This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 12/28/2020 at 00:20:19 (UTC).

CESAR ROMERO ET AL. VS LI-CHUAN SHIH ET AL.

Case Summary

On 02/10/2016 CESAR ROMERO filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against LI-CHUAN SHIH. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Burbank Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are LAURA A. MATZ and CURTIS A. KIN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4933

  • Filing Date:

    02/10/2016

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • Courthouse:

    Burbank Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

LAURA A. MATZ

CURTIS A. KIN

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants

ROMERO TATANA SPICAKOVA

ROMERO CESAR

ROMERO AN INDIVIDUAL TATANA SPICAKOVA

ROMERO AN INDIVIDUAL CESAR

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOICATION

U.S. BANK ROE 1

Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

KO TUN-JEN

SHIH LI-CHUAN

KO AN INDIVIDUAL TUN-JEN

SHIH AN INDIVIDUAL LI-CHUAN

Not Classified By Court

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

GAINES & STACEY LLP

GOLDING JONATHAN FREDERICK

GOODKIN & LYNCH LLP

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

SONGTAD RANDALL COFFEE & HUMPHREY LLP

EDWARDS BRIAN SCOTT

HUMPHREY JANET ELIZABETH

Cross Defendant Attorney

FIDELITY NATIONAL LAW GROUP

 

Court Documents

Request for Judicial Notice

10/21/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Request for Judicial Notice

11/14/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Trial Brief

2/21/2020: Trial Brief

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NON-JURY TRIAL)

6/30/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NON-JURY TRIAL)

Request for Judicial Notice - PLAINTIFFS' REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DISQUALIFY JUDGE CURTIS A. KIN

7/15/2020: Request for Judicial Notice - PLAINTIFFS' REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DISQUALIFY JUDGE CURTIS A. KIN

Notice - NOTICE OF FILING WRIT OF MANDATE REQUEST TO CLERK TO FILE IN TRIAL COURT (RULE OF COURT 8.486(E))

7/27/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF FILING WRIT OF MANDATE REQUEST TO CLERK TO FILE IN TRIAL COURT (RULE OF COURT 8.486(E))

Statement of Decision

9/28/2020: Statement of Decision

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR PERMISSION TO FILE A MOTI...)

11/10/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR PERMISSION TO FILE A MOTI...)

Other - - OTHER - COMPENDIUM OF EXHIBITS IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL VOLUME 6 OF 6

11/13/2020: Other - - OTHER - COMPENDIUM OF EXHIBITS IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL VOLUME 6 OF 6

Exhibit List

11/23/2020: Exhibit List

Exhibit List

11/23/2020: Exhibit List

Minute Order - Minute order entered: 2016-07-11 00:00:00

7/11/2016: Minute Order - Minute order entered: 2016-07-11 00:00:00

Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Motion to Compel

4/7/2017: Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Motion to Compel

Motion for Summary Judgment

2/21/2018: Motion for Summary Judgment

Request for Judicial Notice

4/27/2018: Request for Judicial Notice

Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Response

4/27/2018: Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Response

Amended Complaint

3/6/2019: Amended Complaint

Brief - Brief Notice of Errata to Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants Notice of Motion and Motion for Leave to Make Tardy Supplemental Expert Witness Designation and Supporting Documents

3/7/2019: Brief - Brief Notice of Errata to Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants Notice of Motion and Motion for Leave to Make Tardy Supplemental Expert Witness Designation and Supporting Documents

373 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 01/29/2021
  • Hearing01/29/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department E at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Hearing on Motion to Tax Costs

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  • 12/23/2020
  • Docketat 2:00 PM in Department E, Curtis A. Kin, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for New Trial - Held

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  • 12/23/2020
  • Docketat 2:00 PM in Department E, Curtis A. Kin, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Order (to Set Aside and Vacate Judgment and Enter Another and Different Judgment Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 663) - Held

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  • 12/23/2020
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Hearing on Motion for New Trial; Hearing on Motion for Order ...) of 12/23/2020); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/23/2020
  • DocketOrder Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore (Buford James, CSR 9296); Filed by TUN-JEN KO, an individual (Defendant)

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  • 12/23/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for New Trial; Hearing on Motion for Order ...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/11/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department E, Curtis A. Kin, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Order (to Set Aside and Vacate Judgment and Enter Another and Different Judgment Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 663) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 12/11/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department E, Curtis A. Kin, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for New Trial - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 11/30/2020
  • DocketReply (CESAR AND TATIANA ROMEROS? REPLY TO SHIH/KO?S OPPOSITION TO ROMERO?S MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL; DECLARATION OF CESAR ROMERO; DECLARATION OF DR. TATIANA ROMERO); Filed by CESAR ROMERO (Plaintiff); TATANA SPICAKOVA ROMERO (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/30/2020
  • DocketReply (CESAR AND TATIANA ROMEROS? REPLY TO SHIH/KO?S OPPOSITION TO ROMERO?S MOTION TO SET ASIDE AND VACATE JUDGMENT AND ENTER A NEW AND DIFFERENT JUDGMENT); Filed by CESAR ROMERO (Plaintiff); TATANA SPICAKOVA ROMERO (Plaintiff)

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571 More Docket Entries
  • 03/07/2016
  • DocketNotice and Acknowledgment of Receipt; Filed by CESAR ROMERO, an individual (Plaintiff); TATANA SPICAKOVA ROMERO, an individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/07/2016
  • DocketNotice and Acknowledgment of Receipt; Filed by CESAR ROMERO, an individual (Plaintiff); TATANA SPICAKOVA ROMERO, an individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/10/2016
  • DocketSummons Filed; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

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  • 02/10/2016
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by CESAR ROMERO, an individual (Plaintiff); TATANA SPICAKOVA ROMERO, an individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/10/2016
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet

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  • 02/10/2016
  • DocketComplaint filed-Summons Issued (- VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR: 1) TRESPASS, 2) QUIET TITLE, AND 3) DECLARATORY RELIEF - RECEIPT: BUR462569009 02-10-16); Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

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  • 02/10/2016
  • DocketComplaint filed-Summons Issued; Filed by CESAR ROMERO, an individual (Plaintiff); TATANA SPICAKOVA ROMERO, an individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/10/2016
  • DocketNotice of Order to Show Cause Re Failure to Comply with Trial Court Delay Reduction Act

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  • 02/10/2016
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference ((no filed stamp))

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  • 02/10/2016
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: EC064933    Hearing Date: February 26, 2021    Dept: E

MOTION TO TAX COSTS

[CRC 3.1700(b)]

Date: 2/26/21 (10:00 AM)

Case: Cesar Romero et al. v. Li-Chuan Shih, et al. (EC064933)

TENTATIVE RULING:

On February 2, 2021, the Court issued a tentative ruling continuing plaintiffs/cross-defendants Cesar Romero and Tatana Romero’s Motion to Tax Costs to allow defendants/cross-complainants Li-Chuan Shih and Tun-Jen Ko (“Shih-Kos”) to submit evidence that the persons who performed service of process were registered pursuant to Business and Professions Code § 22350 et seq.

As a preliminary matter, the Court notes the Shih-Kos’ purported reservation of the “right to address the remainder of the issues referenced in the Tentative Ruling at the time of the hearing.” (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 2.) However, the Court adopted the tentative ruling on February 2, 2021, including the taxing of $16,015.79 in costs. The Shih-Kos forfeited any argument concerning these taxed costs by failing to appear at the February 2, 2021 hearing.

As pertinent to this motion, the service of process costs specified in the February 2, 2021 ruling were taxed including Items 5oo-5qq and 5r-t, y-ff, ii, jj, ll, and mm (erroneously referenced as Items 6r-t, y-ff, ii, jj, ll, and mm). (2/2/21 Minute Order at 4.) Accordingly, with respect to the remaining service of process costs, the Court has reviewed the Shih-Kos’ supplemental documentation to ascertain whether service was performed by registered process servers.

With respect to Items 5eee, 5hhh, and 5iii, the Court finds that the multiple attempts required to serve David Gribin were reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation. However, with respect to Item 5ggg, the Declaration re Diligence cited to support the attempted service of a trial subpoena does not contain any amount on it. (Supp. Humphrey Decl. ¶ 4 & Ex. A at 050.) Accordingly, the service of process costs are further taxed in the amount of $399.00.

With respect to Items 5jjj concerning the trial subpoena of David Shewmake, the Romeros argue that the surveillance charges were billed after the service of process. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 6 & Ex. 3 at 116.) The Court recognizes the possibility that the detective agency billed the surveillance charges later and actually conducted the surveillance before service. However, David Shewmake was served the trial subpoena by Juan Alarcon. (Supp. Humphrey Decl. ¶ 4 & Ex. A at 053.) On the proof of service, Alarcon represented that he is the employee or an independent contractor of a registered process server, not a registered process server himself. Accordingly, the service of process costs are further taxed in the amount of $1,496.00.

With respect to Item 5kkk, David Wall, California Licensed Private Detective for Orange County Detective Agency, indicates that Juan Alarcon and Anthony Palacios attempted to serve Brenda Wendt. (Supp. Humphrey Decl. ¶ 4 & Ex. A at 055-056, ¶¶ 3, 5.) However, the Declarations re Diligence executed by Alarcon and Palacios indicate that Alarcon and Palacios are employees of a registered process server, not registered process servers themselves. (Supp. Humphrey Decl. ¶ 4 & Ex. A at 057-058 [signed in care of registered process server “Silverado”].) The service of process costs are taxed in the amount of $1,595.00.

With respect to Items 5g, h, p, r, s, v, x, ii, ll, nn, xx, and ccc, the Court finds that the declaration of Ricardo Moreno is sufficient to establish that the individuals who performed the service of process were registered. (Moreno Decl. ¶¶ 3, 4.)

With respect to Items 5q ($85.25), 5u ($85.25), 5aaa ($448.12), and 5bbb ($31.50), the Shih-Kos admit that the individuals who performed the service of process were not registered. (Supp. Humphrey Decl. ¶ 4.) Accordingly, the service of process costs are further taxed in the amount of $650.12.

Otherwise, the Court finds that all other costs claimed by the Shih-Kos shall be allowed as reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation. (CCP § 1033.5(c)(2).) This includes the entirety of Item 11 concerning models, enlargements, and photocopies of exhibits. It was not unreasonable for the Shih-Kos’ counsel to each have a copy of exhibits.

For the foregoing reasons, in addition to the $16,015.79 taxed for the reasons set forth in the Court’ tentative ruling adopted February 2, 2021, the Court further taxes the service of process costs in the amount of $4,140.12 ($399.00 + $1,496.00 + $1,595.00 + $650.12).

Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED IN PART. Defendants/cross-complainants Li-Chuan Shih and Tun-Jen Ko’s claim of $46,197.95 in costs is reduced by $20,155.91. Accordingly, costs are allowed in the amount of $26,042.04.

Case Number: EC064933    Hearing Date: February 02, 2021    Dept: E

MOTION TO TAX COSTS

[CRC 3.1700(b)]

Date: 2/2/21 (2:00 PM)

Case: Cesar Romero v. Li-Chuan Shih, et al. (EC064933)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Plaintiff Cesar Romero and Tatana Romero’s Motion to Tax Costs is CONTINUED for the purpose of receiving supplemental material concerning costs for service of process.

With respect to the declaration of Cesar Romero in support of the motion, the following objections are SUSTAINED: 3-22, 26-70. The other objections are OVERRULED.

With respect to the declaration of Tatiana Romero in support of the motion, the following objections are SUSTAINED: 3-22, 26-70. The other objections are OVERRULED.

With respect to the declaration of Cesar Romero in support of the reply, all the objections are SUSTAINED:

The Romeros’ Objection and Request to Strike is DENIED.

On a general note, the Court notes that plaintiffs/cross-defendants Cesar Romero and Tatana Romero (“Romeros”) essentially exceeded the page limits prescribed by Cal. Rule of Court 3.1113(d) by asserting arguments in their declarations. “The proper place for argument is in points and authorities, not declarations.” (In re Marriage of Heggie (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 28, 30, fn. 3.)

The Romeros’ requests for judicial notice in support of the reply as to Exhibits 1 through 4 are GRANTED, pursuant to Evidence Code § 452(d). The Romeros’ requests for judicial notice in support of the reply as to Exhibits 5 through 7 are GRANTED, but only for the existence of the documents, not the truth of the matters asserted therein. (See Evid. Code § 452(d); Sosinsky v. Grant (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 1548, 1564-69.)

The Romeros’ requests for judicial notice in support of the Objection and Request to Strike as to Exhibits 1 through 3 are GRANTED, but only for the existence of the documents, not the truth of the matters asserted therein. (See Evid. Code § 452(d); Sosinsky, 6 Cal.App.4th at 1564-69.)

Even though the judgment did not expressly award costs, costs are awarded pursuant to CCP § 1032. Defendants/cross-complainants Li-Chuan Shih and Tun-Jen Ko (“Shih-Kos”) are the prevailing parties because the Romeros did not obtain any relief against them. (CCP § 1032(a)(4); Statement of Decision at 12.) The Court notes that the Romeros would obtain $69,000 as compensation for the creation of an equitable easement in favor of the Shih-Kos only if the implied easement is found to be invalid. (Judgment ¶ 2.) Without the creation of an equitable easement, the Romeros will not receive any monetary recovery. Moreover, such monetary recovery constitutes compensation for the imposition of an equitable easement—the creation of which the Romeros opposed and the Shih-Kos sought. Under such circumstances, the Court finds the Shih-Koh’s are also prevailing parties with respect to their claim for an equitable easement.

With respect to whether the Shih Kos are entitled to recover any costs their insurer may pay on their behalf, even if the Shih-Kos did not pay for their litigation expenses, a prevailing party need not have personally incurred the costs to claim them in a memorandum of costs. (Ceranski v. Muensch (1943) 60 Cal.App.2d 751, 754 [“The code sections contain no requirement that a party claiming costs must have personally incurred the obligations enumerated in the memorandum . . . . Defendants incurred legal liability to pay the costs of litigation even though some other party may have agreed to reimburse them or to pay all the expenses of the litigation”].)

Where items are properly objected to as not reasonable or necessary, they are put in issue and the burden of proof is on the party claiming them as costs. (Ladas v. California State Auto. Assn. (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 761, 774.) After reviewing the evidence submitted by the Shih-Kos, the Court finds that the following costs as referenced in the Memorandum of Costs shall be taxed as not reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation (CCP § 1033.5(c)(2)):

· Item 1b (Jury Fee Deposit): Even though this action was resolved through a bench trial, CCP §§ 1033.5(a)(1) and 1033.5(c)(2) allow for the recovery of jury fees if they were reasonably incurred. When the parties agreed to a bench trial, the Shih-Kos could have requested a refund of the jury fee under CCP § 631.3(a), but they did not. Accordingly, the filing and motion fees are taxed in the amount of $150.00.

· Item 1d (Ex Parte Application for Order Re Discovery Motions). This ex parte application was denied on April 7, 2017 due to the Shih-Kos’ failure to explain why filing motions after the discovery cutoff should be excused. (7/28/17 Minute Order at 2-3.) The motion and filing fees are taxed in the amount of $60.00.

· Item 1e (Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses (C. Romero)): On July 28, this motion was denied because the Shih-Kos did not discuss factors the Court should consider in deciding whether to grant leave to file an untimely discovery motion, as required by CCP § 2024.050. The motion and filing fees are taxed in the amount of $60.00.

· Item 1f (Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses (T. Romero)): On July 28, this motion was denied for the same reasons discussed with respect to Item 1e. For the same reasons as Item 1e, the motion and filing fees are taxed in the amount of $60.00.

· Item 1h (Motion for Summary Judgment): The Shih-Kos admit they paid a reservation fee for a Motion for Summary Judgment but did not file the motion. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 4(e).) The motion and filing fees are taxed in the amount of $500.00.

· Item 1k (Motion to Set Aside/Vacate Default): The Shih-Kos took this motion off calendar when the Romeros stipulated not to seek default against the Shih-Kos. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 4(f).) The Shih-Kos placed themselves in the position of having to defend against any such default by not timely responding to the Third Amended Complaint filed on May 22, 2019, despite proper service. The motion and filing fees are taxed in the amount of $60.00.

· Item 1m (Motion for Order Permitting Late Filing): The Shih-Kos paid the reservation fee for this motion after the Romeros sought to strike the Shih-Kos’ motion to strike on the grounds of untimeliness. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 4(f).) For the same reasons stated for Item 1k, the motion and filing fees are taxed in the amount of $60.00.

· Item 4d: For the deposition of Dawn Hicks, the cost of an Affidavit of Non-Appearance is not recoverable. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 5(c) & Ex. 2 at 4.) An Affidavit of Non-Appearance does not involve the taking, video recording, or transcribing of a deposition. (CCP § 1033.5(a)(3)(A).) The deposition costs are taxed in the amount of $236.22.

· Items 4k through 4q: The Shih-Kos seek to recover the cost of ordering transcripts in a related action, Romero v. First American Title Company, LASC Case No. BC656649. The Shih-Kos contend that it was more cost effective to obtain copies of the deposition transcripts than to separately take the depositions of the witnesses in this action. (Opp. at 8.) While that may be true, obtaining copies of deposition transcripts from another action does not constitute the allowable cost of “taking, video recording, and transcribing” depositions as permitted under CCP § 1033.5(a)(3)(A). Rather, the Court views such costs as investigation expenses in preparation of trial, which are expressly not recoverable. (CCP § 1033(b)(2).) The deposition costs are taxed in the amount of $5,888.95.

· Items 4s and 4t: The Shih-Kos withdrew their claim for deposition costs for Cesar Romero, Volume II ($965.92) and Tatana Romero ($831.07). (Opp. at 9.) Accordingly, the deposition costs are taxed in the amount of $1,796.99.

· Items 5oo-5qq: The Romeros contend that these subpoenas duces tecum were served on October 24, 2019 after discovery was closed. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 6 & Ex. 3 at 79-84; see also 6/20/18 Minute Order [“Discovery cut-off as to discovery and motions is closed”].) Because discovery was cutoff, the Shih-Kos’ issuance of these subpoenas was not reasonably necessary for the conduct of the litigation. The service of process costs are taxed in the amount of $282.13.

· Item 6r-t, y-ff, ii, jj, ll, and mm: With respect to cancelled depositions, the Shih-Kos could have exercised discretion in serving the subpoenas only when necessary. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 6(d).) Accordingly, these costs for service of process were not reasonably necessary for the conduct of the litigation. The service of process costs are taxed in the amount of $2,312.88.

· With respect to Items 8a(c)(18-21) (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 7 & Ex. 4 at 32-39), these subpoenas were served after the discovery cutoff. Accordingly, the costs for witness fees are taxed in the amount of $60.00.

· With respect to court reporter fees, the Shih-Kos provide documentation for four full-day proceedings and one half-day proceedings, but they seek recovery for fees charged by private court reporters. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 8 & Ex. 5.) Court reporter fees as established by statute are recoverable under CCP §1033.5(a)(11). The Los Angeles Superior Court fee schedule for 2020, when the proceedings in this action took place, states that under Gov. Code § 68086(a)(1-2), the court reporter per diem fees for more than one hour, but less than 4 hours, is $382. The court reporter per diem fees for 4 hours or more is $764. Based on the five days which the Shih-Kos document, they are entitled to court reporter fees in the amount of $3,438 (4 full days x $764 per day, 1 half-day x $382 per day). The difference between the claimed costs of $7,895.00 and the $3,438.00 under the fee schedule, or $4,457.00, is taxed.

· With respect to fees for electronic filing or service, the Shih-Kos reduced their request from $1,317.30 to $1,288.65. (Opp. at 14.) Accordingly, the costs for electronic filing fees are taxed in the amount of $28.65. Moreover, the invoices provided by the Shih-Kos add up to $1,285.68, not $1,288.65. (Reply at 9:23-24.) Accordingly, $2.97 – the difference between the Shih-Kos’ claim of $1,288.65 and $1,285.68, the sum as reflected in the invoices – are taxed.

For the foregoing reasons, the costs claimed by the Shih-Kos are taxed in the amount of $16,015.79. The Court finds all other costs claimed by the Shih-Kos shall be allowed as reasonably necessary to the conduct of the litigation. (CCP § 1033.5(c)(2).)

With respect to the remaining costs for service of process not addressed above, the Romeros argue that the Shih-Kos did not provide evidence that the subpoenas were served by registered process servers. The Shih-Kos include invoices from attorney services. (Humphrey Decl. ¶ 5 & Ex. 3.) These invoices contain no verified representations regarding whether the individuals who served the documents were registered. (CCP § 1033.5(a)(4)(B) [allowing for recovery of costs of service of process by a “process server registered pursuant to Chapter 16 (commencing with Section 22350 of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code”]; Citizens for Responsible Development v. City of West Hollywood (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 490, 506 [allowing for recovery of costs for service of process when claimant provided proofs of service evidencing service by registered process server].)

Accordingly, the motion is CONTINUED to February 26, 2021, at 10:00 AM, in Department E to allow the Shih-Kos to submit the Judicial Council proofs of service indicating whether the persons serving the subpoenas were registered. No later than nine (9) court days before the hearing date, defendants/cross-complainants Li-Chuan Shih and Tun-Jen Ko may file authenticated copies of the Judicial Council proofs of service, or other supplemental material to bear on the determination of whether the process server(s) were registered. Plaintiffs/cross-defendants Cesar Romero and Tatana Romero may file a response not to exceed 3 pages no later than 5 court days before the hearing. If the Romeros file an additional declaration improperly containing argument resulting in the page-limit effectively being exceeded, such declaration may be stricken in whole or in part.

Case Number: EC064933    Hearing Date: January 31, 2020    Dept: E

MOTION TO BIFURCATE

[CCP §598]

Date:    1/31/20                            

Case: Cesar Romero, et al. v. Li-Chuan Shih, et al. (EC 064933)

 

TENATIVE RULING:

Defendants/cross-complainants Li-Chuan Shih’s and Tun-Jen Ko’s Motion to Bifurcate is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

With respect to bifurcating the claims for implied easement and for equitable easement, the Court, in its discretion, does not find that so doing would sufficiently promote economy or efficiency to warrant bifurcation, even taking into account that the first trial on implied easement would not include the presentation of evidence concerning the valuation of the subject property (which concerns only a trial on the equitable easement claim). At the bench trial set for March 9, 2020, the Court can hear all the evidence and then determine whether cross-complainants have the right to an implied or equitable easement, as well as what compensation, if any, to which plaintiffs would be entitled as a result. In addition, the Court would be able to address plaintiffs’ claims in that same trial. Accordingly, the motion to bifurcate the implied and equitable easement claims is DENIED.

With respect to defendants/cross-complainants’ motion to bifurcate punitive damages, they have a right to bifurcation under Civil Code § 3295(d). Thus, the motion to bifurcate plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages is GRANTED. During the first phase of trial on the issue of liability and damages, the Court shall preclude plaintiffs Cesar Romero and Tatana Spicakova Romero from presenting any evidence of defendants/cross-complainants’ wealth, assets, incomes, or financial condition, unless and until the Court first finds defendants/cross-complainants guilty of malice, oppression, or fraud.

Case Number: EC064933    Hearing Date: November 22, 2019    Dept: E

DISCOVERY MOTIONS (3)

Case: Cesar Romero, et al. v. Li-Chuan Shih, et al. (EC 064933)

As a threshold matter, the Court questions the relevance to either party of any evidence or discovery relating to various appraisal reports and related materials that loom largely as the subject of the instant motions. This case is essentially a boundary dispute between two neighbors, and the Court will determine at trial whether a particular strip of land (approximately 8 feet wide along the 157-foot border between the parties’ properties) belongs to the Romeros or the Shih-Kos. Relatedly, if the Court were to determine such land belongs to the Romeros, the Court must decide to what, if any, damages they are entitled for the Shih’s use and/or occupation of that land under theories of trespass and/or private nuisance. Viewing this case as such, it is hard to see how any appraisal report for the purported value of the strip of land at issue (whether styled as the value of the Shih-Ko’s encroachment or diminution of the Romero’s property value) is relevant to either question of (1) whether that land belongs to the Romeros or Shih-Kos or (2) by how much the Romeros have been damaged by the Shih-Kos’ use of that land over a finite period of time commencing in 2014.

While the Court believes that a reasonable and logical view of the case as a whole should render moot large swaths of the instant discovery disputes concerning real estate valuations that do not appear to have any relevance to what is actually at issue in this case, the Court rules as follows:

I. MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO DOCUMENT REQUESTS

With respect to Defendant and Cross-Complainant Li-Chuan Shih’s Motion to Compel Plaintiffs and Cross-Defendants Cesar Romero and Tatana Romero’s Further Responses to Request for Production of Documents, Set One:

II. MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS

Defendant and Cross-Complainant Li-Chuan Shih’s Motion to Compel Plaintiffs and Cross-Defendants Cesar Romero and Tatana Romero’s Further Responses to Request for Admissions, Set One is DENIED. As represented in the Reply, there remains only a dispute as to Request for Admission No. 8. The Court finds that the discovery sought exceeds the scope of the discovery permitted to be conducted as set forth in this Court’s May 22, 2019 order.

III. MOTION TO COMPEL DEPOSITIN OF CESAR ROMERO

Defendant and Cross-Complainant Li-Chuan Shih’s Motion to Compel the Deposition Testimony of Cesar Romero is DENIED. The Court finds that the discovery sought exceeds the scope of the discovery permitted to be conducted as set forth in this Court’s May 22, 2019 order.

All monetary sanctions sought by moving party are DENIED.

Case Number: EC064933    Hearing Date: October 24, 2019    Dept: E

MOTION TO AUGMENT EXPERT WITNESS LIST

(CCP § 2034.61 et seq))

Date: 10/25/19

Case: Cesar Romero, et al. v. Li-Chuan Shih, et al. (EC 064933)

TENTATIVE RULING:

Defendants Li-Chuan Shih’s and Tun-Jen Ko’s Motion to Augment Expert Witness List is GRANTED, pursuant to CCP § 2034.620.

The Court has taken into account the extent to which plaintiffs Cesar and Tatana Spicakova Romero have relied on the original expert witness list and determined that plaintiffs will not be prejudiced in maintaining their action on the merits by the grant of this motion. The Court has further determined that the defendants’ failure to earlier designate (1) Brenda Wendt, (2) David Gribbin, and (3) Otis Hackett as experts was due to defense counsel’s surprise in learning of their undisclosed property valuations despite requesting from plaintiffs all appraisals of the plaintiffs’ property. (See Humphrey Decl. ¶ 11.) In this regard, the Court notes that ample information concerning these experts and their valuations were publicly available such that plaintiffs’ assertions of privilege and work-product appear not to be implicated by the instant request to designate such experts. Finally, the Court finds that defendants sought leave to augment promptly after learning of the experts and promptly so informed plaintiffs, including service of a copy of the proposed designation.

At the hearing on defendants’ motion, the Court shall entertain discussion from the parties on whether, pursuant to § 2034.620(d), it may be just to continue the current trial date and/or permit plaintiffs to designate additional experts in light of the grant of the instant motion. The Court does not find that granting plaintiffs’ request for costs and expenses in connection with opposing the motion is warranted or appropriate.

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