Roman James Design Build v. Monarch CA4/3

Filed 1/10/23 Roman James Design Build v. Monarch CA4/3 NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115. IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT DIVISION THREE ROMAN JAMES DESIGN BUILD, INC., Plaintiff and Appellant, G060712 v. (Super. Ct. No. 30-2021-01188990) DAVID MONARCH et al., OPI NION Defendants and Respondents. Appeal from an order of the Superior Court of Orange County, Deborah C. Servino, Judge. Affirmed. Brown, Neri, Smith & Khan and Geoffrey A. Neri for Plaintiff and Appellant. Clausen Miller, Joseph J. Ferrini and Ian R. Feldman for Defendants and Respondents. Plaintiff Roman James Design Build, Inc. (the Company) is a real estate development firm specializing in the design and construction of luxury private residences in Southern California. In 2018, the Company entered into agreements with third parties for four development projects. Later that year, the Company’s principal, Roman James (James), filed a petition for the dissolution of his marriage. In November 2019, James’s wife’s attorney David Monarch and Monarch’s law firm Castle & Monarch (the Monarch parties) recorded a lis pendens on the four properties involved in the projects and so notified lenders with whom the Company was negotiating refinancing. The following month, the trial court granted the Company’s motion to expunge the lis pendens. The Company sued the Monarch parties for intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional interference with contract. The Monarch parties filed a motion to strike the operative complaint pursuant 1 to Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (the anti-SLAPP motion). The trial court granted the anti-SLAPP motion. We affirm. It is well established the act of recording a lis pendens, upon which the Company’s lawsuit is based, is protected conduct under section 425.16, subdivision (e). As the Company failed to meet its burden of establishing a probability of prevailing on its claims, the trial court did not err by granting the anti-SLAPP motion. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND I. THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT The Company, along with then coplaintiff James, filed a first amended complaint against the Monarch parties containing causes of action for intentional 1 “SLAPP is an acronym for ‘strategic lawsuit against public participation.’ [Citation.]” (City of Montebello v. Vasquez (2016) 1 Cal.5th 409, 413, fn. 2.) All further statutory references are to the Code of Civil Procedure unless otherwise specified. 2 interference with prospective economic advantage, negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, and intentional interference with contractual relations. The first amended complaint describes the nature of the action as follows: “The James Parties are luxury real estate developers. Attorney Monarch represented James’ ex-wife Nicole James in the James’ divorce proceedings. [¶] . . . At all times relevant for purposes of this Complaint, Attorney Monarch knew that the James …

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