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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/06/2019 at 11:54:30 (UTC).

OLIVIA VAATETE VS ZETA GRAFF

Case Summary

On 07/13/2015 OLIVIA VAATETE filed a Personal Injury - Assault/Battery/Defamation lawsuit against ZETA GRAFF. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are HOLLY E. KENDIG and ELAINE LU. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7724

  • Filing Date:

    07/13/2015

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Assault/Battery/Defamation

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

HOLLY E. KENDIG

ELAINE LU

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

VAATETE OLIVIA

Defendants and Respondents

DOES 1 THROUGH 20

GRAFF ZETA

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

DINSMORE & SANDELMANN LLP

MITCH BRENNAN JAMES

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

NUTENKO ELENA

THE BOESCH LAW GROUP

STALLING AMY LEE

COLEMAN FROST LLP

 

Court Documents

SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

5/21/2018: SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

8/8/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

Separate Statement

10/22/2018: Separate Statement

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

12/17/2018: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

1/7/2019: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Ex Parte Application

2/15/2019: Ex Parte Application

Notice

3/8/2019: Notice

Notice

5/15/2019: Notice

PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

8/27/2015: PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF MOTION AND MOTION OF DEFENDANT ZETA GRAFF FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER DUE TO DISCOVERY STAY

5/4/2016: NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF MOTION AND MOTION OF DEFENDANT ZETA GRAFF FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER DUE TO DISCOVERY STAY

DECLARATION OF SCOTT DINSMORE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP ? 425.16

5/12/2016: DECLARATION OF SCOTT DINSMORE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP ? 425.16

PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP ? 425.16; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THERE0F

5/12/2016: PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP ? 425.16; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THERE0F

DECLARATION OF TAEJOON LEE TN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP ? 425.16

5/12/2016: DECLARATION OF TAEJOON LEE TN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP ? 425.16

DECLARATION OF MELISSA TORRE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP ? 425.16

5/12/2016: DECLARATION OF MELISSA TORRE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP ? 425.16

PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO DEFENDANT'S ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT'S REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF SPECIAL MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP 426.16

5/20/2016: PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO DEFENDANT'S ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT'S REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF SPECIAL MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO CCP 426.16

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION OF DEFENDANT ZETA GRAFF FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES AND DECLARATION OF ELENA NUTENKO IN SUPPORT THEREOF

7/25/2016: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION OF DEFENDANT ZETA GRAFF FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES AND DECLARATION OF ELENA NUTENKO IN SUPPORT THEREOF

Minute Order

8/23/2016: Minute Order

STATUS REPORT RE APPEAL

8/21/2017: STATUS REPORT RE APPEAL

111 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/17/2019
  • at 09:30 AM in Department 42, Holly E. Kendig, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Rescheduled by Court

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  • 06/17/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Jury Trial ((7 to 10 days)) - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 06/06/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 06/04/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 42, Holly E. Kendig, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Rescheduled by Court

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  • 06/04/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

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  • 05/15/2019
  • Notice (of Court Orders); Filed by Olivia Vaatete (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/16/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses (responses to request for production, request for sanctions in the amount of $937.50) - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Court

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  • 04/16/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses (responses to form interrogatories; request for sanctions in the amount of $1555) - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Court

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  • 04/16/2019
  • Order (re: Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production and Form Interrogatories); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/16/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses respo...)); Filed by Clerk

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208 More Docket Entries
  • 08/17/2015
  • NOTICE OF APPEARANCE

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  • 08/17/2015
  • CIVIL DEPOSIT

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  • 08/17/2015
  • Notice; Filed by Zeta Graff (Defendant)

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  • 08/17/2015
  • Receipt; Filed by Zeta Graff (Defendant)

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  • 07/14/2015
  • OSC-Failure to File Proof of Serv; Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/14/2015
  • ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING

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  • 07/13/2015
  • Complaint; Filed by Olivia Vaatete (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/13/2015
  • SUMMONS

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  • 07/13/2015
  • COMPLAINT FOR: 1) DEFAMATION LIBEL AND LIBEL PER SE (CIVIL CODE SECTION 45A); ETC

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  • 07/13/2015
  • PLARNTJFFS STATEMENT OF DAMAGES

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC587724    Hearing Date: April 15, 2021    Dept: 26

IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THE COURT STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL COUNSEL AND ALL PARTIES TO APPEAR REMOTELY FOR NON-TRIAL AND NON-EVIDENTIARY MATTERS, INCLUDING THIS MOTION.

 

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

OLIVIA VAATETE,

Plaintiff,

v.

ZETA GRAFF, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.: BC587724 (consolidated with BC614589)

Hearing Date: April 15, 2021

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

plaintiff’S motion to COMPEL the deposition of defendant zeta graff

Background

On July 13, 2015, Plaintiff Olivia Vaatete (“Plaintiff”) filed the lead action, BC587724, against defendant Zeta Graff (“Defendant”). The lead action asserts five causes of action for (1) Defamation Libel, (2) Defamation Slander, (3) False Light, (4) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and (5) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. On March 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed the related action, BC614589, asserting the same causes of action against Defendant except for the second cause of action for Slander. On April 11, 2016, the two actions were deemed related. (Minute Order 4/11/16.) On August 23, 2018, both actions were consolidated for all purposes.

Both actions arise out of alleged defamatory statements that Defendant allegedly made about Plaintiff. The Complaint alleges the following: Defendant became romantically involved with an individual (“Mr. X”) who had been romantically involved with Plaintiff prior to his relationship with Defendant. (Complaint ¶ 5.) Defendant erroneously believed that Mr. X was having a sexual relationship with Plaintiff during the entire course of Defendant’s relationship with Mr. X. (Complaint ¶ 7.) Enraged, Defendant began in early 2015 publishing defamatory statements about Plaintiff to third persons orally, in writing, and on the internet. (Complaint ¶ 8.)

On April 12, 2019, Defendant filed a notice of stay of proceedings due to the pendency of a bankruptcy action proceeding. On April 16, 2019, the Court stayed the action in light of the bankruptcy proceedings. On December 20, 2019, Plaintiff obtained an order granting relief from the automatic stay. Accordingly, the Court lifted the stay in the action. (Minute Order 12/20/19.)

On October 9, 2020, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to compel the deposition of Defendant.[1] No opposition or reply has been filed.

Legal Standard

“Any party may obtain discovery . . . by taking in California the oral deposition of any person, including any party to the action. The person deposed may be a natural person, an organization such as a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, or a governmental agency.” (CCP § 2025.010.)

Code of Civil Procedure § 2025.450(a) provides: “If, after service of a deposition notice, a party to the action . . . , without having served a valid objection under Section 2025.410, fails to appear for examination, or to proceed with it, or to produce for inspection any document . . . described in the deposition notice, the party giving the notice may move for an order compelling the deponent’s attendance and testimony, and the production for inspection of any document . . . described in the deposition notice.” 

Code of Civil Procedure § 2025.450(b) provides: “A motion under subdivision (a) shall comply with both of the following: 

  1. The motion shall set forth specific facts showing good cause justifying the production for inspection of any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing described in the deposition notice. 

  1. The motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040, or, when the deponent fails to attend the deposition and produce the documents, electronically stored information, or things described in the deposition notice, by a declaration stating that the petitioner has contacted the deponent to inquire about the nonappearance.” 

Code of Civil Procedure § 2025.450(c) provides, “(1) If a motion under subdivision (a) is granted, the court shall impose a monetary sanction . . . in favor of the party who noticed the deposition and against the deponent or the party with whom the deponent is affiliated, unless the court finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.” 

Under Code of Civil Procedure § 2023.030(a), “[t]he court may impose a monetary sanction ordering that one engaging in the misuse of the discovery process, or any attorney advising that conduct, or both pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by anyone as a result of that conduct. . . . If a monetary sanction is authorized by any provision of this title, the court shall impose that sanction 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.”  Failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery is a misuse of the discovery process.  (CCP § 2023.010(d).) 

Meet and Confer

Code of Civil Procedure § 2025.450 requires the motion to be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Code of Civil Procedure § 2016.040. (CCP § 2025.450.) Code of Civil Procedure § 2016.040 provides that “[a] meet and confer declaration in support of a motion shall state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented by the motion.” (CCP § 2016.040.) “[W]hen the deponent fails to attend the deposition and produce the documents, electronically stored information, or things described in the deposition notice, by a declaration stating that the petitioner has contacted the deponent to inquire about the nonappearance.” (CCP § 2025.450(b)(2).)

Discussion

On July 15, 2020, Plaintiff requested Defendant identify available dates for a deposition. (Mitch Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 2.) After Defendant failed to identify any dates for a remote deposition, Plaintiff sent a deposition notice on July 31, 2020 scheduling a remote deposition for August 12, 2020. (Mitch Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 1.) No objection was made to deposition notice. (Mitch Decl. ¶ 3.) However, Defendant was unable to appear at the deposition as Defendant was sick with COVID-19 symptoms. (Mitch Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. 2.) “This was the same excuse she has used to explain why she would not cooperate with other orders and/or legal proceedings since at least April 2020.” (Mitch Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. 3.) After Defendant was unable to appear for the deposition, Plaintiff’s Counsel reached out to Defendant’s counsel to seek confirmation on Defendant’s medical condition and to request alternative dates for the deposition. (Mitch Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. 4.)

“Defendant never provided any confirmation as to the medical diagnosis of Defendant, and Defendant never provided any alternative available dates for deposition.” (Mitch Decl. ¶ 5.)

Accordingly, as Defendant has been noticed to appear at a deposition and failed to appear, without properly objecting to the notice or providing alternative dates, Plaintiff’s motion to compel the deposition is GRANTED.

Sanctions

Plaintiff requests sanctions in the sum of $1,685.00 against Defendant, specifically 3.5 hours drafting the instant motion, and an anticipated 1.5 reviewing the opposition, drafting a reply, and appearing at the hearing at $375 an hour. (Mitch Decl. ¶ 6.)

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.450(c), “[i]f a motion [to compel a deposition] is granted, the court shall impose a monetary sanction . . . in favor of the party who noticed the deposition and against the deponent or the party with whom the deponent is affiliated, unless the court finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.” (Id., [italics added].) Accordingly, sanctions are mandatory unless Defendant acted with substantial justification or other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.

Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is granted in the amount of $1,200.00. Defendant Zeta Graff is ordered to pay sanctions in the amount of $1,200.00 to Plaintiff, by and through Counsel, within 30 days.

CONCLUSIONS AND ORDER

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff Olivia Vaatete’s motion to compel the deposition of Defendant Zeta Graff is GRANTED. Defendant Zeta Graff is ordered to appear for deposition, remotely or with any other necessary precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, within thirty (30) days of notice of this order at a date and time noticed by Plaintiff. (CCP § 2035.310.)

Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is granted in the amount of $1,200.00. Defendant Zeta Graff is ordered to pay sanctions in the amount of $1,200.00 to Plaintiff, by and through Counsel, within 30 days.

Plaintiff is ordered to provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: April 15, 2021 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court


[1] Plaintiff served the instant motion on Defendant’s most recent Counsel before Counsel was relieved on October 14, 2020. The Order Relieving Defendant’s Counsel that was served on Defendant noted this motion and hearing date as upcoming. Further the order specified that “Client’s failure to serve discovery responses, oppose a discovery motion, or appear at a discovery motion hearing (including those listed above) may result in the discovery motion being granted and monetary sanctions being awarded against Client.” (Order 10/14/20, Attachment A.) The Proof of service reflects service of the order on Defendant on October 15, 2020.

Case Number: BC587724    Hearing Date: November 16, 2020    Dept: 26

IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THE COURT STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL COUNSEL AND ALL PARTIES TO APPEAR REMOTELY FOR NON-TRIAL AND NON-EVIDENTIARY MATTERS, INCLUDING THIS MOTION.

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

OLIVIA VAATETE,

Plaintiff,

v.

ZETA GRAFF, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.: BC587724

Hearing Date: November 16, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

Defendant’S motion to COMPEL RESPONSES TO FORM INTERROGATORIES, set one

Background

On July 13, 2015, Plaintiff Olivia Vaatete (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action against defendant Zeta Graff (“Defendant”). The action arises out of alleged defamatory statements that Defendant made about Plaintiff. The Complaint alleges the following: Defendant became romantically involved with an individual (“Mr. X”) who had been romantically involved with Plaintiff prior to his relationship with Defendant. (Complaint ¶ 5.) Defendant erroneously believed that Mr. X was having a sexual relationship with Plaintiff during the entire course of Defendant’s relationship with Mr. X. (Complaint ¶ 7.) Enraged, Defendant began in early 2015 publishing defamatory statements about Plaintiff to third persons orally, in writing, and on the internet. (Complaint ¶ 8.) On April 12, 2019, Defendant filed a notice of stay of proceedings due to the pendency of a bankruptcy action proceeding. On April 16, 2019, the Court stayed the action in light of the bankruptcy proceedings. On December 20, 2019, Plaintiff obtained an order granting relief from the automatic stay. Accordingly, the Court lifted the stay in the action.

On July 21, 2020, Defendant filed the instant motion to compel responses to Form Interrogatories, Set One. On November 2, 2020, Plaintiff filed an opposition. No reply has been filed.

Discussion

On February 28, 2020, Defendant’s most recent counsel[1] substituted into this case and determined that the case file was incomplete. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 2.) On April 22, 2020, Defendant served the Form Interrogatories, set one. (Id. ¶ 6, Ex. C, D.) As of the filing of this motion, Defendant had not received Plaintiff’s responses to the Form Interrogatories. (Id. ¶ 11.)

In Opposition, Plaintiff contends that there was no basis for Defendant to have brought this motion. Plaintiff states that Defendant had previously served the Form Interrogatories, Set one on February 27, 2019, to which Plaintiff responded on April 3, 2019. (Mitch Decl. ¶¶ 3, 5, 7 Ex. 1, 5.) Moreover, Plaintiff served another response to Defendant’s RFA, set one, on August 4, 2020. (Mitch Decl. ¶ 10, Ex. 3.) As Plaintiff had previously responded to Defendant’s Form Interrogatories, Set One on April 3, 2019, the court agrees that there was no basis for Defendant to have brought the instant motion. Defendant’s most recent counsel’s failure to call Plaintiff’s counsel to inquire about the missing discovery responses that Defendant’s most recent counsel was missing from the files that he received from his predecessor defense counsel further reflects a lack of good faith in filing the instant motion.[2]

Sanctions

Plaintiff requests sanctions in the sum of $812.50. The request for sanctions is directed against Defendant -- not Defendant’s most recent counsel.

For the discovery motion on November 5, 2020, the court declined to award sanctions against Defendant because there was no indication that Defendant herself improperly filed this motion, but rather that Defendant’s most recent counsel improperly filed this motion. In doing so, however, the court placed Defendant on notice that the instant motion to compel set involved the same issues and did not appear to be a proper motion. The court provided Defendant an opportunity to withdraw the instant motion before the commencement of the hearing in order to avoid sanctions. Defendant has failed to do so and appears to be persisting in pursuing this motion despite notice of the lack of any basis to bring this motion. Thus, the court grants Plaintiff’s request for sanctions against Defendant in the amount of $812.50.

CONCLUSIONS AND ORDER

Defendant Zeta Graff’s Motion to Compel Responses to Form Interrogatories, Set One is DENIED.

Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is granted in the sum of $812.50. Defendant is ordered to pay Plaintiff, through counsel, sanctions of $812.50 within thirty days of notice of this order.

Plaintiff is ordered to provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: November 16, 2020 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court


[1] On October 14, 2020, the court granted Defendant’s most recent counsel’s request to be relieved.

[2] The parties also dispute proper service. As the issue of service is not dispositive of the instant ruling, the court declines to address the matter.

Case Number: BC587724    Hearing Date: November 05, 2020    Dept: 26

IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THE COURT STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL COUNSEL AND ALL PARTIES TO APPEAR REMOTELY FOR NON-TRIAL AND NON-EVIDENTIARY MATTERS, INCLUDING THIS MOTION.

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

OLIVIA VAATETE,

Plaintiff,

v.

ZETA GRAFF, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.: BC587724

Hearing Date: November 5, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

Defendant’S motion to compel RESPONSES TO REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION, set one

Background

On July 13, 2015, Plaintiff Olivia Vaatete (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action against defendant Zeta Graff (“Defendant”). Plaintiff asserts a claim for defamation. The Complaint alleges the following: Defendant became romantically involved with an individual (“Mr. X”) who had been romantically involved with Plaintiff prior to his relationship with Defendant. (Complaint ¶ 5.) Defendant erroneously believed that Mr. X was having a sexual relationship with Plaintiff during the entire course of Defendant’s relationship with Mr. X. (Complaint ¶ 7.) Enraged, Defendant began in early 2015 publishing defamatory statements about Plaintiff to third persons orally, in writing, and on the internet. (Complaint ¶ 8.) On April 12, 2019, Defendant filed a notice of stay of proceedings due to the pendency of a bankruptcy action pending. On April 16, 2019, the original hearing date for these motions, the Court stayed the action, placed the instant motions off calendar, and vacated all other dates including the June 17, 2019 trial. On December 20, 2019, Plaintiff obtained an order granting relief from the automatic stay due to the bankruptcy proceeding. Accordingly, the Court lifted the stay in the action.

On July 21, 2020, Defendant filed the instant motion to compel responses to Request For Production (“RPD”), Set One. On October 23, 2020, Plaintiff filed an opposition. No reply has been filed.

Discussion

On February 28, 2020, Defendant’s most recent counsel[1] substituted into this case. An attorney from Defendant’s most recent counsel’s office determined that the physical case file he received was incomplete. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 2.) On April 22, 2020, Defendant served Requests for Production set one on Plaintiff’s Counsel. (Id. ¶ 6, Ex. C.) Defendant states that Plaintiff has not provided responses to Defendant’s Requests for Production set one. (Id. ¶ 11.)

In Opposition, Plaintiff asserts that there was no basis for Defendant to bring this motion. Plaintiff states that Defendant had previously served a Request for Production set one on February 27, 2019, to which Plaintiff responded on April 3, 2019. (Mitch Decl. ¶¶ 3, 5, 7 Ex. 1, 5.) Moreover, Plaintiff served another response to RPD, Set one on August 4, 2020. (Mitch Decl. ¶ 10, Ex. 3.) As Plaintiff had previously responded to Request for Production, Set One on April 3, 2019 and again on August 4, 2020, there does not appear to have been any basis for the instant motion. Moreover, Defendant’s previous counsel’s failure to call Plaintiff’s counsel regarding the incomplete discovery responses further indicates a lack of good faith in filing the instant motion.[2]

Sanctions

Plaintiff requests sanctions in the sum of $1,450.00. However, Plaintiff requests sanctions only against Defendant -- not Defendant’s previous counsel.

Given the record before this court, there is no indication that Defendant herself improperly filed this motion or was even aware of its filing prior to her Counsel filing it. Instead, the evidence demonstrates that Defendant’s counsel is the party who improperly filed this motion. There is no basis for sanctions against Defendant, and the court denies sanctions against Defendant at this juncture.

However, the court notes that prior to being relieved, Defendant’s former counsel filed two additional motions – a motion to deem requests for admission admitted set for November 9, 2020 and a motion to compel Plaintiff’s responses to form interrogatories set for November 16, 2020. A cursory review of those motions and corresponding oppositions indicates that these additional motions appear to involve similar issues. Defendant herself has now been placed on notice that her former counsel’s filing of the instant motion was improper because prior to his substitution, Defendant’s former counsel previously propounded the same discovery, and Plaintiff already responded. If Defendant does not file and serve a notice of withdrawal of both pending motions by 4:30 pm on November 6, 2020, and if the court denies both of those motions on the same grounds as the instant motion, the court will likely impose sanctions against Defendant personally for maintaining a frivolous motion and thereby abusing discovery.

CONCLUSIONS AND ORDER

Defendant Zeta Graff’’s Motion to Compel Responses to Request for Production, set one is DENIED.

If Defendant does not file and serve a notice of withdrawal of both pending discovery motions (Defendant’s motion to deem requests for admission admitted set for November 9, 2020 and Defendant’s motion to compel Plaintiff’s responses to form interrogatories set for November 16, 2020) by 4:30 pm on November 6, 2020, and if the court denies both of those motions on the same grounds as the instant motion, the court will likely impose sanctions against Defendant personally for maintaining a frivolous motion and thereby abusing discovery.

Both Parties request for sanctions are DENIED.

Plaintiff is ordered to provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: November 5, 2020 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court

[1] On October 14, 2020, the court granted the motion to be relieved brought by Defendant’s most recent counsel, David C. Bolstad, Esq. On October 15, 2020, Counsel (Bolstad) filed proof of service of notice of the court’s order granting his motion to be relieved.

[2] The parties also argue as to proper service. As it is not dispositive of the instant ruling the court declines to address the matter.

Case Number: BC587724    Hearing Date: October 14, 2020    Dept: 26

Defense counsel, David C. Bolstad and Safarian Choi & Bolstad (“Counsel”), move to be relieved as counsel for Defendant Zeta Graff (“Client”). On September 17, 2020, Counsel filed the instant motion to be relieved as counsel.

Counsel have filed a form MC-051 and lodged with the Court a copy of the proposed order on form MC-053 pursuant to CRC Rule 3.1362. However, Counsel have not filed a declaration on form MC-052. Instead, Counsel have drafted and provided a declaration not on form MC-052.

Counsel’s Declaration states that Counsel served Client via mail and email at Client’s last known mailing address. However, Counsel fail to state whether or not they have confirmed Client’s address as current within the last 30 days, as required.

Counsel states that they should be permitted to withdraw because Client has breached an agreement or obligation as to expenses or fees. Further, there has been a complete breakdown in communication between Counsel and Client such that it is not feasible to continue Counsel’s representation in this matter.

Counsel is ordered to electronically file a revised proposed order on form MC-053 prior to the hearing on this motion and provide a supplemental declaration stating the efforts that Counsel has made to confirm Client’s current mailing address within the last 30 days. Otherwise, the court would be inclined to deny this motion without prejudice.

In addition, Counsel should file a revised proposed order that identifies all upcoming hearings and lists the address of the Court in all items. The proposed order on form MC-053 must include the following additional language:

Case Number: BC587724    Hearing Date: June 29, 2020    Dept: 26

IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THE COURT STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL COUNSEL AND ALL PARTIES TO APPEAR REMOTELY FOR NON-TRIAL AND NON-EVIDENTIARY MATTERS, INCLUDING THIS MOTION.

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

OLIVIA VAATETE,

Plaintiff,

v.

ZETA GRAFF.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC587724

Hearing Date: June 29, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

PLAINTIFF’S motion to compel FURTHER RESPONSES TO REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION and FORM INTERROGATORIES

Background

This is a defamation action arising out of alleged defamatory statements made by defendant Zeta Graff (“Defendant”) about plaintiff Olivia Vaatete (“Plaintiff”). The Complaint alleges the following: Defendant became romantically involved with an individual (“Mr. X”) who had been romantically involved with Plaintiff prior to his relationship with Defendant. (Complaint ¶ 5.) Defendant erroneously believed that Mr. X was having a sexual relationship with Plaintiff during the entire course of Defendant’s relationship with Mr. X. (Complaint ¶ 7.) Enraged, Defendant began publishing defamatory statements about Plaintiff to third persons orally, in writing, and on the internet in early 2015. (Complaint ¶ 8.)

On October 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant motions to compel further responses to request for production (“RPDs”) and form interrogatories (“FROGs”) from Defendant. Plaintiff also filed motions to compel further response to request for admission and special interrogatories that were scheduled to be heard in August 2019. On March 21, 2019, the parties appeared for an informal discovery conference (“IDC”). Following the IDC, the parties filed a stipulation pursuant to which (1) Plaintiff agreed to withdraw her motions to compel further response to request for admission and special interrogatories; (2) Plaintiff agreed to withdraw the motion to compel further responses to requests for production numbers 1, 2-5, 8, 11, 14, 31-35, and 37-38; (3) Defendant agreed to supplement FROGs 2.1, 12.1(d), 15.1, 16.1, 16.3 and 17.1; (4) Defendant agreed to supplement her response to RPDs 15, 16, 25, 28 and 30; and (5) Defendant agreed to provide supplemental responses by April 4, 2019. (Stip. filed 3/21/19.) The Court instructed that if any outstanding discovery disputes remained, the parties were to file a joint separate statement along with opposition and reply papers.

On April 3, 2019, Defendant filed opposition papers. On April 8, 2019, the parties filed joint statements concerning the RPDs and the FROGs. On April 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed reply papers.

On April 12, 2019, Defendant filed a notice of stay of proceedings due to the pendency of a bankruptcy action pending. On April 16, 2019 -- the original hearing date for these motions -- the Court stayed the action, placed the instant motions off calendar, and vacated all other dates including the June 17, 2019 trial.

On December 20, 2019, Plaintiff obtained an order granting relief from the automatic stay due to the bankruptcy proceeding. Accordingly, the Court lifted the stay in the action and placed Plaintiff’s discovery motions back on calendar. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the hearing for these motions was continued from March 25, 2020 to June 29, 2020. (Minute Orders 3/19/20, 4/29/20.)

Legal Standard

Requests for Production

Under Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.310, 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.

Form Interrogatory

Under Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.300, a Court may order a party to serve a further response when the Court finds that any of the following apply:

1) An answer to a particular interrogatory is evasive or incomplete.

2) An exercise of the option to produce documents under Section 2030.230 is unwarranted or the required specification of those documents is inadequate.

3) An objection to an interrogatory is without merit or too general.

Discussion

On October 14, 2015, Plaintiff propounded discovery on Defendant. (Decl. Stevenson ¶ 4.) After an anti-SLAPP motion, appeal, and petition to the Supreme Court were all decided against Defendant, Defendant served responses to discovery on August 31, 2018. (Id.) Counsel for Plaintiff and Defendant exchanged correspondence on October 17, 2018. However, the parties were unable to come to a resolution. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) On October 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant motions to compel further responses to RPDs and FROGs. On March 21, 2019, the parties participated in an IDC. As it relates to the instant motions, the parties stipulated that (1) Plaintiff agreed to withdraw the motion to compel further responses to requests for production numbers 1, 2-5, 8, 11, 14, 31-35, and 37-38; (2) Defendant agreed to supplement her responses to FROGs 2.1, 12.1(d), 15.1, 16.1, 16.3 and 17.1; (3) Defendant agreed to supplement her responses to RPDs 15, 16, 25, 28 and 30; and (4) Defendant agreed to provide supplemental responses by April 4, 2019. (Stip. filed 3/21/19.)

Based on the parties’ joint statement, RPDs 6-7, 9-10, 12-13, 15-16, 25, 28, 30, 36 remain at issue. Likewise, FROGs 2.1, 12.1, 15.1, 16.1, 16.3 and 17.1 remain at issue.

Meet and Confer

Defendant opposes both motions on the ground that Plaintiff did not properly meet and confer in good faith in order to informally resolve any outstanding discovery disputes. In reply, Plaintiff’s counsel asserts that Plaintiff provided a three-page meet and confer letter prior to filing the motion, which included an offer to extend deadlines so that meet and confer efforts could take place before the deadline to file the motion. Plaintiff’s counsel further argues that Defendant unequivocally responded that no further responses would be provided, thereby forcing Plaintiff to file these motions.

The Court notes that Plaintiff began her meet and confer efforts on October 17, 2018 and filed the instant motions five days later, on October 22, 2018. (Decl. Stevenson ¶¶ 5-6.) As such, the Court questions Plaintiff’s effort in attempting to resolve this matter informally. However, the Court also notes that Defendant did essentially stonewall Plaintiff when counsel for Defendant informed Plaintiff’s counsel that Defendant would not agree to provide further responses “so you may go forward with filing your motion.” (Moving Papers Ex. E.) Thus, the Court finds that although the meet and confer efforts between the parties were not ideal and that a resolution could have potentially been reached without court intervention, the meet and confer efforts were sufficient for the purposes of this motion. Thus, the Court proceeds to the merits of this motion.

RPDs

For discovery purposes, information is relevant if it might reasonably assist a party in evaluating the case, preparing for trial, or facilitating settlement. (Gonzalez v. Superior Court (1995) 33 Cal. App. 4th 1539, 1546.) Admissibility is not the test, and information, unless privileged, is discoverable if it might reasonably lead to admissible evidence. (Id.) These rules are applied liberally in favor of discovery and, contrary to popular belief, fishing expeditions are permissible in some cases. (Id.)

Following the parties’ participation in an IDC, RPDs 6-7, 9-10, 12-13, 15-16, 25, 28, 30, 36 remain at issue. In her moving papers, Plaintiff argues that these RPDs seek information supporting Defendant’s statements about Plaintiff. Plaintiff argues that the responses that Defendant has served evade responding to the actual questions posed and instead generally allude to Defendant’s belief that her computer was hacked. Plaintiff argues that the responses provide scant facts about the alleged hacking. Moreover, Plaintiff argues that to the extent that Defendant has objected to any of the RPDs, Defendant has failed to substantiate her objections either by producing a privilege log or otherwise.

In opposition, Defendant contends that the Court should deny Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses because Defendant has already served one set of supplemental discovery responses on March 5, 2019, and Defendant is preparing to serve yet further supplemental responses, rendering Plaintiff’s motion substantially if not completely moot. Defendant also asserts that she stands by her initial responses and objections on the ground that Plaintiff’s RPDs are overly broad, vague and ambiguous.

In reply, Plaintiff argues that as of April 9, 2019, Defendant has failed to serve verified supplemental responses as Defendant agreed to do pursuant to the parties’ stipulation. Moreover, Plaintiff argues that the opposition fails to substantiate Defendant’s objections to Plaintiff’s RPDs.

Though Defendant asserts that the instant motion has been mooted by her service of supplemental responses, Defendant has failed to provide the Court with a copy of such supplemental responses along with a proof of service. As such, the Court cannot determine that the motion is moot. Moreover, Plaintiff asserts in the reply that the responses that Defendant served on April 4, 2019 were unverified. Notably, as with any discovery response, a responding party must serve signed verifications for discovery responses. (CCP §§ 2030.250(a), 2031.250(a).) An unsworn response to discovery is equivalent to no response at all. (Appleton v. Superior Court (1988) 206 Cal.App.3d 632, 636.) Thus, to the extent that Defendant may have served responses on April 4, 2019, those responses are, based on Plaintiff’s representations, inadequate as they are unverified.

The Court further notes that for example in response to RPD 15, Defendant contends that Defendant has been out of the country and thus could not have provided a verification. Defendant asserts that the verification would be provided by April 16, 2019, thereby mooting most if not all of the instant motion. Due to the stay in proceedings, it is unclear whether Defendant has provided the verifications. If Defendant has provided the verifications, the motion may be moot. However, the Court will proceed to analyze the merits of the motion because Defendant has failed to provide a copy of her verifications and proof of service thereof.

RPD 6 requests: “All emails that you have prepared which refer to Plaintiff.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. On its face, RPD 6 requests all emails that Defendant has ever prepared which refer to Plaintiff. This inherently includes any emails between Defendant and her counsel which are protected by attorney-client privilege. However, information not protected by attorney-client privilege that concerns what Defendant has stated about Plaintiff or received about Plaintiff is directly relevant to the claims at issue in this defamation action. Thus, the Court modifies RPD 6 to include all emails that Defendant prepared from January 2015 to the present which refer to Plaintiff and which do not include emails exchanged with Defendant’s counsel.[1] The Court finally notes that to the extent that Defendant contends that the request is vague or ambiguous, Defendant is required to respond to the best of Defendant’s ability because the nature of the request is clear, namely emails that Defendant has prepared concerning Plaintiff. (See Deyo v. Kilbourne (1978) 84 Cal. App. 3d 771, 783 [finding that a party may not deliberately misconstrue a question for the purpose of supplying an evasive answer; instead, when the question is somewhat ambiguous, but the nature of the information sought is apparent, the proper solution is to provide an appropriate response.].)

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 6 as modified above.

RPD 7 requests: “All emails that you have received which refer to Plaintiff.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope like RPD 6. As noted above, this request encapsulates information protected by attorney-client privilege. However, as noted above, unprivileged information as to what Defendant has stated about Plaintiff or what information Defendant has received about Plaintiff is relevant as to the legal theories advanced in this case. Thus, the Court modifies RPD 7 to include all emails, except for those prepared by Defendant’s counsel, that Defendant has received from January 2015 to present which refer to Plaintiff.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 7 as modified above.

RPD 9 requests: “All text messages that you have prepared which refer to Plaintiff.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as mentioned above, the Court modifies RPD 9 to include all text messages that Defendant has prepared from January 2015 to the present which refer to Plaintiff and which do not include text messages prepared for Defendant’s counsel.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 9 as modified above.

RPD 10 requests: “All text messages that you have received which refer to Plaintiff.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 10 to include all text messages, except for those prepared by Defendant’s counsel, that Defendant has received from January 2015 to present which refer to Plaintiff.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 10 as modified above.

RPD 12 requests: “All DOCUMENTS reflecting any statement made by you which relates to the incidents or the damages which are the subject of this action.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 12 to include all documents except for those exchanged with Defendant’s counsel, reflecting any statement made by Defendant from January 2015 to present which relates to the incidents or the damages which are the subject of this action.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 12 as modified above.

RPD 13 requests: “All DOCUMENTS reflecting any statement made by any witness or other person which relates to the incidents or the damages which are the subject of this action.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 13 to include all documents, except for those prepared by or exchanged with Defendant’s counsel, reflecting any statement made by any witness or other person, from January 2015 to present which relates to the incidents or the damages which are the subject of this action.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 13 as modified above.

RPD 15 requests: “All DOCUMENTS relating to Plaintiff from any social media website (including but not limited to Facebook, My Space, Linkedln, Twitter, Playerblock, LiarsCheaqtersRus, Yelp, Bulshidio, Marshall Talk, News Central, or other similar websites) that you or your agents have viewed.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 15 to include all documents from January 2015 to present relating to Plaintiff from any social media website (including but not limited to Facebook, My Space, Linkedln, Twitter, Playerblock, LiarsCheaqtersRus, Yelp, Bulshidio, Marshall Talk, News Central, or other similar websites) that Defendant or her agents have viewed, except for those prepared by or exchanged with Defendant’s counsel.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 15 as modified above.

RPD 16 requests: All DOCUMENTS which support any contention that you did not publish any defamatory statements regarding Plaintiff.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 16 to include all documents, except for those prepared by or exchanged with Defendant’s counsel, which support any contention that Defendant did not publish any defamatory statements regarding Plaintiff from January 2015 to present.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 16 as modified above.

RPD 25 requests: “All DOCUMENTS which support any contention that Plaintiff made a pass at Taejoon Lee drunk during the school Christmas Party and that he couldn't get rid of her after that.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 25 to include all documents from January 2015 to present which support any contention Plaintiff made a pass at Taejoon Lee drunk during the school Christmas Party and that he couldn't get rid of her after that, except for those prepared by or exchanged with Defendant’s counsel.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 25 as modified above.

RPD 28 requests: “All DOCUMENTS which support any contention that Plaintiff was summoned for sex sessions at the Marcus home.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 28 to include all documents from January 2015 to present which support any contention that Plaintiff was summoned for sex sessions at the Marcus home, except for those prepared by or exchanged with Defendant’s counsel.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 28 as modified above.

RPD 30 requests: “All DOCUMENTS which support any defense or denial YOU have asserted to the claims made by Plaintiff in this action.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 30 to include all documents from January 2015 to present which support any defense or denial Defendant has asserted to the claims made by Plaintiff in this action, except for those prepared by or exchanged with Defendant’s counsel.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 30 as modified above.

RPD 36 requests: “All DOCUMENTS you prepared which relate to the incidents or the damages which are the subject of this action.”

The Court finds that this request is overbroad as to time and scope. For the same reasons as analyzed above, the Court modifies RPD 36 to include all documents from January 2015 to present that Defendant prepared which relate to the incidents or the damages which are the subject of this action, except for those prepared by or exchanged with Defendant’s counsel.

Thus, the motion is granted as to RPD 36 as modified above.

Privilege Log

In her moving papers, Plaintiff contends that Defendant should be ordered to provide a privilege log so that Plaintiff can determine what documents are truly protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Defendant opposes such a request on the ground that it would be unduly burdensome to require Defendant to produce a privilege log. Defendant first asserts that it is clear that any communications between Defendant and her counsel are protected and thus a privilege log is not required to confirm that attorney-client privilege applies. Defendant also argues that the second category of documents that Defendant seeks to protect are communications with the consulting expert retained by her attorneys in 2015-2016. Defendant argues that an objection based on attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine are facially valid, and Plaintiff and the Court have sufficient factual information to evaluate the claim of work-product privilege without forcing Defendant to incur the substantial time and expense involved in preparing a privilege log for those records.

In reply, Plaintiff argues that there is no justification for withholding documents related to expert witnesses and other information that is relevant to this action, and thus, the Court should order Defendant to produce a privilege log so that Plaintiff can determine whether certain documents are actually privileged.

“The attorney-client privilege attaches to a confidential communication between the attorney and the client and bars discovery of the communication irrespective of whether it includes unprivileged material.” (Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Superior Court (2009) 47 Cal.4th 725, 734; see also Wellpoint Health Networks, Inc. v. Superior Court (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 110, 119.) Of course, obtaining legal advice must be the dominant purpose of the communication. (Costco, supra at 735.)

As to communications between Defendant and Defendant’s counsel, the Court sees no reason why such communications should not be protected. Moreover, the Court sees no reason why Defendant would not be required to produce a privilege log to justify that the attorney-client privilege applies to such communications.

As it relates to parties that are hired as experts, DeLuca v. State Fish Co., Inc. (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 671, provides guidance that:

If the expert is solely retained as a consulting expert, the attorney-client privilege applies to communications made by the client or the attorney to the expert in order for the expert to properly advise counsel. As noted above, the attorney-client privilege applies to communications “to whom disclosure is reasonably necessary for the transmission of the information or the accomplishment of the purpose for which the lawyer is consulted” (Evid. Code, § 952); this clearly includes communications to a consulting expert. (Roush v. Seagate Technology, LLC, supra, 150 Cal.App.4th at p. 225; Shadow Traffic Network v. Superior Court (1994) 24 Cal.App.4th 1067, 1078–1079.) Similarly, a consulting expert's report, prepared at the attorney's request and with the purpose of assisting the attorney in trial preparation, constitutes work product (Williamson v. Superior Court (1978) 21 Cal.3d 829, 834), entitled to conditional protection and barred from discovery in the absence of good cause.

(DeLuca v. State Fish Co., Inc. (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 671, 689.)

“In general, when a party asserts the attorney-client privilege, that party has the burden of showing the preliminary facts necessary to support the privilege.” (Venture Law Group v. Superior Court (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 96, 102.) “The party asserting the privilege need only present facts which ‘support a prima facie claim of privilege.” (OXY Resources California LLC v. Superior Court (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 874, 894.) “After this burden is met, or where there is no dispute concerning the preliminary facts, the burden shifts to the party opposing the privilege to show either the claimed privilege does not apply, an exception exists, or there has been an express or implied waiver.” (Venture Law Group, supra at 102.)

The Court finds that Defendant has failed to carry her burden of establishing a prima facie claim of privilege. Notably, except for a vague reference to some expert witnesses that Defendant retained in 2015-2016, there are no actual facts explaining the nature and scope of what these experts were retained for and what kind of services they performed for Defendant. As such, Defendant’s objection to producing documents as to any purported experts is not well taken. If Defendant intends to maintain such an objection, Defendant is ordered to produce a privilege log justifying Defendant’s attorney client and work product objections. (Hernandez v. Superior Court (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 285, 292 [“The purpose of a “privilege log” is to provide a specific factual description of documents in aid of substantiating a claim of privilege in connection with a request for document production. (citation.) The purpose of providing a specific factual description of documents is to permit a judicial evaluation of the claim of privilege.”].)

FROGs

Plaintiff seeks further responses to FROGs 2.1, 12.1, 15.1, 16.1, 16.3 and 17.1. In her moving papers, Plaintiff argues that Defendant’s responses evade the actual questions posed and instead generally allude to Defendant’s belief that her computer was hacked. Plaintiff argues that Defendant’s responses provide scant facts about the alleged hacking to aid Plaintiff in determining whether Defendant was actually hacked and whether Plaintiff needs to join another party to this action. Moreover, Plaintiff argues that to the extent that Defendant objected to any of the FROGs, Defendant has failed to substantiate such objections either by producing a privilege log or otherwise.

In opposition, Defendant contends that the Court should deny Plaintiff’s motion to compel further discovery responses to FROGs because Defendant has already served one set of supplemental discovery responses on March 5, 2019, and Defendant is preparing to serve yet further supplemental responses, rendering Plaintiff’s motion substantially if not completely moot. Defendant also asserts that she stands by her initial responses and objections on the ground that Plaintiff’s FROGs are overly broad, vague and ambiguous. However, Defendant asserts that she has agreed and intends to supplement FROGs 2.1, 12.1, 15.1, 16.1, 16.3 and 17.1 by April 16, 2019.

In reply, Plaintiff argues that as of April 9, 2019, Defendant has failed to serve verified supplemental responses as Defendant agreed to do pursuant to the parties’ stipulation. Moreover, Plaintiff argues that the opposition fails to substantiate any objections Defendant made to Plaintiff’s RPDs.

Though Defendant asserts that she provided supplemental responses on April 4, 2019 and that intended to provide further supplemental responses by April 16, 2019, the original date of this motion, Defendant has failed to file any evidence demonstrating that she has in fact served the promised supplemental responses with verifications, despite the passage of more than a year since the date by which Defendant stated her intent to provide further responses. Accordingly, the Court will grant Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses to her FROGs in its entirety. By asserting that she will produce supplemental responses, Defendant essentially concedes that the information sought is relevant and not privileged. Moreover, the Court finds that the information sought by way of FROGs 2.1, 12.1, 15.1, 16.1, 16.3 and 17.1 is relevant and does not appear to be protected by any privilege.

Sanctions

Plaintiff seeks sanctions in the amount of $937.50 for the motion to compel further responses to RPDs and $1,555 for the motion to compel further responses to FROGs respectively. The Court finds that sanctions are not warranted. As mentioned previously, Plaintiff began its meet and confer efforts on October 17, 2018 – only five days before filing the instant motions. (Decl. Stevenson ¶¶ 5-6.) Though counsel for Defendant informed Plaintiff’s counsel that Defendant would not agree to provide further responses, the Court questions why Plaintiff’s meet and confer efforts began so late. Notably, Defendant served responses to discovery on August 31, 2018, and yet Plaintiff did not begin her meet and confer efforts until October 2018. Moreover, the Court finds that Defendant has acted with substantial justification in opposing this motion. As analyzed above, some of the RPDs were overbroad, thus warranting the objections and the opposition and necessitating modifications and narrowing of the RPDs.

Therefore, the Court declines to award sanctions.

CONCLUSIONS AND ORDER

Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to RPDs is GRANTED IN PART with the modifications identified above. Defendant is ordered to serve further, verified, code-compliant responses to Plaintiff’s RPDs 6-7, 9-10, 12-13, 15-16, 25, 28, 30, 36, without objections, within 20 days.

If Defendant intends to maintain her objection for attorney client or work product privilege as it relates to experts retained by counsel, Defendant is ordered to produce a privilege log justifying her attorney client and work product objections, within 20 days.

Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to FROGs 2.1, 12.1, 15.1, 16.1, 16.3 and 17.1 is granted. Defendant is ordered to serve further, verified, code-compliant responses to Plaintiff’s FROGs 2.1, 12.1, 15.1, 16.1, 16.3 and 17.1, without objections, within 20 days.

Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is DENIED.

Moving Party is ordered to provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: June 29, 2020 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court


[1] The complaint alleges that in early 2015, Defendant began publishing defamatory statements regarding Plaintiff. (Complaint ¶ 8.)

Case Number: BC587724    Hearing Date: January 17, 2020    Dept: 26

Defense counsel, Amy Lee Stalling and Phillip Wendel Boesch, Jr. (“Counsel”), move to be relieved as counsel for Defendant Zeta Graff (“Client”). On January 3, 2020, Counsel filed the instant motion to be relieved as counsel.

Counsel have filed a form MC-051 and MC-052 and have lodged with the Court a copy of the proposed order on form MC-053 pursuant to CRC Rule 3.1362.

The MC-052 form states that Counsel served Client via mail at Client’s last known mailing address, which Counsel state they have confirmed as current within 30 days of the motion through conversation and representations made in filings to the Bankruptcy Court in ongoing Chapter 11 proceedings

Counsel state that they should be permitted to withdraw because Client has breached an agreement or obligation as to expenses or fees under R. Prof. Conduct 3-700(C)(l)(f) and because Client’s conduct has rendered it unreasonably difficult for counsel to carry out the employment effectively under R. Prof. Conduct 3-700(C)(l)(d).

Counsel are ordered to appear at the hearing and submit a corrected proposed order on form MC-053. Based on the notice of motion and the declaration filed by Counsel, the Court is inclined to grant the motion. However, the proposed order lodged with the Court has not been properly completed. Counsel must submit a revised proposed order at or before the hearing on this motion. The proposed order must identify all upcoming hearings and list the address of the Court in all items. The Court’s records show the following upcoming hearings, which must all be listed in the revised proposed order:


[1] In a separate minute order, the Court has on its own motion advanced this hearing from September 22, 2020 in light of the age of this case.

[2] In a separate minute order, the Court has on its own motion advanced this hearing from October 6, 2020 in light of the age of this case.