This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 02/12/2021 at 12:07:01 (UTC).

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA VS CHANG HWAN PARK ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/03/2014 PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA filed a Property - Other Property Fraud lawsuit against CHANG HWAN PARK. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are ROBERT S. HARRISON, MARK A. BORENSTEIN, MICHELLE R. ROSENBLATT, MARC MARMARO, HOLLY E. KENDIG, EDWARD B. MORETON and DENNIS J. LANDIN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****1477

  • Filing Date:

    04/03/2014

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Property Fraud

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

ROBERT S. HARRISON

MARK A. BORENSTEIN

MICHELLE R. ROSENBLATT

MARC MARMARO

HOLLY E. KENDIG

EDWARD B. MORETON

DENNIS J. LANDIN

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

Defendants and Respondents

AN, CHRISTINE J., D.C.

ANGEL CHIROPRACTIC CARE, INC.

BAEK, ROBERT S., D.C.

BYON, ROBYNNIE

DOES ONE THROUGH ONE HUNDRED

HOLY CHIROPRACTIC CARE, INC.

KIM SEOG WOO

KIM, JEFF

KIM, SEOG-WOO, D.C.

LAW OFFICES OF SUNMIN LEE & ASSOCIATES

LEE, MICHAEL S.

LEE, SUNMIN

MANAGEMENT PLUS GROUP

NORTHWEST LAW FIRM, INC.

Interested Parties

ALLSTATE FIRE & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMP-

ALLSTATE INDEMNITY COMPANY

ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY

ALLSTATE PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE

ALLSTATE VEHICLE & PROPERTY INSURANCE

10 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff, Petitioner and Interested Party Attorneys

KNOX RICKSEN LLP

HASEGAWA JOSEPH FREDERICK

FRAYSSE THOMAS EDWARD

PIKE GREGORY DAVID

PIKE GREGORY D.

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

B. CHRISTINE PARK

COE JAEMAN J. ESQ.

FENTON HENRY R. ESQ.

HUGHES SCOTT D.

KWONG ROSA ESQ.

SEVERO MICHAEL V. ESQ.

FIRM CHRISTINE PARK LAW

FENTON LAW GROUP LLP

SCOTT D. HUGHES ATTORNEY AT LAW

JAENAM COE PC LAW OFFICES OF

ROSA KWONG LAW OFFICE OF

KENNETH T. HAAN & ASSOCIATES APC

SEVERO MICHAEL VINCENT

KWONG ROSA MIU-CHING

Other Attorneys

PARK CHRISTINE

 

Court Documents

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO COMPEL THIRD PARTY IN KI AN DBA 3RD STREET CO.'S COMPLIANCE ETC.

12/11/2017: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO COMPEL THIRD PARTY IN KI AN DBA 3RD STREET CO.'S COMPLIANCE ETC.

Minute Order -

6/8/2016: Minute Order -

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA INSURANCE FRAUDS PREVENTION ACT, VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA UNFAIR COMPETITION ACT

7/27/2016: FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA INSURANCE FRAUDS PREVENTION ACT, VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA UNFAIR COMPETITION ACT

Notice of Ruling

4/22/2019: Notice of Ruling

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR [CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER]

9/3/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR [CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER]

Notice - NOTICE OF INTENT TO RENEW MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO CHASE BANK

9/3/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF INTENT TO RENEW MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO CHASE BANK

Notice - NOTICE OF STATUS CONFERENCE REGARDING MEDIATION COMPLETION, FINAL STATUS CONFERENCE AND TRIAL DATES

9/3/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF STATUS CONFERENCE REGARDING MEDIATION COMPLETION, FINAL STATUS CONFERENCE AND TRIAL DATES

Motion to Quash - MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO AMERICAN HONDA FINANCE CORPORATION

12/30/2020: Motion to Quash - MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO AMERICAN HONDA FINANCE CORPORATION

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER) OF 01/21/2021

1/21/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER) OF 01/21/2021

Minute Order - Minute Order (Status Conference)

12/5/2018: Minute Order - Minute Order (Status Conference)

Minute Order -

10/3/2014: Minute Order -

NOTICE OF MOTION AND PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL DEPOSITION OF THIRD PARTY WITNESS KINJI NICOLE HITHE BAKER (AKA NICOLE BAKER, KINJI HITHE, KINJI BAKER, AND JOY BAKER) AND FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS IN T

3/4/2016: NOTICE OF MOTION AND PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL DEPOSITION OF THIRD PARTY WITNESS KINJI NICOLE HITHE BAKER (AKA NICOLE BAKER, KINJI HITHE, KINJI BAKER, AND JOY BAKER) AND FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS IN T

MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO STRIKE TH ANSWERS AND REQUEST THE ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENTS OF DEFENDANTS MANAGEMENT PLUS GROUP, CHANG HWAN PARK, AND TIFFANY Y

9/14/2016: MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO STRIKE TH ANSWERS AND REQUEST THE ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENTS OF DEFENDANTS MANAGEMENT PLUS GROUP, CHANG HWAN PARK, AND TIFFANY Y

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT NORTHWEST LAW FIRM, INC.'S RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFFS' FORM INTERROGATORIES (SET NO. 3) AND FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $510.00

11/16/2016: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT NORTHWEST LAW FIRM, INC.'S RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFFS' FORM INTERROGATORIES (SET NO. 3) AND FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $510.00

NOTICE OF CONTINUED MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT MICHAEL LEE'S RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFFS' FORM INTERROGATORIES SET NOS. 5 AND 6 AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,380.OO

4/4/2017: NOTICE OF CONTINUED MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT MICHAEL LEE'S RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFFS' FORM INTERROGATORIES SET NOS. 5 AND 6 AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,380.OO

NOTICE OF CONTINUED MOTION FOR ORDER ESTABLISHING ADMISSIONS SET NOS. 5 AND 6 AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $780.00

4/4/2017: NOTICE OF CONTINUED MOTION FOR ORDER ESTABLISHING ADMISSIONS SET NOS. 5 AND 6 AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $780.00

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR TERMINATING SANCTIONS TO STRIKE THE ANSWER OF DEFENDANT TIFFANY WONJIN YANG FOR HER FAILURE TO ATTEND HER COURT-ORDERED DEPOSITION AND REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS

8/29/2017: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR TERMINATING SANCTIONS TO STRIKE THE ANSWER OF DEFENDANT TIFFANY WONJIN YANG FOR HER FAILURE TO ATTEND HER COURT-ORDERED DEPOSITION AND REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS

Minute Order -

12/15/2017: Minute Order -

600 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 08/03/2021
  • Hearing08/03/2021 at 10:00 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 07/20/2021
  • Hearing07/20/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 07/19/2021
  • Hearing07/19/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO TOYOTA FINANCIAL SERVICES

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/16/2021
  • Hearing07/16/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO MERCEDES BENZ FINANCIAL SERVICES

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/15/2021
  • Hearing07/15/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO BMW FINANCIAL SERVICES

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  • 07/14/2021
  • Hearing07/14/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO AMERICAN HONDA FINANCE CORPORATION

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/13/2021
  • Hearing07/13/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO AMERITRADE

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/12/2021
  • Hearing07/12/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO BANK OF HOPE

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/02/2021
  • Hearing07/02/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO JPMORGAN CHASE HOME EQUITY LOSS MITIGATION

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/28/2021
  • Hearing06/28/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Motion to Compel Deposition of Third-Party Witness Shanel Cho

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1,182 More Docket Entries
  • 10/03/2014
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 40; Ex-Parte Proceedings - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 10/03/2014
  • DocketExParte Application & Order; Filed by People of the State of California (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/03/2014
  • DocketMinute Order

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  • 10/03/2014
  • DocketMinute Order

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  • 10/03/2014
  • DocketEX PARTE APPLICATION FOR ORDER UNSEALING COMPLAINT AND PERMITTING SERVICE OF COMPLAINT ON DEFENDANTS PURSUANT TO INSURANCE CODE SECTION 1871.7(E)(2)

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  • 10/03/2014
  • DocketORDER GRANTING EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR ORDER UNSEALING COMPLAINT AND PERMITTING SERVICE OF COMPLAINT ON DEFENDANTS PURSUANT TO INSURANCE CODE SECTION 1871 .7(E)(2)

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  • 10/03/2014
  • DocketMinute order entered: 2014-10-03 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/03/2014
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 04/03/2014
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA INSURANCE FRAUDS PREVENTION ACT, VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA UNFAIR COMPETITION ACT; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/03/2014
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by People of the State of California (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC541477    Hearing Date: May 13, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: May 13, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC541477

CASE NAME: People of the State of California v. Chang Hwan Park, et al.

TRIAL DATE: August 3, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Plaintiffs’ Motion to Deem Requests for Admission Admitted

MOVING PARTIES: Plaintiffs, People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al.

OPPOSING PARTY: Defendant, Michael Lee

OPPOSITION: May 5, 2021 untimely

REPLY: May 6, 2021

TENTATIVE: Plaintiffs’ motion is moot. Plaintiffs request for sanctions is granted in part. Sanctions are awarded against Lee in the amount of $1,800. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

MOTION: Plaintiffs’ Motion to Deem Requests for Admission Admitted

MOVING PARTIES: Plaintiffs, People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al.

OPPOSING PARTY: Defendant, Chang Hwan Park

OPPOSITION: May 5, 2021 untimely.

REPLY: May 6, 2021

TENTATIVE: Plaintiffs’ motion is moot. Plaintiffs request for sanctions is granted in part. Sanctions are awarded against Park in the amount of $1,800. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Background

This action arises out of an alleged fraudulent scheme to defraud insurance companies.  Plaintiffs the People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company; Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Company (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants illegally owned and operated a number of sham law offices and health care practices for the purpose of fabricating insurance claims to deceive insurers into paying policy proceeds to personal injury patients.  Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of the allegedly defrauded insurance companies.   

Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 27, 2016, alleging two causes of action against all Defendants for: (1) violation of Insurance Code, § 1871.7 and (2) violation of Business and Professions Code, § 17200, et seq. (the Unfair Competition Law [“UCL”]).

On April 1, 2021, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Deem Requests for Admission, Set Nine Admitted as to Defendant Michael S. Lee. (“Lee RFA Motion”) Plaintiffs also filed a Motion to Deem Requests for Admission, Set Three Admitted as to Defendant Chang Hwan Park (“Park RFA Motion”) Lee and Park each filed their untimely oppositions on May 5, 2021.

Plaintiffs’ motions to deem admitted now come on for hearing.

Procedural History

On February 2, 2021, Plaintiffs served Park with Requests for Admission, Set Three via email. (Declaration of Ryan Jacobson (“Jacobson”) in Support of Park RFA Motion (“Jacobson Park Decl.”), ¶ 2, Exh. A.)

Plaintiffs also served Lee with Requests for Admission, Set Nine on February 2, 2021. (Declaration of Ryan Jacobson in Support of Lee RFA Motion (“Jacobson Lee Decl.”), ¶ 2, Exh. A.)

Defendant Park served his responses without objection to Requests for Admission, Set Three on April 7, 2021. (Opposition to Park RFA Motion, 6; Exh. 1.) Defendant Lee also served responses without objection to Requests for Admission, set Nine on April 9, 2021. (Opposition to Lee RFA Motion, 6; Exh. 1.)

Discussion

“Within 30 days after service of requests for admission, the party to whom the requests are directed shall serve the original of the response to them on the requesting party, and a copy of the response on all other parties who have appeared . . . .”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.250(a).)

“If a party to whom requests for admission are directed fails to serve a timely response . . . . (b) The requesting party may move for an order that the genuineness of any documents and the truth of any matters specified in the requests be deemed admitted, as well as for a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010).”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.280.) If the requesting party moves for an order to deem its requests for admissions admitted, the court “shall make this order, unless it finds that the party to whom the requests for admissions have been directed has served, before the hearing on the motion, a proposed response to the requests for admission that is in substantial compliance with section 2033.220.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.280 (c).)

Plaintiffs contend that Requests for Admission, Set Three must be deemed admitted as to Park because he failed to serve timely responses. (Motion to Deem Requests for Admission Admitted as to Park, 2-3.) Similarly, Plaintiffs contend that Requests for Admission, Set Nine must be deemed admitted as to Lee because he failed to serve timely responses. (Motion to Deem Requests for Admission Admitted as to Lee, 2-3.)

As discussed above, both Park and Lee served responses without objections prior to the hearing on the instant motions. The court has reviewed these responses and finds that that they are in substantial compliance with Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.220. Thus, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.280, Plaintiffs’ motions are moot.

Monetary Sanctions

The court may impose sanctions against any party for engaging in conduct constituting a “misuse of the discovery process.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030 (a).) Misuse of the discovery process includes “failing to respond or submit to an authorized method of discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.010 (d).)

Plaintiffs request sanctions in the amount of $3,660 against each of Park and Lee in connection with the instant motions. Jacobson attests that each request represents 3 hours of attorney time preparing the motion and an anticipated 3 additional hours analyzing the opposition, preparing a reply, and preparing for and attending the hearing. (see Jacobson Park Decl. ¶ 4.) Jacobson further attests that the “reasonable value of these services is $600 per hour.” (Id.)

In opposition, Park and Lee both contend that the requested sanctions are improper or at a minimum, excessive. (see Opposition to Park RFA Motion, 8-9.) For example, Park contends that the amount requested is excessive because the motion is simple as evidenced by the 2-page memorandum of points and authorities, and because all hearings will require no travel as they are conducted via video. (Id.) Park and Lee each also argue elsewhere in the motion that Plaintiffs’ service of the requests was improper because it was not properly served on Plaintiffs’ counsel’s paralegal. (see Declaration of Michael Severo (“Severo”), ¶¶ 3-8, Opposition to Park RFA Motion, 6-7.)

The court is inclined to award sanctions in connection with Park and Lee’s failure to timely respond to discovery. The court is not persuaded by each defendants’ argument that Plaintiffs’ service of their discovery was untimely. Mr. Severo is the attorney of record on this matter and does not contend that he was not served. Defendants submit no evidence demonstrating an agreement that service would only be considered proper if it was also made on Mr. Severo’s paralegal.

However, the court agrees with Park and Lee that the requested amount of sanctions is excessive. The motions present relatively simple issues and are substantially similar to each other. In addition, the time required to attend a hearing via CourtConnect is substantially less than the amount budgeted.

For these reasons, Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is granted in part. Sanctions are awarded against Park in the amount of $1,800, representing 2 hours of attorney time at $600 per hour. Sanctions are awarded against Lee in the amount of $1,800, representing 2 hours of attorney time at $600 per hour.

Conclusion

Plaintiffs’ motion is moot. Plaintiffs request for sanctions is granted in part. Sanctions are awarded against Park in the amount of $1,800. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Plaintiffs’ motion is moot. Plaintiffs request for sanctions is granted in part. Sanctions are awarded against Lee in the amount of $1,800. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Case Number: BC541477    Hearing Date: April 30, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: April 30, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC541477

CASE NAME: People of the State of California v. Chang Hwan Park, et al.

MOVING PARTIES: Plaintiffs, People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al.

OPPOSING PARTY: Defendant, Casado Law Firm

TRIAL DATE: August 3, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel Further Responses to Request for Production, Set One

OPPOSITION: April 19, 2021

REPLY: April 22, 2021

TENTATIVE : Plaintiff’s motion is moot. The Casado Law Firm is to give notice.

Background

This action arises out of an alleged fraudulent scheme to defraud insurance companies.  Plaintiffs the People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company; Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Company (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants illegally owned and operated a number of sham law offices and health care practices for the purpose of fabricating insurance claims to deceive insurers into paying policy proceeds to personal injury patients.  Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of the allegedly defrauded insurance companies.   

Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 27, 2016, alleging two causes of action against all Defendants for: (1) violation of Insurance Code, § 1871.7 and (2) violation of Business and Professions Code, § 17200, et seq. (the Unfair Competition Law [“UCL”]).  

On November 13, 2017, Plaintiffs amended the FAC to name Kelly L. Casado and the Casado Law firm (collectively the “Casado Defendants”) as Doe Defendants 2 and 3 to the FAC.  Casado’s special motion to strike the FAC (“anti-SLAPP motion”) came to hearing on March 1, 2018, at which time the court denied the motion.  

On March 8, 2018, the Casado Defendants filed a notice of appeal from the court’s March 1, 2018 ruling, and the matter was automatically stayed.   On December 23, 2019, the Court of Appeal issued its remittitur on the Casado Defendants’ appeal and as a result, the stay was lifted in this action.

Plaintiff now moves to compel further responses to Request for Production, Set One from the Casado Law Firm. The Casado Law Firm opposes the motion.

Procedural History

Plaintiffs propounded Request for Production, Set One on the Casado Law Firm on March 30, 2020. (Declaration of Ryan G. Jacobson (“Jacobson Decl.”), ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs’ requests attached a list of claimants thought to be clients of the Casado Law Firm. (Id., Exh. A.) The Casado Law Firm served its responses on May 28, 2020. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 3.)

On February 10, 2021, the Casado Law Firm served amended responses to Requests for Production, Set One. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 10, Exh. E.) The Casado Law Firm served its production of documents on February 11, 2021, along with a privilege log. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 11.)

On April 16, 2021, the Casado Law Firm served a supplemental response to Request for Production, Set One. (Jacobson Reply Decl. ¶ 5.) According to Plaintiffs’ counsel, the supplemental response included additional documents, a revised privilege log, and a cover letter addressing some of the issues stated in previous meet and confer letters. (Id.) However, the supplemental response allegedly does not address any documents Plaintiffs contend were wrongfully withheld on the basis of attorney-client privilege. (Id.)

Meet and Confer Efforts

A motion to compel further responses “shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.”  (Code Civ. Proc., §; 2031.310, subd. (b)(2).)  The declaration must state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented in the motion.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.040.)  “[A] reasonable and good faith attempt at informal resolution entails something more than bickering with [opposing] counsel….  Rather, the law requires that counsel attempt to talk the matter over, compare their views, consult, and deliberate.”  (Clement v. Alegre (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1277, 1294.)  

Plaintiffs submit the declaration of their counsel, Ryan Jacobson to demonstrate their compliance with statutory meet and confer requirements prior to filing the instant motion. Jacobson attests that on June 22, 2020, Plaintiffs sent a meet and confer letter addressing the alleged deficiencies in the Casado Law Firm’s initial responses to Requests for Production, Set Three. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 3, Exh. B.) On August 11, 2020, the parties attended an Informal Discovery Conference (“IDC”) regarding the discovery at issue in this motion. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 4.) On September 11, 2020, the parties met and conferred by telephone regarding the discovery at issue. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 5, Exh. C.)

In October 2020 through December 2020, the Casado Law Firm agreed to mutual several extensions of time for Plaintiffs to file their motions to compel and to produce additional responsive documents, with the latest extension through February 10, 2021. (Jacobson Decl. ¶¶ 7-10.)

On March 19, 2021, Plaintiffs counsel sent another meet and confer letter regarding Casado Law Firm’s document production of February 11, 2021. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 12, Exh. F.) The meet and confer letter described how the Casado Law Firm’s document production was insufficient and included various inaccessible documents. (Jacobson Decl. ¶¶ 12-13, Exhs. F-H.) In response, the Casado Law Firm advised by letter on March 23, 2021 that they would respond “this week.” (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 14, Exh. I.)

On March 29, 2021, the Casado Law Firm advised that it would supplement its document production in certain aspects only. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 15, Exh. J.)

The Jacobson Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.310.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

On receipt of responses to requests for production, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that a statement of compliance is incomplete, a representation of inability to comply is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive, or an objection in the response is without merit. (See Code Civ. Proc., §§ 2030.310, subd. (a)(1)-(3).) The moving party must also include reasons why further answers should be ordered: legal or factual arguments why the answers given were incomplete or nonresponsive, or the objections invalid. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(c).) The responding party has the burden to justify objections in response to a motion filed to compel further responses. (Fairmont Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 245, 255.)

  1. Timeliness

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.310, subdivision (c), a motion to compel further responses to inspection demands must be filed within 45 days of service of the verified response, or on or before any specific later date to which the demanding party and the responding party have agreed in writing, with additional time allowed for the manner of service. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1013, subd. (a); 2031.310, subd. (c).) The 45-day requirement of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2031.310, subdivision (c) is mandatory and jurisdictional in the sense that it renders the court without authority to rule on a motion to compel further responses to discovery other than to deny the motion. (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410.)

As discussed above, the Casado Law Firm served its amended responses to Request for Production, Set One on February 10, 2021. Thus, Plaintiffs’ motion to compel deadline was March 30, 2021. Plaintiffs’ motion was filed on March 30, 2021 and is timely.

  1. Analysis

Plaintiffs contend that a further response to Request for Production, Set One, number 3 is required because the Casado Law Firm’s document production is insufficient. Specifically, Plaintiffs’ seek the following: (1) “That Defendant CASADO LAW FIRM provide a further response to RFPD, Set One, that includes the (1) 1200 files previously removed and substituted with placeholders and; (2) the 294 documents identified in Exhibit G served concurrently with the Declaration of Ryan G. Jacobson,” and (2) “That Defendant CASADO LAW FIRM provide a revised, supplemental privilege log with dates and identifying authorial information.” (Motion, 7.)

Request number 3 asks the Casado Law Firm to produce “Your entire file RELATING TO each person identified on Exhibit A, attached hereto.” (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 1.) As discussed above, Exhibit A is a list of claimants believed to be clients of the Casado Law firm.

The Casado Law firm responded by objecting that the request seeks disclosure of information protected by attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine. (Id.) Additionally, the Casado Law Firm objected on the grounds that the request is burdensome, oppressive and compound. (Id.) Subject to these objections, the Casado Law Firm stated that it would provide a privilege log and “copies of documents not included in the privilege log.” (Id.)

Plaintiffs contend that a further response is required because Plaintiffs were unable to review nearly 10% of the 13,000 pages of documents produced. (Id., 1-2.) As such, Plaintiffs contend that the Casado Law Firm’s statement of compliance is incomplete. (Id.; citing London v. Dri-Honing Corp. (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 999, 1002.) Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that more than 1200 documents were removed and substituted with placeholders, but that those placeholders were not viewable with any software. (Id.) Additionally, Plaintiffs contend that the Casado Law Firm wrongfully withheld 294 documents on the basis of attorney-client privilege in the following categories: (1) settlement disbursement sheets, (2) client checks, and (3) client interview sheets. (Id. at 3.) According to Plaintiffs, these documents are not privileged because they are being sought for the independent facts which the documents will establish. (Id.) Plaintiffs cite Triple A Machine Shop, Inc. v. State of California (1989) 213 Cal.App.3d 131, 143 (Triple A) for the argument that such information is not privileged.

In Triple A, a corporation filed an action for injunctive relief to prohibit the State of California from contacting its current and former employees in connection with proceedings the State brought against the corporation. (Id. at 135.) According to the corporation’s action, the state contacted these employees without notice or consent in violation of the attorney-client privilege. (Id.) The trial court thereafter granted a preliminary injunction. (Id. at 137.) The Court of Appeal found that in this instance, the information sought by the State concerned “nonprivileged observations” by witnesses which occurred outside the attorney-client relationship. (Id. at 143-144.) Thus, Triple A is not applicable to this action as it does not analyze whether documents may be withheld in response to written discovery on the basis of attorney-client privilege.

In opposition, the Casado Law Firm contends that its privilege log was sufficient and that it cannot be required to produce data translation software for the 1200 pages of documents that were allegedly unreadable, as these documents are medical imaging documents and require special software. (Opposition, 7-8.) With respect to the documents withheld on the basis of privilege, the Casado Law Firm contends that these documents were properly withheld as they consist of communications transmitted between the client and lawyer within the scope of the relationship. (Opposition, 9-13.) Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that client interview sheets are privileged because discuss the client’s legal concerns as told to the lawyer. (Id. at 10-11.) The disbursement sheets are privileged because they contain communications that inform the client about the sums to be paid to medical providers and the “extent of the lawyers’ work with respect to any reduction of those bills.” (Id.) The Casado Law Firm cites Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Superior Court (2009) 47 Cal.4th at p. 725, 743 (Costco) for its arguments.

In Costco, the court held that “[t]he 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.) On the other hand, “ ‘Knowledge which is not otherwise privileged does not become so merely by being communicated to an attorney. [Citation.] Obviously, a client may be examined on deposition or at trial as to the facts of the case, whether or not he has communicated them to his attorney. [Citation.] While the privilege fully covers communications as such, it does not extend to subject matter otherwise unprivileged merely because that subject matter has been communicated to the attorney.’ ” (Costco, supra, 47 Cal.4th at 742, [quoting Greyhound v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 355, 397.]) The party claiming the attorney client privilege has the burden of establishing the “preliminary facts” necessary to support its claim. (Id. at 733.)

Plaintiffs admit in reply that the Casado Law Firm has served a supplemental response on April 6, 2021 which included a revised privilege log and additional production of documents. Thus, the Casado Law Firm has already produced a revised privilege log as requested in Plaintiffs’ motion. Nevertheless, Plaintiffs contend that an order compelling further responses is required because the supplemental responses do not address the 294 documents Plaintiffs contend are improperly withheld.

Plaintiffs’ motion is moot, as Plaintiffs admit that supplemental responses have been served. If Plaintiffs deem the supplemental responses deficient, they may file a separate motion on these responses.

Conclusion

Plaintiff’s motion is moot. The Casado Law Firm is to give notice.

Case Number: BC541477    Hearing Date: April 12, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: April 12, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC541477

CASE NAME: People of the State of California v. Chang Hwan Park, et al.

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Chang Hwan Park

OPPOSING PARTIES: Plaintiffs, People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al.

TRIAL DATE: August 3, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Quash Subpoena to American Honda Finance Corporation

OPPOSITION: March 19, 2021

REPLY: April 5, 2021

TENTATIVE: Park’s motion to quash subpoena to American Honda Finance Corporation is moot. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Quash Subpoena to Bank of Hope

OPPOSITION: March 19, 2021

REPLY: April 5, 2021

TENTATIVE: Park’s motion to quash subpoena to Bank of Hope is denied. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Quash Subpoena to BMW Financial Services

OPPOSITION: March 19, 2021

REPLY: April 5, 2021

TENTATIVE: Park’s motion to quash subpoena to BMW Financial Services Corporation is moot. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Quash Subpoena to Toyota Financial Services

OPPOSITION: March 19, 2021

REPLY: April 5, 2021

TENTATIVE: Park’s motion to quash subpoena to Toyota Financial Services is denied. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

MOTION: Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Mercedes Benz Financial Services

OPPOSITION: March 19, 2021

REPLY: April 5, 2021

TENTATIVE: Park’s motion to quash subpoena to Mercedes Benz Financial Services is moot. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Background

This action arises out of an alleged fraudulent scheme to defraud insurance companies.  Plaintiffs the People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company; Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Company (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants illegally owned and operated a number of sham law offices and health care practices for the purpose of fabricating insurance claims to deceive insurers into paying policy proceeds to personal injury patients.  Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of the allegedly defrauded insurance companies.   

Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 27, 2016, alleging two causes of action against all Defendants for: (1) violation of Insurance Code, § 1871.7 and (2) violation of Business and Professions Code, § 17200, et seq. (the Unfair Competition Law [“UCL”]).  

On November 13, 2017, Plaintiffs amended the FAC to name Kelly L. Casado and the Casado Law firm (collectively the “Casado Defendants”) as Doe Defendants 2 and 3 to the FAC.  Casado’s special motion to strike the FAC (“anti-SLAPP motion”) came to hearing on March 1, 2018, at which time the court denied the motion.  On March 8, 2018, the Casado Defendants filed a notice of appeal from the court’s March 1, 2018 ruling, and the matter was automatically stayed.   

On March 25, 2021, the Casado Defendants’ Motion for Protective Order as to Plaintiff’s Deposition Subpoenas for Production of Records to Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank was denied.

Defendant Chang Hwan Park (“Park”) now moves to quash Plaintiff’s Deposition Subpoenas for Production of Records to the following: (1) American Honda Finance Corporation (“AHF”), (2) Bank of Hope (“BoH”), (3) BMW Financial Services (“BMW”) (4) Toyota Financial Services (“TFS”), (5) Mercedes Benz Financial Services (“MBF”). Plaintiffs oppose all motions.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

A court “may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders. In addition, the court may make any other order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.1.) The court, upon motion reasonably made by the party, may rule upon motions for quashing, modifying or compelling compliance with, subpoenas. (See, e.g., Lee v. Swansboro Country Property Owners Ass’n (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 575, 582-83.) A court may abuse its discretion in denying requests for discovery, or in granting a motion to quash, where it fails to consider interests favoring disclosure, or an order partially limiting rather than outright denying discovery. (Johnson v. Sup. Ct. (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 1050, 1073.)

“When the right to discovery conflicts with a privileged right, the court is required to carefully balance the right of privacy with the need for discovery.”  (Tylo v. Superior Court (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 1379, 1387 (Tylo).)  “The burden is on the party seeking the constitutionally protected information to establish direct relevance.”  (Davis v. Superior Court (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1008, 1017.)  “Mere speculation as to the possibility that some portion of the records might be relevant to some substantive issue does not suffice.”  (Ibid.)   

The party asserting a privacy interest bears the burden to establish its extent and the seriousness of the prospective invasion, and the court must weigh against that showing the countervailing interests the requesting party identifies.  (Williams v. Superior Court (2017) 3 Cal.5th 531, 557 (Williams).)  “The court must consider the purpose of the information sought, the effect that disclosure will have on the affected persons and parties, the nature of the objections urged by the party resisting disclosure and availability of alternative, less intrusive means for obtaining the requested information.”  (Hooser v. Superior Court (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 997, 1004.)   

  1. Analysis

  1. Subpoena to AHF

Park contends that the subpoena to AHF must be quashed for the following reasons: (1) the subpoenas are improper because they name Plaintiff’s counsel’s office as the “deposition officer,” (2) the subpoenas request information that is irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and (3) the subpoenas violate Park’s right against self-incrimination, right of privacy, and/or right against unreasonable search and seizure. (see, Motion to Quash Subpoena to AHF (“AHF Motion”), 14-21.)

In opposition, Plaintiffs contend that on February 2, 2021, AHF produced documents responsive to Plaintiffs’ subpoena. (Opposition to AHF Motion, 3, Declaration of Ryan G. Jacobson (“Jacobson Decl.”), ¶ 9.)

Park’s motion to quash is moot. According to Plaintiffs, AHF has already produced records responsive to this subpoena prior to the hearing on this motion. Thus, there is no pending subpoena to quash.

  1. Subpoena to BoH

Park contends that the subpoena to BoH must be quashed for the following reasons: (1) the subpoenas are procedurally improper, (2) the subpoenas request information that is irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and (3) the subpoenas violate Park’s right against self-incrimination, right of privacy, and/or right against unreasonable search and seizure. (see, Motion to Quash Subpoena to BoH (“BoH Motion”), 13-20.)

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.410, a deposition subpoena for the production of business records “shall be directed to the custodian of those records or another person qualified to certify the records.” Additionally, Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.430 provides that if a subpoena “commands only the production of business records for copying,” the custodian of records “shall” deliver both of the following: (1) a true copy of the records, (2) “an affidavit in compliance with Section 1561 of the Evidence Code.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2020.430, subd. (a).) C.C.P. § 2020.420 governs who can act as deposition officer. It provides:

“The officer for a deposition seeking discovery only of business records for copying under this article shall be a professional photocopier registered under Chapter 20 (commencing with Section 22450) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code, or a person exempted from the registration requirements of that chapter under Section 22451 of the Business and Professions Code. This deposition officer shall not be financially interested in the action, or a relative or employee of any attorney of the parties….”

Business and Professions Code § 22451(b) exempts a “member of the State Bar or his or her employees, agents, or independent contractors.” “A business records subpoena directs the nonparty's custodian of records (or other qualified person) to deliver the requested documents (in person, by messenger, or by mail) to the “deposition officer” specified in the subpoena. (§ 2020.430, subd. (a).) The deposition officer need not be a certified shorthand reporter but may be an attorney, a registered professional photocopier, or anyone statutorily exempt from the photocopier registration requirements.” (Unzipped Apparel, LLC v. Bader (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 123, 131.)

Park’s first argument that the subpoena to BoH is procedurally deficient fails. The subpoena demonstrates that it was served on BoH, as it states that it is to “Bank of Hope – 3200 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1400, Los Angeles, CA 90010.” In addition, the subpoena includes a Notice to Consumer or Employee directed to Park. Thus, Plaintiffs’ subpoena to BoH is not procedurally deficient.

Second, Park contends that the subpoena to BoH must be quashed because the subpoena seeks information about checks written on Park’s personal accounts, which are not at issue in this action regarding whether Plaintiffs had to pay claimants under their various insurance policies. (BoH Motion, 15-18.)

In opposition to this argument, Plaintiffs contend that Park has failed to demonstrate that he has any privacy interest in the records responsive to their subpoena to BoH. (Opposition to BoH Motion, 11-13.) Further, Plaintiffs contend that even if Park had demonstrated a privacy interest, the records responsive to this subpoena are directly relevant to the issue of whether money flowed into “sham” law firms alleged in the lawsuit because Park had previously testified in deposition that endorsement signatures on the backs of checks written to him were not his. (Id.; Jacobson Decl. ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs’ attorney Ryan Jacobson attests that he attempted to resolve this issue informally with Park’s counsel by asking that he stipulate to being the holder of the BoH account but that Park’s counsel ignored the proposal. (Jacobson Decl. ¶¶ 8-9, Exh. H-I.) Finally, Plaintiffs contend that Park’s motion must be denied because Plaintiffs have already obtained numerous checks from other defendants, such as the Law Offices of Sunmin Lee & Associates, showing checks payable to Park’s account at BoH. (Opposition to BoH Motion, 7-8.)

In reply, Park contends that it is Plaintiffs burden to demonstrate that the records requested by the subpoena are relevant to Plaintiffs’ allegations, rather than Park’s burden to demonstrate that he has an overriding privacy interest. (Reply to BoH Motion, 4-6.) Park contends that absent such a showing from Plaintiffs, the Complaint does not support disclosure of records from BoH for the entire period requested because the Complaint was filed in 2014. (Id.)

Plaintiffs’ subpoena to BoH requests all “DOCUMENTS” as defined in Evidence Code section 250 pertaining to the account of “Chang Hwan Park aka Terry Park, at BANK OF HOPE (FORMERLY WILSHIRE STATE BANK) from 2006 to 12/31/13,” limited to the following: (1) account application documents, (2) signature cards, (3) account statements, (4) copies of checks issues from the account, (5) copies of checks issued to the account, (6) deposit checks, (7) items deposited, (8) wire transfer or other electronic transfer records, (9) credit and debit memoranda. (BoH Motion, Exh. A.)

Plaintiffs have demonstrated that the records sought by the subpoena to BoH are directly relevant to the issues in this action. The court accepts the Jacobson Declaration and Plaintiffs’ opposing papers as sufficient explanation that the subpoena to BoH is directly relevant because it seeks to corroborate other parties’ testimony and evidence regarding money paid to Park relating to the “sham” law firms. Although Park is correct that an individual generally has an expectation of privacy, Park’s argument in reply fails to refute Plaintiffs’ argument that the requested information is directly relevant.

For these reasons, Park’s motion is denied.

  1. Subpoena to BMW

Park contends that the subpoena to BMW must be quashed for the following reasons: (1) the subpoenas are improper because they name Plaintiff’s counsel’s office as the “deposition officer,” (2) the subpoenas request information that is irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and (3) the subpoenas violate Park’s right against self-incrimination, right of privacy, and/or right against unreasonable search and seizure. (see, Motion to Quash Subpoena to BMW (“BMW Motion”), 13-20.)

In opposition, Plaintiffs contend that on December 28, 2020, BMW produced documents responsive to Plaintiffs’ subpoena. (Opposition to BMW Motion, 3, Declaration of Ryan G. Jacobson (“Jacobson Decl.”), ¶ 9.)

Park’s motion to quash is moot. According to Plaintiffs, BMW has already produced records responsive to this subpoena prior to the hearing on this motion. Thus, there is no pending subpoena to quash.

  1. Subpoena to TFS

Park contends that the subpoena to TFS must be quashed for the following reasons: (1) the subpoenas are procedurally improper, (2) the subpoenas request information that is irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and (3) the subpoenas violate Park’s right against self-incrimination, right of privacy, and/or right against unreasonable search and seizure. (see, Motion to Quash Subpoena to TFS(“TFS Motion”), 13-20.)

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.410, a deposition subpoena for the production of business records “shall be directed to the custodian of those records or another person qualified to certify the records.” Additionally, Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.430 provides that if a subpoena “commands only the production of business records for copying,” the custodian of records “shall” deliver both of the following: (1) a true copy of the records, (2) “an affidavit in compliance with Section 1561 of the Evidence Code.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2020.430, subd. (a).) C.C.P. § 2020.420 governs who can act as deposition officer. It provides:

“The officer for a deposition seeking discovery only of business records for copying under this article shall be a professional photocopier registered under Chapter 20 (commencing with Section 22450) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code, or a person exempted from the registration requirements of that chapter under Section 22451 of the Business and Professions Code. This deposition officer shall not be financially interested in the action, or a relative or employee of any attorney of the parties….”

Business and Professions Code § 22451(b) exempts a “member of the State Bar or his or her employees, agents, or independent contractors.” “A business records subpoena directs the nonparty's custodian of records (or other qualified person) to deliver the requested documents (in person, by messenger, or by mail) to the “deposition officer” specified in the subpoena. (§ 2020.430, subd. (a).) The deposition officer need not be a certified shorthand reporter but may be an attorney, a registered professional photocopier, or anyone statutorily exempt from the photocopier registration requirements.” (Unzipped Apparel, LLC v. Bader (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 123, 131.)

Park’s first argument that the subpoena to TFS is procedurally deficient fails. The subpoena demonstrates that it was served on TFS, as it states that it is to “Toyota Financial Services c/o CT Corporation – 818 West Seventh Street, Suite 930, Los Angeles, CA 90017.” Additionally, the subpoena to TFS indicates that it seeks all “DOCUMENTS” relating to an account ending in 3282, limited to certain categories. (Motion, Exh. A.) Thus, Park’s argument that the subpoena was required to include a Notice to Consumer addressed to him fails, as the subpoena does not on its face seek Park’s records.

Second, Park contends that the subpoena to TFS must be quashed because the subpoena seeks information about checks written on Park’s personal account, which are not at issue in this action regarding whether Plaintiffs had to pay claimants under their various insurance policies. (TFS Motion, 15-18.)

In opposition to this argument, Plaintiffs contend that Park has failed to demonstrate that he has any privacy interest in the records responsive to their subpoena to TFS because the subpoena does not on its face seek records pertaining to his account. (Opposition to TFS Motion, 11-12.) Further, Plaintiffs contend that even if Park had demonstrated a privacy interest, the records responsive to this subpoena are directly relevant to the issue of whether money flowed into “sham” law firms alleged in the lawsuit. (Opposition to TFS Motion, 5-6.) Finally, Plaintiffs contend that Park’s motion must be denied because Plaintiffs have already obtained numerous checks from other defendants, showing that checks were paid to TFS. (Id.)

In reply, Park contends that it is Plaintiffs burden to demonstrate that the records requested by the subpoena are relevant to Plaintiffs’ allegations, rather than Park’s burden to demonstrate that he has an overriding privacy interest. (Reply to TFS Motion, 4-6.) Park contends that absent such a showing from Plaintiffs, the Complaint does not support disclosure of records from TFS for the entire period requested because the Complaint was filed in 2014. (Id.)

Plaintiffs have demonstrated that the records sought by the subpoena to TFS are directly relevant to the issues in this action. The court accepts the Jacobson Declaration and Plaintiffs’ opposing papers as sufficient explanation that the subpoena to TFS is directly relevant because it seeks to corroborate other parties’ testimony and evidence regarding money paid to TFS from “sham” law firms. Although Park is correct that an individual generally has an expectation of privacy, Park’s arguments fail because Park does not demonstrate that the subpoena to TFS pertains to his records. Thus, Park does not demonstrate that he was entitled to a notice to consumer or an overriding privacy interest in the records responsive to Plaintiffs’ subpoena to TFS.

For these reasons, Park’s motion is denied.

  1. Subpoena to MBF

Park contends that the subpoena to MBF must be quashed for the following reasons: (1) the subpoenas are procedurally improper, (2) the subpoenas request information that is irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and (3) the subpoenas violate Park’s right against self-incrimination, right of privacy, and/or right against unreasonable search and seizure. (see, Motion to Quash Subpoena to MBF (“MBF Motion”), 13-20.)

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.410, a deposition subpoena for the production of business records “shall be directed to the custodian of those records or another person qualified to certify the records.” Additionally, Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.430 provides that if a subpoena “commands only the production of business records for copying,” the custodian of records “shall” deliver both of the following: (1) a true copy of the records, (2) “an affidavit in compliance with Section 1561 of the Evidence Code.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2020.430, subd. (a).) C.C.P. § 2020.420 governs who can act as deposition officer. It provides:

“The officer for a deposition seeking discovery only of business records for copying under this article shall be a professional photocopier registered under Chapter 20 (commencing with Section 22450) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code, or a person exempted from the registration requirements of that chapter under Section 22451 of the Business and Professions Code. This deposition officer shall not be financially interested in the action, or a relative or employee of any attorney of the parties….”

Business and Professions Code § 22451(b) exempts a “member of the State Bar or his or her employees, agents, or independent contractors.” “A business records subpoena directs the nonparty's custodian of records (or other qualified person) to deliver the requested documents (in person, by messenger, or by mail) to the “deposition officer” specified in the subpoena. (§ 2020.430, subd. (a).) The deposition officer need not be a certified shorthand reporter but may be an attorney, a registered professional photocopier, or anyone statutorily exempt from the photocopier registration requirements.” (Unzipped Apparel, LLC v. Bader (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 123, 131.)

Park’s first argument that the subpoena to MBF is procedurally deficient fails. The subpoena demonstrates that it was served on TFS, as it states that it is to “Mercedes Benz Financial Services c/o CT Corporation – 818 West Seventh Street, Suite 930, Los Angeles, CA 90017.” Additionally, the subpoena to MBF indicates that it seeks all “DOCUMENTS” relating to an account ending in 4929, limited to certain categories. (Motion, Exh. A.) Thus, Park’s argument that the subpoena was required to include a Notice to Consumer addressed to him fails, as the subpoena does not on its face seek Park’s records.

Second, Park contends that the subpoena to MBF must be quashed because the subpoena seeks information about checks written on Park’s personal account, which are not at issue in this action regarding whether Plaintiffs had to pay claimants under their various insurance policies. (MBF Motion, 15-18.)

In opposition to this argument, Plaintiffs contend that Park has failed to demonstrate that he has any privacy interest in the records responsive to their subpoena to MBF because the subpoena does not on its face seek records pertaining to his account. (Opposition to MBF Motion, 11-12.) Further, Plaintiffs contend that even if Park had demonstrated a privacy interest, the records responsive to this subpoena are directly relevant to the issue of whether money flowed into “sham” law firms alleged in the lawsuit. (Opposition to MBF Motion, 5-6.) Finally, Plaintiffs contend that Park’s motion must be denied because Plaintiffs have already obtained numerous checks from other defendants, showing that checks were paid to TFS. (Id.)

In reply, Park contends that it is Plaintiffs burden to demonstrate that the records requested by the subpoena are relevant to Plaintiffs’ allegations, rather than Park’s burden to demonstrate that he has an overriding privacy interest. (Reply to MBF Motion, 4-7.) Park contends that absent such a showing from Plaintiffs, the Complaint does not support disclosure of records from MBF for the entire period requested because the Complaint was filed in 2014. (Id.)

Plaintiffs have demonstrated that the records sought by the subpoena to MBF are directly relevant to the issues in this action. The court accepts the Jacobson Declaration and Plaintiffs’ opposing papers as sufficient explanation that the subpoena to MBF is directly relevant because it seeks to corroborate other parties’ testimony and evidence regarding money paid to MBF from “sham” law firms. Although Park is correct that an individual generally has an expectation of privacy, Park’s arguments fail because Park does not demonstrate that the subpoena to MBF pertains to his records. Thus, Park does not demonstrate that he was entitled to a notice to consumer or an overriding privacy interest in the records responsive to Plaintiffs’ subpoena to MBF.

For these reasons, Park’s motion is denied.

Monetary Sanctions

Courts may, in their discretion, award the reasonable expenses incurred in making or opposing a motion brought pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1987.1, if the court finds the motion “was made or opposed in bad faith or without substantial justification.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.2, subd. (a).) “Substantial justification” means “ ‘that a justification is clearly reasonable because it is well grounded in both law and fact.’ ” (Vasquez v. California School of Culinary Arts, Inc. (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 35, 40.)

Plaintiffs request an award of sanctions of $4,200 against Park in connection with each motion on the grounds that each motion was brought without substantial justification.

The court declines to award sanctions, as it finds that Park’s motions were brought with substantial justification such that imposing sanctions would be unjust.

Conclusion

Park’s motion to quash subpoena to Toyota Financial Services is denied. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Park’s motion to quash subpoena to Bank of Hope is denied. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Park’s motion to quash subpoena to American Honda Finance Corporation is moot. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Park’s motion to quash subpoena to Mercedes Benz Financial Services is moot. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Park’s motion to quash subpoena to BMW Financial Services Corporation is moot. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Case Number: BC541477    Hearing Date: March 25, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: March 25, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC541477

CASE NAME: People of the State of California v. Chang Hwan Park, et al.

MOVING PARTIES: Defendants, Kelly L. Casado and Casado Law Firm

OPPOSING PARTIES: Plaintiffs, People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al.

TRIAL DATE: August 3, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Defendants’ Motion for Protective Order

OPPOSITION: March 12, 2021

REPLY: March 18, 2021

TENTATIVE: The Casado Defendants’ motion is denied. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions against the Casado Defendants is granted in the amount of $1,800. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

MOTION: Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Chase Bank

OPPOSITION: March 12, 2021

REPLY: March 18, 2021

TENTATIVE: The Casado Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Chase Bank is moot. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

MOTION: Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Hanmi Bank

OPPOSITION: March 12, 2021

REPLY: March 18, 2021

TENTATIVE: The Casado Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Hanmi Bank is moot. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Background

This action arises out of an alleged fraudulent scheme to defraud insurance companies.  Plaintiffs the People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company; Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Company (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants illegally owned and operated a number of sham law offices and health care practices for the purpose of fabricating insurance claims to deceive insurers into paying policy proceeds to personal injury patients.  Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of the allegedly defrauded insurance companies.   

Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 27, 2016, alleging two causes of action against all Defendants for: (1) violation of Insurance Code, § 1871.7 and (2) violation of Business and Professions Code, § 17200, et seq. (the Unfair Competition Law [“UCL”]).  

On November 13, 2017, Plaintiffs amended the FAC to name Kelly L. Casado and the Casado Law firm (collectively the “Casado Defendants”) as Doe Defendants 2 and 3 to the FAC.  Casado’s special motion to strike the FAC (“anti-SLAPP motion”) came to hearing on March 1, 2018, at which time the court denied the motion.  On March 8, 2018, the Casado Defendants filed a notice of appeal from the court’s March 1, 2018 ruling, and the matter was automatically stayed.   

On December 23, 2019, the Court of Appeal issued its opinion on the Casado Defendants’ appeal and as a result, the stay was lifted in this action.

On September 3, 2020, the Casado Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Chase Bank and Motion to Quash Subpoena to Hanmi Bank first came on for hearing. The Casado Defendants’ motions to quash were denied without prejudice because no separate statement was filed in connection with either motion.

On January 13, 2021, the Casado Defendants filed an Ex Parte Application for Protective Order regarding Plaintiffs’ subpoenas to Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank. The Casado Defendants’ application was denied, and the court’s minute order indicated that “this must be noticed discovery motion.”

The Casado Defendants’ now bring a renewed Motion to Quash Subpoena to Chase Bank and to Hanmi Bank. Additionally, the Casado Defendants’ motion for protective order now comes on for hearing. Plaintiffs oppose all motions.

MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

Meet and Confer 

A motion for a protective order under Code of Civil Procedure, section 2031.060 must be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.060 subd. (a).) 1

The Casado Defendants submit the declaration of their counsel, Michael V. Severo (“Severo”) to demonstrate that they have met their statutory meet and confer requirements. According to Severo, Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank both produced records responsive to Plaintiffs’ previously issued subpoenas prior to the Casado Defendants re-filing their renewed motions to quash subpoena on September 30, 2020. (Severo Decl. ¶ 12.) Severo attests that on December 29, 2020, the parties attended an Informal Discovery Conference (“IDC”) regarding the discovery at issue in this motion. (Severo Decl. ¶ 15.) Severo further attest that following the IDC, the parties agreed that Plaintiffs would transmit records to him for review and that he reviewed the records as agreed. (Severo Decl. ¶¶ 16-21.) Additionally, Severo attests that if the motions to quash are deemed moot, a protective order is the only remedy available to Defendants to prevent review and disclosure of the records at issue. (Severo Decl. ¶ 24.) The Severo Declaration includes no indication that Severo engaged in a meet and confer effort with Plaintiffs’ counsel other than attending the IDC.

In opposition, Plaintiffs contend that the Casado Defendants have failed to demonstrate that they met and conferred in good faith. (Opposition, 5-6.) Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that the Severo Defendants have acted in bad faith by failing to mention Plaintiffs’ meet and confer letters asking that the renewed motions to quash be withdrawn. (Id.) Plaintiffs’ counsel, Ryan G. Jacobson (“Jacobson”) attests in support of Plaintiffs’ opposition that during the IDC, the court instructed the Casado Defendants to produce a privilege log and that none was ever provided. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 11.) Additionally, Jacobson attests that on February 5, 2021, Plaintiffs sent the Casado Defendants another meet and confer letter requesting that they withdraw the instant motions. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 14, Exh. 5.)

In reply, the Casado Defendants contend that paragraphs 14-21 of the Severo Declaration are sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure section 2016.040.

The court finds the Severo Declaration sufficient. The parties do not dispute that they attended an IDC regarding the discovery at issue in this motion and that subsequently, they had some discussion regarding the court’s instructions to review the records already produced by Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank. That is minimally sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure sections 2031.060 and 2016.040.

The memorandum of points and authorities begins on page 7 after the table of contents and runs to page 37. CRC 3.1113 provides a limit of 20 pages on memoranda on motions absent a court order. The limits are imposed to preclude litigants from abusing the court and its staff. Therefore, the court will read only to page 27.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

Code of Civil Procedure, section 2025.420, subdivision (a) provides, in relevant part: “Before, during, or after a deposition, any party, any deponent, or any other affected natural person or organization may promptly move for a protective order.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2025.420, subd. (a).)  “The court, for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party, deponent, or other natural person or organization from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense.”  (Id., § 2025.420, subd. (b).)

“When an inspection, copying, testing, or sampling of documents, tangible things, places, or electronically stored information has been demanded, the party to whom the demand has been directed, and any other party or affected person, may promptly move for a protective order.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2031.060, subd. (a).) “The court, for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party or other person from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2031.060, subd. (b.)

  1. Analysis

The Casado Defendants request the following protective order regarding records produced by Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank:

  1. Plaintiffs are ordered to discard, destroy, and/or delete the records produced by Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank. Defense counsel is ordered to maintain a copy of the records provided by plaintiffs and make them available at the hearing on the motion to quash or any other proceeding upon further order of court.

  2. Plaintiffs are ordered not to copy any of the records before any destruction as ordered in a. above.

  1. Plaintiffs are prohibited from reviewing any of the records prior to destruction as ordered in a. above.

(Motion, 10.)

First, the Casado Defendants contend that a protective order must issue regarding these records because Plaintiffs’ subpoenas are procedurally defective in violation of Code of Civil Procedure sections 2020.410 and 2020.430. Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.410, a deposition subpoena for the production of business records “shall be directed to the custodian of those records or another person qualified to certify the records.” Additionally, Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.430 provides that if a subpoena “commands only the production of business records for copying,” the custodian of records “shall” deliver both of the following: (1) a true copy of the records, (2) “an affidavit in compliance with Section 1561 of the Evidence Code.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2020.430, subd. (a).) These requirements do not apply if the “subpoena directs the deponent to make the records available for inspection or copying by the subpoenaing party’s attorney or a representative of that attorney at the witness’ business address under subdivision (e) of Section 1560 of the Evidence Code.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2020.430, subd. (e).

The court disagrees that the subpoenas are procedurally defective.

Second, the Casado Defendants contend that a protective order must issue because the requested information is not relevant to the subject matter of this action and is thus not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. (Motion, 25-26.) Specifically, the Casado Defendants contend that the instant subpoenas, which seek information about its client trust accounts, are not relevant the issue of whether Plaintiffs had to pay claimants under their various insurance policies. (see Motion, 31.)

In opposition to this argument, Plaintiffs contend that the Casado Defendants cannot show good cause for a protective order because they have failed to provide a privilege log to date, delayed in filing renewed motions to quash subpoenas to Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank, and have made no showing of unwarranted embarrassment, burden, or oppression as required by Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.060. (Opposition, 4-5.)

In reply, the Casado Defendants contend that a protective order must issue because Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden of demonstrating that the subpoenas demanded a “reasonably particularized” category of documents. (Reply, 4-5.) The Casado Defendants cite to cases, including, Calcor Space Facility, Inc. v. Superior Ct. (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 216, 222 (Calcor) in support of this argument.

The court agrees with Plaintiffs that the Casado Defendants have failed to demonstrate good cause for the requested protective order.

The Casado Defendants do not dispute that Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank have already produced records responsive to Plaintiffs’ subpoenas. The Casado Defendants cite to no authority in support of their argument that Plaintiffs should be ordered to destroy the records already produced by Hanmi Bank and Chase Bank. Additionally, the Casado Defendants have had an opportunity to examine the produced documents and request return pursuant to a privilege log and they have not done so. Absent such a privilege log the court is unable to evaluate the Casado Defendants’ privilege claims.

Further, the documents in question here are not voluminous as in Calcor. Defendants make no showing of burden other than purported privileged or private records. They have not taken the opportunity to deal with those documents.

For these reasons, the Casado Defendants’ motion is denied.

Request for Sanctions

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.060, subdivision (h), the court “shall impose a monetary sanction” against any party who “unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion for a protective order, 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.” The court may impose sanctions against any party for engaging in conduct constituting a “misuse of the discovery process.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030 (a).) Misuse of the discovery process includes “failing to respond or submit to an authorized method of discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.010 (d).)

Plaintiffs request $3,000 in sanctions against the Casado Defendants on the grounds that they have brought the instant motion without substantial justification. (Opposition, 6-7.) Jacobson attests in support of this request that this amount represents 3 hours in preparing the opposition and an anticipated 1 hour each in reviewing the reply and attending the hearing at a rate of $600 per hour. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 15.)

The court is inclined to award sanctions against the Casado Defendants as it finds that the instant motion was brought without substantial justification. However, the court will award a reduced amount of sanctions of $1,800, representing 3 hours of attorney time at $600 per hour. Additionally, the Jacobson Declaration does not substantiate 5 hours of attorney time, as the opposition was relatively short and far less time is required to attend a hearing via CourtConnect than estimated.

For these reasons, Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is granted in the amount of $1,800.

Conclusion

The Casado Defendants’ motion is denied. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions against the Casado Defendants is granted in the amount of $1,800. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

MOTION TO QUASH

A court “may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders. In addition, the court may make any other order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.1.) The court, upon motion reasonably made by the party, may rule upon motions for quashing, modifying or compelling compliance with, subpoenas. (See, e.g., Lee v. Swansboro Country Property Owners Ass’n (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 575, 582-83.) A court may abuse its discretion in denying requests for discovery, or in granting a motion to quash, where it fails to consider interests favoring disclosure, or an order partially limiting rather than outright denying discovery. (Johnson v. Sup. Ct. (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 1050, 1073.)

The Casado Defendants bring renewed motions to quash subpoenas to Chase Bank and to Hanmi Bank. According to the Casado Defendants, these motions pertain to Plaintiffs’ March 26, 2020 subpoenas to Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank. (see Renewed Motion to Quash Subpoena to Chase Bank, Exh. A.)

As discussed above in connection with the Casado Defendants’ motion for protective order, Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank have already produced documents responsive to these subpoenas. Thus, the Casado Defendants’ motions to quash are moot.

Because each bank has already complied with Plaintiffs’ subpoenas, the court is unable to grant the relief sought by the Casado Defendants. “[A] case becomes moot when a court ruling can have no practical effect or cannot provide the parties with effective relief.” (Lincoln Place Tenants Assn. v. City of Los Angeles (2007) 155 Cal.App.4th 425, 454.)

For these reasons, the Casado Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Chase Bank is moot. Additionally, the Casado Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Hanmi Bank is moot.

Conclusion

The Casado Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Chase Bank is moot. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

The Casado Defendants’ Motion to Quash Subpoena to Hanmi Bank is moot. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Case Number: BC541477    Hearing Date: March 19, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: March 19, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC541477

CASE NAME: People of the State of California v. Chang Hwan Park, et al.

MOVING PARTIES: Plaintiffs, People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al.

OPPOSING PARTIES: Defendants, Chang Hwan Park, et al.

TRIAL DATE: August 3, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: INSUFFICENT

MOTION: Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Deposition of Third Party Shanel Cho

OPPOSITION: None, Notice of Non-Opposition March 10, 2021

REPLY: No opposition filed.

TENTATIVE: Plaintiffs’ motion is denied. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Background

This action arises out of an alleged fraudulent scheme to defraud insurance companies.  Plaintiffs the People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company; Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Company (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants illegally owned and operated a number of sham law offices and health care practices for the purpose of fabricating insurance claims to deceive insurers into paying policy proceeds to personal injury patients.  Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of the allegedly defrauded insurance companies.   

Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 27, 2016, alleging two causes of action against all Defendants for: (1) violation of Insurance Code, § 1871.7 and (2) violation of Business and Professions Code, § 17200, et seq. (the Unfair Competition Law [“UCL”]).  

On November 13, 2017, Plaintiffs amended the FAC to name Kelly L. Casado and the Casado Law firm (collectively the “Casado Defendants”) as Doe Defendants 2 and 3 to the FAC.  Casado’s special motion to strike the FAC (“anti-SLAPP motion”) came to hearing on March 1, 2018, at which time the court denied the motion.  On March 8, 2018, the Casado Defendants filed a notice of appeal from the court’s March 1, 2018 ruling, and the matter was automatically stayed.   

On December 23, 2019, the Court of Appeal issued its opinion on the Casado Defendants’ appeal and as a result, the stay was lifted in this action.

Plaintiffs now move to compel the deposition of third-party witness Shanel Cho. (“Cho”) The motion is unopposed.

Meet and Confer Efforts

A motion to compel deposition must be accompanied by a good faith 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 Civ. Proc., § 2025.450,¿subd.¿(b)(2).)¿¿A¿declaration¿under section 2016.040¿must state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented in the motion.¿¿(Code Civ. Proc.,¿§ 2016.040.)¿

Plaintiffs submit the declaration of their counsel, Amanda M. Plowman (“Plowman”) to demonstrate that they have fulfilled their statutory meet and confer obligations prior to filing the instant motion. Plowman attests that Plaintiffs first subpoenaed Cho for deposition on October 12, 2017. (Plowman Decl. ¶ 9, Exh. H.) The Deposition Subpoena for Personal Appearance indicates that it was personally served on Cho at 1541 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 508, Los Angeles, California. (Id.) Thereafter, Cho requested to reschedule her deposition on November 8, 2017 and January 4, 2018. (Plowman Decl. ¶ 10, Exh. I.) Subsequently, the action was stayed pending appeal.

After the stay was lifted, Plowman attests that she exchanged emails with Cho from September 2020 to October 23, 2020 regarding rescheduling her deposition. (Plowman Decl. ¶ 12, Exh. J.) Cho indicated in response to Plaintiff’s counsel that she was agreeable to a remote deposition and was available on November 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. (Id.) However, Cho did not appear for her remote deposition on November 17, 2020 and a Certificate of Non-Appearance was taken. (Plowman Decl. ¶¶ 13-14, Exh. L.) After Cho failed to appear, Plowman attests that she contacted Cho on November 18, 2020, December 4, 2020 and December 8, 2020 regarding her nonappearance. (Plowman Decl. ¶¶ 15-17, Exhs. M-O.) All those communications were emailed to an attorney’s office. Ms. Cho previously advised the attorney did not represent her.

The Plowman Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2025.450. Cho did not appear for her noticed deposition, and the Plowman Declaration demonstrates that Cho was contacted and they spoke about her nonappearance, but it is unclear what communications actually got to the witness.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

Code of¿Civil Procedure, section 2025.450, provides in relevant part:¿¿ 

¿ 

(a)¿¿If, after service of a deposition notice, a party to the action or an officer, director, managing agent, or employee of a party, or a person designated by an organization that is a party under Section 2025.230, 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, electronically stored information, or tangible thing 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, electronically stored information, or tangible thing described in the deposition notice.¿¿¿¿ 

¿ 

¿ 

(Code Civ. Proc., § 2025.450,¿subd. (a).)¿¿The motion must set forth specific facts justifying the production for inspection of any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing described in the deposition notice.¿ (Id.¿§ 2025.450,¿subd. (b)(1).)¿¿¿ 

  1. Analysis

Plaintiffs contend that Cho should be compelled to attend her deposition because Plaintiff’s Deposition Subpoena was properly served and Cho unreasonably failed to attend after working with Plaintiffs to reschedule her deposition on multiple occasions. (Motion, 5.) However, the court has concerns about the service of this motion on the third-party witness Cho. In support of the ex parte application of February 18, 2021, Ms. Plowman attached a proof of service showing that the notice of motion for the June 28, 2021 hearing was left with someone apparently at her residence. The notice of the ex parte application advancing the hearing date and the order were emailed to Ms. Cho at an address for an attorney who she previously stated was not her attorney. Several letters and notices were emailed to her at that address, but she responded to none. There is no showing that she agreed to electronic service at that address. She did not oppose the motion, but it is likely she did not know about it.

No party has filed an opposition to the instant motion.

The court agrees with Plaintiffs that good cause exists to compel Cho’s deposition. But Plaintiff has not established she has notice of the motion.

For these reasons, Plaintiffs’ motion is denied.

  1. Monetary Sanctions

Because the motion is denied, the request for sanctions is denied.

Conclusion

Plaintiffs’ motion is denied. Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions is denied. Plaintiffs are to give notice.

Case Number: BC541477    Hearing Date: October 30, 2020    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: October 30, 2020

CASE NUMBER: BC541477

CASE NAME: People of the State of California v. Chang Hwan Park, et al.

TRIAL DATE: August 3, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Plaintiffs’ Motion for Terminating Sanctions

MOVING PARTIES: Plaintiffs, People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al.

OPPOSING PARTY: Defendant, Northwest Law Firm, Inc.

OPPOSITION: October 19, 2020

REPLY: October 23, 2020

TENTATIVE: Plaintiffs’ motion for terminating sanctions is DENIED. Plaintiffs’ motion for monetary sanctions is granted. Sanctions are awarded against Northwest and its counsel, Michael Severo, jointly and severally, in the amount of $2,135 to be paid within sixty days of this date. Counsel are ordered to meet and confer in person or on the telephone by November 6 to schedule a firm date for a PMQ deposition to be completed before December 31, 2020. Failure to comply with this order, without good cause, is grounds for terminating sanctions. Plaintiffs to give notice..

Background

This action arises out of an alleged fraudulent scheme to defraud insurance companies.  Plaintiffs the People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company; Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Company (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants illegally owned and operated a number of sham law offices and health care practices for the purpose of fabricating insurance claims to deceive insurers into paying policy proceeds to personal injury patients.  Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of the allegedly defrauded insurance companies.   

Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 27, 2016, alleging two causes of action against all Defendants for: (1) violation of Insurance Code, § 1871.7 and (2) violation of Business and Professions Code, § 17200, et seq. (the Unfair Competition Law [“UCL”]).  

On October 18, 2017, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel Deposition of Defendant, Northwest Law Firm, Inc.’s (“Northwest”) Person Most Qualified (“PMQ”) was granted. The court ordered that the deposition of Northwest’s PMQ be completed by December 8, 2017, and further, ordered sanctions against Northwest and its counsel jointly and severally in the amount of $579.70.

On November 13, 2017, Plaintiffs amended the FAC to name Kelly L. Casado and the Casado Law firm (collectively the “Casado Defendants”) as Doe Defendants 2 and 3 to the FAC.  Casado’s special motion to strike the FAC (“anti-SLAPP motion”) came to hearing on March 1, 2018, at which time the court denied the motion.  On March 8, 2018, the Casado Defendants filed a notice of appeal from the court’s March 1, 2018 ruling, and the matter was automatically stayed.   

On December 23, 2019, the Court of Appeal issued its opinion on the Casado Defendants’ appeal. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of the Casado Defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion and indicated that Allstate was to recover its costs on appeal.

Plaintiffs now move for terminating sanctions against Northwest, striking its answer and entering its default based on its allegedly repeated failure to produce a Person most Qualified (“PMQ”) for deposition pursuant to the court’s October 18, 2017 order. Northwest opposes the motion.

Discussion

It is well established that the primary purpose of discovery sanctions is curative, not punitive.  (Welgoss v. End (1967) 252 Cal.App.2d 982, 992; Caryl Richards, Inc. v. Superior Court (1961) 188 Cal.App.2d 300, 303-304.)  Generally, the discovery statutes evince an incremental approach to sanctions, starting with monetary sanctions and ending with the ultimate sanction of dismissal.  (Doppes v. Bentley Motors, Inc. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 967, 992.)  “Although in extreme cases a court has the authority to order a terminating sanction as a first measure [citations], a terminating sanction should generally not be imposed until the court has attempted less severe alternatives and found them to be unsuccessful and/or the record clearly shows lesser sanctions would be ineffective.”  (Lopez v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 566, 604-605 .)   

A terminating sanction is a draconian remedy, and it is appropriate only when less severe alternatives will not vindicate the court’s authority and the purpose of the subject discovery.  (Rail Services of America v. State Com. Ins. Fund (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 323, 332; Mileikowsky v. Tenet Healthsystem (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 531, 564, disapproved on other grounds by Mileikowsky v. West Hills Hosp. and Medical Center (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1259, 1273; New Albertsons, Inc. v. Superior Court (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1423.) 

Plaintiffs contend that terminating sanctions against Northwest are warranted because of Northwest’s pattern of willfully failing to obey the court’s October 18, 2017 order granting Plaintiffs’ motion to compel the deposition of Northwest’s PMQ by failing to produce a PMQ to date and failing to pay the sanctions ordered. (the “October Order”) (Motion, 5-7.)

Plaintiffs submit the declaration of their attorney, Ryan G. Jacobson (“Jacobson”) in support of this argument.

Jacobson attests that on May 12, 2016, Plaintiffs served their first Notice of Deposition for the PMQ of Northwest. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 3, Exhibit 1.) On June 22, 2016, Northwest’s counsel indicated by letter that the deposition would not be going forward. (Id.; Exhibit 2.) Jacobson further attests that on June 2, 2017, Northwest indicated that its PMQ would be available for deposition on July 18, 2017 and July 19, 2017. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 4, Exhibit 4.) Accordingly, Plaintiffs served notice on June 6, 2017 for the deposition of Northwest’s PMQ on July 19, 2017. (Id.; Exhibit 5.) According to Jacobson, Northwest’s counsel again cancelled the deposition on short notice, two days before it occurred. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 4.)

Following the court’s October 18, 2017 ruling, Jacobson attests that Plaintiffs re-noticed the deposition of Northwest’s PMQ for November 30, 2017. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 5, Exhibit 7.) A week before the November 30, 2017 date, Northwest’s counsel requested that the deposition be rescheduled. (Id.; Exhibit 8.) Thereafter, the matter was stayed pending the Casado Defendants’ Special Motion to Strike and appeal.

On February 27, 2020 and after the stay was lifted following the Casado Defendants’ appeal, Jacobson attests that he sent Northwest’s counsel another meet and confer letter requesting dates for deposition of its PMQ. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 6.) Jacobson attests that he sent a further letter on April 22, 2020 and that on that date, the parties agreed to conduct the PMQ’s Deposition on September 9, 2020 by zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Id., Exhibit 11.) Northwest’s PMQ failed to appear at deposition on September 9, 2020. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 6.)

In opposition, Northwest contends that terminating sanctions are not warranted because “defendants have complied in full with the court’s order” since the deposition of Defendant Lee covered all areas that would be asked of a PMQ of Northwest. (Opposition, 6-7.) Additionally, Northwest contends that allowing Plaintiffs to obtain an order requiring the deposition of Northwest’s PMQ would be discovery abuse because it would allow Plaintiffs to “cover again areas already addressed and concluded in the Michael Lee deposition sessions.” (Id.) Northwest submits its counsel, Michael V. Severo’s (“Severo”) declaration in support of his opposition.

Severo attests that from case inception, Plaintiffs have habitually set dates for depositions “unilaterally” and without consulting him as to availability, necessitating multiple continuances of such depositions. (Severo Decl. ¶¶ 3-4.) According to Severo, Plaintiffs knew that Lee was the owner and operator of Northwest, such that “Mr. Lee is Northwest, and Northwest is Mr. Lee.” (Severo Decl. ¶ 7.) Severo also attests that he repeatedly asked Plaintiffs’ counsel during the various sessions of Lee’s deposition whether Lee was being deposed as the PMQ of Northwest or individually, and that “It was obvious that the artificial line between PMK for Northwest and Mr. Lee could not be distinguished.” (Severo Decl. ¶ 8.)

In reply, Plaintiffs contend that terminating sanctions are still warranted because Northwest has not shown any intent of complying with the court’s October Order, which clearly required Northwest to produce a PMQ for deposition. (Reply, 5.)

Plaintiffs’ motion also requests an additional $2,135 in sanctions. Plaintiffs’ attorney Ryan Jacobson attests that this amount compromises of 3 hours spent preparing this motion at $600 per hour and that the request also includes a $60 filing fee, and $275 in connection with the nonappearance of Northwest’s PMQ at deposition. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 7.)

There is no dispute between the parties that the court ordered a deposition of Northwest’s PMQ, and that deposition has not been taken. While the number of cancellations of scheduled depositions is excessive, discovery sanctions should be made to compel that discovery be completed if possible. Exhibit 13 to the Jacobson Declaration contains an email from Mr. Severo’s assistant, Mr. Reyes, offering a deposition on October 2 in lieu of the September 9 deposition, which was rejected by Plaintiff. If that offer had been accepted and Defendant cancelled that date too, a better case could be made for terminating sanctions. The court finds that no award of terminating sanctions is warranted at this time.

However, Northwest’s argument that Plaintiffs’ attempts to obtain a PMQ Deposition constitutes discovery abuse is not well taken, as creates an inference that the October 2 date was not a legitimate alternative . Plaintiffs have a broad right to obtain discovery of all defendants, and a PMQ Deposition is not the same thing as an individual deposition even if the PMQ is functionally the same person as the individual defendants. Further, because Plaintiffs have demonstrated that Northwest has repeatedly cancelled the deposition of its PMQ on short notice on numerous occasions, the court finds it appropriate to issue the following lesser sanctions:

  1. Counsel are ordered to meet and confer in person or on the telephone by November 6 to schedule a firm date for a PMQ deposition to be completed before December 31, 2020.

  2. Failure to produce a PMQ for deposition by December 31, 2020 without good cause is grounds for terminating sanctions against Northwest

  3. Northwest and its counsel, Michael Severo, jointly and severally, are ordered to pay sanctions in connection with this dispute in the amount of $2,135.

Conclusion

Plaintiffs’ motion for terminating sanctions is DENIED. Plaintiffs’ motion for monetary sanctions is granted. Sanctions are awarded against Northwest and its counsel, Michael Severo, jointly and severally, in the amount of $2,135 to be paid within sixty days of this date. Counsel are ordered to meet and confer in person or on the telephone by November 6 to schedule a firm date for a PMQ deposition to be completed before December 31, 2020. Failure to comply with this order, without good cause, is grounds for terminating sanctions. Plaintiffs to give notice.

Case Number: BC541477    Hearing Date: October 14, 2020    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: October 14, 2020

CASE NUMBER: BC541477

CASE NAME: People of the State of California v. Chang Hwan Park, et al.

TRIAL DATE: August 3, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Plaintiffs’ Motion for Terminating Sanctions

MOVING PARTIES: Plaintiff, People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al.

OPPOSING PARTY: Defendant, Michael S. Lee

OPPOSITION: September 30, 2020

REPLY: October 2, 2020

TENTATIVE: Plaintiffs’ motion for terminating sanctions is DENIED. Lee is ordered to pay previously ordered sanctions in the amount of $3,612.70 within 20 days of this date. Lee’s counsel Michael V. Severo, Esq. is jointly and severally ordered to pay $2,585.40 of those sanctions within 20 days of this date. Further monetary sanctions are awarded against Lee and his counsel jointly and severally for this motion in the amount of $2,735, payable within 60 days of this date. The court sets an order to show cause hearing on January 12, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 37 to show proof of payment of sanctions or why monetary sanctions of up to $1,500 each pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 177.5 should not be ordered against Lee and/or his counsel if these court orders are not complied with.

Background

This action arises out of an alleged fraudulent scheme to defraud insurance companies.  Plaintiffs the People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company; Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Company (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants illegally owned and operated a number of sham law offices and health care practices for the purpose of fabricating insurance claims to deceive insurers into paying policy proceeds to personal injury patients.  Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of the allegedly defrauded insurance companies.   

Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 27, 2016, alleging two causes of action against all Defendants for: (1) violation of Insurance Code, § 1871.7 and (2) violation of Business and Professions Code, § 17200, et seq. (the Unfair Competition Law [“UCL”]).  

On June 14, 2016 the court granted a motion to compel Defendant Michael Lee (“Lee”) to provide responses to form interrogatories and awarded sanctions against Lee in the amount of $250, payable within 30 days.

On January 13, 2017, Plaintiffs’ motion to compel Lee to respond to discovery and for sanctions was granted. Lee was ordered to pay a total of $1,151 in sanctions across four motions payable within 30 days and was ordered to serve responses within 30 days.

On April 10, 2017, Plaintiffs’ motion to compel Lee to respond to Requests for Production came on for hearing and was deemed moot as Lee had served responses. However, sanctions were awarded in the amount of $360 against Lee and his counsel and payable within 30 days.

On May 11, 2017, Plaintiffs’ first motion for terminating sanctions against Lee based on his alleged failure to serve the responses ordered on January 13 and April 10 came on for hearing. Plaintiffs’ motion was denied because Lee had served responses prior to this hearing. However, sanctions were ordered against Lee and his attorney in the amount of $1,080, payable within 30 days.

On August 11, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Compel Lee’s Deposition. Plaintiffs’ motion argued that an order compelling Lee’s deposition was required because Lee repeatedly failed to appear at his duly noticed depositions. On October 18, 2017, Plaintiffs’ unopposed motion to compel Lee’s deposition was granted. Lee was ordered to sit for deposition by December 8, 2017. Additionally, $572.70 in sanctions were awarded against Lee and his counsel jointly and severally and payable within 60 days.

On November 13, 2017, Plaintiffs amended the FAC to name Kelly L. Casado and the Casado Law firm (collectively the “Casado Defendants”) as Doe Defendants 2 and 3 to the FAC.  Casado’s special motion to strike the FAC (“anti-SLAPP motion”) came to hearing on March 1, 2018, at which time the court denied the motion.  On March 8, 2018, the Casado Defendants filed a notice of appeal from the court’s March 1, 2018 ruling, and the matter was automatically stayed.   

On December 23, 2019, the Court of Appeal issued its opinion on the Casado Defendants’ appeal. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of the Casado Defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion and indicated that Allstate was to recover its costs on appeal.

Plaintiffs now move for terminating sanctions against Lee, striking his answer and entering his default, based on his failure to attend and complete his court ordered deposition and repeated failures to comply with discovery. Lee opposes the motion.

Discussion

It is well established that the primary purpose of discovery sanctions is curative, not punitive.  (Welgoss v. End (1967) 252 Cal.App.2d 982, 992; Caryl Richards, Inc. v. Superior Court (1961) 188 Cal.App.2d 300, 303-304.)  Generally, the discovery statutes evince an incremental approach to sanctions, starting with monetary sanctions and ending with the ultimate sanction of dismissal.  (Doppes v. Bentley Motors, Inc. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 967, 992.)  “Although in extreme cases a court has the authority to order a terminating sanction as a first measure [citations], a terminating sanction should generally not be imposed until the court has attempted less severe alternatives and found them to be unsuccessful and/or the record clearly shows lesser sanctions would be ineffective.”  (Lopez v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 566, 604-605 (Lopez).)   

A terminating sanction is a draconian remedy, and it is appropriate only when less severe alternatives will not vindicate the court’s authority and the purpose of the subject discovery.  (Rail Services of America v. State Com. Ins. Fund (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 323, 332; Mileikowsky v. Tenet Healthsystem (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 531, 564, disapproved on other grounds by Mileikowsky v. West Hills Hosp. and Medical Center (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1259, 1273; New Albertsons, Inc. v. Superior Court (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1423.) 

Plaintiffs contend that terminating sanctions against Lee are warranted because of Lee’s pattern of failing to obey the court’s various previous orders to pay sanctions and other discovery abuses. (Motion, 6-8.) Plaintiffs submit the declaration of their attorney, Ryan G. Jacobson (“Jacobson”) in support of this argument.

Jacobson attests that from June 14, 2016 to the present, Lee has accrued $3,612.70 in monetary sanctions with respect to motions to compel responses to discovery, a motion to compel his deposition and a prior motion for terminating sanctions. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 3.) With respect to Plaintiffs’ attempts to obtain Lee’s deposition, Jacobson attests that Plaintiffs first noticed Lee’s deposition on May 12, 2016 and that from then until December 11, 2017, Lee did not appear for deposition because his counsel unilaterally cancelled the deposition shortly before each scheduled date. (Jacobson Decl. ¶¶ 4; Exhibits 3-6.) Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed their motion to compel Lee’s deposition on August 3, 2017 and on October 18, 2017, Plaintiffs’ motion was granted. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 5; Exhibit 11.) Following the court’s ruling on Plaintiffs’ motion, the parties further met and conferred and agreed on December 11, 2017 for Lee’s deposition. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 6, Exhibits 12-16.) Although Lee appeared at this deposition, Jacobson attests that it was suspended because Lee claimed he felt sick and could not continue. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 6.)

Finally, Jacobson attests that on February 27, 2020, the parties resumed meeting and conferring to schedule Lee’s deposition after discovery resumed following the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the Casado Defendants’ appeal of the ruling on their Special Motion to Strike. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 7.) According to Jacobson, the parties agreed to August 19, 2020 for Lee’s deposition but the deposition was again cancelled two days prior by Lee’s counsel. (Id.) Thus, Plaintiffs’ counsel wrote to Lee’s counsel on August 19, 2020 requesting alternative dates for Lee’s deposition. (Id.)

In opposition, Lee contends that terminating sanctions are not warranted because Lee has “complied, albeit belatedly” with all applicable discovery orders. (Opposition, 5-6.) Further, Lee contends that the court should not issue terminating sanctions because were Lee’s default to be entered, “a subsequent motion to set aside a default judgment would fall squarely within the mandator provisions of C.C.P. 473(b).” (Id.) Lee submits his counsel, Michael V. Severo’s (“Severo”) declaration in support of his opposition.

Severo attests that as shown by Plaintiffs’ motion, Lee’s failures to appear at deposition were the result of his actions, not Lee’s. (Severo Decl. ¶ 4.) Further, Severo attests that Lee appeared for deposition on September 22, 2020 and that a third and final session of his deposition is being scheduled for “possibly October 12, 2020.” (Severo Decl. ¶ 5.) Severo also attests that if Lee’s deposition is completed before this hearing the motion would be taken off-calendar. (Severo Decl. ¶ 6.)

In reply, Plaintiffs confirm that the parties have agreed on October 12, 2020 for Lee’s deposition as of October 6, 2020. (Reply, 2-3.) Plaintiffs state that the motion will be taken off calendar if Lee appears for his deposition on October 12, 2020 and all sanctions are paid in full before the instant hearing. (Id.)

Based on the above discussion regarding the court’s previous discovery orders issued against Lee, the court finds that terminating sanctions are not warranted. It is undisputed that Lee has not failed to comply with any of the substantive portions of the court’s previous orders regarding written discovery. Moreover, based on the parties moving and opposing papers it appears that the parties have also agreed to a date certain to complete Lee’s deposition. Further, Lee does not dispute that he has failed to pay any of the discovery sanctions the court previously ordered against him despite the due dates for those payments having long passed. Some of those sanctions, about $2,585.40, were also ordered payable by Lee’s counsel and remain unpaid despite the due dates having long passed. The court finds that failure to pay monetary sanctions without more does not warrant issuing terminating sanctions, as less severe alternatives are warranted.

Plaintiffs’ motion also requests an additional $2,735 in sanctions. Plaintiffs’ attorney Ryan Jacobson attests that this amount compromises of 4 hours spent preparing this motion at $600 per hour, a $60 filing fee, and $275 in connection with Lee’s nonappearance at deposition. (Jacobson Decl. ¶ 8.) The court finds that Plaintiffs’ request is reasonable considering Lee and his counsel’s repeated failures to appear at deposition and pay his previous discovery sanctions. Thus, sanctions are awarded against Lee and his counsel, jointly and severally, in the amount of $2,735 and payable within 60 days. If they remain unpaid past that date, they will bear interest at the same rate as post judgment interest of 10% simple interest per annum.

Conclusion

Plaintiffs’ motion for terminating sanctions is DENIED. Lee is ordered to pay previously ordered sanctions in the amount of $3,612.70 within 20 days of this date. Lee’s counsel Michael V. Severo, Esq. is jointly and severally ordered to pay $2,585.40 of those sanctions within 20 days of this date. Further monetary sanctions are awarded against Lee and his counsel jointly and severally for this motion in the amount of $2,735, payable within 60 days of this date. The court sets an order to show cause hearing on January 12, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 37 to show proof of payment of sanctions or why monetary sanctions of up to $1,500 each pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 177.5 should not be ordered against Lee and/or his counsel if these court orders are not complied with.

Case Number: BC541477    Hearing Date: September 03, 2020    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: September 3, 2020

CASE NUMBER: BC541477

CASE NAME: People of the State of California v. Chang Hwan Park, et al.

TRIAL DATE: None

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Defendants’ Demurrer to the First Amended Complaint

MOVING PARTY: Defendants, Casado Law Firm and Kelly Casado

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff People of the State of the California

OPPOSITION: August 21, 2020

REPLY: August 27, 2020

TENTATIVE: The Casado Defendants’ demurrer to the FAC is overruled in its entirety. Plaintiff is to give notice.

MOTION: Motion to Quash Deposition Subpoena for Business Records to JPMorgan Chase Bank

MOVING PARTY: Defendants, Casado Law Firm and Kelly Casado

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff People of the State of California

OPPOSITION: August 21, 2020

REPLY: August 27, 2020

TENTATIVE: The Casado Defendants’ motion is denied. Plaintiff is to give notice.

MOTION: Motion to Quash Deposition Subpoena for Business Records to Hanmi Bank

MOVING PARTY: Defendants, Casado Law Firm and Kelly Casado

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff People of the State of California

OPPOSITION: August 21, 2020

REPLY: August 27, 2020

TENTATIVE: The Casado Defendants’ motion is denied. Plaintiff is to give notice

Background

The following background is common to and applies to all three motions before the court today.

This action arises out of an alleged fraudulent scheme to defraud insurance companies.  Plaintiffs the People of the State of California ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company; Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Company (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that Defendants illegally owned and operated a number of sham law offices and health care practices for the purpose of fabricating insurance claims to deceive insurers into paying policy proceeds to personal injury claimants.   

Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 27, 2016, alleging two causes of action against all Defendants for: (1) violation of Insurance Code, § 1871.7 and (2) violation of Business and Professions Code, § 17200, et seq. (the Unfair Competition Law [“UCL”]).  On November 13, 2017, Plaintiffs amended the FAC to name Kelly L. Casado and the Casado Law firm (collectively the “Casado Defendants”) as Doe Defendants 2 and 3 to the FAC.  Casado’s special motion to strike the FAC (“anti-SLAPP motion”) came to hearing on March 1, 2018, at which time the court denied the motion.  On March 8, 2018, the Casado Defendants filed a notice of appeal from the court’s March 1, 2018 ruling, and the matter was automatically stayed.   

On December 17, 2019 Defendant Robynnie Byon filed a Notice of Stay of Proceedings, indicating that this action was stayed as to Byon and pursuant to a Post Discharge Injunction in the United States Bankruptcy Court. Byon was dismissed without prejudice from this action on May 11, 2020.

On December 23, 2019, the Court of Appeal issued its opinion on the Casado Defendants’ appeal. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of the Casado Defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion and also indicated that Allstate was to recover its costs on appeal. [

On April 24, 2020, the Casado Defendants filed a demurrer to the FAC. On April 27, 2020, the Casado Defendants also filed motions to quash deposition subpoenas for production of business records to JPMorgan Chase Bank and Hanmi Bank. Plaintiffs oppose all three motions.

DEMURRER[1]

Request for Judicial Notice

Plaintiff requests that the court take judicial notice of the following in connection with its opposition to the instant demurrer:

1. Opinion by Court of Appeal – Second District (unpublished), The People ex rel. Allstate Insurance Company, et al. v. Kelly L. Casado, et al., Case No. B288742 (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BC541477), which was filed on December 23, 2019.

2. Appellants’ Opening Brief, The People ex rel. Allstate Insurance Company, et al. v. Kelly L. Casado, et al., Case No. B288742 (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BC541477), which was filed January 30, 2019.

3. Notice of Motion and Special Motion to Strike First Amended Complaint Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16; Memorandum of Points and Authorities; Declarations of Kelly L. Casado and Michael V. Severo (without exhibits), People of the State of California, ex rel., Allstate Insurance Company, et al. v. Chang Hwan Park, et al., Case No. BC541477, filed on January 11, 2018.

Plaintiff’s request is granted. The existence and legal significance of these documents are proper matters for judicial notice. (Evidence Code § 452, subd. (d), (h).)

Discussion

  1. Legal Standard

A demurrer is an objection to a pleading, the grounds for which are apparent from either the face of the complaint or a matter of which the court may take judicial notice. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.30, subd. (a); see also Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311, 318.) The purpose of a demurrer is to challenge the sufficiency of a pleading “by raising questions of law.” (Postley v. Harvey (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 280, 286.) The court “treat[s] the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded, but not contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law. . . .” (Berkley v. Dowds (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 518, 525 (Berkley).) “In the construction of a pleading, for the purpose of determining its effect, its allegations must be liberally construed, with a view to substantial justice between the parties.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 452; see also Stevens v. Sup. Ct. (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 594, 601.) “When a court evaluates a complaint, the plaintiff is entitled to reasonable inferences from the facts pled.” (Duval v. Board of Trustees (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 902, 906.)

The general rule is that the plaintiff need only allege ultimate facts, not evidentiary facts. (Doe v. City of Los Angeles (2007) 42 Cal.4th 531, 550.) “All that is required of a plaintiff, as a matter of pleading, even as against a special demurrer, is that his complaint set forth the essential facts of the case with reasonable precision and with sufficient particularity to acquaint the defendant with the nature, source and extent of his cause of action.” (Rannard v. Lockheed Aircraft Corp. (1945) 26 Cal.2d 149, 156-157.) “[D]emurrers for uncertainty are disfavored and are granted only if the pleading is so incomprehensible that a defendant cannot reasonably respond.” (Mahan v. Charles W. Chan Ins. Agency, Inc. (2017) 14 Cal.App.5th 841, 848, fn. 3 (Mahan), citing Lickiss v. Fin. Indus. Regulatory Auth. (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 1125, 1135.) In addition, even where a complaint is in some respects uncertain, courts strictly construe a demurrer for uncertainty “because ambiguities can be clarified under modern discovery procedures.” (Khoury v. Maly’s of California, Inc. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 612, 616.)

Demurrers do not lie as to only parts of causes of action where some valid claim is alleged but “must dispose of an entire cause of action to be sustained.” (Poizner v. Fremont General Corp. (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 97, 119.) “Generally it is an abuse of discretion to sustain a demurrer without leave to amend if there is any reasonable possibility that the defect can be cured by amendment.” (Goodman v. Kennedy (1976) 18 Cal.3d 335, 349.)

  1. Discussion

As a preliminary note, Plaintiff contends that the Casado Defendant’s demurrer should be overruled in its entirety because it is untimely. (Opposition, 7.) Plaintiff relies on Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.40, subdivision (a), which provides that a demurrer may be served and filed within 30 days after service of the Complaint. However, Plaintiff cites to no authority, which requires that a demurrer be overruled solely because it was brought more than 30 days after service of the Complaint. The court may exercise its discretion to consider a late-filed demurrer. (See Jackson v. Doe (2011) 192 Cal. App. 4th 742, 750.)

Here, it is undisputed that the Casado Defendants timely filed an anti-SLAPP motion which was denied and then appealed. Further, the Court of Appeal issued its opinion on December 23, 2019, upholding the trial court’s ruling. Thereafter, based on the Severo Declaration, the parties began meeting and conferring in April 2020 regarding the proposed demurrer, and the demurrer was filed on April 24, 2020. Given this procedural history, the court will not overrule the Casado Defendants’ demurrer based on any untimeliness and will consider the demurrer on its merits.

The Casado Defendants contend that the FAC is insufficiently pled as to them because the FAC does not specifically allege what the Casado Defendants, and not the other defendants did. (Demurrer, 8-12.) Alternatively, the Casado Defendants contend that the FAC’s claims are barred by Insurance Code, section 1871.7, subdivision (l)(1). (Demurrer, 12-14.) The court will address these arguments in turn.

  1. Whether the FAC is Plead With Sufficient Specificity

Insurance Code, section 1871.7 provides, in relevant part: 

It is unlawful to knowingly employ runners, cappers, steerers, or other persons to procure clients or patients to perform or obtain services or benefits pursuant to Division 4 (commencing with Section 3200) of the Labor Code or to procure clients or patients to perform or obtain services or benefits under a contract of insurance or that will be the basis for a claim against an insured individual or his or her insurer. 

(Ins. Code, § 1871, subd. (a).)  Section 1871, subdivision (b) establishes penalties for violation of this section or of Penal Code, sections 549, 550, or 551.  (Id. at subd. (b).)  Penal Code, section 549 prohibits the solicitation, acceptance, or referral of business with the knowledge of, disregard for, or intent to file fraudulent claims, while Penal Code, section 550 makes it unlawful to commit acts including knowingly presenting or causing to be presented any false or fraudulent insurance claims. 

Business and Professions Code section 17200 (“UCL”) prohibits “unfair competition,” which is defined to include “any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice” and “unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising” and any act prohibited by business and professions code section 17500. A cause of action under the UCL must be stated with “reasonable particularity.” (Gutierrez v. Carmax Auto Superstores California (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 1234, 1261.)

The UCL prohibits: (1) unlawful conduct; (2) unfair business acts or practices; (3) fraudulent business acts or practices; (4) unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising; and (5) any act prohibited under sections 17500-77.5.  UCL actions based on “unlawful” conduct may be based on violations of other statutes.  (See Klein v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1342, 1383.)

First, the Casado Defendants contend that the FAC was required to allege each cause of action against them with specificity because the California Insurance Frauds Prevention Act “sounds in fraud.” (Demurrer, 9.) The Casado Defendants rely on State ex rel. McCann v. Bank of America, N.A. (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 897, 906 (McCann) for this argument. Further, it is unclear whether the Casado Defendants also argue that a claim under Business and Professions Code section 17200 was required to be pled with specificity. However, to the extent the Casado Defendants make this contention, the court disagrees.

In opposition, Plaintiff contends that the Casado Defendants’ reliance on McCann is misplaced. (Opposition, 8.) The court agrees.

In McCann, the Court of Appeal stated that fraud was the required pleading specificity for a CFCA cause of action, “ “ as in any action sounding in fraud.”” (Id.; quoting City of Pomona v. Superior Court (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 793, 803.) As such, a Plaintiff is required to plead the “time, place, and contents of the false representations, as well as the identity of the person making the misrepresentation and what he obtained thereby.”” (Id.) However, McCann does not stand for the proposition that a claim under Insurance Code section 1871.7 is required to be pled with specificity.

Second, the Casado Defendants contend that the FAC is insufficiently pled because it cannot be discerned from the face of the FAC what the Casado Defendants are allegedly to have done. (Demurrer, 8-12.) In opposition, Plaintiff contends that no specific pleading standard has been enumerated for Insurance Code section 1871.7 and that regardless, the FAC is sufficiently pled. (Opposition, 8-11.)

Here, the FAC alleges that DOES ONE through TWENTY FIVE “were or are individuals or entities that are legally responsible in some manner for the conduct herein alleged.” (FAC ¶ 33.) Further, all layperson defendants and “other DOE defendants” engaged in a “fraudulent scheme” to “gather and steer personal injury clients and patients between sham law offices and sham mill-type healthcare facilities” in order to make fraudulent insurance claims. (FAC ¶ 45.) There are allegedly “at least two” allegedly sham law offices that are owned and controlled by defendants. (FAC ¶ 46.) Defendants allegedly violated Insurance Code section 1871.7 by virtue of this alleged conduct. (FAC ¶¶ 64-65.) Further, Defendants, including doe defendants’ conduct also allegedly constituted unfair competition. (FAC ¶ 71.)

The court finds that the FAC is sufficiently pled. As Plaintiff correctly contends, the Casado Defendants have cited to no case law for the proposition that Insurance Code section 1871.7 or Business and Professions Code section 17200 causes of action were required to be pled with specificity. Based on the above discussion of the FAC’s allegations, the court finds that the FAC sufficiently alleges a cause of action under Insurance Code section 1871.7 and that further, sufficiently alleges a cause of action under Business and Professions Code section 17200 with reasonable particularity.

  1. Whether the FAC’s Causes of Action are Barred

Insurance Code section 1871.7, subdivision (l)(1) provides that: “An action pursuant to this section may not be filed more than three years after the discovery of the facts constituting the grounds for commencing the action.”

The Casado Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s FAC is barred as to them because the FAC does not sufficiently allege that all claims against the Casado Defendants were discovered by or before April 3, 2011, three years prior to filing the initial Complaint. (Demurrer, 12-14.) The Casado Defendants contend that to the extent toe FAC includes dates in its allegations, these dates do not affirmatively demonstrate that the FAC is timely as to the Casado Defendants and that, as such, the FAC is untimely. (Id.)

In opposition, Plaintiff contends that the Casado Defendants’ timeliness argument must fail because the argument is not supported by the face of the FAC. (Opposition, 11.) The court agrees. The court cannot determine based on the face of the FAC that the FAC is untimely as to the Casado Defendants. Further, the Casado Defendants have cited to no authority for the proposition that Plaintiff was required to affirmatively allege timeliness in the FAC in order for the claims to be considered timely for purposes of demurrer. Thus, the court does not sustain the Casado Defendants’ demurrer on this basis.

  1. Misjoinder

Code of Civil Procedure, section 379 provides that multiple persons may be joined in one action against them if either of the following applies:

“(1) Any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative, in respect of or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all these persons will arise in the action; ¿or

(2) A claim, right, or interest adverse to them in the property or controversy which is the subject of the action.”

Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.10, subdivision (d) allows a party to demur to a pleading on the grounds that there is a defect or misjoinder of parties.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (d).)  

The Casado Defendants contend that the FAC insufficiently joins them as parties because the FAC was required to allege that any nonlawyer defendant owned, controlled, or operative the Casado Law Firm. (Demurrer, 14-16.) In opposition, Plaintiff contends that the Casado Defendants’ misjoinder argument must fail because the Casado Defendants do not argue that the allegations of the FAC did not arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences. (Opposition, 11-12.)

The court agrees with Plaintiff. The Casado Defendants do not demonstrate that misjoinder exists. Specifically, the Casado Defendants’ demurrer does not explain why the FAC was required to allege that nonlawyer defendants controlled the Casado Law Firm in order for the allegations to arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of occurrences.

Thus, the court does not sustain the Casado Defendants’ demurrer on this basis.

Conclusion

The Casado Defendants’ demurrer to the FAC is overruled in its entirety. Plaintiff is to give notice.

MOTIONS TO QUASH SUBPOENA

The Casado Defendants move to quash two subpoenas, one each to JP Morgan Chase Bank and to Hanmi Bank on the grounds that both are overbroad and seek private information.

Discussion

I. Procedural Requirements

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure, sections 1985.3, subdivision (e), a subpoena duces tecum that seeks the production of consumer records, served on either the consumer or his attorney shall be accompanied by a notice indicating that (1) records about the consumer are being sought, (2) if the consumer objects the production of records, the consumer shall serve written objections prior to the date of production, and (3) if the party who is seeking records will not agree to cancel the subpoena upon objection, that an attorney should be consulted about the consumer’s interest in protecting his rights of privacy.

Further, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1985.6, the subpoenaing party shall serve on the witness, prior to production of the records, a “proof of personal service” or “service by mail” and provide the witness an authorization to release records signed by the employee or by his attorney of record.

The Casado Defendants do not argue that the subpoenas must be quashed for failing to comply with procedural requirements. Thus, the court will proceed to analyze substantive considerations regarding the subpoenas.

II. Substantive Considerations

A court “may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders. In addition, the court may make any other order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.1.) The court, upon motion reasonably made by the party, may rule upon motions for quashing, modifying or compelling compliance with, subpoenas. (See, e.g., Lee v. Swansboro Country Property Owners Ass’n (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 575, 582-83.) A court may abuse its discretion in denying requests for discovery, or in granting a motion to quash, where it fails to consider interests favoring disclosure, or an order partially limiting rather than outright denying discovery. (Johnson v. Sup. Ct. (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 1050, 1073.)

California Rules of Court, rule 3.1345 requires a separate statement to be submitted in connection with any motion “involving the content of a discovery request or the response to such a request…..”  (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(a).)  A separate statement is required for a motion to compel answers at a deposition and a motion to compel or quash the production of documents or tangible things at a deposition.  (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(a)(4)-(5).)   

Plaintiff contends that each of the Casado Defendants’ motions to quash must be denied because no separate statement was filed in connection with either motion, and a separate statement was required pursuant to California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1345.

In reply, the Casado Defendants have filed separate statements in support of each motion. However, pursuant to California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1345, a separate statement was required with the Casado Defendants’ moving papers. Because the Casado Defendants did not file a separate statement until their reply, the court denies the motion to quash.

Conclusion

The Casado Defendants’ motions to quash are denied. Plaintiffs to give notice.


[1] The Casado Defendants submit the declaration of their attorney, Michael V. Severo (“Severo”) to demonstrate that they have fulfilled their meet and confer obligations pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.41 prior to filing the instant motion. Severo attests that on April 23, 2020, he met and conferred with Plaintiff’s counsel Ryan Jacobson by telephone and were unable to reach an agreement regarding the issues raised in the instant demurrer. (Severo Decl. ¶ 4.) The Severo Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.41.

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