This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/19/2021 at 00:59:35 (UTC).

JONATHAN TROTTER VS SHRIYA VENKATESH, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 12/19/2019 JONATHAN TROTTER filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against SHRIYA VENKATESH. 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 Other.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******1557

  • Filing Date:

    12/19/2019

  • Case Status:

    Other

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Judge

JAMES E. BLANCARTE

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

TROTTER JONATHAN

TROTTER NANCY

Defendants

VENKATESH SHRIYA

VENKATESH SRINIVASAN

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

HERRERA LEO

 

Court Documents

Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

6/23/2020: Proof of Service by Substituted Service - Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

9/25/2020: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Court Order) of 01/14/2021

1/14/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - Certificate of Mailing for (Court Order) of 01/14/2021

Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

1/14/2021: Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

Minute Order - Minute Order (Court Order)

1/14/2021: Minute Order - Minute Order (Court Order)

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Petition to Confirm Minor's Compromise)

2/16/2021: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Petition to Confirm Minor's Compromise)

Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

2/17/2021: Notice of Ruling - Notice of Ruling

Expedited Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proc - Expedited Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Pro

2/23/2021: Expedited Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proc - Expedited Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Pro

Order to Deposit Money Into Blocked Account - Order to Deposit Money Into Blocked Account

3/17/2021: Order to Deposit Money Into Blocked Account - Order to Deposit Money Into Blocked Account

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Petition to Confirm Minor's Compromise)

3/17/2021: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Petition to Confirm Minor's Compromise)

Order Approving Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proceeds of Judgme - Order Approving Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proceeds of Judgm

3/17/2021: Order Approving Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proceeds of Judgme - Order Approving Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proceeds of Judgm

Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem - Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem

5/12/2020: Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem - Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem

Amended Complaint - Amended Complaint

12/27/2019: Amended Complaint - Amended Complaint

Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing - Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing for Guardian ad litem re: Jonathan

12/20/2019: Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing - Notice of Rejection - Ex Parte Application Without Hearing for Guardian ad litem re: Jonathan

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

12/19/2019: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case

Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

12/19/2019: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet

Complaint - Complaint

12/19/2019: Complaint - Complaint

First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

12/19/2019: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order

15 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/14/2021
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 06/17/2021 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 05/14/2021

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  • 05/14/2021
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 12/22/2022 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 Not Held - Vacated by Court on 05/14/2021

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  • 05/11/2021
  • DocketOn the Amended Complaint (1st) filed by Jonathan Trotter on 12/27/2019, entered Request for Dismissal with prejudice filed by Jonathan Trotter and Nancy Trotter as to the entire action

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  • 03/17/2021
  • DocketOrder Approving Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proceeds of Judgment for Minor or Person With a Disability (Miscellaneous); Signed and Filed by: Nancy Trotter (Plaintiff); As to: Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/17/2021
  • DocketOrder to Deposit Money Into Blocked Account; Signed and Filed by: Nancy Trotter (Plaintiff); As to: Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/17/2021
  • DocketMinute Order (Hearing on Petition to Confirm Minor's Compromise)

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  • 03/17/2021
  • DocketHearing on Petition to Confirm Minor's Compromise scheduled for 03/17/2021 at 10:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 25 updated: Result Date to 03/17/2021; Result Type to Held - Motion Granted

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  • 02/24/2021
  • DocketExpedited Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proceeds of Judgment for Minor or Person with a Disability (Miscellaneous); Filed by: Nancy Trotter (Plaintiff); As to: Nancy Trotter (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/24/2021
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by: Nancy Trotter (Plaintiff); As to: Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/23/2021
  • DocketExpedited Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action or Disposition of Proceeds of Judgment for Minor or Person with a Disability (Miscellaneous); Filed by: Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff); Nancy Trotter (Plaintiff); As to: Shriya Venkatesh (Defendant); Srinivasan Venkatesh (Defendant)

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20 More Docket Entries
  • 12/20/2019
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. James E. Blancarte in Department 94 Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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  • 12/20/2019
  • DocketUpdated -- Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem for Jonathan: Status Date changed from 12/19/2019 to 12/20/2019; As To Parties changed from Srinivasan Venkatesh (Defendant), Shriya Venkatesh (Defendant) to Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/20/2019
  • DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 06/17/2021 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 12/20/2019
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 12/22/2022 at 08:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 94

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  • 12/20/2019
  • DocketApplication And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem for Jonathan - Rejected; Submitted by: Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff); As to: Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/19/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff); As to: Shriya Venkatesh (Defendant); Srinivasan Venkatesh (Defendant)

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  • 12/19/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Jonathan Trotter (Plaintiff); As to: Shriya Venkatesh (Defendant); Srinivasan Venkatesh (Defendant)

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  • 12/19/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 12/19/2019
  • DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 12/19/2019
  • DocketUpdated -- Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem for Jonathan: Status Date changed from 12/20/2019 to 12/19/2019

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STLC11557    Hearing Date: March 17, 2021    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Wed., March 17, 2021 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Trotter v. Venkatesh, et al. COMP. FILED: 12-19-19

CASE NUMBER: 19STLC11557 DISC. C/O: 05-08-21

NOTICE: NO MOTION C/O: 05-23-21

TRIAL DATE: 06-07-21

PROCEEDINGS: PETITION TO APPROVE COMPROMISE OF A DISPUTED CLAIM ON BEHALF OF MINOR

MOVING PARTY: Petitioner Nancy Trotter on behalf of minor Claimant Jonathan Trotter

RESP. PARTY: None

PETITION TO APPROVE COMPROMISE OF A DISPUTED CLAIM

(CCP § 372, CRC, rule 7.950)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Petitioner Nancy Trotter on behalf of minor Claimant Jonathan Trotter’s Petition is GRANTED. Funds of $4,218.34 will be delivered to Claimant’s mother and Petitioner Nancy Trotter as permitted by Probate Code sections 3401 and 3402.

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: None filed as of March 15, 2021 [ ] Late [X] None

REPLY: None filed as of March 15, 2021 [ ] Late [X] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

Minor Plaintiff Jonathan Trotter (“Claimant”), by and through his guardian ad litem Nancy Trotter (“Petitioner”) filed this action against Defendants Shriya Venkatesh and Srinivasan Venkatesh (collectively, “Respondents”) alleging motor vehicle negligence and general negligence causes of action. Petitioner was appointed as Claimant’s guardian ad litem on May 12, 2020.

Petitioner filed this Expedited Petition to Approve Compromise of Pending Action (the “Petition”) on September 22, 2020. On January 14, 2021, the Court noted several deficiencies in the Petition and ordered Petitioner to file and serve supplemental papers correcting the noted deficiencies. (1/14/21 Minute Order.)

The Court continued the matter again on February 16, 2021 and ordered Petitioner’s counsel to cure all deficiencies in the Petition before the next hearing. (2/16/21 Minute Order.)

Petitioner filed a second amended Petition on February 23 and 24. The Court only considers the most recent Petition filed on February 24. No opposition was filed.

  1. Legal Standard & Discussion

Court approval is required for all settlements of a minor’s claim. (Prob. Code §§ 3500, 3600, et seq.; CCP § 372.) “‘[W]ithout trial court approval of the proposed compromise of the ward’s claim, the settlement cannot be valid. [Citation.] [¶] Nor is the settlement binding [on the minor] until it is endorsed by the trial court.’” (Pearson v. Superior Court (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1333, 1338.) A minor, like Claimant, “shall appear either by a guardian or conservator of the estate or by a guardian ad litem appointed by the court in which the action or proceeding is pending, or by a judge thereof, in each case.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 372, subd. (a)(1).) Alternatively, the petitioner may file a declaration demonstrating that he or she has a right to compromise the minor’s claim under Cal. Probate Code section 3500.

Regarding the substance of the Petition, to obtain court approval of the settlement of a minor’s claims, the petitioner must file a complete and “verified petition for approval of the settlement and must disclose ‘all information that has any bearing upon the reasonableness of the compromise.’ [Citations.]” (Barnes v. Western Heritage Ins. Co. (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 249, 256; Cal. Rules of Court, rule 7.950.) (Italics added.)

Having reviewed the Petition, the Court finds it to be complete and the proposed settlement to be fair in light of minor Claimant’s injuries. The proposed Order Approving Compromise of Disputed Claim on Form MC-351 has also been filed and served. Accordingly, this Petition is GRANTED.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons, Petitioner Nancy Trotter on behalf of minor Claimant Jonathan Trotter’s Petition is GRANTED. Funds of $4,218.34 will be delivered to Claimant’s mother, Petitioner Nancy Trotter, as permitted by Probate Code sections 3401 and 3402.

Petitioner is ordered to give notice.

Case Number: 19STLC11557    Hearing Date: February 16, 2021    Dept: 25


Case Number: 19STLC11824    Hearing Date: February 16, 2021    Dept: 25

HEARING DATE: Tue., February 16, 2021 JUDGE /DEPT: Blancarte/25

CASE NAME: Ruiz De Chavez v. State of California, et al. COMPL. FILED: 12-31-19

CASE NUMBER: 19STLC11824 DISC. C/O: 05-30-21

NOTICE: OK DISC. MOT. C/O: 06-14-21

TRIAL DATE: 06-29-21

PROCEEDINGS: (1) DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF’S AMENDED COMPLAINT

MOVING PARTY: Defendant Officer Jared Wilde

RESP. PARTY: Plaintiff Elsa Ruiz-de-Chavez

(2) MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

MOVING PARTY: Defendants State of California, acting by and through the California Highway Patrol and Officer Keeshan

RESP. PARTY: Plaintiff Elsa Ruiz-de-Chavez

DEMURRER

(CCP § 430.10, et seq.)

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

(CCP § 437c)

TENTATIVE RULING:

(1) Defendant Officer Jared Wilde’s Demurrer is OVERRULED.

(2) Defendants State of California, acting by and through the California Highway Patrol, and Officer Keeshan’s Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Summary Adjudication is GRANTED as to Defendant Officer Keeshan. The Complaint as to Officer Keeshan is DISMISSED. However, summary adjudication is DENIED as to Defendant CHP.

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

Demurrer

OPPOSITION: Filed on January 13, 2021 [ ] Late [ ] None

REPLY: Filed on February 4, 2021 [ ] Late [ ] None

Motion for Summary Judgment

OPPOSITION: Filed on January 27, 2021 [ ] Late [ ] None

REPLY: Filed on February 4, 2021 [ ] Late [ ] None

ANALYSIS:

  1. Background

On December 31, 2019, Plaintiff Elsa Ruiz-de-Chavez (“Plaintiff”) filed an action alleging motor vehicle negligence against Defendants State of California, acting by and through the California Highway Patrol, erroneously sued as State of California and California Highway Patrol (“CHP”). Defendants CHP and Officer Keeshan filed a joint Answer on February 21, 2020.

On April 16, 2020, Defendants CHP and Officer Keeshan filed a motion to compel responses to form interrogatories and request for production of documents and a motion to deem requests for admissions admitted against Plaintiff. The Court granted the discovery motions on August 20, 2020. (8/20/20 Minute Order.)

Plaintiff filed an amendment to the Complaint, substituting Defendant Jared David Wilde (“Officer Wilde”) for Doe 1. Defendant Officer Wilde filed the instant Demurrer to Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (the “Demurrer”) on November 13, 2020. Plaintiff filed an Opposition on January 13, 2021, and Officer Wilde filed a Reply on February 4.

Also on November 13, 2020, Defendants CHP and Officer Keeshan filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication (the “Motion”). Plaintiff filed an Opposition on January 27, 2021 and Defendants CHP and Officer Keeshan filed a Reply.

  1. Demurrer

A. Legal Standard

“The primary function of a pleading is to give the other party notice so that it may prepare its

case [citation], and a defect in a pleading that otherwise properly notifies a party cannot be said to

affect substantial rights.” (Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal.4th 203, 240.)

“A demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of the factual allegations in a complaint.” (Ivanoff v. Bank of

America, N.A. (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 719, 725.) The Court looks to whether “the complaint alleges

facts sufficient to state a cause of action or discloses a complete defense.” (Id.) The Court does not

“read passages from a complaint in isolation; in reviewing a ruling on a demurrer, we read the

complaint ‘as a whole and its parts in their context.’ [Citation.]” (West v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,

N.A. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 780, 804.) The Court “assume[s] the truth of the properly pleaded

factual allegations, facts that reasonably can be inferred from those expressly pleaded and matters of

which judicial notice has been taken.” (Harris, supra, 56 Cal.4th p. 240.) “The court does not,

however, assume the truth of contentions, deductions or conclusions of law. [Citation.]” (Durell v.

Sharp Healthcare (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1358.)

A general demurrer may be brought under Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10, subdivision (e) if insufficient facts are stated to support the cause of action asserted or under section 430.10, subdivision (a), where the court has no jurisdiction of the subject of the cause of action alleged in the pleading. All other grounds listed in Section 430.10, including uncertainty under subdivision (f), are special demurrers. Special demurrers are not allowed in limited jurisdiction courts. (Code Civ. Proc., § 92, subd. (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, Code of Civil Procedure 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.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41, subd. (a).) The parties are to meet and confer at least five days before the date the responsive pleading is due. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41, subd. (a)(2).) Thereafter, the demurring party shall file and serve a declaration detailing their meet and confer efforts. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.41, subd. (a)(3).)

B. Request for Judicial Notice

Defendants request judicial notice of (1) the declaration of Lindsay Goodwin, Staff Services Analyst with the Government Claims Unit within the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice and (2) Plaintiff’s government claims and rejection of the claim. (Dem., RJN, p. 2, Exh. A.) Judicial notice is GRANTED as to Plaintiff’s government claim and rejection of the claim. (Evid. Code § 452, subd. (c); Gong v. City of Rosemead (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 363, 369, fn. 1.) However, judicial notice is DENIED as to Lindsay Goodwin’s declaration as it does not fall within any category of permissible judicial notice. In reply, Officer Wilde requests judicial notice of the traffic citation issued to Plaintiff on May 25, 2019. (2/4/21 RJN, Exh. B.) The request is GRANTED. (Evid. Code ¶ 452, subd. (c).) However, the Court does not take judicial notice of the truth of the statements contained therein. (Freemont Indemnity Co. v. Fremont General Corp. (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 97, 113 [“When judicial notice is taken of a document, however, the truthfulness and proper interpretation of the document are disputable”].)

C. Discussion

Defendant Wilde demurs to the Complaint on the basis that it is barred by the statute of limitations. (Dem., p. 2:7-8.)

Plaintiff alleges (1) that on May 25, 2019, on the exit of the eastbound 60 freeway at Via Campo in Montebello, CA, Defendant Officer Keeshan and Does 1-10 negligently operated a motor vehicle owned by Defendant CHP and Does 1-10; (2) that Defendant was in violation of Government Code section 815.2; (3) that Plaintiff suffered injuries and damages as a result of Defendants’ negligent acts; and (4) that Plaintiff complied with the applicable claims statutes. (Compl., ¶¶ 9, MV-1, MV-2.) As noted above, Defendant Wilde was substituted in for Doe 1 on August 28, 2020. (8/20/20 Amendment to Complaint.)

Defendant Wilde argues that (1) Plaintiff cannot cure the defect of naming the wrong defendant by amending the complaint after the expiration of the statute of limitations, which is six months after the date of the incident, and (2) that Plaintiff never filed a government claim identifying Officer Wilde as a defendant and the time to apply for late claim relief has already expired. (Dem., p. 2:7-14.)

A plaintiff seeking to sue a public entity for money damages must first present a government claim to the California Department of General Services within six months after the accrual of the cause of action. (Gov’t Code § 905.2, 915, subd. (d); § 911.2, subd. (a).) A claim presented must include:

“(a) The name and post office address of the claimant.

(b) The post office address to which the person presenting the claim desires notices to be sent.

(c) The date, place, and other circumstances of the occurrence or transaction which gave rise to the claim asserted.

(d) A general description of the indebtedness, obligation, injury, damage, or loss, if known.

(e) The name or names of the public employee or employees causing the injury, damage, or loss, if known.

(f) The amount claimed if totals less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) as of the date of presentation of the claim, including the estimated amount of any prospective injury, damage, or loss, insofar as it may be known at the time of the presentation of the claim, together with the basis of computation of the amount claimed. If the amount claimed exceeds ten thousand dollars ($10,000), no dollar amount shall be included in the claim. However, it shall indicate whether the claim would be a limited civil case.”

(Gov’t Code, § 910.) (Emphasis added.)

Defendant Officer Wilde presents a copy of Plaintiff’s government claim dated June 11, 2019, which has been judicially noticed. (Dem., p. 4-21, RJN, Exh. A.) Defendant Officer Wilde argues that Plaintiff’s failure to file a claim against the individual officers allegedly involved in the May 25, 2019 accident within six months is a fatal defect. (Id.) Relying on Department of Water and Power v. Superior Court (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 1288, Defendant Officer Wilde argues that Plaintiff’s counsel’s failure to obtain the collision traffic report and ascertain the identity of the officer involved was unreasonable and inexcusable. (Id. at p. 7:15-8:2.) However, Department of Water and Power is distinguishable. In that case, the plaintiff filed an action against another motorist but failed to investigate and timely file any claim against the Department of Water and Power that was alleged to be responsible for creating a road hazard. (Department of Water and Power v. Superior Court (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 1288, 1291-92.) Here, Plaintiff did timely file a claim on June 11, 2019.

Although it is true that Plaintiff named neither Officer Keeshan nor Officer Wilde in the government claim, Defendant has not cited any authority demonstrating this is fatal to the instant action. Indeed, Government Code section 910 states that the names of the government employees should be provided if known. Notably, the purpose of the claims statutes is to “provide the public entity sufficient information to enable it to adequately investigate claims and settle them, if appropriate, without the expense of litigation. [Citation.]” (Gong v. City of Rosemead (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 363, 374.) Where a claim presented fails to substantially comply with the requirements of Section 910, the reviewing person or board may give written notice of its insufficiency, “stating with particularity the defects or omissions therein.” (Gov’t Code, § 910.8.)

Here, Plaintiff’s government claim: (1) includes a statement that that alleged accident occurred on May 25, 2019 on the 60 freeway exit at Via Campo in Montebello, CA; (2) identifies CHP Monterrey Park as the state entity involved and provides the license plate number for the state vehicle involved; and (3) describes the incident as “[Plaintiff] exiting the freeway traveling straight when the CHP vehicle suddenly hit [Plaintiff’s] vehicle of the passenger rear door.” (Dem., RJN, Exh. A.) This information was presumably sufficient to investigate the claim as Plaintiff received a letter from the Department of General Services stating that the investigation had “concluded” and the DGS had determined the State of California was not liable for Plaintiff’s claims. (Id.) Thus, the purpose of the claims statute appears to have been served. Defendants have not cited any authority demonstrating that failure to identify a particular state employee in addition to an agency in filing a government claim is fatal to a subsequent cause of action in state court.

Thus, the Court is not persuaded by Defendant Officer Wilde’s argument that this action is time-barred pursuant to Government Code section 911.2 because Plaintiff did not identify him in the government claim submitted in June 2019.

Thus, Officer Wilde’s Demurrer is OVERRULED.

  1. Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Legal Standard

A party seeking summary judgment has the burden of producing evidentiary facts sufficient to entitle him/her to judgment as a matter of law. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c); Vesely v. Sager (1971) 5 Cal.3d 153.) The moving party must make an affirmative showing that he/she is entitled to judgment irrespective of whether or not the opposing party files an opposition. (Villa v. McFerren (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 733.)

When a Defendant or Cross-Defendant seeks summary judgment, he/she must show either (1) that one or more elements of the cause of action cannot be established; or (2) that there is a complete defense to that cause of action. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).) When a Plaintiff or Cross-Complainant seeks summary judgment, he/she must produce admissible evidence on each element of each cause of action on which judgment is sought. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(1).) The moving party’s “affidavits must cite evidentiary facts, not legal conclusions or ‘ultimate’ facts” and be strictly construed. (Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1519; Hayman v. Block (1986) 176 Cal.App.3d 629, 639.)

The opposing party on a motion for summary judgment is under no evidentiary burden to produce rebuttal evidence until the moving party meets his or her initial movant’s burden. (Binder v. Aetna Life Insurance Company (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 832.) Once the initial movant’s burden is met, then the burden shifts to the opposing party to show, with admissible evidence, that there is a triable issue requiring the weighing procedures of trial. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p).) The opposing party may not simply rely on his/her allegations to show a triable issue but must present evidentiary facts that are substantial in nature and rise beyond mere speculation. (Sangster v. Paetkau (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 151.) As to any alternative request for summary adjudication of issues, such alternative relief must be clearly set forth in the Notice of Motion and the general burden-shifting rules apply but the issues upon which summary adjudication may be sought are limited by statute. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (f)(1).) “A motion for summary adjudication shall be granted only if it completely disposes of a cause of action, an affirmative defense, a claim for damages, or an issue of duty.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (f)(1).)

 

B. Discussion

Defendants CHP and Officer Keeshan move the Court for an order granting summary judgment or, in the alternative, summary adjudication, arguing they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law (1) because Plaintiff named the wrong defendant (Officer Keeshan) in this lawsuit and cannot substitute in a new defendant (Officer Wilde) after the expiration of the six-month statute of limitations under Government Code section 911.2 and (2) because Defendant CHP and Officer Keeshan have no liability as a matter of law because Plaintiff cannot establish the elements of a negligent operation of a vehicle against Officer Keeshan nor overcome the immunities afforded to the investigating officer and Defendant CHP under the Government Code and Vehicle Code. (Mot., p. 2:9-15.)

Plaintiff alleges a single cause of action for motor vehicle negligence against Defendants CHP, Officer Keeshan, and Officer Wilde. The elements of a negligence cause of action are duty, breach of that duty, proximate cause, and damages. (Peredia v. HR Mobile Services, Inc. (2018) 25 Cal.App.5th 680, 687.) Government Code section 815.2 provides:

(a) A public entity is liable for injury proximately caused by an act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the scope of his employment if the act or omission would, apart from this section, have given rise to a cause of action against that employee or his personal representative.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by statute, a public entity is not liable for an injury resulting from an act or omission of an employee of the public entity where the employee is immune from liability.

In addition, Vehicle Code section 17001 provides, “[a] public entity is liable for death or injury to person or property proximately caused by a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the operation of any motor vehicle by an employee of the public entity acting within the scope of his employment.”

It is undisputed that the May 25, 2019 accident was between Plaintiff and Officer Wilde. (UMF No. 1.) It is also undisputed that Officer Keeshan was not involved in the accident and that there is no evidence to support any claim against Officer Keeshan for negligent operation of a vehicle. (Id., ¶¶ 1, 10.) Based on this alone, Defendants have demonstrated that Plaintiff cannot establish a negligence cause of action against Officer Keeshan.

However, as discussed above, Defendants have not shown that this claim is barred by the statute of limitations under Government Code section 911.2. Section 911.2 does not set forth a statute of limitations for filing an action in court; it only sets forth that a government claim must be filed within six months of the injury so that the state may first investigate. The cases cited by Defendants discuss the failure to timely file a government claim but do not expressly hold that the failure to identify a state employee in a timely government claim bars recovery against that state employee in a subsequent court action.

As noted above, a public entity is liable for damages caused by the negligent acts of its employees acting in the course of their employment. (Gov’t Code § 815.2; Veh. Code § 17001.)

Although Defendant Officer Keeshan is dismissed from the action, the matter remains pending against Defendant Officer Wilde. If Officer Wilde’s actions are proven negligent, then Defendant CHP will be liable for those damages under Government Code section 815.2 and Vehicle Code section 17001. Thus, summary adjudication as to Defendant CHP is not appropriate.

For the reasons noted above, summary adjudication is GRANTED as to Defendant Keeshan. However, because Defendants have not carried their initial burden to show that Plaintiff’s action against Officer Wilde, and therefore against Defendant CHP, is barred by Government Code section 911.2, summary adjudication is DENIED as to Defendants CHP.

  1. Conclusion & Order

For the foregoing reasons:

(1) Defendant Officer Jared Wilde’s Demurrer is OVERRULED.

(2) Defendants State of California, acting by and through the California Highway Patrol and Officer Keeshan’s Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Summary Adjudication is GRANTED as to Defendant Officer Keeshan. The Complaint as to Officer Keeshan is DISMISSED. However, summary adjudication is DENIED as to Defendant CHP.

Moving party is ordered to give notice.

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