This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 11/26/2019 at 16:28:13 (UTC).

DALENE SCHNEIDER VS THE PIKEN COMPANY ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/11/2018 a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury case was filed by DALENE SCHNEIDER against THE PIKEN COMPANY in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****1677

  • Filing Date:

    04/11/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

SCHNEIDER DALENE

Defendants, Respondents and Cross Plaintiffs

THE PIKEN COMPANY

CORAL TREE CAFE

DOES 1 TO 50

ALLIANCE FOOD LLC

Defendant, Respondent and Cross Defendant

ALLIANCE FOOD LLC

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

SAVIN ADAM J.

GROSS ARNOLD WILLIAM

Defendant Attorneys

ESQ. ANGELA M. ROSSI

GMELICH THOMAS PATRICK

 

Court Documents

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

11/15/2019: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF LODGING DEFENDANT'S COMPENDIUM OF EXHIBITS IN SUPPORT OF MSJ

10/2/2019: Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF LODGING DEFENDANT'S COMPENDIUM OF EXHIBITS IN SUPPORT OF MSJ

Separate Statement

10/2/2019: Separate Statement

Motion for Summary Judgment

10/2/2019: Motion for Summary Judgment

Joinder to Motion for Summary Judgment / Adjudication

10/4/2019: Joinder to Motion for Summary Judgment / Adjudication

Separate Statement

10/4/2019: Separate Statement

Proof of Service by Substituted Service - of Summons

10/9/2018: Proof of Service by Substituted Service - of Summons

Notice - Notice of Change of Address

10/11/2018: Notice - Notice of Change of Address

Answer

11/2/2018: Answer

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

1/28/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Notice of Deposit - Jury

3/26/2019: Notice of Deposit - Jury

Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

3/29/2019: Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

Answer

4/10/2019: Answer

Cross-Complaint

4/10/2019: Cross-Complaint

Response - RESPONSE NON-OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO COMPEL

5/16/2019: Response - RESPONSE NON-OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO COMPEL

[Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Person - [PROPOSED ORDER] AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC (AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES) PERSO

6/4/2019: [Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Person - [PROPOSED ORDER] AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC (AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES) PERSO

SUMMONS -

4/11/2018: SUMMONS -

COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES) -

4/11/2018: COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES) -

11 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/12/2021
  • Hearing04/12/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 5 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; : OSC RE Dismissal

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  • 04/14/2020
  • Hearing04/14/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 5 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 03/30/2020
  • Hearing03/30/2020 at 10:00 AM in Department 5 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 12/19/2019
  • Hearing12/19/2019 at 13:30 PM in Department 5 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Summary Adjudication

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  • 11/15/2019
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Alliance Food LLC (Defendant)

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  • 10/30/2019
  • Docket[Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Personal Injury Courts Only (Central District); Filed by The Piken Company (Defendant)

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  • 10/11/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 5, Stephen I. Goorvitch, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 10/04/2019
  • DocketSeparate Statement; Filed by Alliance Food LLC (Defendant)

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  • 10/04/2019
  • DocketNotice (Compendium of Exhibits in Support of Joinder to the Piken Co.); Filed by Alliance Food LLC (Defendant)

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  • 10/04/2019
  • DocketJoinder to Motion for Summary Judgment / Adjudication; Filed by Alliance Food LLC (Defendant)

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11 More Docket Entries
  • 03/29/2019
  • DocketMotion to Compel (Compliance with Deposition Subpoena for Production of Documents); Filed by The Piken Company (Defendant)

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  • 03/26/2019
  • DocketNotice of Deposit - Jury; Filed by The Piken Company (Defendant)

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  • 03/21/2019
  • DocketNotice of Deposit - Jury; Filed by Dalene Schneider (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/28/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Dalene Schneider (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/02/2018
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by The Piken Company (Defendant)

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  • 10/11/2018
  • DocketNotice (Notice of Change of Address); Filed by Dalene Schneider (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/09/2018
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service (of Summons); Filed by Dalene Schneider (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/11/2018
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 04/11/2018
  • DocketCOMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)

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  • 04/11/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Dalene Schneider (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC701677    Hearing Date: December 19, 2019    Dept: 5

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 5

DALENE SCHNEIDER,

Plaintiff,

v.

THE PIKEN COMPANY, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC701677

Hearing Date: December 19, 2019

[Tentative] order RE:

(1) DEFENDANT THE PIKEN COMPANY’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

(2) DEFENDANT ALLIANCE FOOD LLC DBA CORAL TREE CAFÉ’S JOINDER TO DEFENDANT THE PIKEN COMPANY’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Dalene Schneider (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against The Piken Company and Alliance Food LLC dba Coral Tree Café, asserting causes of action for general negligence and premises liability. Plaintiff alleges that she tripped and fell on a crack in the ground while walking toward the entrance of the Coral Tree Café. The restaurant is operated by Alliance Food LLC (“Alliance”), which leases the space from The Piken Company (“Defendant”). Defendant moves for summary judgment or, in the alternative, summary adjudication. Alliance joins in the motion. Plaintiff opposes Defendant’s motion, which is granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

The function of a motion for summary judgment or adjudication is to allow a determination as to whether an opposing party cannot show evidentiary support for a pleading or claim and to enable an order of summary dismissal without the need for trial. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843.) CCP Section 437c(c) “requires the trial judge to grant summary judgment if all the evidence submitted, and ‘all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence’ and uncontradicted by other inferences or evidence, show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” (Adler v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1110, 1119.)

As to each claim as framed by the complaint, the defendant moving for summary judgment must satisfy the initial burden of proof by presenting facts to negate an essential element, or to establish a defense. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c(p)(2); Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1520.) Courts “liberally construe the evidence in support of the party opposing summary judgment and resolve doubts concerning the evidence in favor of that party.” (Dore v. Arnold Worldwide, Inc. (2006) 39 Cal.4th 384, 389.)

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 that cause of action or a defense thereto.

To establish a triable issue of material fact, the party opposing the motion must produce substantial responsive evidence. (Sangster v. Paetkau (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 151, 166.)

EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS

The Court rules as follows on Plaintiff’s evidentiary objections:

1. The Court need not rule on this objection, as it did not rely on this evidence in deciding the motion. (Code Civ. Proc. § 437c(q).)

2. The Court need not rule on this objection, as it did not rely on this evidence in deciding the motion. (Code Civ. Proc. § 437c(q).)

3. The Court need not rule on this objection, as it did not rely on this evidence in deciding the motion. (Code Civ. Proc. § 437c(q).)

4. Overruled.

5. Overruled.

6. Overruled.

7. Overruled.

DISCUSSION

Defendant moves for summary judgment on four grounds: (1) The allegedly dangerous condition was a trivial defect as a matter of law; (2) There is no evidence that any act by Defendant was a substantial factor causing Plaintiff’s injuries; (3) There is no evidence that Defendant had actual or constructive notice of the allegedly dangerous condition; and (4) The allegedly dangerous condition was open and obvious. The elements of a cause of action for premises liability are the same as those for negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages.  (Castellon v. U.S. Bancorp (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 994, 998.)  Those who own, possess, or control property generally have a duty to exercise ordinary care in managing the property to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.  (Annocki

“The trivial defect doctrine originated to shield public entities from liability where conditions on public property create a risk ‘of such a minor, trivial or insignificant nature in view of the surrounding circumstances . . . no reasonable person would conclude that the condition created a substantial risk of injury when such property or adjacent property was used with due care in a manner in which it was reasonably foreseeable that it would be used.” (Huckey v. City of Temecula (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 1092, 1104, quoting Kasparian v. AvalonBay Communities, Inc. (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 11, 27.) “The trivial defect doctrine is not an affirmative defense.” (Id.) “It is an aspect of duty that a plaintiff must plead and prove.” (Id.)

In determining whether a defect is trivial, “[w]here reasonable minds can reach only one conclusion—that there was no substantial risk of injury—the issue is a question of law, properly resolved by way of summary judgment.” (Caloroso v. Hathaway (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 922, 929.) In determining whether a defect is trivial as a matter of law, the Court first “reviews evidence regarding the type and size of the defect. If that preliminary analysis reveals a trivial defect, the court considers evidence of any additional factors such as the weather, lighting, and visibility conditions at the time of the accident, the existence of debris or obstructions, and plaintiff’s knowledge of the area.” (Stathoulis v. City of Montebello (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 559, 567–568.)

Defendant relies on the declaration of John Brault, M.S., a biomechanics and walkway safety expert. Brault states that her performed a site inspection and concluded that the crack at issue was 3/8 inch at its maximum height. (Declaration of John Brault, ¶ 7.) Brault also opines that there are no structures or objects that could have obstructed Plaintiff’s view of the crack. (Id., ¶ 7.) This evidence is sufficient to satisfy Defendant’s burden, shifting the burden to Plaintiff to proffer sufficient evidence that the crack is not a trivial defect.

Plaintiff relies on her own deposition testimony, in which she testified that that the height of the crack may have been an inch high:

Q: Can you describe the crack for me as you remember it at the time you looked down at it.

A: It was blacktop.

Q: Uh-huh.

A: And I think it was about like that, maybe. Maybe an inch.

Q: Okay. And was it, like, a -- what’s the word I’m looking for? – a raised part, or was there a hole, a crack that had a hole that your toe went into? Do you know how --

A: I don’t remember.

Q: When you said it was about an inch, the crack itself was raised about an inch?

A: Yes.

(Plaintiff’s Evidence, Exh. #2, Deposition Transcript of Plaintiff, p. 65:9-22.) Plaintiff also relies on the deposition testimony of her companion, Dennis Mangan:

Q: Okay. Do you have any recollection of the difference in -- you said a different level. Do you have any recollection of the difference in the height of the level?

A: A half inch to inch, something like that.

(Id., Exh. #3, at p.27:22-24.) Even assuming there is sufficient foundation for these opinions, a crack of a half-inch to one inch does not give rise to a triable issue. The Second District has held that cracks less than ½ inch in height are trivial as a matter of law (see Caloroso, supra, 122 Cal.App.4th at 929.) Courts have also found that cracks greater than ½ inch in height may be trivial as a matter of law absent any aggravating conditions. (Whiting v. City of National City (1937) 9 Cal.2d 163; Nicholson v. City of Los Angeles (1936) 5 Cal.2d 361; Balmer v. City of Beverly Hills (1937) 22 Cal.App.2d 529; Meyer v. City of San Rafael (1937) 22 Cal.App.2d 46, 50). “Sidewalk elevations ranging from three-quarters of an inch to one and one-half inches have generally been held trivial as a matter of law. (Huckey v. City of Temecula (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 1092, 1097, citations omitted.)

In this case, Plaintiff proffers no evidence of any aggravating conditions. To the contrary, the record reflects that the incident occurred on a clear and sunny day between 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. (Defendant’s Evidence, Ex. B, p. 58:6-15, 67:11-13.) Plaintiff testified that did not notice anything unusual on the ground at the time. (Defendant’s Evidence, Ex. B, p. 61:6-13.) Plaintiff argues that there was debris in the parking lot, relying on the testimony of Dennis Mangan:

Q: Did you see any kind of debris or problems in the parking lot as you walked across it?

A: Not until after.

(Plaintiff’s Evidence, Exh. #7, Deposition Transcript of Plaintiff, p. 22:21-23.) This testimony does not create a triable issue. As an initial matter, it is a compound question referencing either “debris” or “problems,” so the answer is unclear whether Mangan is referencing debris or “problems,” i.e., the crack on which Plaintiff tripped. Putting that aside, this testimony does not establish that there was any debris in the immediate area of the crack that obstructed Plaintiff’s view or contributed to the accident.

Plaintiff also suggests that Plaintiff’s view was obstructed by Mangan because she walked behind him. To the extent this is an aggravating factor, Defendant is not responsible, and Plaintiff did not name Mangan as a defendant in this case.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Based upon the foregoing, the Court grants Defendant’s motion for summary judgment because there is no triable issue whether the crack at issue is a trivial defect. Because Alliance properly joined in the motion, the Court also grants summary judgment to Alliance on this ground. The Court need not reach Defendant’s remaining arguments. Defendant shall provide notice and file proof of such with the Court.

DATED: December 19, 2019 ___________________________

Hon. Stephen I. Goorvitch

Judge of the Superior Court