On 03/18/2015 BERNICE NOFLIN filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is ERNEST HIROSHIGE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA INC
VOLKSWAGEN OF DOWNTOWN LA
VOLKSWAGEN OF DOWNTOWN LA LP
ROSNER HALLEN D. ESQ.
O'CONNOR & MIKHOV LLP
ROSNER HALLEN D. ESQ.
KNIGHT LAW GROUP LLP
CONBOY SEAN P. ESQ.
4/19/2018: NOTICE OF ISSUANCE OF COURT'S MINUTE ORDER
6/20/2018: AFFIDAVIT OF PREJUDICE PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE TO JUDICIAL OFFICER
6/27/2018: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE
6/29/2018: Minute Order
8/21/2018: DECLARATION OF AMY MORSE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDE COMPLAINT
8/21/2018: PLAINTIFF'S NOTICE OF PLAITTLFF MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
9/24/2018: ORDER RE: MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
10/9/2018: Notice of Ruling
11/13/2015: NOTICE OF RULING RE PLAINTIFF'S EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR RELIEF FROM FAILURE TO FILE OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENTOR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR A HEARING SHORTENING TIME TO
11/25/2015: VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA, INC.'S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO DECLARATION OF NICK CARDONI, AND ETC.
12/10/2015: Minute Order
8/3/2016: NOTICE OF ENTRY OF DISMISSAL AND PROOF OF SERVICE
8/4/2016: NOTICE TO REPORTER TO PREPARE TRANSCRIPT ON APPEAL ETC.
Answer; Filed by Volkswagen of Downtown LA, LP (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Answer; Filed by Volkswagen Group of America, Inc (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Notice of Ruling (on Plaintiff's Motion for leave to file First Amended Complaint); Filed by Bernice Noflin (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
First Amended Complaint; Filed by Bernice Noflin (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
at 08:33 AM in Department 56; Unknown Event Type - Held - Motion GrantedRead MoreRead Less
ORDER RE: MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINTRead MoreRead Less
Order; Filed by CourtRead MoreRead Less
Minute order entered: 2018-09-24 00:00:00; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Minute OrderRead MoreRead Less
PLAINTIFF'S REPLY TO DEFENDANT VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA, INC.'S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINTRead MoreRead Less
Answer; Filed by Volkswagen of Downtown LA, LP (Defendant); Volkswagen of Downtown LA (Legacy Party)Read MoreRead Less
Answer; Filed by Volkswagen Group of America, Inc (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DEFENDANT VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA, INC.'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINTRead MoreRead Less
PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Bernice Noflin (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
COMPLAINT 1. SONG-BEVERLY ACT; ETCRead MoreRead Less
Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC575800 Hearing Date: January 31, 2020 Dept: 56
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA, INC., etc., et al.
CASE NO.: BC575800
[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION; REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS
Date: January 31, 2020
Time: 8:30 a.m.
FSC: June 15, 2020
Jury Trial: June 29, 2020
MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Bernice Noflin
RESPONDING PARTY: Defendant Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
The Court has considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers.
This action arises from an allegedly defective timing chain in a 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan (the “Subject Vehicle”) that was leased by Plaintiff on July 2, 2008 and subsequently purchased by Plaintiff.
Plaintiff filed the operative First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) against Defendants alleging causes of action for: (1) violation of the Song-Beverly Act; (2) negligent repair: (3) fraudulent inducement—concealment; (4) fraudulent inducement—intentional misrepresentation; and (5) fraudulent inducement—negligent misrepresentation.
According to the declaration of Plaintiff’s counsel, Amy Morse (“Morse”): (1) on January 22, 2019, Plaintiff sent Defendant their second set of RFPs to better evaluate their claims and adequately prepare for settlement or trial (Morse Decl. at ¶ 3); (2) the demand set the production of documents for thirty-days after service of the RFPS (Id. at ¶ 3 and Exhibit A); (3) on March 27, 2019, Defendant mailed its responses to Plaintiff’s RFPs, which were not Code-compliant and contained numerous objections (Id. at ¶ 4 and Exhibit B); (4) on May 6, 2019, Plaintiff initiated the meet and confer process by sending a letter to Defendant that specified the deficiencies in Defendant’s responses and proposed to engage in further meet and confer efforts (Id. at ¶ 5 and Exhibit C); (5) to allow for meaningful meet and confer efforts, Plaintiff proposed that the parties agree to extend the deadline for any motions to compel that might become necessary and Defendant agreed (Id. at ¶ 5 and Exhibit D); (6) over the course of the next several months, Defendant repeatedly asked for more time to respond to Plaintiff’s meet and confer letter and proposed extensions to Plaintiff’s meet and confer deadlines to which Plaintiff agreed (Id. at ¶ 6); (7) based on Defendant’s representation that it needed additional time to gather responsive documents and supplemental responses, Plaintiff agreed to provide Defendant with 45 additional days to do so and also agreed to extend Plaintiff’s motion to compel deadline to September 5, 2019 (Id. at ¶ 7 and Exhibit E); (8) on August 16, 2019, Defendant provided a supplemental response which were substantively similar to its previous responses and contained the same objections (Id. at ¶ 9 and Exhibit F); and (9) despite its previous assurances that it was gathering responsive documents, Defendant failed to provide any documents with its supplemental responses. (Id.)
Morse further declares that: (1) on September 26, 2019, Plaintiff sent Defendant additional correspondence addressing the deficiencies in these supplemental responses and proposed to extend the motion to compel deadline to allow sufficient time to adequately meet and confer (Id. at ¶ 10); (2) the parties agreed to extend the motion to compel deadline and agreed on a date to conduct a telephonic meet and confer (Id.); (3) during the telephonic meet and confer, Defendant agreed to provided to provide supplemental documents by October 15, 2019 and Plaintiff only agreed to extend the motion to compel deadline to October 17, 2019 (Id. at ¶ 10 and Exhibits G, H, and I); and (4) as of the date of Plaintiff filing her motion, Defendant has yet to provide a response to Plaintiff’s meet and confer letter, has yet to provide responsive documents, and has yet to provide Code-compliant responses. (Id. at ¶ 11.)
Plaintiff filed a motion to compel Defendant’s further responses to Plaintiff’s second set of requests for production of documents numbers 97, 99-100, 102-103, and 107-111. Plaintiff also requests monetary sanctions against Defendant and its attorneys of record, Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP in the amount of $1,720.00.
Plaintiff asserts that: (1) she is entitled to an order compelling further, code-complaint responses because she has satisfied the pre-filing requirements for bringing her motion, and she seeks information that is relevant and material; (2) the Court should compel Defendant to provide code-compliant responses because Defendant’s responses do not comply with the Discovery Act and its objections are improper; and (3) monetary sanctions are warranted.
Defendant opposes Plaintiff’s motion on the grounds that: (1) Plaintiff’s motion is moot; (2) Plaintiff failed to set forth specific facts showing good cause justifying the discovery sought by the requests for production of documents; (3) Plaintiff’s requests for production of documents are irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to discoverable evidence; (4) Plaintiff’s requests for production of documents are facially overbroad and unduly burdensome; (5) Plaintiff’s requests for production of documents are argumentative, assume facts, and are vague and ambiguous; and (6) Plaintiff’s request for sanctions against Defendant must be denied but sanctions against Plaintiff and her attorneys are warranted.
MEET AND CONFER
The meet and confer requirement has been met.
Under California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2017.010 “any person may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action or to the determination of any motion made in that action, if the matter either is itself admissible in evidence or appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” “Discovery may relate to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2017.010.) “The Court shall limit the scope of discovery if it determines that the burden, expense, or intrusiveness of that discovery clearly outweighs the likelihood that the information sought will lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” (Lipton v. Superior Court (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1599, 1611.) “For discovery purposes, information is relevant if it might reasonably assist a party in evaluating the case, preparing for trial, or facilitating settlement.” (Id.) Discovery statutes are “construed liberally in favor of disclosure.” (Obregon v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 424, 434.) Where a party objects to a motion to compel, the burden is on the responding party to justify any objection. (Fairmont Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 245, 255.) To support an objection to a request for production of documents, the objecting party has to establish the validity of its objections with supporting facts in order to meet its burden. (Southern Pac. Co. v. Superior Court (1969) 3 Cal.App.3d 195, 198.)
Issue No.1: The Good Cause Requirement
A motion to compel further responses to the production of documents must “set forth specific facts showing good cause justifying the discovery sought by the demand.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2031.310(b)(1).) “Code Civ. Proc., § 2031 . . . which applies to document production requests served on a party, requires a party seeking to compel such production to set forth the specific facts showing good cause justifying the discovery sought by the inspection demand.” (Calcor Space Facility, Inc. v. Superior Court (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 216, 223-224, emphasis added.) “In law and motion practice, factual evidence is supplied to the court by way of declarations.” (Id. at 224.)
The Court finds that Plaintiff has not met the good cause requirement to justify Defendant’s further responses to its request for production of documents, set two. The declarations provided by Morse in connection with Plaintiff’s moving and reply papers fail to set forth specific facts with respect to why good cause exists to compel to compel the further responses of Defendant. In fact, the declarations provided by Morse do not indicate: (1) why the requested material is relevant or helpful to Plaintiff for purposes of trial preparation or settlement; (2) does not mention that good cause exists; and (3) merely recites the procedural background with respect to discovery and requests monetary sanctions against Defendant. Pursuant to Calcor, Plaintiff has not shown good cause to justify the compelling of Defendant to provide further responses to Plaintiff’s second set of requests for production of documents.
Due to Plaintiff not meeting the good cause standard outlined in Calcor, the Court need not address any of the other arguments presented by Plaintiff or Defendant with respect to the merits of Plaintiff’s motion to compel. The Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to compel Defendant’s further responses to Plaintiff’s second set of requests for production of documents.
Issue No. 2: Monetary Sanctions
Defendant asserts that monetary sanctions should be imposed against Plaintiff and her counsel of record due to: (1) Plaintiff prematurely filing the instant motion; and (2) unilaterally terminating the meet and confer process. Defendant requests monetary sanctions of $1,190.00 against Plaintiff and her counsel of record. In her reply brief, Plaintiff contends that sanctions against her are unwarranted given her attempts to informally resolve the discovery issues with Defendant.
California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2031.310(h) says that “the court shall impose a monetary sanction . . . against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel further responses to a demand, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.” California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2023.010(i) says that a misuse of the discovery process is “[f]ailing to confer in person, by telephone, or by letter with an opposing party or attorney in a reasonable and good faith attempt to resolve informally any dispute concerning discovery, if the section governing a particular discovery motion requires the filing of a declaration stating facts showing that an attempt at informal resolution has been made.”
Declaration of Defendant’s Counsel
According to the declaration of Defendant’s counsel, Shaun Kim (“Kim”): (1) on August 16, 2019, Defendant served responses to set two of Plaintiff’s requests for production of documents (Kim Decl. at ¶ 2); (2) on October 10, 2019, the parties telephonically met and conferred regarding Defendant’s responses to the RFPs (Id. at ¶ 3); (3) Plaintiff never responded to Defendant’s memorialization of the parties’ telephonic meet and confer and did not otherwise notify Defendant of any discrepancies in the parties’ understanding of the agreement (Id. at ¶¶ 5-6); (4) Defendant explicitly requested that Plaintiff advise of any discrepancies in the parties’ understanding of the agreement they reached (Id. at ¶ 5 and Exhibit B); (5) on October 17, 2019, despite Defendant’s attempt to reach Plaintiff to further discuss and reassess Plaintiff’s deadline to file a motion to compel, Plaintiff, without further meet and confer, filed the instant motion to compel (Id. at ¶ 7); (6) on October 28, 2019, Defendant produced approximately 370 pages of responsive documents under the stipulated protected order (Id. at ¶ 8); (7) on December 3, 2019, the parties participated in an Informal Discovery Conference before the Court (Id. at ¶ 9 and Exhibit C); (8) on January 10, 2020, Defendants served supplemental responses to RFPs Nos. 97, 99-100, 102-103, and 107-111. (Id. at ¶ 10.)
Declaration of Plaintiff’s Counsel
The Court incorporates its above recitation of the declaration of Morse lodged with the moving papers and applies it to the discussion of monetary sanctions. According to the reply declaration of Morse: (1) on January 10, 2020, Defendant served supplemental responses (Morse Reply Decl. at ¶ 2 and Exhibit A); and (2) to date, Defendant has produced 372 pages that relate to its general policies and procedures but has not provided any documents that relate to the timing chain issues. (Id. at ¶ 3.)
The Court finds that Plaintiff, although not meeting the good cause standard via the declarations of her counsel as indicated above, did not act without substantial justification in filing the motion to compel further responses to her second set of requests for production of documents. While the parties are in conflict with one another over whether Defendant’s supplemental responses served on January 10, 2020 are satisfactory, Plaintiff was not in possession of such responses at the time Plaintiff filed her motion on October 17, 2019. Moreover, the evidence presented by the parties indicates that Plaintiff did make meet and confer efforts with Defendant. The Court also finds that Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses was not premature as the motion to compel deadline was October 17, 2019 which is the date Plaintiff’s motion was filed. Thus, imposing sanctions against Plaintiff would be unjust in this instance.
Thus, the Court exercises its discretion pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2031.310(h) and DENIES Defendant’s request for monetary sanctions in the amount of $1,190.00 against Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s counsel of record.
Pursuant to the discussion above, Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses to Plaintiff’s second set of requests for production and request for monetary sanctions of $1,720.00 against Defendant and its counsel of record, Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP is DENIED.
Moving party is ordered to give notice of this ruling.
Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SMC_DEPT56@lacourt.org as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. If the department does not receive an email and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion will be placed off calendar.
Dated this 31st day of January 2020
Hon. Holly J. Fujie
Judge of the Superior Court