This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/12/2020 at 00:15:12 (UTC).

JOHAN F HANDJANI VS FORD MOTOR COMPANY

Case Summary

On 03/29/2019 JOHAN F HANDJANI filed a Personal Injury - Other Product Liability lawsuit against FORD MOTOR COMPANY. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is WENDY CHANG. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******3096

  • Filing Date:

    03/29/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Product Liability

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

WENDY CHANG

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

HANDJANI JOHAN F

Van Nuys, CA 91406

HANDJANI JAHAN F

Defendant

FORD MOTOR COMPANY

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorney

SOLORIO CHARIESE REANNE

 

Court Documents

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of Chariese R. Solorio in Support of Defendant Ford Motor Company's Notice of Motion and Motion to Strike Punitive Damages Claim From Plaintiff's Third Amend

2/13/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of Chariese R. Solorio in Support of Defendant Ford Motor Company's Notice of Motion and Motion to Strike Punitive Damages Claim From Plaintiff's Third Amend

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of Chariese R. Solorio in Support of Defendant Ford Motor Company's Demurrer to Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint

2/13/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of Chariese R. Solorio in Support of Defendant Ford Motor Company's Demurrer to Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint

Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

2/13/2020: Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

Notice (name extension) - Notice of Non-Opposition to Defendant Ford Motor Company's Demurrer to Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint

3/5/2020: Notice (name extension) - Notice of Non-Opposition to Defendant Ford Motor Company's Demurrer to Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint

Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of Chariese R. Solorio in Support of Notice of Non-Opposition to Defendant Ford Motor Company's Demurrer to Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint

3/5/2020: Declaration (name extension) - Declaration of Chariese R. Solorio in Support of Notice of Non-Opposition to Defendant Ford Motor Company's Demurrer to Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10))

3/12/2020: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10))

Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

3/13/2020: Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

Answer - Answer

3/25/2020: Answer - Answer

Notice of Posting of Jury Fees - Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

3/27/2020: Notice of Posting of Jury Fees - Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

Stipulation and Order (name extension) - Stipulation and Order to Continue Trial and Trial Related Deadlines; Order

6/10/2020: Stipulation and Order (name extension) - Stipulation and Order to Continue Trial and Trial Related Deadlines; Order

Complaint - Amended Complaint (3rd) (Amended)

9/5/2019: Complaint - Amended Complaint (3rd) (Amended)

Minute Order - Minute Order (Court Order)

4/19/2019: Minute Order - Minute Order (Court Order)

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for Minute Order (Court Order) of 04/19/2019

4/19/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for Minute Order (Court Order) of 04/19/2019

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

3/29/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

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

3/29/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

3/29/2019: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

11 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 11/10/2020
  • Hearing11/10/2020 at 09:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Trial Setting Conference

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  • 06/10/2020
  • DocketTrial Setting Conference scheduled for 11/10/2020 at 09:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26

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  • 06/10/2020
  • DocketStipulation and Order to Continue Trial and Trial Related Deadlines; Order; Filed by: Ford Motor Company (Defendant)

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  • 06/10/2020
  • DocketUpdated -- Stipulation and Order to Continue Trial and Trial Related Deadlines; Order: Status changed from Filed to Signed and Filed

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  • 06/10/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 04/01/2022 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 06/10/2020

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  • 06/10/2020
  • DocketUpdated -- Event scheduled for 09/25/2020 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 Type changed from Non-Jury Trial to Jury Trial

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  • 06/10/2020
  • DocketJury Trial scheduled for 09/25/2020 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 06/10/2020

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  • 03/27/2020
  • DocketNotice of Posting of Jury Fees; Filed by: Ford Motor Company (Defendant)

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  • 03/25/2020
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by: Ford Motor Company (Defendant); As to: Jahan F Handjani (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/13/2020
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by: Ford Motor Company (Defendant)

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18 More Docket Entries
  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 04/01/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Johan F Handjani (Plaintiff); As to: Ford Motor Company (Defendant)

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 09/25/2020 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. Wendy Chang in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Clerk

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Johan F Handjani (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketOrder on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court); Signed and Filed by: Clerk; As to: Johan F Handjani (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by: Johan F Handjani (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STLC03096    Hearing Date: March 12, 2020    Dept: 26

Handjani v. Ford Motor Company, et al.

DEMURRER; MOTION TO STRIKE

(CCP §§ 430.31, et seq., 436)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendant Ford Motor Company’s Demurrer to the Third Amended Complaint is OVERRULED AS TO THE FIRST AND SIXTH CAUSES OF ACTION, AND SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH CAUSES OF ACTION.

Defendant Ford Motor Company’s Motion to Strike the Punitive Damages Claim is GRANTED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

ANALYSIS:

On March 29, 2019, Plaintiff Jahan Frederick Handjani (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for negligence, breach of warranty and fraud against Defendant Ford Motor Company (“Defendant”). Following multiple meet and confer efforts by Defendant, followed by multiple attempts to amend the Complaint by Plaintiff, Plaintiff filed the Third Amended Complaint on September 5, 2019. (Motion, Solorio Decl., ¶¶3-18.) Despite representations that he would file a Fourth Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has not done so. (Ibid.) Defendant filed the instant Demurrer to the Third Amended Complaint and Motion to Strike Request for Punitive Damages on February 13, 2020. To date, no opposition has been filed.

Legal Standard

Demurrer

 

A demurrer is a pleading used to test the legal sufficiency of other pleadings. It raises issues of law, not fact, regarding the form or content of the opposing party’s pleading. It is not the function of the demurrer to challenge the truthfulness of the complaint; and for purpose of the ruling on the demurrer, all facts pleaded in the complaint are assumed to be true, however improbable they may be.

A demurrer can be used only to challenge defects that appear on the face of the pleading under attack; or from matters outside the pleading that are judicially noticeable. (Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311.) No other extrinsic evidence can be considered (i.e., no “speaking demurrers”). A demurrer is brought under CCP § 430.10 [grounds], § 430.30 [as to any matter on its face or from which judicial notice may be taken], and § 430.50(a) [can be taken to the entire complaint or any cause of action within]. Specifically, a demurrer may be brought per CCP § 430.10(e) if insufficient facts are stated to support the cause of action asserted. Per CCP §430.10(a) a demurrer may be brought where the court has no jurisdiction of the subject of the cause of action alleged in the pleading. Furthermore, demurrer for uncertainty will be sustained only where the complaint is so bad that the defendant cannot reasonably respond. CCP § 430.10(f).

However, in construing the allegations, the court is to give effect to specific factual allegations that may modify or limit inconsistent general or conclusory allegations. (Financial Corporation of America v. Wilburn (1987) 189 Cal.App.3rd 764, 769.) And, if the facts pled in the complaint are inconsistent with facts which are incorporated by reference from exhibits attached to the complaint, the facts in the incorporated exhibits control. Further, irrespective of the name or label given to a cause of action by the plaintiff, a general demurrer must be overruled if the facts as pled in the body of the complaint state some valid claim for relief. Special demurrers are not allowed in limited jurisdiction courts. (CCP § 92(c).)

Leave to amend must be allowed where there is a reasonable possibility of successful amendment. (Goodman v. Kennedy (1976) 18 Cal.3d 335, 348.) The burden is on the complainant to show the Court that a pleading can be amended successfully. (Id.)

Finally, CCP section 430.41 requires that “[b]efore filing a demurrer pursuant to this chapter, the demurring party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to demurrer for the purpose of determining whether an agreement can be reached that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer.” (CCP § 430.41(a).) The parties are to meet and confer at least five days before the date the responsive pleading is due. (CCP § 430.41(a)(2).) Thereafter, the demurring party shall file and serve a declaration detailing their meet and confer efforts. (CCP § 430.41(a)(3).)

Motion to Strike

California law authorizes a party’s motion to strike matter from an opposing party’s pleading if it is irrelevant, false, or improper. (CCP §§ 435; 436(a).) Motions may also target pleadings or parts of pleadings which are not filed or drawn in conformity with applicable laws, rules or orders. (CCP § 436(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.” (CCP § 92(d).) A motion to strike is used to address defects that appear on the face of a pleading or from judicially noticed matter but that are not grounds for a demurrer. (Pierson v. Sharp Memorial Hospital (1989) 216 Cal.App.3d 340, 342; see also City & County of San Francisco v. Strahlendorf (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1911, 1913 (motion may not be based on a party's declaration or factual representations made by counsel in the motion papers).)

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. (CCP § 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.” (CCP § 436.)

Finally, CCP 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.” (CCP § 435.5(a).)

Discussion

As set forth above, the Demurrer and Motion to Strike are accompanied by a meet and confer declaration as required by Code of Civil Procedure sections 430.41 and 435.5. The Third Amended Complaint broadly alleges that Plaintiff owned a 1996 and 1999 Ford Ranger, both of which caught fire under the hood and were destroyed. (TAC, p. 2:8-10.) Plaintiff alleges he believes the fires were the result of a manufacturing or design defect. (Id. at p. 2:9-10.) He alleges that both models of vehicle were subject to recalls for fire risk. (Id. at p. 2:11-26.)

1st Cause of Action for Negligence; 6th Cause of Action for Strict Products Liability

A cause of action for negligence must allege the elements of duty, breach, causation and damages.

(County of Santa Clara v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2006) 137 Cal. App. 4th 292, 318.) However, when the basis of both causes of action is that a product’s design defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the claims are treated as a single cause of action. “A manufacturer's failure to achieve its full potential in design and thereby forestall unreasonable danger forms the basis for its strict liability in tort. It is a liability whose essence parallels the lack of due care that is the essence of its liability for negligence. It may be seen, therefore, that in cases involving deficient design, foreseeability is merely scienter under another name.” (Balido v. Improved Machinery, Inc. (1972) 29 Cal.App.3d 633, 640.)

There are two ways to assert a cause of action for strict products liability:

[A] product may be found defective in design, so as to subject a manufacturer to strict liability for resulting injuries, under either of two alternative tests. First, a product may be found defective in design if the plaintiff establishes that the product failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner. Second, a product may alternatively be found defective in design if the plaintiff demonstrates that the product's design proximately caused his injury and the defendant fails to establish, in light of the relevant factors, that, on balance, the benefits of the challenged design outweigh the risk of danger inherent in such design.

(Barker v. Lull Engineering Co. (1978) 20 Cal.3d 413, 432.) Defendant’s demurrer only challenges Plaintiff’s allegations regarding the risk-benefit test. (Demurrer, p. 10:3-6.) The Third Amended Complaint, however, sufficiently alleges that “the product failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner.” Allegations that the vehicles caught on fire under the hood are sufficient to allege that the vehicles did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect.

The demurrer to the first cause of action for negligence and sixth cause of action for strict products liability is overruled.

2nd Cause of Action for Breach of Warranty

A cause of action for breach of express warranty must allege (1) the exact warranty terms; (2) plaintiff's reasonable reliance thereon; (3) breach of the warranty; and (4) proximate cause of plaintiff’s injury. (Williams v. Beechnut Nutrition Corp. (1986) 185 Cal.App.3d 135, 142.) Plaintiff alleges that the express warranty was that the Ford Rangers were Quality Tough Durable Ford Trucks. (TAC, p. 4:16-18.) It is unclear from this allegation, however, exactly what was warrantied under the description “Quality Tough Durable Ford Trucks.” Plaintiff appears to admit that it may not be possible to allege breach of an express warranty because there was no express representation by Defendant that the vehicles would spontaneously combust. (Id. at pp. 4:22-5:1.) Without a clear allegation of the express warranty terms, Plaintiff has not alleged a cause of action for breach of the same.

Defendant also argues that Plaintiff cannot allege breach of express warranty without an allegation of direct privity with the manufacturer. “‘The general rule is that privity of contract is required in an action for breach of either express or implied warranty and that there is no privity between the original seller and a subsequent purchaser who is in no way a party to the original sale.’” (Blanco v. Baxter Healthcare Corp. (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1058-59.) Plaintiff alleges that he purchased the vehicles secondhand. (TAC, pp. 3:14-17, 5:18-19.) Therefore, Plaintiff cannot allege that he is in vertical privity with Defendant.

The demurrer to the second cause of action for breach of express warranty is sustained without leave to amend.

3rd Cause of Action for Fraud; 4th Cause of Action for Misrepresentation

The elements for a cause of action for intentional misrepresentation are “(1) misrepresentation; (2) knowledge of falsity; (3) intent to defraud, i.e., to induce reliance; (4) justifiable reliance; and (5) resulting damage.” (Intrieri v. Superior Court (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 72, 86.) A cause of action for concealment, on the other hand, requires allegations that (1) Defendant concealed or suppressed a material fact; (2) defendant was under a duty to disclose the fact to the plaintiff; (3) defendant intentionally concealed or suppressed the fact with the intent to defraud the plaintiff; (4) plaintiff was unaware of the fact and would not have acted in the same way knowing of the concealed or suppressed fact; (5) causation; and (6) the plaintiff sustained damage. (Blickman Turkus, LP v. MF Downtown Sunnyvale, LLC (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 858, 868.)

Furthermore, a fraud cause of action must be made with specificity, which requires alleging facts showing “‘how, when, where, to whom, and by what means the representations were tendered.’” (Stansfield v. Starkey (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 59, 73.) And when alleging fraud against a corporation, as here, the pleading must “allege the names of the persons who made the allegedly fraudulent representations, their authority to speak, to whom they spoke, what they said or wrote, and when it was said or written.” (Tarmann v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co. (1991) 2 Cal.App.4th 153, 157.)

Neither cause of action alleges intentional misrepresentation or concealment with the requisite specificity. They broadly allege that Defendant misrepresented the dangerous nature of the vehicles by selling them without recalls, without admitting to the design and manufacturing defects, and by lying and cheating Plaintiff and “the public at large.” (TAC, pp. 7:18-8:14.) No specific allegations are made as to who made these representations or concealed them, their authority to act for Defendant, when or in what form any representations were made, Plaintiff’s reliance on Defendant’s conduct, and how that conduct caused Plaintiff’s damages.

The demurrer to the third cause of action for fraud and the fourth cause of action for misrepresentation are sustained without leave to amend.

5th Cause of Action for Violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

The Magnuson–Moss Warranty—Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act (Magnuson–Moss), 15 U.S.C. sections 2301 et seq., authorizes a civil suit by a consumer to enforce the terms of an implied or express warranty. Magnuson–Moss “calls for the application of state written and implied warranty law, not the creation of additional federal law,” except in specific instances in which it expressly prescribes a regulating rule. (Walsh v. Ford Motor Co. (D.C.Cir.1986) 807 F.2d 1000, 1012 (Walsh II ).) Accordingly, the trial court correctly concluded that failure to state a warranty claim under state law necessarily constituted a failure to state a claim under Magnuson–Moss.

(Daugherty v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 824, 832-833.) As discussed above, Plaintiff has not shown he can allege a cause of action for breach of express warranty. As for breach of implied warranty, privity of contract is also required. “Privity of contract is a prerequisite in California for recovery on a theory of breach of implied warranties of fitness and merchantability.” (Blanco v. Baxter Healthcare Corp. (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1058-1059 (citing All West Electronics, Inc. v. M–B–W, Inc. (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 717, 725).) Accordingly, Plaintiff cannot state a claim for violation of the Magnuson-Moss Act.

The demurrer to the fifth cause of action is sustained without leave to amend.

Motion to Strike

Defendant also moves to strike allegations and prayer with respect to punitive damages on the grounds that they do not meet the statutory requirements. Punitive damages are authorized by Civil Code section 3294 in non-contract cases “where the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, express or implied . . . .” (Civil Code, § 3294, subd. (a).)

Malice means 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. (Civil Code, § 3294, subd. (c)(1).) Oppression means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights. (Civil Code, § 3294, subd. (c)(2).) Finally, fraud means an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the party of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury. (Civil Code, § 3294, subd. (c)(3).)

As discussed above, the only surviving claims are for negligence and strict products liability. Neither of those causes of action supports the state of mind for punitive damages as there is no intent or willfulness. Nor are there allegations that support a request for punitive damages against a corporate defendant, which requires an allegation that an officer, director or managing agent authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct w or was personally guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. (Cal. Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (b); TAC, pp. 10:2-12:11.)

Based on the foregoing, the Motion to Strike the Punitive Damages Claim is granted without leave to amend.

Conclusion

Defendant Ford Motor Company’s Demurrer to the Third Amended Complaint is OVERRULED AS TO THE FIRST AND SIXTH CAUSES OF ACTION, AND SUSTAINED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AS TO THE SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH CAUSES OF ACTION.

Defendant Ford Motor Company’s Motion to Strike the Punitive Damages Claim is GRANTED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

Moving party to give notice.