On 11/04/2020 DEANNA CLARK filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against WALMART, INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is DANIEL M. CROWLEY. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Spring Street Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
DANIEL M. CROWLEY
2/24/2021: Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT (1ST)
2/5/2021: Notice of Ruling
2/4/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) - WITHOUT DEMURRER)
1/8/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF MICHAEL F. COLBERT ISO DEFENDANT WALMART INC.'S MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
1/8/2021: Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer
1/8/2021: Memorandum of Points & Authorities
12/23/2020: Proof of Personal Service
11/25/2020: PI General Order
11/25/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR [PI GENERAL ORDER], STANDING ORDER RE PI PROCEDURES AND HEARING DATE
11/4/2020: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT
11/4/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet
11/4/2020: Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case
11/4/2020: Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court)
Hearing11/01/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: DismissalRead MoreRead Less
Hearing05/04/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury TrialRead MoreRead Less
Hearing04/20/2022 at 10:00 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status ConferenceRead MoreRead Less
DocketAmended Complaint ( (1st)); Filed by Deanna Clark (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by Walmart, Inc. (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Docketat 3:30 PM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer - Held - Motion GrantedRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Defendant's Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketMemorandum of Points & Authorities; Filed by Walmart, Inc. (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketDeclaration (of Michael F. Colbert ISO Defendant Walmart Inc.'s Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Complaint); Filed by Walmart, Inc. (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketMotion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer (Plaintiff's complaint); Filed by Walmart, Inc. (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Deanna Clark (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketPI General Order; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketCertificate of Mailing for ([PI General Order], Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Date); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Deanna Clark (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Deanna Clark (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by Deanna Clark (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketOrder on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: 20STCV42268 Hearing Date: February 04, 2021 Dept: 28
Motion to Strike
Having considered the moving papers, the Court rules as follows. opposing papers have been filed.
On November 4, 2020, Plaintiff Deanna Clark (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant Walmart, Inc. for (1) premises and (2) negligence. Plaintiff alleges that she slipped in clear puddle of liquid, and sustained injuries in Defendant’s store on November 5, 2019.
On January 8, 2021, Defendant filed the subject motion to strike portions of Plaintiff’s complaint. The motion is unopposed.
Trial is set for May 4, 2022.
Defendant Walmart, Inc. asks the Court to strike the prayer for punitive damages against Walmart on the grounds that no allegations to support punitive damages against Walmart are pled.
Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading may serve and file a notice of motion to strike a pleading or any part thereof. (Code Civ. Proc., § 435, subd. (b)(1).) The court may, upon a motion, or at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper, strike any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading. (Code Civ. Proc., § 436, subd. (a).) The court may also strike all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with California law, a court rule, or an order of the court. (Code Civ. Proc., § 436, subd. (b).) An immaterial or irrelevant allegation is one that is not essential to the statement of a claim or defense; is neither pertinent to nor supported by an otherwise sufficient claim or defense; or a demand for judgment requesting relief not supported by the allegations of the complaint. (Code Civ. Proc., 431.10, subd. (b).) The grounds for moving to strike must appear on the face of the pleading or by way of judicial notice. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437.)
“Before filing a motion to strike . . . the moving party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to the motion to strike for the purpose of determining if an agreement can be reached that resolves the objections to be raised in the motion to strike.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 435.5, subd. (a).) If no agreement is reached, the moving party shall file and serve with the motion to strike a declaration stating either: (1) the means by which the parties met and conferred and that the parties did not reach an agreement, or (2) that the party who filed the pleading failed to respond to the meet and confer request or otherwise failed to meet and confer in good faith. (Code Civ. Proc., § 435.5, subd. (a)(3).)
Meet and Confer
The Court finds that Defendant has complied with the meet and confer requirements under Code of Civil Procedure Section 435.5. On January 8, 2021 at 9:07 a.m., counsel for Defendant attempted to call Plaintiff at the telephone number she listed on the complaint. (Colbert Decl., ¶ 6.) Defendant’s counsel left Plaintiff a voicemail requesting that Plaintiff return his call. Plaintiff’s counsel did not answer the phone call. (Ibid.)
Motion to Strike Punitive Damages
Defendant moves to strike the prayer for punitive damages from the complaint on the ground that there are no factual allegations alleged which would warrant an award of punitive damages. The Court agrees.
Punitive damages may be imposed where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. (Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (a).) “Malice” is conduct intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. (Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (c)(1).) “Punitive damages are proper only when the tortious conduct rises to levels of extreme indifference to the plaintiff’s rights, a level which decent citizens should not have to tolerate.’ [Citation.]” (Lackner v. North (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1210.) “As amended to include [despicable], the [Civil Code Section 3294] plainly indicates that absent an intent to injure the plaintiff, ‘malice’ requires more than a ‘willful and conscious’ disregard of the plaintiffs’ interest. The additional component of ‘despicable conduct’ must be found.” (College Hospital Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 725.) The statute’s reference to despicable conduct represents a “new substantive limitation on punitive damage awards.” (Id.) Despicable conduct is “conduct which is so vile, base, contemptible, miserable, wretched or loathsome that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary decent people. Such conduct has been described as ‘having the character of outrage frequently associated with crime.” (Tomaselli v. Transamerica Ins. Co. (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 1269, 1287.)
A motion to strike punitive damages is properly granted where a plaintiff does not state a prima facie claim for punitive damages, including allegations that defendant is guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. (Turman v. Turning Point of Cent. California, Inc. (2010) 191 Cal.App.4th 53, 63.) “Mere negligence, even gross negligence, is not sufficient to justify such an award” for punitive damages. (Kendall Tacht Corp. v. United California Bank (1975) 50 Cal.App.3d 949, 958.) The allegations supporting a request for punitive damages must be alleged with specificity; conclusory allegations without sufficient facts are not enough. (Smith v. Superior Court (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1033, 1041-42.)
Here, Plaintiff alleges that on November 5, 2019, while in Defendant’s store, Plaintiff slipped in a clear puddle of liquid while walking towards the pharmacy counter. (Compl., p.13.) her injuries were caused by Defendant’s negligence. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant is attempting to disregard her case by “deliberately prolonging the process, then ultimately ‘low balling’ [Plaintiff], not providing any explanation regarding settlement figures or standard process procedures.” (Compl., p. 15.) There are no factual allegations in the complaint which would support a finding that Defendant engaged in conduct to the level of oppression, fraud, or malice. Rather, Defendant’s alleged conduct may be described as negligent at best, but not “despicable” to justify punitive damages.
Plaintiff has failed to file an opposition to Defendant’s motion to strike. “A party who has not timely filed written opposition to a motion . . . may not be afforded an opportunity to offer oral argument at the hearing.” (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410.) “The failure to file opposition creates an inference that the motion . . . is meritorious.” (Id.)
The motion to strike punitive damages from the complaint is GRANTED.
Defendant Walmart, Inc. is ordered to give notice of this ruling.
Defendant Walmart, Inc. is ordered to file 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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