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1 OPPOSTION TO MURDOCH GROUP, INC.’S MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 JOHN H. THALER, SBN 150290 LAW OFFICES OF JOHN H. THALER 18034 Ventura Boulevard, #289 Encino, CA 91316 818-206-4402 ** fax 818-206-4473 Attorney for Plaintiff ******* SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, WEST DISTRICT *******, an individual, Plaintiff, vs. DAWN ESTEP, an individual, aka DAWN STROUD, an individual, MURDOCH GROUP LIMITED, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company, MURDOCH GROUP, INC., a Wyoming corporation, and DOES 1 through 25, inclusive, Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No.: SC 102192 PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITON TO MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT OF MURDOCH GROUP, INC. AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS IN THE SUM OF $2,325.00 AGAINST DEFENDANTS ESTEP AND MURDOCH GROUP, INC. DATE: November 3, 2009 TIME: 9:00 A.M. DEPT: X [The Honorable Lisa Hart Cole presiding] DECLARATION OF ******* I, *******, do declare: 1. I am the Plaintiff in the above matter. 2. The gravamen of my Complaint concerns various false representations made to me by Ms. Estep, on behalf of

Dawn Estep: Sued for Fraud

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Dawn Estep Stroud: Sued for Fraud - Defendant's motion to dismiss 1 of 2 default judgments against her Las Vegas, Nevada Corporation, Murdoch Group Inc. — an Executive Recruitment Firm in Newport Beach, CA — is Denied. Read Plaintiff's "Opposition" to motion.

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OPPOSTION TO MURDOCH GROUP, INC.’S MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT

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JOHN H. THALER, SBN 150290LAW OFFICES OF JOHN H. THALER18034 Ventura Boulevard, #289Encino, CA 91316818-206-4402 ** fax 818-206-4473

Attorney for Plaintiff *******

SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, WEST DISTRICT

*******, an individual,

Plaintiff,

vs.DAWN ESTEP, an individual, aka DAWN STROUD, an individual, MURDOCH GROUP LIMITED, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company, MURDOCH GROUP, INC., a Wyoming corporation, and DOES 1 through 25, inclusive,

Defendants.

)))))))))))))))))

Case No.: SC 102192

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITON TO MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT OF MURDOCH GROUP, INC. AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS IN THE SUM OF $2,325.00 AGAINST DEFENDANTS ESTEP AND MURDOCH GROUP, INC.

DATE: November 3, 2009TIME: 9:00 A.M.DEPT: X

[The Honorable Lisa Hart Cole presiding]

DECLARATION OF *******

I, *******, do declare:

1. I am the Plaintiff in the above matter.

2. The gravamen of my Complaint concerns various false representations made to me by

Ms. Estep, on behalf of herself and on behalf of her Company and her Corporation.

These false representations led me to provide monies for the purchase of stock that has

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never materialized and led me to forego the sale of my clothing company,

**************, based on buyers Ms. Estep represented she had obtained.

3. When I first discovered that Ms. Estep was a habitual liar, as set forth in my

Complaint, I confronted her. She made various threats to me and to my (now

former) assistant of bodily harm. Many of these threats were sent as e-mails or left

as voice messages on my voice mail. I have set forth many of the threats in my

Complaint.

4. Shortly after filing and serving the Complaint, both my former assistant and I

received more threats from Ms. Estep. In fact, Ms. Estep left message for me twice

on April 17, 2009 and once on April 29, 2009. In the first set of message, Ms. Estep

threatened me by stating that I had better call her back or face unspecified

“consequences.” In the last call, she stated, “You are making a very big mistake by

not taking my telephone calls.” And, “You will pay for this.”

5. Ms. Estep also sent an e-mail on April 14, 2009 to my former assistant stating,

“Strategically, a bad move. You are toast. TOAST.” This is apparently the first

date that Ms. Estep attempted to threaten my attorney, John H. Thaler.

6. Ms. Estep currently has criminal charges pending against her in the State of Texas,

specifically in Austin, Texas, concerning check fraud. She was arrested on or about

September 15, 2008. Also, since late last year, I have discovered other individuals

who also have been defrauded by Ms. Estep. To that end, I am aware of additional

suits that will be filed against her, her company and her corporation shortly.

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7. Additionally, detectives with the Santa Monica Police Department have been trying

to interview Ms. Estep concerning issues in my case and similar complaints they

have received from others. To date, apparently Ms. Estep has not been cooperative.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct and if called as a

witness, I could and would testify competently thereto.

Executed on this 20th day of October, 2009 at Encino, California.

__________________________

*******I. STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS

Mr. Rogers would be proud. Apparently, Dawn Estep, Murdoch Group, Inc., and their

attorney, Eric H. Saiki, have entered the Land of Make Believe. Through omissions of pertinent

facts and misstatement of other facts, Ms. Estep and Mr. Saiki attempt to mislead this Court.

There was no “Ethical Failure”, there was no “Ethical Obligation” violated, and there was no

rush to submit a Request for Entry of Default when Murdoch was “represented by counsel.”

Why? Because Murdoch Group, Inc. was not represented by counsel at the time the

Request for Entry of Default was made. In fact, Mr. Saiki did not represent any party in

this matter until two months after said Request was made and entered.

Instead, the true facts are as follows:

This matter involves the fraudulent acts of Dawn Estep, individually, and by and through

her corporation, Murdoch Group, Inc. (“Corporation”), and by and through company, Murdoch

Group Limited, LLC (“Company”). It is no accident that the names of the company and of the

corporation are the same as the entities were used interchangeably.

The Corporation is registered in Wyoming and, according to the California Secretary of

State, is not registered to do business in California. A true and correct copy of the Wyoming

entity information is attached hereto as Exhibit “1” and incorporated herein by reference. The

Company is registered in Nevada. However, according to the Nevada Secretary of State, the

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Company was suspended in or about 2005. A copy of the Nevada entity records is attached

hereto as Exhibit “2” and incorporated herein by reference.

Both entities show Corporate Services Group located at 723 S. Casino Center Boulevard,

2nd Floor, Las Vegas, NV 89101 as the agent for service of process. Curiously, the service

information for the Company actually comes from the California Business Portal. A true and

correct copy of that information is attached hereto as Exhibit “3” and incorporated herein by

reference.

Curiously, the status of the Company in California shows as “Active” at least as of March

2, 2009. This information directly contradicts the information obtained from the State of

Nevada. So it appears that Ms. Estep was operating her Company in California for years after its

suspension in Nevada.

As to the Corporation, it purports an address in Newport Beach, California but, according

to the California Secretary of State, it has never filed for Foreign Corporation Status in

California. Therefore, it is operating with California as its sole place of business without filing

the requisite tax return or paying the requisite taxes. A true and correct copy of the company

profile is attached hereto as Exhibit “4” and incorporated herein by reference.1

The Summons and Complaint in this matter were filed on March 16, 2009. Upon their

return, Plaintiff’s attorney immediately made arrangements to serve the Corporation and the

Company. Both Company and Corporation were served at the address of the Las Vegas agent on

or about March 27, 2009.

On or about April 14, 2009, Plaintiff’s attorney received a voice message from Dawn

Estep. In that message she acknowledged service of the Summons and Complaints on the

Corporation and Company. She stated, “You don’t know the whole story. If I were you, I would

consider dismissing this stuff. You better talk to your client.” She also stated, “I keep insane

notes and I coming after your client.” Plaintiff’s attorney did not respond.

1 The failure of Corporation to register in California when this state appears to be its principal and only place of business may prevent it from seeking to set aside this default or being represented by counsel before this Court See Leasequip, Inc. v. Dapeer, 103 Cal. App.4th 394, 402 (2002).

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On or about April 19, 2009, Ms. Estep left another voice message with Plaintiff’s

attorney. This time, she insisted that Plaintiff’s attorney call her so that she could tell me her

version of the “facts.” No return call was made.

On or about April 21, 2009, Plaintiff’s attorney received a telephone call from an attorney

in the Los Angeles office of the Pillsbury law office. The attorney stated that he and his firm

were acquainted with Ms. Estep’s husband, an attorney in Texas, and were considering

representation of her in the instant matter. The attorneys then discussed the case for

approximately fifteen (15) minutes. Plaintiff’s attorney told the Pillsbury attorney that his client

had made telephone calls to my office and threatening calls to Plaintiff (See Declarations of John

H. Thaler and of ******* filed concurrently herewith) and that he needed to stop the same

forthwith. At the conclusion, the attorney stated that he would speak to Ms. Estep about the

telephone calls and that he would let Plaintiff’s attorney know if the firm decided it would

represent any or all of the defendants.

In her declaration, Ms. Estep omits that she attempted to hire Pillsbury or that an attorney

for the firm spoke with Plaintiff’s attorney directly in mid April 2009 or that said attorney was

fully aware of the service dates for the Summons and Complaints.

On or about April 29, 2009, Ms. Estep called Plaintiff’s attorney for a third time. Once

again she left a hostile voice mail stating that she was going to sue Plaintiff and that Plaintiff’s

attorney “had better be prepared.” Once again, Plaintiff’s attorney did not return the call.

On or about April 30, having received no responsive pleading and no request for any

extension of time, Plaintiff’s attorney prepared defaults against the Corporation and the

Company. The Court received the Requests on or about May 1, 2009 and entered the defaults on

or about May 4, 2009.

Meanwhile, shortly after the Requests had been prepared and sent to the court clerk, on or

about April 30, 2009, Plaintiff’s attorney received a telephone call from William Collier, Jr. He

identified himself as an attorney for Keesal, Young & Logan. During the conversation, he stated

that his office had a relationship with Ms. Estep’s husband and that his office was considering

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whether to represent any or all of the defendants. Plaintiff’s attorney then discussed with Mr.

Collier the facts of the case.

Further, Plaintiff’s attorney informed him that Plaintiff’s attorney had already prepared

the Requests for Entry of Default on the Corporation and on the Company. Plaintiff’s attorney

also informed Mr. Collier that he was not the first attorney to contact him. Upon stating this, Mr.

Collier told Plaintiff’s attorney that Ms. Estep did not inform him that she had already spoken to

other counsel. He asked Plaintiff’s attorney to provide him with the name and number of the

other attorney. Plaintiff’s attorney did. Mr. Collier then stated that he did not believe he or his

firm would take the case but that he would let Plaintiff’s attorney know if they did.

In her declaration, Ms. Estep states that she first spoke with Mr. Collier prior to April 17,

2009 and at that time he agreed to represent her. That statement is false and Ms. Estep knows it

to be false. In addition to the lack of any declaration from Mr. Collier, this Court should take

note that Plaintiff’s attorney contacted Mr. Collier shortly after receiving the within Motion. Mr.

Collier states that he was not contacted by Ms. Estep or her attorney regarding this Motion and

that he never agreed that he or the Keesal office would represent her. He further states that after

speaking with Plaintiff’s attorney on or about April 30, 2009, he informed Ms. Estep that

Requests for Entry of Default had been prepared and provided to the Court.

As a result, Ms. Estep’s comment that somehow the defaults were taken without her

knowledge is utterly false.

Corporation’s attorney, Eric H. Saiki, first contacted Plaintiff’s attorney on or about May

12, 2009. He stated that Ms. Estep was seeking representation concerning the instant matter. As

Plaintiff’s attorney had done previously, Plaintiff’s attorney discussed for at least fifteen (15)

minutes the nature of the case. In fact, Mr. Saiki and Plaintiff’s attorney discussed in great detail

audio tapes in Plaintiff’s possession consisting of voice mail messages left by Ms. Estep on

Plaintiff’s voice mail. Therein, she states all of the quotes attributed to her in the Complaint.

These statements squarely place liability on her, her company and on her corporation. Mr. Saiki

specifically asked whether Plaintiff’s attorney had heard the tapes. Plaintiff’s attorney told him

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he had heard all of the recorded voice mail messages left by his client and that Plaintiff’s

attorney could confirm that the quotes attributed to his client in the Complaint were accurate.

Plaintiff’s attorney also told Mr. Saiki that he was now the third attorney to contact him

about possible representation. Mr. Saiki stated that he was unaware that Ms. Estep had ever

spoken to any other attorneys. Plaintiff’s attorney provided to Mr. Saiki the names and telephone

numbers of the other attorneys.

At the end of the conversation, Mr. Saiki asked whether Plaintiff’s attorney would agree

to set aside the defaults on the Corporation and on the Company. Plaintiff’s attorney told Mr.

Saiki that at that time he was not prepared to do anything especially when Mr. Saiki had not

decided whether to represent Ms. Estep. Mr. Saiki’s implication in his declaration that somehow

he was representing any defendants as of the May 12, 2009 telephone call is totally false.

On May 18, 2009, Plaintiff’s attorney received a letter from Mr. Saiki allegedly

confirming that Plaintiff’s attorney would not agree to set aside the defaults. Mr. Saiki has

attached that letter as Exhibit “A” to his declaration. The Court should take note however that in

his declaration (and in the letter) Mr. Saiki does not state that he was representing Ms. Estep or

her Corporation at the time he contacted Plaintiff’s attorney or that he was representing any

defendants as of the May 18, 2009 letter. And according to Mr. Saiki, he was not.

In fact, in Mr. Saiki’s Exhibit “B”, another letter to me dated July 7, 2009, he states that

his office “has recently been retained by Ms. Dawn [Estep] Stroud and Murdoch Group, Inc.

In paragraph 3 of his declaration, Mr. Saiki refers to that letter and decries that Plaintiff’s

attorney did not respond. That statement is false. On that same date, Plaintiff’s attorney sent a

letter to Mr. Saiki stating that Plaintiff’s attorney was out of town and not available to provide

portions of the file he requested until July 15, 2009. A true and correct copy of my letter to Mr.

Saiki is attached hereto as Exhibit “4” and incorporated herein by reference.

Also of note: a Case Management Conference was scheduled with this Court for July 6,

2009 at 8:30 a.m. The Notice of the CMC is on the front page of the Complaint. Mr. Saiki and

Ms. Estep should have been and would have been fully aware of the CMC. As the Court is

aware, neither Ms. Estep nor any attorney on her behalf appeared.

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It is nothing short of remarkable that Mr. Saiki could not have appeared on July 6, 2009

but could send Plaintiff’s counsel a letter demanding documents from the case file the following

day.

On or about August 10, 2009, Requests for Admission were sent to Mr. Saiki. In

September 2009, responses were sent. During this time, Mr. Saiki never once contacted me or

ever mentioned any request to set aside the default. So even once he began representation of Ms.

Estep, three (3) months elapsed prior to the motion. Strangely, Mr. Saiki makes no attempt to

explain this.

Instead, it appears that having reviewed some of the audio tapes, having been required to

respond to Requests for Admission, and sensing that liability is a foregone conclusion, now Ms.

Estep wants to defend her corporation.

II. DEFENDANT HAS FAILED TO MAKE ANY SHOWING

THAT ITS FAILURE TO FILE A RESPONSIVE PLEADING

RESULTED FROM INADVERTENCE OR EXCUSABLE NEGLECT.

Defendant Corporation knew it had been served and sought legal counsel. But no attempt

was made to seek an extension to respond to the complaint. After the default was entered, it

waited inexplicably for four months before pursuing the within motion. Simply, Corporation has

failed to make any showing whatsoever of inadvertence or excusable neglect. Therefore the

motion should be denied.

Unless an Application for Relief is accompanied by an “attorney affidavit of fault”, relief

is discretionary and must be based on a showing of “mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable

neglect.” Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b); see Lorenz v. Commercial Accept. Ins. Co.,

Cal.App.4th 981, 989 (1995).

Defendant’s Motion to Set Aside Default is accompanied by the Declaration of Dawn

Estep Stroud, a defendant and the only known shareholder of the Corporation. The Declaration

of Defendant’s attorney, Eric H. Saiki, is not an “attorney affidavit of fault.” As a result, in order

to set aside the default, Defendant must sustain her burden of proving “mistake, inadvertence,

surprise of excusable neglect.” Defendant has not met its burden.

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Mislaying of process, forgetfulness, or intentional disregard of service are not “mistake,

inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect” as those terms are used in Code of Civil Procedure

section 473(b), and they do not require the Court to set aside default. Price v. Hibbs, 225

Cal.App.2d 209 (1964). To be entitled to relief, the acts, which brought the default, must have

been the acts of a reasonable prudent person under the same circumstances. Conway v.

Municipal Court, 107 Cal.App.3d 1009 (1980).

Relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b) is proper where defendant was

mistaken as to some fact material to the defendant’s duty to respond, by reason of which

defendant failed to make a timely response. See Lieberman v. Aetna Ins. Co. (1967) 249

Cal.App.2d 515. Mistake of fact is when a person understands the facts to be other than as they

are. Hodge Sheet Metal Products v. Palm Springs Riviera Hotel (1961) 189 Cal.App.2d 653.

The Corporation, by and through Ms. Estep, claims inadvertence and excusable neglect

as the grounds for its motion. Inadvertence is defined as lack of heedfulness or attentiveness;

and in the abstract, is no plea on which to vacate a default. Baratti v Baratti, 109 Cal.App.2d 917

(1952).

Excusable neglect is by far the most common ground for obtaining discretionary relief

from default. The issue, however, boils down to one very simple consideration – whether the

moving party has shown a reasonable excuse for the default. Davis v. Thayer, 113 Cal.App.3d

892 (1980). The test in determining whether a party acted with excusable neglect is reasonable

diligence. In the absence of an “Attorney affidavit of fault”, the burden is on the moving party to

show that neglect was excusable, i.e., that the default could not have been avoided through the

exercise of ordinary care. Jackson v. Bank of America, 141 Cal.App.3d 55, 58 (1983).

Evidence that the defendant was seriously ill, feeble, or unable to understand that he was

being served with process is sufficient to justify discretionary relief under Code of Civil

Procedure section 473(b). See Kesselman v. Kesselman, 212 Cal.App.2d 196, 207-208 (1963).

In a hearing on a motion to set aside a default and default judgment, the credibility of the

persons executing the Declarations and the weight to be given to their contents is for the trial

court. Conway v. Municipal Court, 107 Cal.App.3d 1009 (1980).

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In this matter, Ms. Estep and her corporation were fully aware that the Corporation had

been served. In fact, Ms. Estep contacted two separate attorney. Moreover, she telephoned

Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s attorney threatening each and claiming that she was filing her own

complaint against Plaintiff. She visited her current attorney for the first time shortly after the

default was entered against the Corporation but chose not to retain his services for two months.

And when she did retain his services, she did not retain them for the Corporation. She could

have but inexplicably she did not. And then she waited an additional two months before filing

this motion.

Nothing herein can possibly be categorized as excusable neglect. Instead, it appears that

Ms. Estep chose to wait through the litigation and early discovery to gauge how much trouble

she and her business entities were in. Now, having discovered that the evidence is squarely

against her, she seeks to set aside the Corporation’s default.

It is simply not inadvertent or excusable neglect to know that a suit has been filed,

threaten the party bringing the action, harass his lawyer on three occasions, discuss the matter

with at least two well respected attorneys at two well respected firms, do nothing, then, after

default has been entered, attempt to retain a third attorney and his firm, again do nothing for two

months, Answer the Complaint on behalf of yourself individually, do nothing for another two

months, and then request that the default be set aside.

Ms. Estep tries to land on the excuse that somehow she had retained Mr. Collier. But she

does not submit any declaration from him. Moreover, he was unaware of the motion and denies

that he ever agreed to represent Ms. Estep or her company or her corporation.

As there is no showing of excusable neglect, Plaintiff requests that the motion be denied.

III. SANCTIONS SHOULD BE IMPOSED ON

DEFEDANTS ESTEP AND MURDOCH GROUP, INC.

If relief from default is based on evidence other than “attorney affidavit of fault, the

Court may order the Defendant to pay the costs, including attorney fees, incurred by the

Plaintiff…” Rogalski v. Nabers Cadillac, 11 Cal.App.4th 816, 83 (1992).

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In the event that this Court grants the motion, Plaintiff’s attorney request on behalf of my

client that Murdoch Group, Inc. and Ms. Estep, jointly and severally, be ordered to pay attorneys

fees and costs for my appearance at the Case Management Conference on July 6, 2009 and for

the costs of preparing the Request for Entry of Default as to the Corporation. Plaintiff’s attorney

charge $300.00 per hour. It took three-quarters of an hour to prepare the Request. The

appearance for the CMC took one hour. As a result, in the event that the Default is set aside,

Corporation and Estep should be ordered to pay the sum of $525.00.

Additionally, sanctions should be imposed for Plaintiff having to oppose the within

motion. In preparing the Opposition, three and one-half hours were spent reading the motion and

preparing the Opposition. Plaintiff’s counsel anticipates an additional half hour to review any

Reply and tow and one-half hours appearing at the time of hearing. Therefore, the additional

sum of $1,800.00 in sanctions should be imposed.

In the “Conclusion” of the Motion, the Corporation opines that no sanctions or fess

should be awarded because the default against the Corporation was taken while it was

represented by counsel. This claim is patently false. Moreover, neither Mr. Saiki nor Ms. Estep

has provided the Court any executed retainer agreement or any letter to my office evidencing

anything to the contrary. This false statement is emblematic of the bad faith that is the within

motion.

//

IV. CONCLUSION

Defendant Corporation has failed to make any showing of excusable neglect or

inadvertence. Rather, the failures to file a responsive pleading appear to be deliberate. And it is

only now that Ms. Estep has seen the preliminary discovery and knows she and her businesses

are in trouble that the within motion has been filed. That explains the false and misleading

statements she and her attorney make in support of thereof.

The motion should be denied and sanctions should be awarded.

Dated: October 20, 2009 LAW OFFICES OF JOHN H. THALER

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By:______________________________ JOHN H. THALER, Attorney for

Plaintiff *******

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DECLARATION OF JOHN H. THALER

I, John H. Thaler, do declare:

1. I am an attorney licensed to practice law before all courts in the State of California and I

am the attorney of record for Plaintiff *******.

2. I have reviewed the Motion filed by Defendant Murdoch Group, Inc. and the declarations

of its attorney, Eric Saiki, and principal shareholder, Dawn Estep. It is quite evident that

Ms. Estep and Mr. Saiki have intentionally misled this court by omitting certain facts and

misstating other facts. Simply put, they are not telling the truth. To wit:

3. This matter involves the fraudulent acts of Dawn Estep, individually, and by and through

her corporation, Murdoch Group, Inc. (“Corporation”), and by and through company,

Murdoch Group Limited, LLC (“Company”). It is no accident that the names of the

company and of the corporation are the same as Plaintiff alleges the entities were used

interchangeably.

4. The Corporation is registered in Wyoming and, according to the California Secretary of

State, is not registered to do business in California. A true and correct copy of the

Wyoming entity information is attached hereto as Exhibit “1” and incorporated herein by

reference. The Company is registered in Nevada. However, according to the Nevada

Secretary of State, the Company was dissolved in or about 2005. A copy of the Nevada

entity records is attached hereto as Exhibit “2” and incorporated herein by reference.

5. Both entities show Corporate Services Group located at 723 S. Casino Center Boulevard,

2nd Floor, Las Vegas, NV 89101 as the agent for service of process. Curiously, the

service information for the Company actually comes from the California Business Portal.

A true and correct copy of that information is attached hereto as Exhibit “3” and

incorporated herein by reference.

6. Most notably, the status of the Company shows as “Active” at least as of March 2, 2009.

This information directly contradicts the information obtained from the State of Nevada.

So it appears that Ms. Estep was operating her Company in California for years after its

suspension in Nevada.

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7. As to the Corporation, it purports an address in Newport Beach, California but according

to the California Secretary of State, it has never filed for Foreign Corporation Status in

California. Therefore, it appears to be operating in California as its sole place of business

without filing the requisite tax return or paying the requisite taxes. A true and correct

copy of the company profile is attached hereto as Exhibit “4” and incorporated herein by

reference.

8. The Summons and Complaint in this matter were filed on March 16, 2009. Upon their

return, I immediately made arrangements to serve the Corporation and the Company.

Both Company and Corporation were served at the address of the Las Vegas agent on or

about March 27, 2009.

9. On or about April 14, 2009, I received a voice message from Dawn Estep. In that

message she acknowledged service of the Summons and Complaints on the Corporation

and Company. She stated, “You don’t know the whole story. If I were you, I would

consider dismissing this stuff. You better talk to your client.” She also stated, “I keep

insane notes. And I am coming after your client.” I did not respond.

10. On or about April 19, 2009, Ms. Estep left another voice message. This time, she insisted

that I call her so that she could tell me her version of the “facts.”

11. On or about April 21, 2009, I received a telephone call from an attorney in the Los

Angeles office of the Pillsbury law office. The attorney stated that he and his firm were

acquainted with Ms. Estep’s husband, an attorney in Texas, and were considering

representation of her in the instant matter. We then discussed the case for approximately

fifteen (15) minutes. I told the attorney that his client had made telephone calls to my

office and threatening calls to my client (See Declaration of ******* filed concurrently

herewith) and that he needed to stop the same forthwith. At the conclusion, the attorney

stated that he would speak to Ms. Estep about the telephone calls that he would let me

know if the firm decided it would represent any or all of the defendants.

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12. In her declaration, Ms. Estep omits that she attempted to hire Pillsbury or that an attorney

for the firm spoke with me directly or that said attorney was fully aware of the service

dates for the Summons and Complaints.

13. On or about April 29, 2009, Ms. Estep called me for a third time. Once again she left a

hostile voice mail stating that she was going to sue my client and that I “had better be

prepared.” Once again, I did not return the call.

14. On or about April 30, having received no responsive pleading and no request for any

extension of time, I prepared defaults against the Corporation and the Company. The

Court received the Requests on or about May 1, 2009 and entered the defaults on or about

May 4, 2009.

15. On or about April 30, 2009, I received a telephone call from William Collier, Jr. He

identified himself as an attorney for Keesal, Young & Logan. During the conversation,

he stated that his office had a relationship with Ms. Estep’s husband and that his office

was considering whether to represent any or all of the defendants. I then discussed with

Mr. Collier the facts of the case. Further, I informed him that I had already prepared the

Requests for Entry of Default on the Corporation and on the Company. I also informed

Mr. Collier that he was not the first attorney to contact me. Upon stating this, Mr. Collier

told me that Ms. Estep did not inform him that she had already spoken to other counsel.

He asked me to provide him with the name and number of the other attorney. I did. Mr.

Collier then stated that he did not believe he or his firm would take the case but that he

would let me know if they decided otherwise.

16. In her declaration, Ms. Estep states that she first spoke with Mr. Collier prior to April 17,

2009 and at that time he agreed to represent her. That statement is false and Ms. Estep

knows it to be false. In addition to the lack of any declaration from Mr. Collier, this

Court should take note that I contacted Mr. Collier shortly after receiving the within

Motion. Mr. Collier states that he was not contacted by Ms. Estep or her attorney

regarding this Motion and that he never agreed that he or the Keesal office would

represent her. He further states that after speaking with me on or about April 30, 2009,

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he informed Ms. Estep that Requests for Entry of Default had been prepared and

provided to the Court.

17. As a result, Ms. Estep’s comment that somehow the defaults were taken without her

knowledge is utterly false. In fact, given that the clerk did not enter the defaults until two

weeks after they were submitted, an Answer could have been filed during that time.

Instead, until the filing of this motion, Ms. Estep has done nothing.

18. Now to Mr. Saiki’s declaration: Mr. Saiki first contacted me on or about May 12, 2009.

He stated that Ms. Estep was seeking representation concerning the instant matter. As I

had done previously, I discussed for at least fifteen (15) minutes the nature of the case.

In fact, Mr. Saiki and I discussed in great detail audio tapes in my client’s possession

consisting of voice mail messages left by Ms. Estep on my client’s voice mail wherein

she states all of the quotes attributed to her in the Complaint. Mr. Saiki specifically asked

whether I had heard the tapes. I told him I had heard all of the recorded voice mail

messages left by his client and that I could confirm that the quotes attributed to his client

in the Complaint were accurate.

19. I also told Mr. Saiki that he was now the third attorney to contact me about possible

representation. Mr. Saiki stated that he was unaware that Ms. Estep had ever spoken to

any other attorneys. I provided to Mr. Saiki the names and telephone numbers of the

other attorneys.

20. At the end of the conversation, Mr. Saiki asked me whether I would agree to set aside the

defaults on the Corporation and on the Company. I told Mr. Saiki that I was not prepared

to do anything especially when he had not decided whether to represent Ms. Estep.

21. Mr. Saiki’s implication in his declaration that somehow Defendant were represented at

the time of the Requests for Entry of Default being filed is utterly false. And his

contention that California law requires an attorney to refrain from entering a default when

two different attorneys and two different firms have rejected representation is absurd. Is

Mr. Saiki really opining that I had an ethical obligation to contact attorneys who never

agreed to take Defendants’ case simply because Ms. Estep chose to meet with them?

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Either Mr. Saiki didn’t read the Guidelines on Civility and Professionalism or he truly

does not understand them.

22. On May 18, 2009, I received a letter from Mr. Saiki allegedly confirming that I would not

agree to set aside the defaults. Mr. Saiki has attached that letter as Exhibit “A” to his

declaration. The Court should take note however that in his declaration (and in the letter)

Mr. Saiki does not state that he was representing Ms. Estep or her Corporation at the time

he contacted me. And even according to Mr. Saiki, he was not.

23. In fact, in Mr. Saiki’s Exhibit “B”, another letter to me dated July 7, 2009, he states that

his office “has recently been retained by Ms. Dawn [Estep] Stroud and Murdoch Group,

Inc.

24. In paragraph 3 of his declaration, Mr. Saiki refers to that letter and decries that I did not

respond. That statement is false. On that same date, I sent a letter to Mr. Saiki stating

that I was out of town and not available to portions of the file he requested until July 15,

2009. A true and correct copy of my letter to Mr. Saiki is attached hereto as Exhibit “5”

and incorporated herein by reference.

25. Also of note: a Case Management Conference was scheduled with this Court for July 6,

2009 at 8:30 a.m. The Notice of the CMC is on the front page of the Complant. Mr.

Saiki and Ms. Estep should have been and would have been fully aware of the CMC. As

the Court is aware, neither Ms. Estep nor any attorney on her behalf appeared.

26. It is nothing short of remarkable that Mr. Saiki could not have appeared on July 6, 2009

but could send me a letter demanding documents from the case file the following day.

27. On or about August 10, 2009, Requests for Admission were sent to Mr. Saiki. In

September 2009, responses were sent. During this time, Mr. Saiki never once contacted

me or ever mentioned any request to set aside the default. So even once he began

representation of Ms. Estep, three (3) months elapsed prior to the motion. Strangely, Mr.

Saiki makes no attempt to explain this.

28. In the event that this Court grants the motion, I request on behalf of my client that

Murdoch Group, Inc. and Ms. Estep, jointly and severally, be ordered to pay attorneys

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fees and costs for my appearance at the Case Management Conference on July 6, 2009

and for the costs of preparing the Request for Entry of Default as to the Corporation. I

charge $300.00 per hour. It took three-quarters of an hour to prepare the Request. The

appearance for the CMC took one hour. As a result, in the event that the Default is set

aside, Corporation and Estep should be ordered to pay the sum of $525.00.

29. Additionally, sanctions should be imposed for Plaintiff having to oppose the within

motion. In preparing the Opposition, three and one-half hours were spent reading the

motion and preparing the Opposition. Plaintiff’s counsel anticipates an additional half

hour to review any Reply and tow and one-half hours appearing at the time of hearing.

Therefore, the additional sum of $1,800.00 in sanctions should be imposed.

30. In the “Conclusion” of the Motion, the Corporation opines that no sanctions or fess

should be awarded because the default against the Corporation was taken while it was

“represented by counsel.” This claim is patently false. The Defendants were not

represented by anyone. Rather, Ms. Estep met with lawyers who chose not to represent

her. I have no ethical or legal obligation to contact attorneys who have rejected

representing Ms. Estep and her “businesses.”

31. Moreover, neither Mr. Saiki nor Ms. Estep has provided the Court any executed retainer

agreement or any letter to my office evidencing anything to the contrary. This false

statement and its implication is emblematic of the bad faith that is the within motion,

especially as it fails to address the passage of the four months prior to the Corporation

filing this motion.

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I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct and if called as a

witness, I could and would testify competently thereto.

Executed on this 20th day of October, 2009 at Encino, California.

__________________________JOHN H. THALER

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