This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 04/04/2016 at 16:19:08 (UTC).

JANESSA NORRIS ET AL VS GRIFFITH PARK DUDE RANCH & BATH

Case Summary

On 12/31/2014 JANESSA NORRIS filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against GRIFFITH PARK DUDE RANCH BATH. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****8218

  • Filing Date:

    12/31/2014

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs, Petitioners and Guardian Ad Litems

ABBOTT SAVANNAH

ANDREASIAN HENRIK

FOX MADELINE

MORRIS RICHARD

NORRIS JANESSA

NORRIS JOLONNI

PAYAE JANIAH

TAYLOR FELECIA

Defendants and Respondents

DOES 1 TO 20

GRIFFITH PARK DUDE RANCH & BATH HOUSE

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorney

MY BED BUG LAWYER INC.

Defendant and Respondent Attorney

LAW OFFICE OF E. HOUSTON TOUCEDA APC

 

Court Documents

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. BREACH OF WARRANTY OF HABITABILITY (VIOLATION OF CIVIL CODE ? 1941.1); ETC

12/31/2014: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. BREACH OF WARRANTY OF HABITABILITY (VIOLATION OF CIVIL CODE ? 1941.1); ETC

COMPLAINT - CORRECTED OSC DATE

12/31/2014: COMPLAINT - CORRECTED OSC DATE

APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL

1/13/2015: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL

APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL

1/13/2015: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL

NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

1/26/2015: NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL

2/10/2015: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL

APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL

2/10/2015: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL

APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

2/27/2015: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

SUMMONS

3/6/2015: SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS AND COMPLAIN

4/17/2015: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS AND COMPLAIN

DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED COMPLIANT

5/8/2015: DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED COMPLIANT

[PROPOSED ORDER] AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC [AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES] PERSONAL INJURY COURTS ONLY (DEPARTMENT 91, 92,93,97)

6/15/2016: [PROPOSED ORDER] AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC [AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES] PERSONAL INJURY COURTS ONLY (DEPARTMENT 91, 92,93,97)

Minute Order

11/14/2016: Minute Order

Minute Order

11/28/2016: Minute Order

Minute Order

11/28/2016: Minute Order

EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER TRANFERRING CASE AND/OR TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE

11/29/2016: EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER TRANFERRING CASE AND/OR TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE

ORDER TRANSFERRING PERSONAL INJURY (P1) CASE TO INDEPENDENT CALENDAR (IC) COURT

12/16/2016: ORDER TRANSFERRING PERSONAL INJURY (P1) CASE TO INDEPENDENT CALENDAR (IC) COURT

Minute Order

12/16/2016: Minute Order

8 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/08/2015
  • Answer (GRIFFITH PARK DUDE RANCH & BATH HOUSE ) Filed by Attorney for Defendant/Respondent

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  • 04/17/2015
  • Proof of Service (served on Griffith Park Dude Ranch & Bath House, Inc.; ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

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  • 03/06/2015
  • Summons Filed Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/06/2015
  • Summons Issued Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/05/2015
  • Ord Apptng Guardian Ad Litem (FOR JANIAH PAYNE ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

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  • 03/05/2015
  • Ord Apptng Guardian Ad Litem (FOR JOLONNI NORRIS ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/27/2015
  • Application-Miscellaneous (FOR JANIAH PAYNE GUARDIAN AD LITEM(COPY) ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/27/2015
  • Application-Miscellaneous (FOR JOLONNI NORRIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM(COPY) ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

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  • 02/17/2015
  • Ord Apptng Guardian Ad Litem (FOR SAVANNAH ABBOTT ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/17/2015
  • Ord Apptng Guardian Ad Litem (FOR JOLONNI NORRIS ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

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  • 02/10/2015
  • Application-Miscellaneous (RESUBMITTED FOR JOLONNI NORRIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM(COPY) ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

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  • 02/10/2015
  • Application-Miscellaneous (FOR SAVANNAH ABBOTT GUARDIAN AD LITEM(COPY) ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

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  • 01/26/2015
  • Ord Apptng Guardian Ad Litem (FOR JANIAH PAYNE ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

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  • 01/13/2015
  • Application-Miscellaneous (FOR JANIAH PAYAE GUARDIAN AD LITEM(COPY) ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/13/2015
  • Application-Miscellaneous (FOR JOLONNI NORRIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM(COPY) ) Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

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  • 12/31/2014
  • Complaint

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC568218    Hearing Date: March 20, 2020    Dept: NCD

TENTATIVE RULING

Calendar: 12

Date: 3/20/20

Case No: BC 568218

Case Name: Norris, et al. v. Griffith Park Dude Ranch & Bath House, Inc., et al.

MOTION FOR JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE

VERDICT AND FOR NEW TRIAL

Moving Party: “Plaintiff(S)”

Responding Party: Defendant Griffith Park Dude Ranch and Bath House, Inc.

RELIEF REQUESTED:

Order granting a JNOV and new trial

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

Plaintiffs, eight residents at a residential apartment complex in Glendale, bring this action against their residential landlord, defendant Griffith Park Dude Ranch & Bath House, Inc., alleging that defendant has owned, managed, operated and maintained their residences in uninhabitable condition, failing to property maintain pest control on the property, so that plaintiffs have endured slum-type living conditions resulting in financial loss, personal injury and emotional distress.

The matter went to a jury trial in November of 2019. Judgment was entered on the special verdict in favor of defendants and it was adjudged that plaintiffs recover nothing by reason of their complaint against Griffith Park Dude Ranch and Bath House, Inc., with defendant to recover from Janessa Norris, Richard Morris and Henrik Andreasian such attorney’s fees as are allowed and appropriate pursuant to contract or statute and costs.

On January 23, 2020, Notice of Entry of Judgment was served and filed.

ANALYSIS:

Plaintiffs argue that they are entitled to a new trial or judgment notwithstanding the verdict arguing that the preponderance of the evidence clearly indicated that the jury should have reached a different result in connection with the causes of action in this case.

CCP § 629 permits a court to render judgment notwithstanding the verdict “whenever a motion for a directed verdict for the aggrieved party should have been granted had a previous motion been made.”

CCP § 630, which addresses a motion for a directed verdict, does not specify the grounds or standards for granting a directed verdict.

Case law provides: “A motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict may be granted only if it appears from the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the party securing the verdict, that there is no substantial evidence in support.” Sweatman v. Department of Veterans Affairs (2001) 25 Cal.4th 62, 68, citing Hauter v. Zogarts (1975) 14 Cal. 3d 104, 110.

The standard of review on a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict is de novo, the same standard applied by the trial court, “whether any substantial evidence-- contradicted or uncontradicted-- supports the jury’s conclusion.” Sweatman, at 68.

With respect to a motion for JNOV, the court may not weigh evidence or judge the credibility of witnesses, as it may do on a motion for new trial but must accept the evidence tending to support the verdict as true, unless on its face such evidence is inherently incredible. Stubblefield Construction v. City of San Bernardino (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 687, 703.

With respect to the motion to the extent it seeks a new trial, relief is sought under CCP section 657, which provides, in pertinent part:

“The verdict may be vacated and any other decision may be modified or vacated, in whole or in part, and a new or further trial granted on all or part of the issues, on the application of the party aggrieved, for any of the following causes, materially affecting the substantial rights of such party:…

6. Insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict or other decision, or the verdict or other decision is against law.”

In considering a motion for a new trial, the evidence must be construed in favor of the prevailing party and all reasonable inferences must be presumed in favor of the judgment. Kuhn v. Department of General Services (1994) 22 Cal. App. 4th 1627, 1632. A new trial may only be granted on a finding of prejudicial error, and there is no discretion to grant a new trial for harmless error. Sherman v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc. (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 1152, 1161.

With respect to a motion for new trial on the ground of insufficiency of the evidence, CCP § 657 specifically provides:

“A new trial shall not be granted upon the ground of insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict or other decision, nor upon the ground of excessive or inadequate damages, unless after weighing the evidence the court is convinced from the entire record, including reasonable inferences therefrom, that the court or jury clearly should have reached a different verdict or decision.”

On review, the appellate court will accept the trial court’s credibility determinations if supported by substantial evidence. Enyart v. City of Los Angeles (Second District 1999) 17 Cal.App.4th 499, 507.

Plaintiffs here argue that plaintiffs produced evidence that clearly established by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant was liable for the injuries sustained by plaintiffs, arguing that at trial there was undisputed testimony that no pest control for bedbugs was ever performed in either of the plaintiffs’ apartment units, undisputed testimony that the defendants were ordered by both the Los Angeles Department of Health and the Glendale Code Compliance that pest control was to be performed, which was never done, and evidence of bedbugs, bedbug bites and the physical and emotional consequences of the bedbug exposure.

Plaintiffs also seem to argue that the testimony of defendant Michael Eng and Bill Swink was inconsistent and vague, while the testimony of Thomas Soler of Glendale Code Complaince, the PMK of Guarantee Pest Control, plaintiffs and percipient witnesses support a finding of liability on the part of defendants.

Under CCP section 658, when an application for a new trial “is made for a cause mentioned in the first, second, third and fourth subdivisions of Section 657, it must be made upon affidavits; otherwise, it must be made on the minutes of the court.”

The new trial motion here is based on Section 657(6), which must be made on the minutes of the court.

Under CCP section 660, governing the conduct of a hearing on a motion for a new trial:

“On the hearing of such motion, reference may be had in all cases to the pleadings and orders of the court on file, and when the motion is made on the minutes, reference may also be had to any depositions and documentary evidence offered at the trial and to the report of the proceedings on the trial taken by the phonographic reporter, or to any certified transcript of such report or if there be no such report or certified transcript, to such proceedings occurring at the trial as are within the recollection of the judge; when the proceedings at the trial have been phonographically reported, but the reporter's notes have not been transcribed, the reporter must upon request of the court or either party, attend the hearing of the motion and shall read his notes, or such parts thereof as the court, or either party, may require.”

The motion here does not refer to the pleadings and orders of the court or submit any transcripts. The only declaration submitted is from counsel, who states, very generally, “The facts set forth in the above motion are true and correct to the best of my knowledge.” [Virag Decl. ¶ 3]. The motion must accordingly be based on proceedings which are “within the recollection of the judge,” making it difficult for an outsider to evaluate the motion, particularly with few facts and when events are disputed by the responding party.

Without any specific evidence to review, the court cannot find that it did not support the jury’s verdict. Moreover, it appears from the special verdict that the jury did not ignore the liability evidence, as plaintiffs seem to urge, but found that defendants had engaged in negligence, that there were materially defective conditions affecting habitability in the units, and that defendants failed to timely abate conditions they had been notified by a public health officer or employee to abate or repair. The jury did not, however, find that the conduct was a substantial factor in causing injury or harm to plaintiffs. This appears to be largely a credibility issue, and plaintiffs point to no evidence from which it can be determined that there was any error in the jury’s determination.

As pointed out in the opposition, under CACI 107:

“A witness is a person who has knowledge related to this case. You will have to decide whether you believe each witness and how important each witness's testimony is to the case. You may believe all, part, or none of a witness's testimony.

In deciding whether to believe a witness's testimony, you may consider, among other factors, the following:

(a) How well did the witness see, hear, or otherwise sense what he or she described in court?

(b) How well did the witness remember and describe what happened?

(c) How did the witness look, act, and speak while testifying?

(d) Did the witness have any reason to say something that was not true? For example, did the witness show any bias or prejudice or have a personal relationship with any of the parties involved in the case or have a personal stake in how this case is decided?

(e) What was the witness's attitude toward this case or about giving testimony?

Sometimes a witness may say something that is not consistent with something else he or she said. Sometimes different witnesses will give different versions of what happened. People often forget things or make mistakes in what they remember. Also, two people may see the same event but remember it differently. You may consider these differences, but do not decide that testimony is untrue just because it differs from other testimony.

However, if you decide that a witness did not tell the truth about something important, you may choose not to believe anything that witness said. On the other hand, if you think the witness did not tell the truth about some things but told the truth about others, you may accept the part you think is true and ignore the rest.

Do not make any decision simply because there were more witnesses on one side than on the other. If you believe it is true, the testimony of a single witness is enough to prove a fact.”

The opposition argues that the medical records of two plaintiffs indicated that each of them had scabies, not bedbugs, and that plaintiff Norris and her child had never sought or received any treatment for a dermatological condition such as rash or bed bud bites. The opposition also argues that the evidence suggested that plaintiffs may have unwittingly brought bedbugs to the premises, and that the jury was entitled to give little weight to plaintiffs’ testimony without corroborating evidence concerning their harm, when the testimony sounded scripted, hyperbolic, and false. There does not appear to be any insufficiency of the evidence established here, and the motion should be denied.

The moving papers also argue briefly that there was jury misconduct here, arguing that due to the outcome, it appears the jury did not follow the law and weigh the evidence correctly or apply the correct burden of proof. The motion also indicates, without supporting evidence, that plaintiff’s counsel attempted to reach out to numerous jurors, none of whom responded to any inquiries, which raises further serious doubts as to the jury’s apparent disregard for the evidence at trial.

Under CCP § 657, a new trial may be granted based on:

“2. Misconduct of the jury; and whenever any one or more of the jurors have been induced to assent to any general or special verdict, or to a finding on any question submitted to them by the court, by a resort to the determination of chance, such misconduct may be proved by the affidavit of any one of the jurors.”

Evidence Code § 1150 sets forth the evidence permitted to test a verdict:

“(a) Upon an inquiry as to the validity of a verdict, any otherwise admissible evidence may be received as to statements made, or conduct, conditions, or events occurring, either within or without the jury room, of such a character as is likely to have influenced the verdict improperly. No evidence is admissible to show the effect of such statement, condition, or event upon a juror either in influencing him to assent to or dissent from the verdict or concerning the mental processes by which it was determined.”

As an initial matter, and as argued in the opposition, this ground for a new trial was not identified in the notice of motion.

Under CCP § 659:

“The party intending to move for a new trial must file with the clerk and serve upon each adverse party notice of his intention to move for a new trial, designating the grounds upon which the motion will be made and whether the same will be made and whether the same will be made upon affidavits or the minutes of the court or both, either

1. Before the entry of judgment; or

2. Within 15 days of the date of mailing notice of entry of judgment by the clerk of the court pursuant to Section 664.5, or service upon him by any party of written notice of entry of judgment; or within 180 days after the entry of judgment, whichever is earliest;...

Said notice of intention to move for a new trial shall be deemed to be a motion for a new trial on the grounds stated in the notice.”

(Emphasis added).

Accordingly, it is held that a motion may not later be pursued on a ground not specified in the notice of intention. See Wagner v. Singleton (1982) 133 Cal.App.3d 69, 72.

The motion should accordingly be denied to the extent it argues misconduct of the jury.

In addition, there is no evidence submitted or affidavits of the jurors which would support an argument that there was juror misconduct.

Again, as noted above, under CCP section 658, when an application for a new trial “is made for a cause mentioned in the first, second, third and fourth subdivisions of Section 657, it must be made upon affidavits; otherwise, it must be made on the minutes of the court.”

Misconduct of the jury is the second subdivision, so the motion must be made upon affidavits. The declaration does not address this misconduct of the jury argument.

The motion itself simply speculates that since the jury found as it did, in the face of what plaintiffs characterize as a mountain of evidence in their favor, there must have been some misconduct. This is insufficient to establish juror misconduct; if it were not, every unsuccessful party could argue that there had been juror misconduct. There is also a suggestion that since the jurors would not speak to counsel about the verdict, the jurors were hiding something about deliberations. This argument is also insufficient to support any finding of misconduct of the jury.

The motion accordingly is denied.

Here, the last date upon which the court has the power to rule on a motion for a new trial is set forth in CCP § 660, which provides, in pertinent part:

“Except as otherwise provided in Section 12a of this code, the power of the court to rule on a motion for a new trial shall expire 60 days from and after the mailing of notice of entry of judgment by the clerk of the court pursuant to Section 664.5 or 60 days from and after service on the moving party by any party of written notice of the entry of the judgment, whichever is earlier….”

This time deadline also applies to motions for JNOV. CCP §629 (b)

Accordingly, since the Notice of Ruling was mailed by the clerk on January 23, 2020, the court must rule on this motion by no later than March 23, 2020.

RULING:

Plaintiffs’ Motion for JNOV CCP Section 629 Motion for New Trial Sections 657 et seq. is DENIED.

With respect to judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the court cannot find in this matter that viewed in the light most favorable to the party securing the verdict, there is no substantial evidence in support of the verdict.

As to the motion for a new trial, the moving papers fail to establish that the verdict was not supported by the evidence, and the court, after weighing the evidence, cannot find that it is convinced from the entire record, including reasonable inferences therefrom, that the jury should have reached a different verdict. To the extent there is an argument that there was misconduct of the jury, this ground is in no way identified in the notice of motion, as required under CCP § 659. The motion also fails to submit sufficient evidence from which the court could find misconduct of the jury.

GIVEN THE RECENT CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, UNTIL FURTHER ORDERED, DEPARTMENT D WILL ALLOW APPEARANCES ONLY BY COURTCALL.

Please make such arrangements in advance if you wish to appear via CourtCall at (888) 882-6878 (or www.courtcall.com). Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are not to personally appear, absent a compelling emergency reason. If none of the litigants on a matter set up a CourtCall appearance, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative.