This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/10/2019 at 08:52:48 (UTC).

CHRISTINA CAUBLE ET AL VS RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH INC

Case Summary

On 10/12/2017 CHRISTINA CAUBLE filed a Personal Injury - Medical Malpractice lawsuit against RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is MARC D. GROSS. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****9638

  • Filing Date:

    10/12/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Medical Malpractice

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

MARC D. GROSS

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

CAUBLE CHRISTOPHER

CAUBLE CHRISTINA

LAUTERBACK JOYCE

Defendants and Respondents

RIDGEVIEW RANCH TREATMENT CENTER

RODGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH INC

DOES 1 TO 100

RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH INC

RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH INC.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

HIGSON HEATHER JANEANE

BURKE SEAN M.

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

BEACH THOMAS E. ESQ.

BEACH THOMAS EDWIN ESQ.

BEACH THOMAS E.

 

Court Documents

Civil Case Cover Sheet

10/12/2017: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Summons

10/12/2017: Summons

Complaint

10/12/2017: Complaint

NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

3/15/2018: NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

Unknown

7/6/2018: Unknown

DEFENDANT?S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF DARRYL C. HOTTINGER RE: MEET AND CONFER

8/20/2018: DEFENDANT?S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF DARRYL C. HOTTINGER RE: MEET AND CONFER

DEFENDANT'S REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS' OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

9/10/2018: DEFENDANT'S REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS' OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

Minute Order

11/6/2018: Minute Order

Notice

11/7/2018: Notice

Notice

11/9/2018: Notice

Case Management Statement

12/18/2018: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

12/19/2018: Case Management Statement

Order

1/4/2019: Order

Unknown

1/4/2019: Unknown

Proof of Personal Service

2/13/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Minute Order

3/1/2019: Minute Order

Request for Judicial Notice

5/14/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

12/12/2017: DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

42 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/14/2019
  • Separate Statement; Filed by RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH, INC (Defendant)

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  • 05/14/2019
  • Motion to Quash; Filed by RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH, INC (Defendant)

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  • 04/11/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department D; Status Conference (reMediation and Discovery) - Held

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  • 04/11/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Status Conference re: Mediation and Discovery)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/02/2019
  • Stipulation and Order (Stipulation and Proposed Order RE: Terms of Redaction of Joyce Lauterback, MFT's Records and Protective Order); Filed by CHRISTINA CAUBLE (Plaintiff); CHRISTOPHER CAUBLE (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/01/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department D; Hearing on Motion for Order (Compelling Joyce Lauterback, MFT to Comply with Depo Subpoena for the Production of Records filed on behalf of defendants Ridgeview Drive Ranch, Inc.) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 03/01/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Order Compelling Joyce Lauterback, MFT ...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/22/2019
  • Reply (Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition To Defendant's Motion for an Order Compelling Joyce Lauterback Mft, to Comply With Deposition Supboena for The Production of Records); Filed by RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH, INC (Defendant)

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  • 02/13/2019
  • Opposition (Plaintiff's Opp. to Defendant's Mtn. Compelling Joyce Lauterback, MFT to comply with Deposition Subpoena); Filed by CHRISTINA CAUBLE (Plaintiff); CHRISTOPHER CAUBLE (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/13/2019
  • Proof of Personal Service; Filed by RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH, INC (Defendant); RIDGEVIEW RANCH TREATMENT CENTER (Defendant)

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55 More Docket Entries
  • 03/15/2018
  • NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FEES

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  • 12/12/2017
  • DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

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  • 12/12/2017
  • Answer to Complaint (AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL ); Filed by Attorney for Defendant/Respondent

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  • 12/12/2017
  • Answer; Filed by RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH, INC (Defendant)

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  • 10/12/2017
  • SUMMONS

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  • 10/12/2017
  • Complaint

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  • 10/12/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: WRONGFUL DEATH (NEGLIGENCE)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/12/2017
  • Summons (on Complaint)

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  • 10/12/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by CHRISTINA CAUBLE (Plaintiff); CHRISTOPHER CAUBLE (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/12/2017
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC679638    Hearing Date: January 24, 2020    Dept: NCD

TENTATIVE RULING

Calendar: 20

Case Number: BC 679638

Date: 1/24/20 Trial date: None Set

Case Name: Cauble, et al. v. Ridgeview Drive Ranch, Inc. dba Ridgeview Ranch Treatment Center

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

[CCP § 437c; CRC 3.1350 et seq.]

Moving Party: Defendant Ridgeview Drive Ranch, Inc. dba Ridgeview Ranch Treatment Center

Responding Party: Plaintiffs Christina Cauble and Christopher Cauble

Relief Requested:

Summary judgment in favor of defendant Ridgeview Drive Ranch, Inc. dba Ridgeview Ranch Treatment Center as to plaintiff’s complaint

Causes of Action from Complaint

1) Wrongful Death—Negligence

SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT:

Plaintiffs Christina Cauble and Christopher Cauble allege that they are the mother and father of decedent Johnathan Cauble. Plaintiffs allege that in 2016 decedent Johnathan consulted and engaged for compensation the services of defendant Ridgeview Drive Ranch, Inc. dba Ridgeview Ranch Treatment Center, to provide drug addiction counseling services, and that decedent was eventually transferred to the staffed sober living program of defendants to provide additional addiction recovery support, supervision, protection and, if necessary, referral for immediate detoxification or life-saving treatment and like services.

Plaintiffs allege that defendants failed to use the level of care that other reasonably competent addiction facilities and staff members would provide in similar circumstances, and they failed to refer decedent for immediate detoxification and life-saving treatment when decedent was obviously intoxicated and a danger to himself and others on the premises of the sober living facility, as a result of which decedent suffered severe and permanent injuries from which he never recovered and which were a substantial factor in causing his death.

ANALYSIS:

CCP § 437c (p): Burdens of Proof

Under CCP § 437c(p)(2) a defendant “has met his or her burden of showing that a cause of action has no merit if the party has shown that one or more elements of the cause of action, even if not separately pleaded, cannot be established, or that there is a complete defense to the cause of action. Once the defendant... has met that burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff... to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action or a defense thereto.”

Defendant Ridgeview Ranch seeks to establish that plaintiffs will be unable to establish the essential element of their wrongful death cause of action, as defendant did not owe a duty to plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ decedent, or that defendant can establish its affirmative defense of unclean hands.

Duty

"The elements of the cause of action for wrongful death are the tort (negligence or other wrongful act), the resulting death, and the damages, consisting of the pecuniary loss suffered by the heirs." Moxon v. County of Kern (1965) 233 Cal.App.2d 393, 398-399, quoting Witkin, California Procedure (1954), vol. 2, section 473, at page 1460.

The wrongful death claim here is based on alleged negligence. To establish a claim for negligence, a plaintiff must allege and prove the following elements: The existence of a duty of care, breach of that duty, and an injury proximately caused by the breach. Ladd v. County of San Mateo (1996) 12 Cal.4th 913, 917.

It is recognized that the issue of whether a duty of care was owed is a question of law, amenable to determination on summary judgment. See Clarke v. Hoek (1985) 174 Cal.App.3d 208, 213 (“The question of the existence of a legal duty of care in a given factual situation presents a question of law which is to be determined by the courts alone.”).

“The existence of a duty owed by a defendant to a plaintiff is a question of law for the court, reviewed de novo on appeal.” Garcia v. Paramount Citrus Association, Inc. (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 1448, 1452.

Ordinarily, a person is not liable for the actions of others and is under no duty to protect another from harm “’unless the defendants stands in some special relationship either to the person whose conduct needs to be controlled, or to the foreseeable victim of such conduct.’” Romero v. Superior Court (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 1068, 1079, quoting Roman Catholic Bishop v. Superior Court (1996) 42 Cal.App.4th 1556, 1564 (italics in original).

Defendant argues that special relationships are typically found when a plaintiff is particularly vulnerable or dependent upon the defendant who has some control over the plaintiff’s welfare, and that a basic requisite of a duty based on a special relationship is the defendant’s ability to control the other person’s conduct. See Smith v. Freund (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 466, 473.

Defendant Ridgeview Ranch argues that it did not owe any duty of care because by the time of decedent’s death on November 29, 2016, any special relationship had ended. Defendant argues that decedent had been discharged from Ridgeview Ranch’s outpatient program, continued to attend group sessions until November 14, 2016, but that after November 14, 2016, decedent was no longer receiving any treatment, counseling or services from defendant, and defendant was not receiving any compensation from decedent or on his behalf. [UMF Nos. 20-22, and evidence cited; Thornton Decl. ¶¶ 11, 12]. Defendant argues that decedent had informed defendant he did not have anywhere else to live after his discharge from the treatment program, and that following this discharge, defendant had been allowing decedent to continue to stay at the Lincoln House, a sober living house proving transitional living accommodations, for a few weeks free of charge. [UMF No. 23, and evidence cited, Thornton Decl. ¶¶ 3, 13]. Defendant argues that because Lincoln House is a sober living house, not a treatment center, the Lincoln House rules are not for the benefit of the tenant who violates those rules, but violators are to be evicted. [UMF No. 28, and evidence cited].

In response to this evidence, the opposition submits deposition testimony from Larry Thornton, the partner and accountant at Ridgeview Ranch, who oversaw the sober living house and gave the declaration concerning decedent’s arrangement in support of the motion. In that deposition testimony, Thornton indicates that the understanding was that decedent could live on “scholarship” at Lincoln House and would be attending the Ridgeview Intensive Outpatient Treatment (“IOP”). [Response to UMF Nos. 20-23, and evidence cited;

Additional Fact Nos. 34(j)(k); Exhibit 1, Thornton Depo. pp. 63-65]. He also testified that patients stayed at Lincoln House for free, in a sense, through the scholarship, but agreed that Ridgeview would still be receiving money from the insurance company for the IOP, which would help offset the scholarship. [Additional Fact No. 34(l), and evidence cited; Ex. 1, Thornton Depo. p. 68:4-13]. There is also discussion of an email from Thornton which confirmed that the arrangement with decedent had been approved until November 30, 2016, through the date of the death. [Additional Fact Nos. 34(m)(n) , and evidence cited; Ex. 1, Thornton Depo., p. 100]. The email is attached to the deposition transcript and states, “Larry approved the following:…John Cauble - Scholarship for SL Rent until 11/30.” [Ex. 1, Thornton Depo., email dated 11/2/2016]. Thornton confirmed that as of November 1, 2016, Ridgeview was still billing for decedent’s IOP. [Additional Fact No. 34(n), and evidence cited, Thornton Depo. p. 102].

This appears sufficient to support a reasonable inference that defendant had undertaken by agreement to provide services, and continued in its special relationship with and a duty to provide an appropriate sober living environment for decedent, which arrangement had been approved through November 30, 2016, and included the date of the incident, and which arrangement included an understanding that decedent’s insurer would continue to be billed for services in connection with the arrangement. Triable issues remain with respect to the existence of a duty, and the motion is denied on this ground.

Unclean Hands

Defendant Ridgeview Ranch also argues that it can establish its affirmative defense of unclean hands. Defendant argues that plaintiffs’ decedent’s death arose out of his voluntarily consumption of an illicit drug, heroin, and thus, plaintiff’s claims are barred by the unclean hands doctrine.

Both sides rely on Blain v. Doctor’s Co. (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 1048, in which the court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s order dismissing an action after sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend on the ground the doctrine of unclean hands provided a complete defense as a matter of law. Blain involved a claim by a client in a legal malpractice action for damages suffered by the client as a result of following the attorney’s advice to lie at a deposition. In that case, Blain, a physician facing a medical malpractice lawsuit, followed the advice, as a result of which the medical malpractice plaintiffs filed an amended complaint seeking punitive damages. The court of appeal found the legal malpractice damages sought were barred by the unclean hands doctrine as they were the result of plaintiff’s perjury and “attributable to appellant’s own knowing misbehavior. Even the most naïve must know that lying under oath is illegal.” Blain, at 1063. The court of appeal in Blain reviewed the case law on the subject, as well as the Restatement Second of Torts, and noted “whether there is a bar depends upon the analogous case law, the nature of the misconduct, and the relationship of the misconduct to the claimed injuries.” Blain, at 1060.

As an initial matter, the opposition points out that the moving papers fail to clearly address each element of the Blain analysis, as the case law addressed primarily deals with the Drug Dealer Liability Act, Health and Safety Code § 11700, et seq., not the common law case law which would be considered analogous, and there is no clear evidence offered concerning the nature of the misconduct, and the relationship of the misconduct to the claimed injuries. A review of the evidence relied upon by defendant shows that it does not include any definitive evidence concerning the relationship of the purported misconduct to the claimed injuries. There is an account of the roommate at the sober living facility that decedent admitted he had relapsed and was under the influence of heroin, but no evidence showing that the death was caused by a heroin overdose. [See UMF No. 15, 16]. The responses to interrogatories relied upon contend that decedent was “obviously intoxicated and a danger to himself and others,” but does not concede the use of any illicit intoxicating substance. [UMF No. 17, and evidence cited]. The motion is denied independently on the ground defendant has failed to submit evidence to support its initial burden of establishing the elements of the defense.

The argument is essentially that at common law there is no cause of action for plaintiff to recover for injuries caused by his own voluntary consumption of illegal narcotics, and that this argument is fortified by the fact that prior to the passage of the Drug Dealer Liability Act in 1996, a plaintiff who overdosed on an illicit drug could not even sue the drug dealer who provided the drug, although now civil remedies are available under narrow circumstances.

The opposition argues that the DDLA did not preempt the common law in this area. The reply concedes that the argument intended by the motion is in support of an argument that the unclean hands defense would have all along barred such actions at common law.

The opposition points out that it is held that “Whether the doctrine of doctrine of unclean hands applies is a question of fact.” Kendall-Jackson Winery, Ltd. v. Superior Court (1999) 76 Cal.App.4th 970, 978, citing the Second District in CrossTalk Productions, Inc. v. Jacobson (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 631, 639. The Second District has also observed that the defense establishes a complete defense to a cause of action, and that:

The defense of unclean hands does not apply in every instance where the plaintiff has committed some misconduct in connection with the matter in *447 controversy but applies only where it would be inequitable to grant the plaintiff any relief.”

Dickson, Carlson & Campillo v. Pole (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 436, 446-447, citations omitted, italics in original.

The opposition relies on Easley v. 3M Co. (N.D. Cal. 2007) 2007 WL 3217536, in which the federal district court, applying and interpreting California law, found that the doctrine of contributory negligence did not bar a claim brought by the parents of a decedent who had been invited to a home owned or inhabited by defendants, and requested to purchase cans of 3M Dust Remover. After decedent and each of the individual defendants had inhaled the 3M Dust Remover, defendants allegedly enticed decedent to use the hot tub, encouraging her to keep inhaling the 3M Dust Remover, and subsequently left decent alone in the hot tub, where she drowned. Easley, at *1. The federal district court evaluated the contributor negligence argument as follows:

“Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' claim against the non-diverse Defendants is not viable because under California law participants in unlawful behavior cannot sue other participants for the consequences of that unlawful behavior. To put this argument another way, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs cannot bring a negligence claim on behalf of Kasey against the non-diverse Defendants because Kasey herself acted negligently by violating the law and willingly engaging in “dusting.” This essentially is a contributory negligence argument. Because California no longer has an all-or-nothing contributory negligence rule, Defendants' argument is unpersuasive.

In 1975 the Supreme Court of California decided the landmark case Li v. Yellow Cab, 13 Cal.3d 804, 119 Cal.Rptr. 858, 532 P.2d 1226 (Cal.1975). At issue in Li was “whether we should judicially declare no longer applicable in California courts the doctrine of contributory negligence, which bars all recovery when the plaintiff's negligent conduct has contributed as a legal cause in any degree to the harm suffered by him, and hold that it might give way to a system of comparative negligence, which assesses liability in direct proportion to fault.” Id. at 808, 119 Cal.Rptr. 858, 532 P.2d 1226. The Li Court held that contributory negligence should be replaced by “the so called pure form of comparative negligence, [which] apportions liability in direct proportion to fault in all cases.” Id. at 827, 119 Cal.Rptr. 858, 532 P.2d 1226. “Under that system plaintiff's contributory negligence, even if it exceeds the amount of the comparative fault of the defendant, reduces but does not prevent his recovery.” Sagadin v. Ripper, 175 Cal.App.3d 1141, 1167, 221 Cal.Rptr. 675 (Cal. Ct.App. 3 Dist.1985).

*3 Defendants cite only one case decided after Li to support the argument that Kasey's violation of the California Health and Safety Code (prohibiting the use of difluorathane) bars any recovery by the survivors for the negligence of the non-diverse Defendants. However, in that case, Kindt v. Kauffman, 57 Cal.App.3d 845, 129 Cal.Rptr. 603 (Cal.Ct.App.3d Dist.1976), the Court noted explicitly that, because the case was tried prior to Li, the change in law established by Li did not apply. No case decided subsequent to Li establishes the absolute bar asserted by Defendants.”

Easley, at *2.

The reply argues that the Easley case is not published. Under CRC Rule 8.1115:

“(a) Except as provided in (b), an opinion of a California Court of Appeal or superior court appellate division that is not certified for publication or ordered published must not be cited or relied on by a court or a party in any other action.”

The case is not an opinion of a California Court of Appeal or superior court appellate division, but a federal district case, applying California law, which the court is not prohibited from considering for its persuasive value. The opinion is persuasive on the applicability of comparative fault in this state. The reply also argues that Easley did not involve the use of illicit substances, such as involved here, but the inhalation of difluorathan, and involved a situation where defendants had created a dangerous situation by encouraging the nature of the use by inhalation and leaving decedent in a hot tub.

These distinctions do not appear to warrant application of a complete defense here. It would appear that the situation here, given the failure to negate a duty of care on this motion, involves serious allegations that a party which agreed for compensation to provide services to protect another party from that party’s penchant for engaging in conduct harmful to himself, and that defendant can be found to have been comparatively at fault in such a case. This is not a situation where it appears at this juncture that the facts support only one reasonable conclusion that it would be inequitable to grant any relief at all. If the doctrine is held to apply in every case involving engaging a party to provide services with respect to substance abuse, those providing such services would simply go unchecked with respect to how those services are provided. It instead appears most persuasive to permit the trier of fact to determine applicability of the unclean hands defense as a complete defense, or to apply the principles of comparative fault.

The motion is denied.

RULING:

CCP 437c(g): Material facts which do or do not create a triable issue of controversy:

Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

With respect to the argument that defendant did not owe a duty of care, plaintiffs have raised triable issues of material fact with respect to whether defendant undertook by agreement a duty to provide sober living and related services to decedent extending through November 30, 2016 and stood in a special relationship with decedent. [See Response to UMF Nos. 20-23, and evidence cited; Additional Fact Nos. 34(j)(k)(l)(m)(n); Exhibit 1, Thornton Depo. pp. 63-65; 68:4-13; 102; and email dated 11/2/2016].

With respect to the argument that defendant has established a complete defense based on the doctrine of unclean hands, the court finds that defendant has failed to meet the initial burden of addressing by appropriate evidence all of the elements to support such a defense, including that conduct amounting to unclean hands was the cause of the alleged harm. In addition, even if the burden had shifted, the opposition points out that it is held that

“Whether the doctrine of doctrine of unclean hands applies is a question of fact.” Kendall-Jackson Winery, Ltd. v. Superior Court (1999) 76 Cal.App.4th 970, 978, citing the Second District in CrossTalk Productions, Inc. v. Jacobson (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 631, 639. The Second District has also observed that the defense establishes a complete defense to a cause of action, and that:

The defense of unclean hands does not apply in every instance where the plaintiff has committed some misconduct in connection with the matter in *447 controversy but applies only where it would be inequitable to grant the plaintiff any relief.”

Dickson, Carlson & Campillo v. Pole (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 436, 446-447, citations omitted, italics in original.

The court on the factual showing made cannot find that the facts support only one reasonable conclusion that it would be inequitable to grant any relief at all.

Defendant’s Objections to Evidence Presented in Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment:

Objections Nos. 1 and 2 are OVERRULED.

Objection No. 3 is SUSTAINED.

Case Number: BC679638    Hearing Date: January 01, 2020    Dept: NCD

Calendar Item No.20

Case: BC679638 CHRISTINA CAUBLE ET AL., VS RIDGEVIEW DRIVE RANCH INC.

RELIEF REQUESTED:  HERING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT/ SUMMARY ADJUDICATION OF ISSUES ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT AND ALL CROSS-DEFENDANT HHS CONSTRUCTION INC.

CONTINUED TO 1/24/2020, AT 9:00 A.M., IN DEPARTMENT D TO BE RE-SET

DUE TO CALENDAR CONGESTION