At the end of January 2017, Judge Beckloff ruled on Estate’s demurer to Safechuck’s second amended complaint. Judge granted Estate’s demurrer but gave Safechuck another chance to amend his complaint. Although we have been through this successful demurrer by MJ Estate followed by another amendment dance before, this time is significant because this is the first time that the judge evaluated the new claims by the new lawyers. Beckloff’s ruling sounds so promising as he questions almost everything Safechuck and his new lawyers claimed. Simply put, Judge Beckloff isn’t buying any of it.
Judge’s ruling on MJ Estate’s demurrer to Safechuck’s second amended complaint: https://www.scribd.com/document/339174005/Ruling-MJ-Estate-Demurrer-to-Safechuck-2nd-Amended-Complaint
A summary of the judge’s ruling can be found below:
Ruling shows that Judge Beckloff mainly focused on is the issue of control. According to the law, Safechuck is required to show that the MJ Companies had control over Michael and prior knowledge of wrongdoing. MJ Estate demonstrated that Michael was the 100% shareholder/ owner/ president of the MJ Companies. Safechuck admitted this was the case and Michael had control over the companies’ activities.
Judge points out that there were no claims in Safechuck’s complaint that someone controlled the 100% shareholder / owner/ president Michael. Judge states although some of the MJ Companies employees were mentioned, none of them were alleged to have control over Michael. For example Jolie Levine was mentioned as a managing agent of the MJ Companies but there was no allegations that she had the ability to control Michael. Furthermore the complaint did not allege that she had any knowledge of any “abuse”. In his ruling Judge repeatedly brings up the control issue and states as a matter of law the MJ companies did not have the ability to hire, fire or supervise their sole shareholder / owner and president Michael.
Judge Beckloff isn’t also convinced that Safechuck was placed to the custody of the MJ Companies. Judge states according to Safechuck’s allegations Michael was inviting him to places and that would place Safechuck into Michael’s care. Judge points out that there were several times while Safechuck's parents were present and this means he would be in his parent’s custody. Furthermore Judge states MJ Companies arranging and paying for the trips doesn’t mean that they owed Safechuck a duty or that Safechuck was in their custody.
Safechuck’s attempts to portray MJ Companies like a school creates nothing but confusion. Judge comments while some claims seems to be geared towards a school or youth program, some aren’t. Beckloff questions if Safechuck is alleging that MJ Companies were offering some sort of a youth program.
As for Safechuck’s allegations that MJ Companies were mandated reporters, Judge Beckloff flat out states that nothing supports that claim. Plain and simple, nothing to back that up.
Another significant difference this time around, Beckloff gave Safechuck only 15 days to amend his complaint. Sure, Safechuck can still amend his complaint and allege the things he did not allege before and perhaps survive demurrer. But it is promising to see that Beckloff isn’t really buying it. Let’s hope third time is the charm and this case gets dismissed at the next demurrer round.