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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/12/2019 at 14:03:02 (UTC).

CHARLES WILLIAMS VS HAO YU

Case Summary

On 01/03/2017 CHARLES WILLIAMS filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against HAO YU. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Disposed - Judgment Entered.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****5556

  • Filing Date:

    01/03/2017

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Judgment Entered

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

WILLIAMS CHARLES

Defendants and Respondents

YU HAO

DOES 1-30

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorney

SACHTLEBEN LAW GROUP

 

Court Documents

Other -

12/3/2018: Other -

Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

12/3/2018: Request for Entry of Default / Judgment

Unknown

12/3/2018: Unknown

 

Docket Entries

  • 02/21/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 5; (OSC RE Dismissal) - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 12/03/2018
  • Request for Entry of Default / Judgment; Filed by Charles Williams (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/03/2018
  • Judgment (- Default Judgment By Court - Before Trial - 12/03/2018 entered for Plaintiff Williams, Charles against Defendant Yu, Hao.); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/03/2018
  • SUMMARY OF CASE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR COURT JUDGMENT; DECLARATIONS OF CHARLES WILLIAMS AND CHRISTOPHER SACHTLEBEN, AND EXHIBITS 1-6 IN SUPPORT THEREOF; Filed by Charles Williams (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/07/2018
  • STATEMENT OF DAMAGES (PERSONAL INJURY OR WRONGFUL DEATH)

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  • 09/07/2018
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 09/07/2018
  • STATEMENT OF DAMAGES (PERSONAL INJURY OR WRONGFUL DEATH)

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  • 09/07/2018
  • REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT

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  • 09/07/2018
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 09/07/2018
  • Default Entered; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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4 More Docket Entries
  • 06/19/2018
  • Minute order entered: 2018-06-19 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/14/2018
  • REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT

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  • 06/14/2018
  • Request for Entry of Default / Judgment; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 04/04/2018
  • Amendment to Complaint; Filed by Charles Williams (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/04/2018
  • AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

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  • 02/28/2017
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 02/28/2017
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Charles Williams (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/03/2017
  • SUMMONS

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  • 01/03/2017
  • PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE 2. GENERAL NEGLIGENCE

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  • 01/03/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Charles Williams (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC645556    Hearing Date: July 07, 2020    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

JEFF NELSON, et al.;

Plaintiffs,

vs.

JOHN DOES 1 through 50, et al.;

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC645561

Hearing Date:

July 7, 2020

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

PLAINTIFF JEFF NELSON’S MOTION FOR THE ISSUANCE OF AN ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE to COUNSEL FOR THE CHANTELLE ROBIN DEFENDANTS AS TO WHY THEY SHOULD NOT BE ORDERED TO REVEAL THE NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE ROBIN DEFENDANTS

The Motion for an Order to Show Cause to Counsel for the Chantelle Robin Defendants As To Why They Should Not Be Ordered to Reveal the Names and Contact Information for the Robin Defendants is GRANTED. The Order to Show Cause to Counsel for the Chantelle Robin Defendants as to why They Should Not Be Ordered to Reveal the Names and Contact Information for the Robin Defendants is scheduled for October2, 2020 at 8:30 A.M.

Factual Background

This is a defamation case. The First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) alleges as follows. Plaintiff Jeff Nelson (“Nelson”) on July 31, 2016, invited a vegan Youtube personality to speak at an expo that Nelson holds each year. (FAC ¶ 18.) After Nelson announced the speakers, John Does, posting pseudonymously as Chantelle Robin (“Robin”), left a variety of comments on Youtube falsely accusing Nelson and his speaker of harassing vegans and endorsing racism and criminal behavior. (FAC ¶¶ 24–38.) One user posted a video falsely implying that Nelson had a sexually transmitted disease. (FAC ¶ 39.) Another Doe defendant sent an email to Nelson’s expo speakers discouraging them from attending his expo and warning that violence or other harms could come to those who attended. (FAC ¶ 41.)

procedural history RELEVANT TO this motion

Plaintiffs filed the original Complaint on January 4, 2017 and filed the First Amended Complaint on March 2, 2017. The First Amended Complaint alleged five causes of action:

  1. Defamation

  2. False Light

  3. Intentional and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

  4. Intentional and Negligent Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage

  5. Unfair Competition

The causes of action in the First Amended Complaint were based on internet postings which appeared on Google, Tumbler, YouTube and Twitter. Because these postings were made anonymously and Plaintiffs did not know the identity of the John Does named in the complaint, the Plaintiffs filed subpoenas on those entities requesting information on the identity of the persons posting the entries.

On April 17, 2017 defendants, appearing as “Specially Appearing Anonymous Individual(s) Referred to Pseudonymously as Chantelle Robin” (hereinafter “Robin”) filed a motion to quash these subpoenas. Robin filed two declarations in support of this motion, stating in the opening declaration “I want my constitutional rights to privacy and freedom to make the statements anonymously to be observed.”

The issue on the motion to quash filed by Robin was whether plaintiff had established a prima facie case that the statements in the internet postings were defamatory rather than merely statements of opinion and statements that would be understood by persons viewing the statements as hyperbole or satirical. This distinction is important because “The Constitution protects anonymous speech, including speech on the Internet, but when vigorous criticism descends into defamation….constitutional protection is no longer available.” Krinsky v. Doe 6 (2008) 159 Cal, App. 4th 1154, 1164.

On May 16, 2017 the Hon. John P. Doyle, sitting in Department 58 of this court, held that the statements cited by plaintiff would in fact be understood by a person viewing the statements as statements of opinion, status of hyperbole, or satirical statements. Based on this finding Judge Doyle granted the motion to quash the subpoenas.

On June 12, 2017 Judge Doyle dismissed the action without prejudice for failure to serve the defendants when counsel for plaintiff did not appear at an OSC hearing scheduled for that purpose. On June 28, 2017 counsel for Robin joined with counsel for plaintiffs in signing and presenting to the Court a stipulation and proposed order to vacate the dismissal. On June 29, 2017 Judge Doyle signed this order reinstating the action.

On February 27, 2018 judge Doyle’s ruling was reversed by the Court of Appeal when it granted to a Petition for Writ of Mandate filed by plaintiffs. The Court held that plaintiffs had established a prima facie case of defamation and that plaintiffs were therefore entitled to discover the identity of Robin through the subpoenas.

On March 27, 2018, in denying to a petition for rehearing filed by Robin, the Court of Appeal stated: “Robin argues in a petition for rehearing that by analyzing only two of Robin’s statements, this court’s ‘ruling permits the subpoenas to issue (and Robin’s true identity to be unmasked) for statements which may be and in Robin’s view are constitutionally protected.’ Correct, it does.” The Court also made clear that under its ruling “Nelson may serve subpoenas to discover Robin’s identity.”

Despite the ruling by the Court of Appeal,plaintiffs were unable to obtain the identifying information from the internet providers, on September 12, 2018 plaintiffs served form interrogatories seeking the name(s) and address(es) of Robin. The form interrogatories were served by mailing the them to Randall A. Miller and Kay A Cummings of Miller Law Associates, the attorneys who had represented Robin both in the trial court and in the Court of Appeal. No response was received. Accordingly, on December 18, 2018 Plaintiffs filed a motion to compel. No response was filed by Robin

On January 15, 2019 this Court granted the Motion to Compel Responses from Defendant Chantelle Robin, ordering that answers be served within 20 days. In the order granting the motion the Court analyzed the law relating to general appearances and found that by executing the stipulation to vacate the dismissal of the action, Miller Law Associates had made a general appearance for Robin in the action. Based on this finding, the Court ruled that service of the form interrogatories by mail on Miller Law Associates was valid service on Robin.

Despite this order, no responses to the interrogatories were provided by Robin. Instead, on April 18, 2019, Robin filed a motion to vacate the January 15, 2019 order under CCP §473(b) on the grounds that Robin’s attorney had not intended to make a general appearance when he signed the joint stipulation to vacate the dismissal. Neither Robin nor Robin’s attorney offered any other justification for their refusal to provide answers to the interrogatories.

On June 18, 2019 the Court denied Robin’s Motion to Set Aside the January 15, 2019 order and again ordered Robin to serve answers to interrogatories. There was no response to this order and no answers to the interrogatories have been served.

July 11, 2019 Robin’s counsel made a motion for an order to be relieved as counsel stating, inter alia, that Robin had not consented to the order relieving counsel. On August 14, 2019 this Court denied the motion because it did not comply with CRC Rule 3.1362(a), which requires that an attorney who makes a motion to be relieved as counsel include in the motion the address and telephone number of the client and proof that the motion has been served on the client.

On January 24, 2020 this Court granted plaintiff’s Motion for the Issuance of an Order to Show Cause re Contempt to Robin based upon Robin’s persistent refusal to comply with the Court’s orders. That order to show cause had to be denied on February 13, 2020, however, because a contempt order requires personal service on the person committing contempt and plaintiffs still had no information regarding Robin’s identity or location.

On April 1, 2020, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion for the Issuance of an Order to Show Cause to Counsel for the Chantelle Robin Defendants.

No Opposition has been filed.

Discussion

II. MOTION for OSC

“An order to show cause is considered the equivalent of a notice of motion, but with a citation to appear and show cause annexed.” (Eddy v. Temkin (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 1115, 1120.) “[W]ith the exception of orders to show cause regarding contempt [citation] the court is empowered to decide the issues raised by an order to show cause on declarations, without oral testimony. However, the trial court is vested with discretion to receive oral testimony on an order to show cause, and where the court declines to exercise that discretion the matter must be remanded.” (Id.)

Here, Plaintiff seeks to compel counsel for Robin to turn over the names and addresses for the Defendants who comprise “Robin.” (Motion at p. 1.) Plaintiff argues that counsel for Robin should be ordered to show cause as to why the Court should not compel them to do so. (Motion at p. 1.)

While Robin has not filed in opposition to this motion, there are two possible defenses which Robin or Robin’s attorney could conceivably raise. The first is claim that Robin has a constitutional right to object to the attorneys disclosing this information because he has a constitutional right to privacy. This contention, however, was conclusively rejected by the Court of Appeal in its March 27, 2020 decision, which is the law of the case.

The second possible defense that might be asserted by Robin or Robin’s attorneys is a claim that the attorneys for Robin obtained this information from Robin who is or (or was at time of the disclosure) their client and the information is therefore protected by the attorney-client privilege. The general rule has long been settled, however, that “an attorney is not privileged [based on the attorney-client privilege] to withhold disclosing by whom he has been employed.” Brunner v. Superior Court (1959) 616, 618)

As the Court noted in Hays v. Wood (1979) 25 Cal.3d 772, 785, there are limited exceptions to this rule. These exceptions apply in cases “wherein known facts concerning an attorney's representation of an anonymous client implicate the client in unlawful activities and disclosure of the client's name might serve to make the client the subject of official investigation or expose him to criminal or civil liability.” The application of this exception is illustrated in Baird v. Koerner (9th Cir. 1960) 279 F.2d 623. 633. In Baird the Court held that disclosing the name of an anonymous client who provided funds to the attorney to pay taxes to the IRS would expose the client to liability for underpayment of the taxes. There are no similar circumstances here, however. The disclosure of Robin’s identity and address will simply allow Plaintiff to prosecute this action. None of the defenses Robin claims he has will be affected in any way.

Accordingly, the Motion is GRANTED. The Order to Show Cause to Counsel for the Chantelle Robin Defendants as to why They Should Not Be Ordered to Reveal the Names and Contact Information for the Robin Defendants is scheduled for October2, 2020 at 8:30 A.M. Additionally, at various times during the three years that Robin and Robin’s counsel have been violating and ignoring both the directions from the Court of Appeal and the orders of this Court, Plaintiffs have requested an award of sanctions against both Robin and Robin’s counsel. While these requests have each been denied, the Court has now had the opportunity to review the conduct in its entirety. Based on this review the Court will entertain a motion to reconsideration of the rulings denying sanctions if Robin does not respond to the interrogatories by the date of the hearing on this motion and if counsel for Robin refuses to comply with an order by this Court to disclose Robin’s identity and location.

Plaintiff to give notice.

DATED: July 7, 2020

________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court