On 02/23/2016 BRANDO JONES filed a Personal Injury - Other Product Liability lawsuit against AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are MEL RED RECANA, DEIRDRE HILL and BENNY C. OSORIO. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
MEL RED RECANA
BENNY C. OSORIO
TRACY MOTORSPORTS INC.
HONDA MOTOR CO. LTD.
AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO. INC.
VERDI TRAVEL USA INC.
HONDA MOTOR CO. LTD - DOE 8
PRO CIRCUIT PRODUCTS INC. - DOE 2
KG CLUTCH FACTORY - DOE 4
DENSO CORPORATION - DOE 7
FACTORY CONNECTION RACING INC. - DOE 11
PRO CIRCUIT RACING INC. - DOE 1
FACTORY CONNECTION INC. - DOE TEN
KG POWER SPORTS - DOE 4
VORTEX IGNITIONS - DOE 9
MIKA METALS - ROE 3
PRO CIRCUIT PRODUCTS INC. - DOE 2
PRO CIRCUIT RACING INC. - DOE 1
HAESEKER RACING ENGINES A BUSINESS ENTITY OF UNKNOWN FORM
JONES CLIFFORD LLP
BELL STEVEN JAMES
BELL STEVEN J. ESQ.
BOWMAN AND BROOKE LLP
BERGSTEN ROBERT T. ESQ.
HSU JEFF CHIEH
HOFFMAN BRIAN L
MINNICK KRISTINE ELIZABETH
TABAK JORDAN SAMUEL
STONE & ASSOCIATES
REED SMITH LLP
FRIEDENTHAL HEFFERNAN & BROWN LLP
6/5/2019: Minute Order
7/15/2019: Motion for Summary Judgment
6/21/2018: Case Management Statement
9/19/2018: Case Management Statement
12/12/2018: Motion for Summary Judgment
12/18/2018: Notice of Motion
12/21/2018: Case Management Statement
3/14/2019: Separate Statement
4/5/2019: Case Management Statement
5/21/2019: Minute Order
8/25/2016: SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY
6/2/2017: Minute Order
Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Summary JudgmentRead MoreRead Less
Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Case Management ConferenceRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department M; Hearing on Motion for Summary Adjudication - Not Held - Vacated by CourtRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 4:00 PM in Department 37; Informal Discovery Conference (IDC) - HeldRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Informal Discovery Conference (IDC))); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department M; Hearing on Motion for Leave (to Withdraw Admissions) - Not Held - Vacated by CourtRead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information; Filed by Kristine Elizabeth Minnick (Attorney)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department M; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses - Not Held - Vacated by CourtRead MoreRead Less
DocketDeclaration (of Jim Payton); Filed by PRO CIRCUIT PRODUCTS, INC. - DOE 2 (Legacy Party)Read MoreRead Less
DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
DocketProof-Service/SummonsRead MoreRead Less
DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS & COMPLAINTRead MoreRead Less
DocketFirst Amended Complaint; Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
DocketFirst Amended Complaint; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
DocketTHE FIRE AMENDED COMPLAINTRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaintRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by BRANDON JONES (Plaintiff); REBECCA JONES (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
DocketCOMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)Read MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC611277 Hearing Date: November 12, 2019 Dept: 37
HEARING DATE: November 12, 2019
CASE NUMBER: BC611277
CASE NAME: Brandon Jones, et al. v. American Honda Motor Co. Inc., et al.
TRIAL DATE: April 2, 2021
MOTION: Motion to Compel Further Response Inspection Demand from Plaintiff
MOVING PARTIES: Plaintiff, Brandon Jones
OPPOSING PARTY: Defendant, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
PROOF OF SERVICE: OK
OPPOSITION: Timely filed October 29, 2019
REPLY: Timely filed November 4, 2019
TENTATIVE: The court therefore GRANTS Plaintiff Brandon Jones’ motion and ORDERS Defendant AHM to provide substantive, complete, verified responses to Plaintiff’s requests within 30 days of the date of this order, subject to the Protective Order previously entered in this matter.
This action arises out of a motorcycle crash occurring on January 27, 2015 involving Plaintiff, Brandon Jones (“Plaintiff”) and his allegedly defective Honda motorcycle. Plaintiff brings suit against American Honda Motor Co. (“AHM”) and Honda Motor Co., LTD (“HLTD”) (together “Defendants”), alleging that Defendants negligently designed and constructed the motorcycle, including its stator, causing the engine to suddenly and unexpectedly stop on the day of Plaintiff’s crash. Plaintiff alleges (1) general negligence and (2) products liability against Defendants. Plaintiff Rebecca Jones also brings a loss of consortium cause of action in connection with Plaintiff’s crash.
On September 27, 2016, the court entered a Stipulation and Protective Order Regarding Confidentiality of Documents and Materials (“Protective Order”.) (Declaration of Ross J. Psyhogios (“Psyhogios Decl.”), ¶ 2, Exhibit 1.) On April 10, 2016, the court entered a second Stipulation and Protective Order Regarding Confidentiality of Documents and Materials. (Psyhogios Decl., ¶ 3, Exhibit 2.)
Both Stipulation and Protective Orders provide the following:
1. Confidential documents and materials are documents designated, in good faith, by Producing Party as such, which consist of engineering documents, engineering materials, research and development materials, testing, meeting minutes, confidential financial information and/or confidential commercial information, as well as any materials defined as trade secrets and/or confidential research . . . Confidential information also includes Personal Identifiable Information (“PII”) which includes addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth . . names of spouses and children, and social security numbers.”
3. The Producing Party will visibly mark all such Protected Documents and Protected Information as “Subject to Protective Order,” “Confidential,” “Produced Pursuant to Protective Order,” or in such manner so as to make it clear that the documents are being produced pursuant to the protective order in this case.
4. The Protected Documents and Protected Information, except upon the prior written consent of the Producing Party or upon final ruling of this Court or writ, may only be shown, disseminated or disclosed to: (a) counsel of record for the Parties, including other members of counsel’s law firms, and employees thereof, and any other counsel associated to assist in preparation of trial of this case. . .”
(Exhibits 1-2 (Stipulation and Protective Order Regarding Confidentiality of Documents and Materials), ¶¶ 1, 3, 4.)
On August 11, 2017, Plaintiff propounded Request for Production of Documents, Set One. (Psyhogios Decl., ¶ 5.) This set included a request for “All WRITINGS, in English, regarding the subject motorcycle’s STATOR, including, but not limited to prints, assembly practices, testing procedures, testing protocols, engineering drawings, test histories, and failure histories.” On February 1, 2018 and following a motion to compel, AHM produced pursuant to Protective Order various documents bates stamped AHM 000958-000977, which are at issue in this motion. The documents were stamped “PRODUCED PURSUANT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER.” (Psyhogios Decl., ¶ 6.) AHM served supplemental responses on March 9, 2018 and identified these documents as “documents regarding customer stators,.” (Psyhogios Decl., ¶ 7, Exhibit 3.)
On March 12, 2019, Plaintiff served Request for Production of Documents, Set Three by mail. On April 16, 2019, AHM served its responses by mail. (Psyhogios Decl., ¶¶ 8-10, Exhibits 4-5.) Plaintiff’s motion contends that AHM’s responses to Request for Production of Documents, Set Three, numbers 10-12 are insufficient despite multiple meet and confer efforts and an IDC conference. AHM contends that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that responses to these requests are relevant to his causes of action, or that Plaintiff can overcome the privacy concerns behind disclosing personally identifying information of the sellers, purchasers and riders which would be responsive.
A motion to compel further responses to interrogatories and inspection demands “shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.” (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 2030.300, subd. (b); 2031.310, subd. (b)(2).) The declaration must state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented in the motion. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.040.) “[A] reasonable and good faith attempt at informal resolution entails something more than bickering with [opposing] counsel…. Rather, the law requires that counsel attempt to talk the matter over, compare their views, consult, and deliberate.” (Clement v. Alegre (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1277, 1294.) “A determination of whether an attempt at informal resolution is adequate involves the exercise of discretion.” (Stewart v. Colonial W. Agency (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 1006, 1016, internal ellipses omitted.) Where a party fails to make any real effort at informal resolution, a particularly egregious failure may justify an immediate and outright denial of further discovery. (Obregon v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 424, 433-34, citing Townsend v. Superior Court (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 1431, 1437.)
Plaintiffs submit the declaration of Ross J. Psyhogios (“Psyhogios”) as evidence of their efforts to meet and confer with AHM counsel regarding the subject motion. (Psyhogios Decl., ¶¶ 11-24, Exhibits 6-13.) According to Psyhogios, he first sent a meet and confer letter on April 25, 2019 to AHM counsel challenging AHM’s objections to requests 10-12. (Id. at ¶ 11, Exhibit 6.) AHM counsel, Jordan Tabak (“Tabak”) responded on Mary 6, 2019 and made the following arguments against responding to these requests: (1) the responses are not relevant because they concern motorcycle failures that are dissimilar to the one Plaintiff alleges to have suffered, (2) the requests are burdensome and oppressive, and (3) responding to the requests seeks to invade the privacy of third parties, including the privacy of citizens from foreign countries where the subject motorcycle failures took place. (Id. ¶ 12, Exhibit 7.)
On May 21, 2019, Plaintiff’s counsel sent a further meet and confer letter in response to Tabak’s May 6, 2019 letter. (Id. ¶ 13, Exhibit 8.) Psyhogios’ letter asserts that responses to requests 10-12 are relevant for Plaintiff to investigate the evidence behind AHM’s assertions that Plaintiff’s own modifications led to his alleged engine failure. (Id.) Further, Psyhogios asserts that AHM failed to successfully object on the basis of the requests being oppressive and burdensome, as well as on the basis that the requests seek to violate third party privacy. (Id.)
On May 28, 2019, Tabak responded to the May 28, 2019 meet and confer letter and reasserted AHM’s arguments from the May 6, 2019 letter. (Id. ¶ 14, Exhibit 9.)
On June 4, 2019, Psyhogios sent a further meet and confer letter. (Id., ¶ 15., Exhibit 10.) This letter requested that AHM serve a privilege log pursusant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2013.240, so that the court may examine the documents and objections in camera. (Id.) This letter also re-asserted Plaintiff’s previous arguments from prior meet and confer letters. (Id.)
On June 14, 2019, Tabak responded to Psyhogios’ June 4, 2019 letter and reiterated that AHM believed its responses were compliant by “identifying a category.” (Id., ¶ 17, Exhibit 12.)
On August 7, 2019, the parties attended an informal discovery conference (“IDC”) properly noticed before this court. After the IDC, the parties stipulated that “Defendant has thirty (30) days to provide Plaintiff with foreign law on privacy from an attorney from said foreign country. Plaintiff has thirty (30) days after that to file Motion to Compel or in the alternative to work with Defendant to resolve the discovery issues.” (Psyhogios Decl., ¶ 20, Exhibit 15.)
On September 6, 2019, AHM’s counsel emailed a copy of “Opinion Letter on the Transfer of Personal Data from the EU to the US in the context of Legal Proceedings.” (“Opinion Letter”) (Id., ¶ 21, Exhibit 16.) On September 10, 2019, Plaintiff’s counsel sent AHM’s counsel an email arguing that the letter AHM counsel provided did not support their claim that disclosing the contact information of third parties, including potential foreign cities, would subject Honda to violation of foreign law. (Id. ¶ 22, Exhibit 17.)
In response, Tabak sent an email on September 11, 2019 disputing Plaintiff’s counsel’s version of the IDC’s results. (Exhibit 17, p. 2-3.) Tabak’s email proposes an additional IDC and to provide the court with additional authority for AHM’s position that disclosing such information would violate foreign law. (Id.) Plaintiff’s counsel Steven Bell responded by email that day and indicated that his office would work on obtaining another IDC date. (Exhibit 17, p. 1.) Plaintiff’s counsel also suggested that the parties mention the issue to this court on their previously scheduled September 19, 2019 IDC for another issue.
On September 19, 2019, the parties met at an IDC on a separate issue, where they briefly discussed the issues in this motion and did not come to resolution. (Id., ¶ 23.) On October 4, 2019 the instant motion was filed.
Based on the foregoing, the court expresses concerns regarding whether Plaintiff has sufficiently demonstrated his meet and confer efforts with AHM’s counsel with regarding to filing this motion.
Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure, sections 2030.300, subdivision (c) and 2031.310, subdivision (c), a motion to compel further responses to interrogatories or inspection demands must be filed within 45 days of service of the verified response, or on or before any specific later date to which the demanding party and the responding party have agreed in writing, with additional time allowed for the manner of service. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1013, subd. (a); 2031.310, subd. (c).) The 45-day requirement of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2031.310, subdivision (c) is mandatory and jurisdictional in the sense that it renders the court without authority to rule on a motion to compel further responses to discovery other than to deny the motion. (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410 (Sexton).)
Plaintiff presents evidence that the parties attended IDC before this court on August 7, 2019, wherein the parties stipulated for AHM’s counsel to provide evidence of AHM’s claim that responding to these requests potentially violates foreign law. (Psyhogios Decl., ¶ 20, Exhibit 15.) The parties also stipulated that Plaintiff shall have thirty days after that to file his motion or, alternatively, to keep working on the issue informally. (Id.)
Plaintiff filed the instant motion on October 4, 2019, less than thirty days after AHM sent its Opinion Letter. Accordingly, the motion is timely.
Under the Discovery Act, “any party 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.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2017.010.)
On receipt of responses to interrogatories or inspection demands, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that either the response is evasive or incomplete or an objection is without merit or too general. (See Code Civ. Proc., §§ 2031.310, subd. (a)(1)-(3).) The moving party must also include reasons why further answers should be ordered: legal or factual arguments why the answers given were incomplete or nonresponsive, or the objections invalid. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(c).) The responding party has the burden to justify objections in response to a motion filed to compel further responses. (Fairmont Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 245, 255.)
Plaintiff presents evidence that he propounded Request for Production, Set Three on March 12, 2019 on AHM. (Psyhogios Decl., ¶ 8, Exhibit 4.) AHM responded to Plaintiff’s requests on April 16, 2019. (Id., ¶ 9, Exhibit 5.) AHM’s responses to requests 10-12 each object to the requests as demanding documents “not likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” (Id.) The responses also object to the requests as burdensome and oppressive, and on the grounds that they call for “personally identifying information that is subject to a right of privacy pursuant to Article 1 of the California Constitution and the Constitution of the country of Sweden.” (Id.)
California Courts have recognized that privacy concerns are not absolute and must be balanced against other important interests. (E.g., Hill v. Nat. Collegiate Athletic Ass’n (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1, 37.) “When the right to discovery conflicts with a privileged right, the court is required to carefully balance the right of privacy with the need for discovery.” (Tylo v. Superior Court (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 1379, 1387 (Tylo).) “The burden is on the party seeking the constitutionally protected information to establish direct relevance.” (Davis v. Superior Court (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1008, 1017.) “Mere speculation as to the possibility that some portion of the records might be relevant to some substantive issue does not suffice.” (Ibid.)
In turn, the party asserting a privacy interest bears the burden to establish its extent and the seriousness of the prospective invasion, and the court must weigh against that showing the countervailing interests the requesting party identifies. (Williams v. Superior Court (2017) 3 Cal.5th 531, 557 (Williams).)
Here, requests 10-12 ask for all WRITINGS that IDENTIFY the PERSONS who bought or sold motorcycles, or who were involved in the incidents in previously produced documents AGM 000958-000977. (Pshyogios Decl., Exhibit 5, pp. 6-7.) Plaintiff contends that the requested information is relevant because Plaintiff is entitled to contact these individuals as potential witnesses to other stator failures. (Motion, 8.) AHM contends that the requested information is not relevant because the motorcycles did not fail in a substantially similar fashion. (Id., Exhibit 7, p. 2.)
After reviewing both parties’ evidence, the court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently established a need for the requested information. The court disagrees with AHM that the circumstances of each motorcycle’s failure has to be substantially similar to that which Plaintiff alleges, or that Plaintiff has to make a specific showing of what testimony he could expect from each potential witness. “Doubts as to relevance should generally be resolved in favor of permitting discovery.” (Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 785, 790.)
Further, it is not overly burdensome or oppressive to require AHM to respond to this discovery given the protective orders in effect in this matter. Any concerns that contact information for AHM’s sellers or buyers is confidential may be resolved through the protective order, which provides that information properly marked shall only be disclosed for purposes of this matter. (see, Protective Order, ¶¶ 1, 3, 4.)
Accordingly, the court hereby GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion.
The court therefore GRANTS Plaintiff Brandon Jones’ motion and ORDERS Defendant AHM to provide substantive, complete, verified responses to Plaintiff’s requests within 30 days of the date of this order, subject to the Protective Order previously entered in this matter.