An answer may include a general denial, specific denial or new matter constituting an affirmative defense. (Code Civ. Proc. § 431.30). It is settled law in California that a defendant may plead as many inconsistent defenses in an answer as her or she may desire and that such defenses may not be considered as admissions against interest in the action in which the answer was filed. (Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal. 4th 203, 240–241.)
Some vagueness may exist in a defendant’s answer because most defendants do not have the ability to prove their defenses at the initial answering phase, which usually occurs before discovery. In addition, a defendant has a significant incentive to be plead every affirmative defenses, because a party waives defenses that are not pleaded. As a result, even where a defense is defectively pled, it may be allowed if the defendant’s pleading gives sufficient notice to enable the plaintiff to prepare to meet the defense, in part because un-pled defenses are waived. (Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal. 4th 203, 240).
However, defendants should only plead viable defenses when the evidence supports it, and seek leave to amend if need be – which is to be routinely granted. (See Atkinson v. Elk Corp. (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 739, 761; Green v. Rancho Santa Margarita Mortgage Co. (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 686, 692-693; Rodriguez v. Cho (2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 742, 751 (merely attaching a proposed answer “reciting a kitchen sink full of affirmative defenses” is not sufficient).)
A general denial in an answer puts in issue the material allegations of the complaint, including all essential elements of the claims. (Advantac Group, Inc. v. Edwin’s Plumbing Co., Inc. (2007) 153 Cal.App.4th 621, 627.) Since a general denial puts in issue the material allegations of the complaint, affirmative defenses which only redress the essential elements of plaintiff’s claims can be adequately stated with mere generic references. (Advantac Group, Inc. v. Edwin’s Plumbing Co., Inc. (2007) 153 Cal.App.4th 621, 627. A denial needs no support. (State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 721, 725.)
In general, whatever a defendant bears the burden of proving at trial is “new matter” (also referred to as an “affirmative defense”), and thus must be specially pleaded in the answer. (See California Academy of Sciences v. County of Fresno (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1436, 1442). A defendant raising such new matters must allege ultimate facts sufficient to prove the defense with the same level of detail that a plaintiff is required to allege ultimate facts to support a cause of action in a complaint. (FPI Development, Inc. v. Nakashima (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 367, 384; 5 Witkin, Cal. Proc. (5th ed. 2008) Pleading, § 1082, p. 515.) The pleader must include ultimate facts sufficient to put the plaintiff on notice of the nature of the defense. (Doe v. City of Los Angeles (2007) 42 Cal.4th 531, 549-550; Hata v. Los Angeles County Harbor/UCLA Medical Center (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 1791, 1805.) Equitable defenses are “new matter” requiring ultimate facts pled. (See Camp v. Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 620, 638–639.)
“The mere fact that an answer contains an affirmative allegation does not mean per se that it is setting up new matter. An averment in the answer contrary to what is alleged in the complaint is equivalent to a denial. The basic consideration is whether the matters of defense are responsive to the essential allegations of the complaint, i.e., whether they are contradicting elements of plaintiff's cause of action or whether they tender a new issue, in which case the burden of proof is upon the defendant as to the allegation constituting such new matter.” (Cahill Bros. v. Clementina Co. (Ct. App. 1962) 208 Cal. App. 2d 367, 385 (internal citations omitted).)
If the complaint is verified, defendant must verify the answer. (Code Civ. Proc. § 446(a)). When a defendant files an unverified answer to a verified complaint, the plaintiff may seek a default judgment in his favor by filing a motion to strike the answer, or alternatively, may bring a motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to the defective answer. (Hearst v. Hart (1900) 128 Cal. 327, 328.)
Under Code of Civil Procedure § 412.20(a)(3), Defendant could file a responsive pleading anytime up to thirty (30) days after service.
The parties may stipulate without leave of court to one 15-day extension beyond the 30-day time period prescribed for the response after service of the initial complaint.” (CRC 3.110(d).) “If a party fails to serve and file pleadings as required under this rule, and has not obtained an order extending time to serve its pleadings, the court may issue an order to show cause why sanctions shall not be imposed.” (Id. 3.110(f)).
Although the defendant should aver “carefully and with as much detail” as possible, allegations should be liberally construed. (FPI Development, Inc. v. Nakashima (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 367, 384.)
There are three grounds for a demurrer to an answer:
(Code Civ. Proc. § 430.20; Timberidge Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Santa Rosa (1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 873, 880).
A demurrer based on an affirmative defense cannot be properly sustained where the action might be barred by the affirmative defense, but is not necessarily barred. (Cross Talk Productions, Inc. v. Jacobsen (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 631, 635). A determination of the sufficiency of an answer requires an examination of the complaint because the adequacy of the answer is with reference to the complaint it purports to answer. (South Shore Land Co. v. Petersen (1964) 226 Cal. App. 2d 725, 733).
Code of Civil Procedure § 430.41 requires that before filing a demurrer, the demurring party must meet and confer.
The parties must meet and confer at least five days before the date the responsive pleading is due. (Code Civ. Proc. § 430.41(a)(2)). If the parties are not able to meet and confer at least five days prior to the date the responsive pleading is due, the demurring party shall be granted an automatic 30-day extension of time within which to file a responsive pleading, by filing and serving, on or before the date on which a demurrer would be due, a declaration stating under penalty of perjury that a good faith attempt to meet and confer was made and explaining the reasons why the parties could not meet and confer. (Id.). The 30-day extension shall commence from the date the responsive pleading was previously due, and the demurring party shall not be subject to default during the period of the extension. (Id.). Any further extensions shall be obtained by court order upon a showing of good cause.
The demurring party shall file and serve with the demurrer a declaration stating either of the following:
A demurrer to an answer is to be brought within ten days of service of that answer. (Code Civ. Proc. § 430.40(b)).
The rule of great liberality is particularly important where an amendment is sought to an answer. (Hulsey v. Koehler (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 1150, 1159; Hyman v. Tarplee (1944) 64 Cal.App.2d 805, 813-814). “…it is a rare case in which ‘a court will be justified in refusing a party leave to amend his pleadings so that he may properly present his case.’ If the motion to amend is timely made and the granting of the motion will not prejudice the opposing party, it is error to refuse permission to amend and where the refusal also results in a party being deprived of the right to assert a meritorious cause of action or a meritorious defense, it is not only error but an abuse of discretion.” (Morgan v. Superior Court (1959) 172 Cal.App.2d 527, 530 (internal citations omitted)).
“Where a motion is granted pursuant to this section with leave to file an amended complaint or answer, as the case may be, then the court shall grant 30 days to the party against whom the motion was granted to file an amended complaint or answer, as the case may be.”(Code Civ. Proc. § 438(h)(2)).
A motion for judgment on the pleadings may be made against the entire answer or one or more of the affirmative defense set forth in the answer. (Code Civ. Proc. § 438(c)(2)(B)). If the moving party is a plaintiff, the plaintiff may make a motion on the ground that “the complaint states facts sufficient to constitute a cause or causes of action against the defendant and the answer does not state facts sufficient to constitute a defense to the complaint.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 438(c)(1)(A)).
“A plaintiff may recover judgment on a motion for judgment on the pleadings only if his complaint states facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action and the answer neither raises a material issue nor states a defense.” (Mclain v. City of South Pasadena (1957) 155 Cal. App. 2d 423, 430; Accord. Barash v. Epstein (1957) 147 Cal. App. 2d 439, 440; See also Adjustment Corp v. Hollywood etc. Co. (1939) 35 Cal. App. 2d 566, 569-70).
Demurrer and Strike to Answer This is a common law negligence claim against a Bank which allegedly failed to recognize large deposits being embezzled. Plaintiff handed large checks to his pension administrator, who deposited those checks s instructed at Farmers & Merchants – but thereafter allegedly absconded with the funds. That administrator is serving time in a federal prison for his shenanigan...
..contract is oral or written. Plaintiff apparently takes issue with all twelve affirmative defenses. Right out of the gate this demurrer is procedurally defective in that it fails to separately specify each defense challenged and the challenge grounds thereto. See CCP §430.61; CRC 3.1320(a). This could be enough to overrule it, but since defendant did not raise the issue, this Court will proceed to...
Feb 16, 2018
Orange County, CA
Demurrer to Answer Demurrer is SUSTAINED with 30 days leave to amend as to the 4th - 8th, 10th - 14th, 20th - 23rd, 29th - 31st and 34th - 39th affirmative defenses. In all other respects the demurrer is OVERRULED. Authorities: The answer must aver facts “as carefully and with as much detail as the facts which constitute the cause of action and which are alleged in the complaint.” FPI Development,...
..0; Timberidge Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Santa Rosa (1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 873, 880. A general demurrer to an answer admits all facts well pleaded in the answer, including denials. Warren v. Harootunian (1961) 189 Cal.App.2d 546, 548. An answer may include a general denial, specific denial or new matter constituting an affirmative defense. CCP §431.30. A general denial in an answer puts in issue t...
Aug 11, 2017
Orange County, CA
Plaintiff Neill Peraza’s demurrer to the affirmative defenses set forth in the answer of Defendant Celeste Castro Velazquez is sustained in part and overruled in part. The demurrer as to the second, seventh, eighth, tenth, twelfth, fifteenth affirmative defenses, is sustained with 15 days leave to amend. The demurrer as to the remaining affirmative defenses, is overruled. In general, whatever a de...
..fense with the same level of detail that a plaintiff is required to allege ultimate facts to support a cause of action in a complaint. (FPI Development, Inc. v. Nakashima (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 367, 384; 5 Witkin, Cal. Proc. (5th ed. 2008) Pleading, § 1082, p. 515.) In contrast, a denial needs no support. (State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 721, 725.) Furthermore,...
Oct 11, 2019
Orange County, CA
11. EC065007 SECRET RECIPES, INC. v FELIZ LOPEZ Demurrer to Cross Complaint Demurrer to Answer Case Management Conference Allegations in the Cross Complaint The Cross-Complainants have a lease for commercial property at 933 N. Brank Blvd., Glendale, CA. The Cross-Defendants entered into a sub-lease, but were evicted when they failed to make their monthly payments. The Cross-Complainants the...
..mic Advantage 3) Negligent Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage 4) Defamation 5) Slander 6) Unfair Competition, Violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200 No trial has been set. A case management conference is set for this hearing. This hearing concerns the demurrers of the Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant, Secret Recipes (“Plaintiff”), to the Cross-Complaint and to the...
Jul 14, 2017
Personal Injury/ Tort
Los Angeles County, CA
TENTATIVE RULING DEMURRER TO ANSWER [CCP §430.20 et. seq. ] Calendar: 3 Date: 3/16/18 Case No: EC 067416 Trial Date: None Set Case Name: Markosyan v. Papukyan, et al. Moving Party: Plaintiff Hovhannes Markosyan, in pro per Responding Party: Defendant Heavenleaf, Inc. RULING: Demurrer to Answer is OVERRULED. The Court notes that Defendant Heaven Leaf Inc. has not filed an answer to plain...
..n (“Narek”) who had for a number of years pursued a business in which he could invent and sell shisha made from tea leaves, free of tobacco, nicotine, tar, chemicals, dyes and other artificial ingredients, sought the assistance and advice of plaintiff and ultimately offered plaintiff a 45% ownership interest in the company, to which plaintiff agreed. The company was incorporated as Heavenleaf,...
Mar 16, 2018
Los Angeles County, CA
Plaintiff and cross-defendant Garth Murrin’s motion for judgment on the pleadings for each cause of action in both his complaint against defendant Tram Phan and as to Ms. Pham’s cross-complaint against Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant is denied in part and granted in part. The motion is denied as to the fourth cause of action for quiet title in Plaintiff’s complaint. It is otherwise granted with 30 days...
..the pleadings, the trial court assesses the properly pleaded facts and those subject to judicial notice to determine whether the pertinent pleading states a claim or defense. Sebago, Inc. v. City of Alameda (1989) 211 Cal. App. 3d 1372, 1379-81. If the complaint is verified, defendant must verify the answer. Code Civ. Proc. § 446(a). “In all cases of a verification of a pleading, the affidavit of...
Jun 01, 2017
Orange County, CA
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