Placerita Canyon Corp. challenges allegations in 2nd Melody Ranch lawsuit

Residents pass through the gate on Placerita Canyon Road on Thursday, October 29, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Placerita Canyon Corp. is due back in court later this summer in the ongoing lawsuit with Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio over an agreement between a group of residents and the nearby movie ranch that uses the group’s gate.   

The latest salvo was documents PCC filed taking issue with multiple allegations made in a Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court last October.  

PCC is a mutual-benefit corporation that owns and operates an electronic gate in Placerita Canyon to prevent thru traffic from entering the Newhall enclave. 

Joel Glaser, an attorney with Skane Wilcox, LLP, which represents PCC, asked Judge Stephen Pfahler to find allegations made by Melody Ranch staff or set teams —claims they were prevented from entering through the gate and/or had their vehicles damaged by the gate — legally insufficient. 

PCC’s filing last month that seeks to strike parts of Melody Ranch’s complaint come after its request that the movie studio amend the movie ranch’s complaint and address “numerous defects” as outlined in a Nov. 23, 2020, letter from Glaser on behalf of PCC to Melody Ranch. 

Melody Ranch refused to amend its complaint by the Nov. 30, 2020, deadline set by PCC, according to court documents. 

After unsuccessful mediation between PCC and Melody Ranch, the court set Aug. 3 as the date the two parties will convene to address PCC’s issues with Melody Ranch’s complaint. 

“We are working on an opposition to it,” said Diane Stanfield, a lawyer with Alston & Bird representing Melody Ranch, regarding PCC’s response to the original complaint. “We think that most or all of it is not well taken.” 

Stanfield said the judge will determine during the August hearing the parts of PCC’s argument that do and do not have merit. 

In a prior conversation with The Signal, Stanfield said Melody Ranch’s goal with the lawsuit is not to have the gate torn down.  

Instead, Melody Ranch, which is owned by the Veluzat family, is seeking to bring the gate in compliance with a 1998 court order that provided the movie studio “unlimited and continuous access … through the gate with no delay between uses,” according to the October 2020 court filing.    

In October, The Signal reported that the court’s 1998 order also created a requirement for a type of gate that accommodates large studio vehicles, installation of a keypad and 12 keycards to be given to Melody Ranch. 

June 2021 court filings state Melody Ranch alleges PCC of “unreasonably (limiting)” the movie studio’s and its guests’ access to Placerita Canyon Road. Melody Ranch also alleges PCC “intentionally interfered” with Melody Ranch’s operation by limiting passage through the gate. 

PCC denies these allegations, according to court documents, and responded that Melody Ranch has failed to make necessary payment and provide certificates of insurance and an accounting of its use of the road. 

In his June 2021 court filing, Glaser identified multiple issues with Melody Ranch’s complaint including failures to state PCC’s obstruction and hindrance of Melody Ranch’s ownership rights, gross negligence around PCC’s installation, operation and repair of the gate and other issues. 

Attorneys for PCC were unavailable for comment. 

History 

In 1995, a judge sided with a handful of residents in Placerita Canyon, ruling the road heading directly to and from Placerita Canyon from Highway 14 would be reclassified as privately owned by the property owners on Placerita Canyon Road.  

In March 1995, PCC erected an electronic gate with sensors that allow people with special keycards through. The company permits residents within Placerita Canyon to have access to a to a shorter route to the freeway from Placerita Canyon if they pay an annual fee in order to use its gate. 

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