A series of lawsuits were filed related to a multimillion-dollar international business dispute involving a California manufacturer of computer hard disk drives, a Singapore distributor, and the distributor’s US affiliates. The manufacturer’s Complaint alleged breach of contract and numerous business torts. Cross-complaints asserted the disc drives were defective. A settlement was reached resulting in a stipulated judgment whereby the Singapore distributor defendant executed a promissory note in the amount of $15 million to be paid over 5 years. The stipulated judgment required the US affiliate to pay $86.9 million in the event the Singapore defendant defaulted on the promissory note. The Singapore defendant ultimately defaulted. When the plaintiff was unable to collect on the $86.9 million judgment against the US defendant, an unopposed motion under CCP §187 was granted by another court to amend the judgement to add the US defendant’s former president, a resident of India, as a personal, alter ego judgment debtor. Five years later the individual specially appeared and moved to set aside the judgement against him as void pursuant to CCP 473(d). The motion was granted on the basis that the previous court had no jurisdiction to issue the order adding him as a judgment debtor, due to plaintiff’s failure to effect valid service of process on him in India and because of lack of compliance with the requirements of the Hague Service Convention. The ruling was affirmed on appeal.
One of the largest berry farming operators in Pajaro Valley sued one of its contractual growers to recover an alleged debt of millions of dollars. Plaintiff alleged that it had a handshake agreement with the grower, performed for a period exceeding twenty years, to make advances to the grower to conduct his substantial berry growing operations, to package and transport the berries, and for payment of commissions earned on the national and international marketing and sales of the grower’s berries. Plaintiff maintained the books of account recording the advances made, expenses incurred, and sales revenue collected. Typical sales of the grower’s berries, generated and collected by the plaintiff, were in the range $25 to $30 million annually. The alleged debt for advances was secured by deeds of trust on the grower’s ranch and personal residence. The Complaint alleged causes of action on an open book account, claim and delivery, declaratory relief, and judicial foreclosure on the deeds. The grower asserted that plaintiff had failed to properly account for millions of dollars of his share of the annual sales of his raspberries, that the claimed advances were inflated, and years of accounting errors permeated the books of account. The grower cross-complained asserting causes of action for fraud, bad faith breach of contract, unjust enrichment, cancellation of the security instruments and quiet title. He asserted 32 affirmative defenses, including statute of limitations and laches. The equitable causes of action were bifurcated and tried to the Court over several weeks.
Hon. Paul Burdick (Ret.)
96 North Third Street Suite 350 San Jose, CA 95112