This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/15/2021 at 02:37:59 (UTC).

ANTHONY PRIETO VS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON

Case Summary

On 02/28/2020 ANTHONY PRIETO filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is JAMES E. BLANCARTE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******1967

  • Filing Date:

    02/28/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

JAMES E. BLANCARTE

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

PRIETO ANTHONY

Defendant

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorney

HICKERSON ANEIKO LAVAUN WEBB

 

Court Documents

Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

2/28/2020: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

2/28/2020: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

Summons - Summons on Complaint

2/28/2020: Summons - Summons on Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

2/28/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Complaint - Complaint

2/28/2020: Complaint - Complaint

Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer - Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

4/8/2020: Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer - Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

Answer - Answer

4/8/2020: Answer - Answer

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration In Support of Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Complaint

4/8/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration In Support of Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Complaint

Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to Defendant Southern California Edison's Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff's Complaint

5/11/2020: Opposition (name extension) - Opposition to Defendant Southern California Edison's Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff's Complaint

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer)

8/17/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer)

Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

8/17/2020: Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

Reply (name extension) - Reply SCE's Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition to SCE's Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff's Complaint

8/6/2020: Reply (name extension) - Reply SCE's Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition to SCE's Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff's Complaint

Stipulation and Order (name extension) - Stipulation and Order and [Proposed] Order to Set Mandatory Settlement Conference and Continue Trial

7/8/2021: Stipulation and Order (name extension) - Stipulation and Order and [Proposed] Order to Set Mandatory Settlement Conference and Continue Trial

1 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/03/2023
  • Hearing03/03/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 25 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service

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  • 12/14/2021
  • Hearing12/14/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 25 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 07/08/2021
  • DocketUpdated -- Stipulation and Order and [Proposed] Order to Set Mandatory Settlement Conference and Continue Trial: Filed By: Southern California Edison (Defendant); Result: Granted; Result Date: 07/08/2021

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  • 07/08/2021
  • DocketPursuant to written stipulation, Non-Jury Trial scheduled for 08/27/2021 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 Not Held - Continued - Stipulation was rescheduled to 12/14/2021 08:30 AM

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  • 08/17/2020
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by: Southern California Edison (Defendant)

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  • 08/17/2020
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer)

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  • 08/17/2020
  • DocketHearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer scheduled for 08/17/2020 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 updated: Result Date to 08/17/2020; Result Type to Held - Motion Granted

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  • 08/06/2020
  • DocketReply SCE's Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition to SCE's Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff's Complaint; Filed by: Southern California Edison (Defendant)

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  • 05/11/2020
  • DocketOpposition to Defendant Southern California Edison's Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff's Complaint; Filed by: Anthony Prieto (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/09/2020
  • DocketHearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer scheduled for 08/17/2020 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

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1 More Docket Entries
  • 04/08/2020
  • DocketDeclaration In Support of Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Complaint; Filed by: Southern California Edison (Defendant)

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  • 04/08/2020
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by: Southern California Edison (Defendant)

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  • 03/02/2020
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 08/27/2021 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

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  • 03/02/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 03/03/2023 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25

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  • 03/02/2020
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. James E. Blancarte in Department 25 Spring Street Courthouse

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  • 02/28/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Anthony Prieto (Plaintiff); As to: Southern California Edison (Defendant)

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  • 02/28/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Anthony Prieto (Plaintiff); As to: Southern California Edison (Defendant)

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  • 02/28/2020
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Anthony Prieto (Plaintiff); As to: Southern California Edison (Defendant)

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  • 02/28/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 02/28/2020
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STLC01967    Hearing Date: August 17, 2020    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Mon., August 17, 2020 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Prieto v. Southern California Edison, Co. COMPL. FILED: 02-28-20

CASE NUMBER: 20STLC01967 DISC. C/O: 07-28-21

NOTICE: OK DISC. MOT. C/O: 08-12-21

TRIAL DATE: 08-27-21

PROCEEDINGS: MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES FROM PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

MOVING PARTY: Defendant Southern California Edison Company

RESP. PARTY: Plaintiff Anthony Prieto, in pro per

MOTION TO STRIKE

(CCP § 436)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Southern California Edison Company’s Motion to Strike Punitive Damages is GRANTED. Plaintiff is GRANTED 30 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT.

SERVICE:

[X] Proof of Service Timely Filed (CRC, rule 3.1300) OK

[X] Correct Address (CCP §§ 1013, 1013a) OK

[X] 16/21 Court Days Lapsed (CCP §§ 12c, 1005(b)) OK

OPPOSITION: Filed on May 11, 2020 [ ] Late [ ] None

REPLY: Filed on August 6, 2020 [ ] Late [ ] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On February 28, 2020, Plaintiff Anthony Prieto (“Plaintiff”) filed an action, in pro per, against Defendant Southern California Edison (“Defendant”) for motor vehicle negligence and general negligence.

On April 8, 2020, Defendant filed an Answer and the instant Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff’s Complaint (the “Motion”). On May 11, 2020, Plaintiff filed an Opposition and on August 6, 2020, Defendant filed a Reply.

  1. Legal Standard

California law authorizes a party’s motion to strike matter from an opposing party’s pleading if it is irrelevant, false, or improper. (Code Civ. Proc. §§ 435; 436, subd. (a).) Motions may also target pleadings or parts of pleadings which are not filed or drawn in conformity with applicable laws, rules or orders. (Code Civ. Proc. § 436, subd. (b).) Motions to strike in limited jurisdiction courts may only challenge pleadings on the basis that “the damages or relief sought are not supported by the allegations of the complaint.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 92, subd. (d).)

In particular, a motion to strike can be used to attack the entire pleading or any part thereof – in other words, a motion may target single words or phrases, unlike demurrers. (Warren v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co. (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 24, 40.) California’s policy of liberal construction applies to motions to strike. (Code Civ. Proc. § 452; see also Duffy v. Campbell (1967) 250 Cal.App.2d 662, 666 [noting that courts must resolve all reasonable doubts in favor of the pleading when considering a motion to strike].) The Code of Civil Procedure also authorizes the Court to act on its own initiative to strike matters, empowering the Court to enter orders striking matter “at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 436.)

Finally, Code of Civil Procedure section 435.5 requires that “[b]efore filing a motion to strike pursuant to this chapter, the moving party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to the motion to strike for the purpose of determining whether an agreement can be reached that resolves the objections to be raised in the motion to strike.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 435.5, subd. (a).)

  1. Discussion

As an initial matter, the Court notes the Motion is accompanied by a meet and confer declaration as required by Section 435.5, subdivision (a). (Mot., Hickerson Decl., ¶¶ 1-5.) Defendant seeks to strike Plaintiff’s request for punitive damages on the basis that the Complaint fails to allege any facts demonstrating Defendant’s willful or malicious conduct, and fails to allege facts that any alleged conduct was authorized, ratified, or performed by an officer, director, or managing agent of Defendant as required by Civil Code section 3294, subdivision (b). (Mot., pp. 2:8-9; 3:9-15.)

“In order to survive a motion to strike an allegation of punitive damages, the ultimate facts showing an entitlement to such relief must be pled by a plaintiff.” (Clauson v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 1253, 1255.) A request for punitive damages may be made pursuant to Civil Code section 3294 which provides that “[i]n an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.” (Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (a).)

Under the statute, malice is defined as “conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others” and oppression is defined as “despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.” (Code Civ. Proc., 3294, subds. (c)(1), (2).) Although not defined by the statute, despicable conduct refers to circumstances that are base, vile, or contemptible. (College Hospital, Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 725.) Also, “[u]nder the statute, malice does not require actual intent to harm…Conscious disregard for the safety of another may be sufficient where the defendant is aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his or her conduct and he or she willfully fails to avoid such consequences…. [Citation.]” (Pfeifer v. John Crane, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1270, 1299.)

The entirety of Plaintiff’s allegations are as follows:

“The police report stated an employee of Southern California Edison was driving a semi-truck with an approximately 53-foot-long trailer transporting cargo for Southern California Edison, when it collided with a fire hydrant causing significant damage to our son’s vehicle and our home. The police report stated the cause of the collision was your Southern California Edison Employee making an unsafe turning motion in violation of 22107 CVC. Attached are the pictures of the violent water coming from the fire hydrant that damaged the Classic 1964 Impala and washed away our front landscaping at the home.”

(Compl., ¶¶ MV-2, GN-1.)

This language demonstrates that Plaintiff has not pleaded any facts demonstrating Defendant acted with oppression, fraud, or malice. Indeed, “[t]he mere carelessness or ignorance of the defendant does not justify the imposition of punitive damages…Punitive damages are proper only when the tortious conduct rises to levels of extreme indifference to the plaintiff’s rights, a level which ordinary citizens should not have to tolerate. [Citation.]” (Lackner v. North (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1210.) As Defendant points out, punitive damages are typically awarded for intentional torts, and cases involving an award of punitive damages for unintentional torts are far fewer. (Id. at p. 1212.)

Furthermore, Civil Code section 3294, subdivision (b), provides:

An employer shall not be liable for damages pursuant to subdivision (a), based upon acts of an employee of the employer, unless the employer had advance knowledge of the unfitness of the employee and employed him or her with a conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others or authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct for which the damages are awarded or was personally guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. With respect to a corporate employer, the advance knowledge and conscious disregard, authorization, ratification or act of oppression, fraud, or malice must be on the part of an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation.”

Plaintiff seeks damages against Defendant due to the alleged negligence of one of its employees. (Compl., ¶¶ MV-2(f), GN-1.) However, as the quoted language above demonstrates, Plaintiff has not made any allegations as to the actions or knowledge of Defendant’s officers, directors, or managing agents.

Thus, Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED. Plaintiff is GRANTED 30 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Defendant Southern California Edison Company’s Motion to Strike Punitive Damages is GRANTED. Plaintiff is GRANTED 30 DAYS’ LEAVE TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

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