the notice by the
15
tenant. (C.C.P. §1166)
16
As discussed above, Plaintiff has failed to establish these elements in the Amended
17
18 Complaint, due to the serious defects with the amount requested and service of the notice

19 to quit.
20
Furthermore, Plaintiff has failed to provide Defendants with any written evidence
21
that he has a possessory interest in the premises that would make him a successor at
22
23 interest to the lease agreement, Defendant, Jie Gao, entered into with Zhiun Luo and Fei

24 Wang. Defendants’ made a written request to Plaintiff seeking proof of ownership and
25 entitlement to rent payments, which Plaintiff has completely ignored. Defendants are
26
entitled to know if Plaintiff has become the true owner of the property and are within their
27
rights to withhold rent payments from Plaintiff until this proof is provided.
28

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
12
Plaintiff cannot meet his burden of establishing a prima facie case for Unlawful
1
2 Detainer, therefore he cannot state a cause of action and this Summons and Amended

3 Complaint should be dismissed without leave to amend.


4
V. CONCLUSION
5
Defendants have demonstrated that there are significant legal deficiencies in this
6
case: the Summons and Amended Complaint were improperly served; the Amended
7
Complaint fails to state a cause of action for Unlawful Detainer because the three-day
8
9 notice upon which this case is premised is fatally defective and was improperly served, and

10 the Plaintiff has failed to establish a possessory interest in the premises. For the foregoing
11 reasons Defendants, Jie Gao and Nan Wu are entitled to an order granting this Motion to
12
Quash Service of Summons and an order dismissing this action without leave to amend.
13
14 Respectfully submitted,
15
16 Dated: September 30, 2010
17
18
______________________________
19 xxxxxxxxxx
Attorney for Defendants
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28

Defendants’ Motion to Quash Service of Summons and Amended Complaint; Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
Case No.
13