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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 04/09/2021 at 04:06:22 (UTC).

DARLENE THOMAS VS CITY OF GARDENA

Case Summary

On 10/13/2017 DARLENE THOMAS filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against CITY OF GARDENA. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are CHRISTOPHER K. LUI and DANIEL M. CROWLEY. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****9543

  • Filing Date:

    10/13/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

CHRISTOPHER K. LUI

DANIEL M. CROWLEY

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

THOMAS DARLENE

Defendants, Respondents and Cross Defendants

GARDENA CITY OF

DOES 1 TO 20

CHANDE KOKO BERISTAIN

CITY OF GARDENA CROSS-COMPLAINANT

MOONEY MICHELLE LATRICA

LEMUS RAFAEL A

MEZA MARIA DEL CARMEN IBARRA

CITY OF GARDENA

Defendants and Respondents

GARDENA CITY OF

DOES 1 TO 20

Defendants, Cross Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants

LEMUS RAFAEL A

CITY OF GARDENA

Defendants and Cross Defendants

CHANDE KOKO BERISTAIN

LEMUS RAFAEL A

MEZA MARIA DEL CARMEN IBARRA

IBARRA CARMEN

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

FARZAM JOSEPH S. ESQ.

FARZAM JOSEPH S

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

DUMONT LOUIS R. ESQ.

DUMONT LOUIS ROBERT

SHEEDY CHRISTOPHER MADDEN

DACEY JENNIFER MARIE

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

DUMONT LOUIS ROBERT

DACEY JENNIFER M.

Defendant and Cross Defendant Attorney

SHEEDY CHRISTOPHER MADDEN

 

Court Documents

Order - ORDER [PROPOSED] ORDER RE MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT

11/25/2020: Order - ORDER [PROPOSED] ORDER RE MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT

Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF TRIAL AND FSC DATES

11/3/2020: Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF TRIAL AND FSC DATES

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLTF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFT'S MTC

11/18/2020: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLTF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFT'S MTC

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS' MTC

11/18/2020: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS' MTC

Opposition - OPPOSITION DEFENDANT LEMUS'S REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT LEMUS'S MOTION TO COMPEL PLAINTIFF'S RESPONSES TO DEMAND FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS SET TWO AND FOR MONETARY SAN

11/24/2020: Opposition - OPPOSITION DEFENDANT LEMUS'S REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT LEMUS'S MOTION TO COMPEL PLAINTIFF'S RESPONSES TO DEMAND FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS SET TWO AND FOR MONETARY SAN

Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement (CCP 877.6)

11/25/2020: Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement (CCP 877.6)

Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL MOTION TO COMPEL PLAINTIFF'S RESPONSE TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES, SET TWO

9/22/2020: Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL MOTION TO COMPEL PLAINTIFF'S RESPONSE TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES, SET TWO

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (TRIAL SETTING CONFERENCE)

9/26/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (TRIAL SETTING CONFERENCE)

Answer - ANSWER TO CROSS-COMPLAINT ON BEHALF OF CROSS-DEFENDANT, MARIA DEL CARMEN IBARRA MEZA

8/8/2019: Answer - ANSWER TO CROSS-COMPLAINT ON BEHALF OF CROSS-DEFENDANT, MARIA DEL CARMEN IBARRA MEZA

Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

6/12/2019: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

Cross-Complaint

6/12/2019: Cross-Complaint

Proof of Personal Service

2/19/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Proof of Personal Service

2/19/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Proof of Personal Service

2/19/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Request for Dismissal

2/28/2019: Request for Dismissal

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name) - Amendment to Complaint: Koko Beristain Chande (Doe 4)

10/18/2018: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name) - Amendment to Complaint: Koko Beristain Chande (Doe 4)

Summons - on Cross-Complaint

4/5/2018: Summons - on Cross-Complaint

AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT -

5/4/2018: AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT -

34 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 09/30/2021
  • Hearing09/30/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 09/10/2021
  • Hearing09/10/2021 at 10:00 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 02/25/2021
  • DocketNotice of Ruling (Regarding Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement); Filed by Maria Del Carmen Ibarra Meza (Defendant)

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  • 02/08/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement (CCP 877.6) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 02/08/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Defendant Maria Del Carmen Ibarra Meza's Motion for Determina...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/07/2020
  • DocketNotice (OF RULING); Filed by Rafael A Lemus (Cross-Complainant)

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  • 12/07/2020
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Rafael A Lemus (Cross-Complainant)

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  • 12/03/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery") - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 12/03/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery") - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 12/03/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Defendant Rafael Antonio Lemus' Motion to Compel Responses to...)); Filed by Clerk

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47 More Docket Entries
  • 04/05/2018
  • DocketAnswer

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  • 04/05/2018
  • DocketCross-Complaint

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  • 04/05/2018
  • DocketSummons; Filed by Darlene Thomas (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/05/2018
  • DocketCross-Complaint; Filed by City of Gardena (Defendant)

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  • 04/05/2018
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by City of Gardena (Defendant)

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  • 02/21/2018
  • DocketProof of Service of Summons and Complaint

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  • 02/21/2018
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Darlene Thomas (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/13/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. NEGLIGENCE DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

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  • 10/13/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Darlene Thomas (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/13/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC679543    Hearing Date: February 08, 2021    Dept: 28

Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement

Having considered the moving papers, the Court rules as follows. No opposing papers have been filed.

BACKGROUND

On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff Darlene Thomas filed a complaint against Defendant City of Gardena and Does 1-20 for negligence arising from an automobile collision that occurred on December 9, 2016.

On April 5, 2018, City of Gardena filed a cross-complaint against Carmen Ibarra, Rafael Lemus, and Koko Chande for partial indemnity and declaratory relief.

On May 4, 2018, Plaintiff filed amendments to complaint, substituting in Maria Del Carmen Ibarra Meza, Rafael Antonio Lemas, and Michelle Latricia Mooney for Does 1, 2, and 3, respectively.

On June 1, 2018, dismissal of the complaint was entered as to Defendant City of Gardena.

On October 18, 2018, Plaintiff filed an amendment to complaint, substituting in Koko Beristain Chande for Doe 4.

On February 21, 2019, dismissal of the complaint was entered as to Defendant Michelle Latricia Mooney.

On February 28, 2019, dismissal of the complaint was entered as to Defendant Koko Beristain Chande.

On June 12, 2019, Rafael Antonio Lemus filed a cross-complaint against Maria Del Carmen Ibarra Meza and Koko Beristain Chande for comparative indemnity, contribution, and declaratory relief.

On October 3, 2019, dismissal was entered as to City of Gardena’s cross-complaint.

On November 25, 2020, Defendant/Cross-Defendant Maria Del Carmen Ibarra Meza (“Defendant Meza”) filed a motion for determination of good faith settlement.  No opposition has been filed.

Trial is set for September 30, 2021.

PARTY’S REQUEST

Defendant Meza requests a court order determining that the settlement Meza entered into with Plaintiff was made in good faith such that Meza should be released from liability for contribution and indemnity as to any other non-settling party for any injuries of Plaintiff arising from the accident.

LEGAL STANDARD

California Code of Civil Procedure section 877.6, subdivision (a)(1), provides, in relevant part, that, on noticed motion, “[a]ny party to an action wherein it is alleged that two or more parties are joint tortfeasors or co-obligors on a contract debt shall be entitled to a hearing on the issue of the good faith of a settlement entered into by the plaintiff . . . and one or more alleged tortfeasors or co-obligors . . . .”  “A determination by the court that the settlement was made in good faith shall bar any other joint tortfeasor or co-obligor from any further claims against the settling tortfeasor or co-obligor for equitable comparative contribution, or partial or comparative indemnity, based on comparative negligence or comparative fault.”  (Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6, subd. (c).)  Although a determination that a settlement was in good faith does not discharge any other party from liability, “it shall reduce the claims against the others in the amount stipulated” by the settlement.  (Code Civ. Proc. § 877, subd. (a).)

“The party asserting the lack of good faith shall have the burden of proof on that issue.”  (Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6, subd. (d).)

In Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde & Associates (1985) 38 Cal.3d 488, 499, the California Supreme Court identified the following nonexclusive factors courts are to consider in determining if a settlement is in good faith under section 877.6: “a rough approximation of plaintiffs' total recovery and the settlor's proportionate liability, the amount paid in settlement, the allocation of settlement proceeds among plaintiffs, and a recognition that a settlor should pay less in settlement than he would if he were found liable after a trial.  Other relevant considerations include the financial conditions and insurance policy limits of settling defendants, as well as the existence of collusion, fraud, or tortious conduct aimed to injure the interests of nonsettling defendants.”

In City of Grand View Terrace v. Superior Court (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1251, 1261, the court provided the following guidance regarding a motion for a good faith settlement determination:

This court notes that of the hundreds of motions for good faith determination presented for trial court approval each year, the overwhelming majority are unopposed and granted summarily by the trial court.  At the time of filing in many cases, the moving party does not know if a contest will develop.  If each motion required a full recital by declaration or affidavit setting forth a complete factual response to all of the Tech-Bilt factors, literally thousands of attorney hours would be consumed and inch-thick motions would have to be read and considered by trial courts in an exercise which would waste valuable judicial and legal time and clients’ resources. . . . That is to say, when no one objects, the barebones motion which sets forth the ground of good faith, accompanied by a declaration which sets forth a brief background of the case is sufficient.

If the good faith settlement is contested, section 877.6, subdivision (d), sets forth a workable ground rule for the hearing by placing the burden of proving the lack of good faith on the contesting party.  Once there is a showing made by the settlor of the settlement, the burden of proof on the issue of good faith shifts to the nonsettlor who asserts that the settlement was not made in good faith.  If contested, declarations by the nonsettlor should be filed which in many cases could require the moving party to file responsive counterdeclarations to negate the lack of good faith asserted by the nonsettling contesting party.

(192 Cal.App.3d 1251, 1260-1261 (citation omitted).)

The evaluation of whether a settlement was made in good faith is required to “be made on the basis of information available at the time of settlement.”  (Tech-Bilt, Inc., supra, 38 Cal.3d at p. 499.)  “‘[A] defendant’s settlement figure must not be grossly disproportionate to what a reasonable person, at the time of the settlement, would estimate the settling defendant’s liability to be.’ [Citation.]”  (Ibid.)

“The party asserting the lack of good faith, who has the burden of proof on that issue (§ 877.6, subd. (d)), should be permitted to demonstrate, if he can, that the settlement is so far ‘out of the ballpark’ in relation to these factors as to be inconsistent with the equitable objectives of the statute.  Such a demonstration would establish that the proposed settlement was not a ‘settlement made in good faith’ within the terms of section 877.6.”  (Id. at pp. 499-500.)

“[A] court not only looks at the alleged tortfeasor's potential liability to the plaintiff, but it must also consider the culpability of the tortfeasor vis-à-vis other parties alleged to be responsible for the same injury.  Potential liability for indemnity to a nonsettling defendant is an important consideration for the trial court in determining whether to approve a settlement by an alleged tortfeasor.  [Citation.]”  (TSI Seismic Tenant Space, Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 159, 166.)

DISCUSSION

An unopposed motion for determination of good faith of settlement need not contain a full and complete discussion of the Tech-Bilt factors (Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde & Associates (1985) 38 Cal.3d 488) by declaration or affidavit; rather, a bare bones motion setting forth the grounds of good faith and a declaration containing a brief background of the case is sufficient.  (City of Grand Terrace v. Superior Court (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1251, 1261.) 

Defendant’s counsel’s declaration sets forth that this action concerns an automobile accident that occurred on December 9, 2016.  (Motion, Sheedy Decl., ¶ 2.) Defendant’s counsel, Defendant, through her insurer Allstate Insurance Company, offered and Plaintiff accepted Defendant’s payment of the policy limits of $15,000.00 in exchange for Plaintiff’s release of all claims and dismissal of Defendant from this action. Id., ¶ 3.) A release and settlement agreement was executed by Plaintiff and her counsel in February 2020.  (Id., ¶ 6, Ex. B.) Id., ¶ 5.)

The Court finds Defendant Meza has presented sufficient information demonstrating the settlement was made in good faith.  No opposition has been filed.

Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED.

The settlement between Plaintiff Darlene Thomas and Defendant Maria Del Carmen Ibarra Meza is a good faith settlement pursuant to CCP section 877.6.  All claims against Meza for equitable comparative contribution, or partial or comparative indemnity, based on comparative negligence or comparative fault, are barred pursuant to CCP section 877.6(c).

Moving Defendant is ordered to give notice of this ruling.

The parties are directed to the header of this tentative ruling for further instructions.¿

Case Number: BC679543    Hearing Date: December 03, 2020    Dept: 28

Motions to Compel Responses to Special Interrogatories and Request for Production (Both Set Two)

Having considered the moving and opposing papers, the Court rules as follows. reply papers have been filed.

BACKGROUND

On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff Darlene Thomas (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant City of Gardena.  Plaintiff alleges negligence arising from an automobile collision that occurred on December 9, 2016.

On May 4, 2018, Plaintiff filed an amendment to her complaint to rename Doe 2 as Defendant Rafael Antonio Lemus (“Defendant Lemus”).

On September 22, 2020, Defendant Lemus filed motions to compel Plaintiff’s responses to Special Interrogatories and Request for Production (Both Set Two) pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure sections 2030.290 and 2031.300.

Trial is set for September 30, 2021.

PARTIES REQUESTS

Defendant Lemus asks the Court to compel Plaintiff to serve verified responses without objections to Special Interrogatories and Request for Production (Both Set Two).

Defendant Lemus also asks the Court to impose $616.00 in monetary sanctions against Plaintiff for Plaintiff’s abuse of the discovery process.

Plaintiff asks the Court to impose $1,116.00 in monetary sanctions against Defendant Lemus and his counsel of record for bringing frivolous motions.

LEGAL STANDARD

If a party to whom interrogatories are directed fails to serve a timely response, the propounding party may move for an order compelling responses and for a monetary sanction.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.290, subd. (b).)  The statute contains no time limit for a motion to compel where no responses have been served.  All that need be shown in the moving papers is that a set of interrogatories was properly served on the opposing party, that the time to respond has expired, and that no response of any kind has been served.  (Leach v. Superior Court (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 902, 905-906.)

Where there has been no timely response to a demand for the production of documents, the demanding party may seek an order compelling a response.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.300, subd. (b).)  Failure to timely respond waives all objections, including privilege and work product.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.300, subd. (a).)  Thus, unless the party to whom the demand was directed obtains relief from waiver, he or she cannot raise objections to the documents demanded.  There is no deadline for a motion to compel responses.  Likewise, for failure to respond, the moving party need not attempt to resolve the matter outside court before filing the motion.

Under California Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.030, subd. (a), “[t]he court may impose a monetary sanction ordering that one engaging in the misuse of the discovery process, or any attorney advising that conduct, or both pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by anyone as a result of that conduct. . . . If a monetary sanction is authorized by any provision of this title, the court shall impose that sanction unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”  Failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery is a misuse of the discovery process.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.010.)

Sanctions are mandatory in connection with motions to compel responses to interrogatories and requests for production of documents against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel unless the court “finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”  (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 2030.290, subd. (c), 2031.300, subd. (c).)

California Rules of Court, rule 3.1348, subdivision (a) states: “[t]he court may award sanctions under the Discovery Act in favor of a party who files a motion to compel discovery, even though no opposition to the motion was filed, or opposition to the motion was withdrawn, or the requested discovery was provided to the moving party after the motion was filed.”

DISCUSSION

On June 24, 2020, Defendant Lemus served Special Interrogatories and Request for Production (Both Set Two) on Plaintiff by email.  (Both Dacey Declarations, 2, Exh. A.)  On November 17, 2020, Plaintiff served the outstanding discovery responses.  (Both Grigoryan Declarations, 4, Exh. 2.)

The Court finds Plaintiff’s responses are properly compelled.  Plaintiff’s responses to Defendant Lemus’ Special Interrogatories (Set Two) served on November 17, 2020 are laced with objections and are unverified.  Defendant Lemus had granted continuances for Plaintiff to provide the outstanding responses on multiple occasions with the caveat that the responses do not contain objections.  (See Both Dacey Declarations, ¶¶ 9, 11, Exh. C-D.)  Moreover, Plaintiff’s unverified responses are akin to no responses at all. (See Appleton v. Superior Court (1988) 206 Cal.App.3d 632, 636.)

The Court finds Defendant Lemus’ request for $616.00 in monetary sanctions against Plaintiff for Plaintiff’s abuse of the discovery process is reasonable.

CONCLUSION

The motions are GRANTED.

Plaintiff is ordered to serve verified responses without objections to Defendant Lemus’ Special Interrogatories and Request for Production (Both Set Two) within twenty days of this ruling.

Plaintiff is also ordered to pay Defendant Lemus $616.00 within thirty days of this ruling.

Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is DENIED.

Defendant Lemus is ordered to give notice of this ruling.

Defendant Lemus is ordered to file the proof of service of this ruling with the Court within five days.

The parties are directed to the header of this tentative ruling for further instructions.

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