PACIFIC HOME v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

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District Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 3, California.

PACIFIC HOME v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES et al. (two cases).*

Civ. 19277.

Decided: April 20, 1953

Newby, Holder & Newby and Charles R. Newby, Los Angeles, for appellant. Ray L. Chesebro, City Atty., Louis A. Babior, Deputy City Atty., Harold W. Kennedy, County Counsel, and Arvo Van Alstyne, Deputy County Counsel, Los Angeles, for respondents.

This is a companion case to Pacific Home v. County of Los Angeles, Cal.App., 256 P.2d 36. The action is to recover taxes paid for the tax year 1949–1950. Plaintiff filed its claim for exemption, which was denied, and paid the taxes under protest. Defendants had judgment.

After the first Monday of March 1948, and prior to the first Monday of March, 1949, plaintiff's articles of incorporation were amended. The amendments consisted in eliminating the clause providing for contribution to the retired ministers' fund and changing the dissolution clause to read as follows: ‘In the event this corporation shall abandon the conducting of any Home under its control or management and shall be dissolved voluntarily or involuntarily, all of the corporation assets of said corporation wherever situated remaining after payment of all of its obligations in the manner provided by law, shall be subject to the disposition and control of the Southern California—Arizona Annual Conference of The Methodist Church, or its successors; and be used for the benefit of worthy aged and infirm persons and for such other charitable work as may be consistent with the history and purposes of the corporation.’

The court first found that on the first Monday of March, 1949, plaintiff and the subject properties met the requirements of the welfare exemption and concluded that the properties were irrevocably dedicated to religious, hospital, or charitable purposes, and upon liquidation, dissolution, or abandonment by plaintiff would not have inured to the benefit of any private person except a fund, foundation, or corporation organized and operated for such purposes. Judgment for plaintiff was entered accordingly on February 18, 1952. Defendants made a motion for a new trial. On April 1, 1952, at the conclusion of the hearing of the motion, the court said: ‘I will deny all motions.’ (Motions for new trial in the companion cases were heard at the same time.) The clerk made a memorandum to that effect but did not make an entry in the minutes. On April 2, 1952, the trial judge instructed the clerk that the motion would stand submitted. The clerk then made a minute entry dated April 1, 1952, which said the motion was submitted. On April 15, 1952, the court signed and filed a written order vacating the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and judgment, ordering judgment for defendants, directing the preparation of new findings, conclusions, and judgment in accord with those in the companion cases, and denying the motion for new trial. In the new findings the court found that on the first Monday of March, 1949, the property upon liquidation, dissolution, or abandonment of plaintiff would have inured to the benefit of a fund, foundation, or corporation, organized and operated for exempt purposes. It found, however, that on that date plaintiff's property was not irrevocably dedicated to religious, hospital, or charitable purposes. Judgment for defendants was entered on April 17, 1952. Defendants appealed from the judgment entered February 18, 1952. Plaintiff appealed from the judgment entered April 17, 1952.

Defendants appear to concede that the amendment of the dissolution clause imposed a restriction on the purposes for which the property could be diverted upon succession thereto by the Conference in the event of plaintiff's liquidation, dissolution, or the abandonment of it; that it creates a trust on the assets for charitable purposes in the hands of the Conference; and that it has the effect of preventing diversion of the property to nonexempt purposes in such event.

The principle question in this case is whether on the first Monday of March, 1949, plaintiff's articles of incorporation permitted it to divert all or any part of its property to nonexempt purposes. Plaintiff's articles were the same on the first Monday of March, 1949, as we have quoted them in the companion cases, except that the provision for contribution to the retired ministers' fund of the Conference had been eliminated and the dissolution clause had been changed. We concluded in the companion cases that plaintiff's articles did not permit it to divert all or any part of its property to nonexempt purposes. On the authority of Pacific Home v. County of Los Angeles, Cal.App., 256 P.2d 36, we hold that on the first Monday of March, 1949, the subject property was irrevocably dedicated to exempt purposes.

Plaintiff argues that the oral statement of the trial judge at the conclusion of the hearing of the motion for a new trial, ‘I will deny all motions,’ was effective immediately to deny the motion, and that the court did not have jurisdiction thereafter to vacate the findings, conclusions, and prior judgment, and to enter a new and different judgment. The point is important only because of the appeal of defendants. It is without merit. The court's pronouncement was in the future tense. The formal order which the judge signed, and which was the only order entered in the minutes, was the order of the court denying the motion for a new trial. An order ruling on a motion for a new trial is ineffective unless filed with the clerk or entered in the minutes. Jablon v. Henneberger, 33 Cal.2d 773, 775, 205 P.2d 1. The effective date of an order denying a motion for a new trial is the date of the minute entry. Millsap v. Hooper, 34 Cal.2d 192, 193, 208 P.2d 982. The minute entry in the present case was made while the court still retained jurisdiction. The court was authorized in denying the motion for a new trial to vacate the prior findings, conclusions, and judgment, and to make new findings and conclusions, and to render a new judgment. Code Civ.Proc. § 662; Spier v. Lang, 4 Cal.2d 711, 713–714, 53 P.2d 138. The new judgment entered April 17, 1952, superseded the judgment entered February 18, 1952. Defendants' appeal from the judgment of February 18, 1952, apparently taken as a matter of precaution, is a nullity and will be dismissed.

The parties agree that the facts are undisputed and that a question of law only is involved. They stipulated as to the amount in controversy. A reversal with direction is, therefore, appropriate.

Defendants' appeal from the judgment entered February 18, 1952, is dismissed. The judgment entered April 17, 1952, is reversed with directions to the superior court to amend its findings of fact and conclusions of law, and to render judgment for plaintiff in accord with the stipulation of the parties as to the amount in controversy.

VALLÉE, Justice.

SHINN, P. J., concurs. PARKER WOOD, J., being disqualified did not participate.