This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 01/28/2021 at 04:08:08 (UTC).

DEBRA MARKS ET AL VS LAURIE GOUETT ET AL

Case Summary

On 10/22/2013 DEBRA MARKS filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against LAURIE GOUETT. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are GAIL FEUER, SAMANTHA P. JESSNER, ROBERT B. BROADBELT, RANDOLPH M. HAMMOCK and THERESA M. TRABER. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4946

  • Filing Date:

    10/22/2013

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

GAIL FEUER

SAMANTHA P. JESSNER

ROBERT B. BROADBELT

RANDOLPH M. HAMMOCK

THERESA M. TRABER

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

JACK ROSE

MARKS DEBRA

CVS PHARMACY INC. (BC525507)

CVS PHARMACY INC. BC525507

Defendants, Respondents and Cross Plaintiffs

ABCDE TRANSPORATION LLC

DOES 1-25

GOUETT LAURIE

GOUETT BROOKE (DOE 12)(ROE 1)

ORCHARD SUPPLY HARDWARE STORES CORPORATIO

VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS

GOUETT BROOKE (DOE 1)

GOUETT BROOKE DOE 12 ROE 1

VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC. AS SUBROGATION CLAIMANT AGAINST RECOVERY

GOUETT BROOKE DOE 12ROE 1

GOUETT LAURIE AKA LAURIE WILLIAMS-GOETT

ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY (ROE 2)

JOSEPH E SWEENEY III EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF CHADWICK F. SMITH DECEASED A LIEN CLAIMANT AGAINST RECOVERY

ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY ROE 2

Cross Defendants

ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY (ROE3)

GOUETT LAURIE AKA LAURIE WILLIAMS-GOETT

Intervenor and Defendant

VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS

Not Classified By Court

DEFENDANT TRADE CENTER OUTPATIENT SURGERY INC.

22 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

KRASS LOUIS ESQ.

VITITOE LAW GROUP

CHERNOW AND LIEB

THE KRASS LAW FIRM APC

VITITOE JAMES WILSON

PEARLMAN BARRY SCOTT

Defendant, Respondent and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

CASTRONOVO TOD M. ESQ.

DAMON JENNIFER M. ESQ.

MANDELL DAMON & ASSOCIATES LLP

SHAVER KORFF & CASTRONOVO LLP

VASQUEZ DAVIL ROBERT

LORENZ AMANDA M. ESQ.

SHABEL SCOTT LEE

CASTRONOVO TOD MICHAEL

DAMON JENNIFER MARTYN

NOVELL & JIMENEZ

ADELSON TESTAN BRUNDO NOVELL & JIMENEZ

Cross Defendant Attorney

SHIMKIN DAVID ALLEN

Defendant and Intervenor Attorneys

NOVELL & JIMENEZ

ADELSON TESTAN BRUNDO NOVELL & JIMENEZ

Other Attorneys

SHIMKIN DAVID A. ESQ.

3 More Attorneys Available

 

Court Documents

Minute Order - Minute order entered: 2014-12-05 00:00:00

12/5/2014: Minute Order - Minute order entered: 2014-12-05 00:00:00

Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Notice

6/26/2017: Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Notice

RETURNED MAIL - RETURNED MAIL NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

6/29/2017: RETURNED MAIL - RETURNED MAIL NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

Minute Order - Minute order entered: 2017-07-12 00:00:00

7/12/2017: Minute Order - Minute order entered: 2017-07-12 00:00:00

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

4/30/2018: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Minute Order -

8/7/2018: Minute Order -

Notice of Motion -

9/6/2018: Notice of Motion -

Motion for Summary Adjudication

10/12/2018: Motion for Summary Adjudication

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion for Summary Adjudication)

12/31/2018: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Motion for Summary Adjudication)

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER) OF 08/26/2019

8/26/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER) OF 08/26/2019

Motion for Leave to Amend - MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT

12/23/2019: Motion for Leave to Amend - MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

4/3/2020: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

ANSWER TO COMPLANT; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

9/23/2014: ANSWER TO COMPLANT; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

11/7/2014: ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

ABCDE TRANSPORATION, LLC'S CROSS-COMPLAINT AGAINST LAURIE GOUETT

12/1/2014: ABCDE TRANSPORATION, LLC'S CROSS-COMPLAINT AGAINST LAURIE GOUETT

DEFENDANT ABCDE TRANSPORATION, LLC'S ANSWER TO PLAINTIFFS DEBRA MARKS AND ROSE JACK'S UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT

12/1/2014: DEFENDANT ABCDE TRANSPORATION, LLC'S ANSWER TO PLAINTIFFS DEBRA MARKS AND ROSE JACK'S UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT

NOTICE OF UNAVAILABILITY OF COUNSEL

2/26/2016: NOTICE OF UNAVAILABILITY OF COUNSEL

AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT -

4/27/2017: AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT -

247 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 01/29/2021
  • Hearing01/29/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department U at 6230 Sylmar Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91401; Case Management Conference

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  • 01/29/2021
  • Hearing01/29/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department U at 6230 Sylmar Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91401; Trial Setting Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/29/2021
  • Hearing01/29/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department U at 6230 Sylmar Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91401; Hearing on Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement (CCP 877.6)

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  • 12/23/2020
  • DocketDeclaration (REPLY TO OPPOSITION TO GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT); Filed by Debra Marks (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 12/10/2020
  • DocketOpposition (Opposition to Application for Good Faith Settlement); Filed by TRADE CENTER OUTPATIENT SURGERY, INC Erroneously Sued As TRADE CENTER OUTPATIENT SURGERY, as lien claimant against recovery (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/12/2020
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by TRADE CENTER OUTPATIENT SURGERY, INC Erroneously Sued As TRADE CENTER OUTPATIENT SURGERY, as lien claimant against recovery (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/10/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department U, Theresa M. Traber, Presiding; Trial Setting Conference - Held - Continued

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/10/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department U, Theresa M. Traber, Presiding; Case Management Conference - Held - Continued

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/10/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department U, Theresa M. Traber, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement (CCP 877.6) ((TR POSTED)) - Held - Motion Granted

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/10/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement ...)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
477 More Docket Entries
  • 01/29/2014
  • DocketMinute order entered: 2014-01-29 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/12/2013
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/12/2013
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons ( ABCDE Transporation, LLC ); Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/12/2013
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/25/2013
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/22/2013
  • DocketCOMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/22/2013
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by CVS PHARMACY, INC. (Plaintiff); CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (BC525507) (Plaintiff); Rose Jack (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/22/2013
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by CVS PHARMACY, INC. (Plaintiff); CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (BC525507) (Plaintiff); Rose Jack (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/22/2013
  • DocketComplaint

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/22/2013
  • DocketSUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC524946    Hearing Date: November 10, 2020    Dept: U

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - NORTHWEST DISTRICT

DEBBIE MARKS, an individual; and ROSE JACK, an individual,

Plaintiffs, 

vs. 

LAURIE GOUETT, an individual; ABCDE TRANSPORTATION, LLC; and DOES 1 – 25, inclusive,

Defendants. 

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT

Dept. U 

8:30 a.m. 

November 10, 2020 

I. BACKGROUND

Debbie Marks (Plaintiff) filed a complaint against Laurie Gouett (Gouett), ABCDE Transportation, LLC (ABCDE), and Does 1 through 25 on October 22, 2013, alleging a single claim for negligence. Plaintiff later amended the complaint to name Brooke Gouett (B. Gouett), Neil Gouett (N. Gouett), Version Communications (Version), Blue Shield of California (Blue Shield), the Estate of Chadwick F. Smith (Estate), and Trade Center Outpatient Surgery Center (Trade Center) as Does 1 through 6. On December 23, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a first amended complaint. This motion is still pending.

On March 4, 2020, Plaintiff filed this application for determination of good faith settlement pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 877.6(a)(2). Plaintiff requests an order confirming the good faith settlement of the subrogation claims with Blue Shield and Verizon.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Code of Civil Procedure section 877.6, subdivision (a)(1), provides, in relevant part, that, on noticed motion, “[a]ny party to an action wherein it is alleged that two or more parties are joint tortfeasors or co-obligors on a contract debt shall be entitled to a hearing on the issue of the good faith of a settlement entered into by the plaintiff . . . and one or more alleged tortfeasors or co-obligors . . . .” “A determination by the court that the settlement was made in good faith shall bar any other joint tortfeasor or co-obligor from any further claims against the settling tortfeasor or co-obligor for equitable comparative contribution, or partial or comparative indemnity, based on comparative negligence or comparative fault.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6, subd. (c).) Although a determination that a settlement was in good faith does not discharge any other party from liability, “it shall reduce the claims against the others in the amount stipulated” by the settlement. (Code Civ. Proc. § 877, subd. (a).)

“The party asserting the lack of good faith shall have the burden of proof on that issue.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6, subd. (d).)

In City of Grand View Terrace v. Superior Court (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1251, 1261, the court provided the following guidance regarding a motion for a good faith settlement determination:

This court notes that of the hundreds of motions for good faith determination presented for trial court approval each year, the overwhelming majority are unopposed and granted summarily by the trial court. At the time of filing in many cases, the moving party does not know if a contest will develop. If each motion required a full recital by declaration or affidavit setting forth a complete factual response to all of the Tech-Bilt factors, literally thousands of attorney hours would be consumed and inch-thick motions would have to be read and considered by trial courts in an exercise which would waste valuable judicial and legal time and clients’ resources. . . . That is to say, when no one objects, the barebones motion which sets forth the ground of good faith, accompanied by a declaration which sets forth a brief background of the case is sufficient.

If the good faith settlement is contested, section 877.6, subdivision (d), sets forth a workable ground rule for the hearing by placing the burden of proving the lack of good faith on the contesting party. Once there is a showing made by the settlor of the settlement, the burden of proof on the issue of good faith shifts to the nonsettlor who asserts that the settlement was not made in good faith. If contested, declarations by the nonsettlor should be filed which in many cases could require the moving party to file responsive counterdeclarations to negate the lack of good faith asserted by the nonsettling contesting party.

(192 Cal.App.3d 1251, 1260-1261 (citation omitted).)

In Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde & Associates (1985) 38 Cal.3d 488, 499, the California Supreme Court identified the following nonexclusive factors courts are to consider in determining if a settlement is in good faith under section 877.6: “a rough approximation of plaintiffs' total recovery and the settlor's proportionate liability, the amount paid in settlement, the allocation of settlement proceeds among plaintiffs, and a recognition that a settlor should pay less in settlement than he would if he were found liable after a trial. Other relevant considerations include the financial conditions and insurance policy limits of settling defendants, as well as the existence of collusion, fraud, or tortious conduct aimed to injure the interests of nonsettling defendants.”

The evaluation of whether a settlement was made in good faith is required to “be made on the basis of information available at the time of settlement.” (Tech-Bilt, Inc., supra, 38 Cal.3d at p. 499.) “‘[A] defendant’s settlement figure must not be grossly disproportionate to what a reasonable person, at the time of the settlement, would estimate the settling defendant’s liability to be.’ [Citation.]” (Ibid.)

“The party asserting the lack of good faith, who has the burden of proof on that issue (§ 877.6, subd. (d)), should be permitted to demonstrate, if he can, that the settlement is so far ‘out of the ballpark’ in relation to these factors as to be inconsistent with the equitable objectives of the statute. Such a demonstration would establish that the proposed settlement was not a ‘settlement made in good faith’ within the terms of section 877.6.” (Id. at pp. 499-500.)

“[A] court not only looks at the alleged tortfeasor's potential liability to the plaintiff, but it must also consider the culpability of the tortfeasor vis-à-vis other parties alleged to be responsible for the same injury. Potential liability for indemnity to a nonsettling defendant is an important consideration for the trial court in determining whether to approve a settlement by an alleged tortfeasor. [Citation.]” (TSI Seismic Tenant Space, Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 159, 166.)

III. DISCUSSION

Here, Plaintiff asserts the existence of a good faith settlement of the subrogation claims between herself and Blue Shield has been reached for $30,000. The original amount of the claim was $279,068. Plaintiff also states she has reached a good faith settlement of the subrogation claims with Verizon agreeing to pay Verizon for the full amount of $1,618.94 sought. Attached as exhibits are Blue Shield’s subrogation claims for $279,068 and Verizon’s for $1,618.92 and the offer to compromise. Exhibit 1 is a consolidated statement of benefits showing that, on January 6, 2020, Plaintiff’s total balance due to Blue Shield was $279,068.22. (Exhibit 1.) The consolidated statement of benefits also shows Plaintiff’s total balance due on this same date to Verizon was $1,618.94. (Ibid.)

Exhibit 2 provides the terms of the settlement. The August 29, 2019 offer to compromise provides that Blue Shield and Equian, Blue Shield’s subrogation vendor, will accept $30,000 in satisfaction of the amount due from Plaintiff. This amount will be paid from Plaintiff’s $790,000 recovery, but Blue Shield retains its right to be reimbursed from additional sources if they become available.

None of the non-settling parties have filed oppositions to this application for determination. Plaintiff’s total recovery is $790,000 and the Blue Shield policy limit is $100,000. The subrogation claim for $279,068 is much greater than the $30,000 settlement offer, but it is also much greater than the $100,000 policy limit. Plaintiff’s total medical liens amount to $736,870.40. Blue Shield’s subrogation claim for $279,068 is by far the largest lien. The other liens range from $765 to $100,500. Blue Shield’s claims make up approximately 34 percent of the total. There is $437,247.16 available to satisfy the liens. $30,000 is only 6.8 percent of this amount available.

Blue Shield’s claim to Plaintiff’s settlement funds is by far the largest of the subrogation claims. By agreeing to accept only $30,000, rather than the full $279,068, for its claims, Blue Shield is leaving plenty of settlement funds available to Plaintiff to pay the other subrogation claims out of the $437,247.16 available. The fact that Blue Shield is amenable to accepting far less than its claims are worth demonstrates that this settlement agreement was made in good faith.

The Verizon settlement offer is actually a demand that Plaintiff agree to pay to full amount of Verizon’s claim. Verizon’s claim is for only $1,618.94 and represents only a small portion of the subrogation claims made against Plaintiff’s settlement funds. Paying Verizon $1,618.94 from the $437,247.16 available will leave settlement funds available to pay other subrogation claims. The Court finds this agreement was made in good faith as well.

IV. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s application for determination of a good faith settlement is GRANTED.

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of the Court’s ruling.

DATED: November 10, 2020 

_____________________ 

Hon. Theresa M. Traber 

Judge of the Superior Court 

Case Number: BC524946    Hearing Date: September 25, 2020    Dept: U

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - NORTHWEST DISTRICT

DEBBIE MARKS, an individual; and ROSE JACK, an individual,

Plaintiffs, 

vs. 

LAURIE GOUETT, an individual; ABCDE TRANSPORTATION, LLC; and DOES 1 – 25, inclusive,

Defendants. 

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT

Dept. U 

8:30 a.m. 

September 25, 2020 

I. BACKGROUND

Debbie Marks (Plaintiff) filed a complaint against Laurie Gouett (Gouett), ABCDE Transportation, LLC (ABCDE), and Does 1 through 25 on October 22, 2013, alleging a single claim for negligence. Plaintiff later amended the complaint to name Brooke Gouett (B. Gouett), Neil Gouett (N. Gouett), Version Communications (Version), Blue Shield of California (Blue Shield), the Estate of Chadwick F. Smith (Estate), and Trade Center Outpatient Surgery Center (Trade Center) as Does 1 through 6. On December 23, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a first amended complaint. This motion is still pending.

On March 4, 2020, Plaintiff filed this application for determination of good faith settlement pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 877.6(a)(2). Plaintiff requests an order confirming the good faith settlement of the subrogation claims with Blue Shield and Verizon.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Code of Civil Procedure section 877.6, subdivision (a)(1), provides, in relevant part, that, on noticed motion, “[a]ny party to an action wherein it is alleged that two or more parties are joint tortfeasors or co-obligors on a contract debt shall be entitled to a hearing on the issue of the good faith of a settlement entered into by the plaintiff . . . and one or more alleged tortfeasors or co-obligors . . . .” “A determination by the court that the settlement was made in good faith shall bar any other joint tortfeasor or co-obligor from any further claims against the settling tortfeasor or co-obligor for equitable comparative contribution, or partial or comparative indemnity, based on comparative negligence or comparative fault.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6, subd. (c).) Although a determination that a settlement was in good faith does not discharge any other party from liability, “it shall reduce the claims against the others in the amount stipulated” by the settlement. (Code Civ. Proc. § 877, subd. (a).)

“The party asserting the lack of good faith shall have the burden of proof on that issue.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6, subd. (d).)

In City of Grand View Terrace v. Superior Court (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1251, 1261, the court provided the following guidance regarding a motion for a good faith settlement determination:

This court notes that of the hundreds of motions for good faith determination presented for trial court approval each year, the overwhelming majority are unopposed and granted summarily by the trial court. At the time of filing in many cases, the moving party does not know if a contest will develop. If each motion required a full recital by declaration or affidavit setting forth a complete factual response to all of the Tech-Bilt factors, literally thousands of attorney hours would be consumed and inch-thick motions would have to be read and considered by trial courts in an exercise which would waste valuable judicial and legal time and clients’ resources. . . . That is to say, when no one objects, the barebones motion which sets forth the ground of good faith, accompanied by a declaration which sets forth a brief background of the case is sufficient.

If the good faith settlement is contested, section 877.6, subdivision (d), sets forth a workable ground rule for the hearing by placing the burden of proving the lack of good faith on the contesting party. Once there is a showing made by the settlor of the settlement, the burden of proof on the issue of good faith shifts to the nonsettlor who asserts that the settlement was not made in good faith. If contested, declarations by the nonsettlor should be filed which in many cases could require the moving party to file responsive counterdeclarations to negate the lack of good faith asserted by the nonsettling contesting party.

(192 Cal.App.3d 1251, 1260-1261 (citation omitted).)

In Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde & Associates (1985) 38 Cal.3d 488, 499, the California Supreme Court identified the following nonexclusive factors courts are to consider in determining if a settlement is in good faith under section 877.6: “a rough approximation of plaintiffs' total recovery and the settlor's proportionate liability, the amount paid in settlement, the allocation of settlement proceeds among plaintiffs, and a recognition that a settlor should pay less in settlement than he would if he were found liable after a trial. Other relevant considerations include the financial conditions and insurance policy limits of settling defendants, as well as the existence of collusion, fraud, or tortious conduct aimed to injure the interests of nonsettling defendants.”

The evaluation of whether a settlement was made in good faith is required to “be made on the basis of information available at the time of settlement.” (Tech-Bilt, Inc., supra, 38 Cal.3d at p. 499.) “‘[A] defendant’s settlement figure must not be grossly disproportionate to what a reasonable person, at the time of the settlement, would estimate the settling defendant’s liability to be.’ [Citation.]” (Ibid.)

“The party asserting the lack of good faith, who has the burden of proof on that issue (§ 877.6, subd. (d)), should be permitted to demonstrate, if he can, that the settlement is so far ‘out of the ballpark’ in relation to these factors as to be inconsistent with the equitable objectives of the statute. Such a demonstration would establish that the proposed settlement was not a ‘settlement made in good faith’ within the terms of section 877.6.” (Id. at pp. 499-500.)

“[A] court not only looks at the alleged tortfeasor's potential liability to the plaintiff, but it must also consider the culpability of the tortfeasor vis-à-vis other parties alleged to be responsible for the same injury. Potential liability for indemnity to a nonsettling defendant is an important consideration for the trial court in determining whether to approve a settlement by an alleged tortfeasor. [Citation.]” (TSI Seismic Tenant Space, Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 159, 166.)

III. DISCUSSION

Here, Plaintiff states a good faith settlement of the subrogation claims between herself and Blue Shield has been reached for $30,000. The original amount of the claim was $279,068. Plaintiff also states she has reached a good faith settlement of the subrogation claims with Verizon for $1,618.94. Attached as exhibits are Blue Shield’s subrogation claims for $279,068 and Verizon’s for $1,618.92 and the offer to compromise. Exhibit 1 is a consolidated statement of benefits showing that, on January 6, 2020, Plaintiff’s total balance due to Blue Shield was $279,068.22. (Exhibit 1.) The consolidated statement of benefits also shows Plaintiff’s total balance due on this same date to Verizon was $1,618.94. (Ibid.)

Exhibit 2 provides the terms of the settlement. The August 29, 2019 offer to compromise provides that Blue Shield and Equian, Blue Shield’s subrogation vendor, will accept $30,000 in satisfaction of Plaintiff’s amount due. This amount will be paid from Plaintiff’s $790,000 recovery, but Blue Shield retains its right to be reimbursed from additional sources if they become available.

None of the non-settling parties have filed oppositions to this application for determination. Plaintiff’s total recovery is $790,000 and the Blue Shield policy limit is $100,000. The subrogation claim for $279,068 is much greater than the $30,000 settlement offer, but it is also much greater than the $100,000 policy limit. While the alleged settlement offer from Verizon is for the full $1,618.94, the compromise letter does not make any mention of Verizon’s subrogation claim. It only involves Blue Shield’s subrogation claim.

While Plaintiff mentions some of the Tech-Bilt factors, insufficient evidence is presented to allow the Court to assess whether the parties have reached a good faith settlement. The consolidated statement of benefits and offer to compromise do not show Blue Shield and Verizon’s proportionate liability, their potential liability to other tortfeasors, or their financial conditions. Moreover, the offer to compromise does not even mention Verizon’s acceptance of $1,618.94, but rather, is solely limited to Blue Shield.

IV. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s application for determination of a good faith settlement is DENIED, without prejudice to the presentation of supplemental evidence and/or argument in support of the motion.

DATED: September 25, 2020 

_____________________ 

Hon. Theresa M. Traber 

Judge of the Superior Court 

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - NORTHWEST DISTRICT

DEBBIE MARKS, an individual; and ROSE JACK, an individual,

Plaintiffs, 

vs. 

LAURIE GOUETT, an individual; ABCDE TRANSPORTATION, LLC; and DOES 1 – 25, inclusive,

Defendants. 

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: DEFENDANT TRADE CENTER’S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES AND REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS 

Dept. U 

8:30 a.m. 

September 25, 2020 

I. BACKGROUND

Debbie Marks (Plaintiff) filed a complaint against Laurie Gouett (Gouett), ABCDE Transportation, LLC (ABCDE), and Does 1 through 25 on October 22, 2013, alleging a single claim for negligence. Plaintiff later amended the complaint to name Brooke Gouett (B. Gouett), Neil Gouett (N. Gouett), Version Communications (Version), Blue Shield of California (Blue Shield), the Estate of Chadwick F. Smith (Estate), and Trade Center Outpatient Surgery Center (Trade Center) as Does 1 through 6. On December 23, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a first amended complaint. This motion is still pending.

On January 30, 2020, Trade Center filed this motion for an order compelling Plaintiff to provide further responses to its Requests for Production of Documents (RFPs) numbers 1 through 6 on the grounds that Plaintiff’s responses are inadequate and Plaintiff refuses to produce additional responses absent a court order. Trade Center also requests $1,860 in monetary sanctions against Plaintiff and her counsel.

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II. LEGAL STANDARDS & DISCUSSION

A. Meet & Confer Requirement

A motion to compel further responses to a request for production must be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration in compliance with Code of Civil Procedure section 2016.040. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.310(b)(2).) This declaration shall state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented by the motion. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.040.) Trade Center has satisfied this requirement. (Shabel declaration.)

B. Timeliness

California Civil Procedure section 2031.310(c) provides:

Unless notice of this motion is given within 45 days of the service of the verified response, or any supplemental verified response, or on or before any specific later date to which the demanding party and the responding party have agreed in writing, the demanding party waives any right to compel a further response to the demand.

Failure to make a motion within the specified period constitutes waiver of the right to compel a further response. (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410.) The time period is mandatory and jurisdictional in the sense that it renders the Court without authority to rule on motions to compel other than to deny them. (Ibid.)

Here, Trade Center propounded RFPs on Plaintiff on October 30, 2019. The RFPs were served via mail, therefore, Plaintiff’s responses were due by December 4, 2020. Plaintiff failed to serve any responses. In response to Trade Center’s December 9, 2019 letter inquiring about Plaintiff’s responses, Plaintiff’s counsel denied ever receiving the RFPs. Trade Center’s counsel then immediately faxed and mailed Plaintiff’s counsel a second copy of the RFPs, along with the fax confirmation report from October 30, 2019.

Plaintiff’s counsel sent a copy of Plaintiff’s responses on December 11, 2019, along with a letter stating they would be served by January 10, 2020 with a verification. The responses included objections, as to which Trade Center’s counsel informed Plaintiff’s counsel had already been waived.

Forty-five days, plus five days for service by mail, from January 10, 2020 was March 2, 2020. This motion to compel was filed on January 30, 2020. This motion is timely.

C. Motion to Compel Further

Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.310(a) provides:

On receipt of a response to a demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling, the demanding party may move for an order compelling further response to the demand if the demanding party deems that any of the following apply:

(1) A statement of compliance with the demand is incomplete.

(2) A representation of inability to comply is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive.

(3) An objection in the response is without merit or too general.

Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.310(b)(1) requires the motion to state specific facts justifying production of the documents. These specific facts must be in declaration. (Calcor Space Facility v. Superior Court (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 216, 224 (directing trial court to vacate its order compelling the defendant to produce records because the plaintiff had failed to provide specific facts showing good cause for their production).) “To establish good cause, a discovery proponent must identify a disputed fact that is of consequence in the action and explain how the discovery sought will tend in reason to prove or disprove that fact or lead to other evidence that will tend to prove or disprove the fact.” (Digital Music News LLC v Superior Court (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 216, 224 (identifying manner for establishing good cause under Calcor).)

Here, the RFPs contain seven requests seeking documents relating to the settlement of Plaintiff’s personal injury claims, submission of Plaintiff’s medical bills to the insurance carrier that settled those claims, and resolution of the lien claims of other medical providers who provided Plaintiff with medical services. Trade Center states it has no other means of obtaining the information contained in the requested documents and will be unable to prepare for trial without them.

Plaintiff opposes this motion on the grounds that she has not refused to produce the requested documents, rather she offered their production electronically or by allowing Trade Center to make copies of them because they are voluminous. Plaintiff shows that she produced the requested documents in her possession when her responses were served and agreed to make continual productions as she received more documents. The only objections Plaintiff made to Trade Center’s RFPs were to requests numbered 5 and 6. These objections were included in her tentative responses sent to Trade Center on December 11, 2019 but were withdrawn prior to serving the verified responses on January 8, 2020.

Trade Center counters that Plaintiff served unverified supplemental discovery responses only after this motion was filed. However, these responses included irrelevant documents and failed to produce all relevant documents in Plaintiff’s possession.

The Court finds Trade Center’s motion persuasive only as to the unverified, supplemental responses Plaintiff served after this motion was filed. Plaintiff did not refuse to produce all documents requested as Trade Center originally claimed.  Accordingly, to the extent that Plaintiff’s production of documents remains incomplete, the Court will order a further production.

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D. Monetary Sanctions

A court ruling on a request for discovery sanctions shall impose a monetary sanction against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel further response to a demand, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.310(h).)

Here, both parties seek monetary sanctions with Trade Center requesting $1,860 asserting that Plaintiff forced it to file the current motion to compel and Plaintiff seeking $2,250 in sanctions alleging that Trade Center filed its motion in violation of an agreement to extend Plaintiff’s response time, failed to schedule an informal discovery conference, and through related alleged misconduct.  While it has granted Trade Center’s motion in part, the Court cannot find that Plaintiff acted without substantial justification in responding to Trade Center’s discovery. Similarly, although Trade Center failed to schedule an IDC and abruptly filed its motion to compel, the Court did grant its motion in part based on an assessment of Plaintiff’s discovery response and, thus, denies Plaintiff’s sanctions request.  

E. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, Trade Center’s motion for an order compelling Plaintiff’s further responses to Trade Center’s Requests for Production, Set One, is GRANTED but only as to Plaintiff’s unverified, supplemental responses served after January 30, 2020.

Both parties’ requests for discovery sanctions are DENIED.

Trade Center is ordered to give notice of the Court’s ruling.

DATED: September 25, 2020

_____________________

Hon. Theresa M. Traber

Judge of the Superior Court

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