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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/15/2019 at 10:13:38 (UTC).

DEBORAH CANTER VS GLASSICAL CREATIONS INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/05/2017 DEBORAH CANTER filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against GLASSICAL CREATIONS INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are LAURA A. MATZ, DONNA FIELDS GOLDSTEIN and MICHELLE WILLIAMS COURT. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****6797

  • Filing Date:

    04/05/2017

  • 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 Judges

LAURA A. MATZ

DONNA FIELDS GOLDSTEIN

MICHELLE WILLIAMS COURT

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

CANTER DEBORAH

Defendants and Respondents

HUI JOHN

TSENG KUAN SHONG STEVE

HSIEH NANCY

KNAPE & VOGT MANUFACTURING COMPANY

RUBBERMAID INCORPORATED

GLASSICAL CREATIONS INCORPORATION

DOES 1 TO 100

HUI LAP SHUN

GLASSICAL CREATIONS INC.

CHEN FIFUANG

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

IRONS ALEXANDRA M. ESQ.

BAKER ORING & INFERRERA LAW O/O

BAKER & ORING LLP LAW OFFICES OF

BAKER AND JACOBS

IRONS ALEXANDRA MARIE

MCELROY STEPHEN KELLY

ORING MARK HOWARD

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

WEINER MARK R. & ASSOCIATES

HOLLAND & KNIGHT LLP

MARK R. WEINER & ASSOCIATES

SKANE WILCOX LLP

HURWITZ SHELLEY GERSHON

WILCOX WENDY LEIGH

WEINER MARK R.

LANE SUSAN

 

Court Documents

Order

6/20/2019: Order

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

6/26/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Legacy Document

5/19/2017: Legacy Document

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

6/27/2017: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Legacy Document

8/1/2017: Legacy Document

Legacy Document

8/4/2017: Legacy Document

Legacy Document

8/30/2017: Legacy Document

Case Management Statement

10/4/2017: Case Management Statement

Substitution of Attorney

6/13/2018: Substitution of Attorney

Unknown

7/18/2018: Unknown

Substitution of Attorney

7/18/2018: Substitution of Attorney

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

11/9/2018: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Reply

1/24/2019: Reply

Separate Statement

1/29/2019: Separate Statement

Motion for Summary Judgment

1/29/2019: Motion for Summary Judgment

Reply

4/12/2019: Reply

Notice

4/19/2019: Notice

PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE TO JUDICIAL OFFICER (CODE CIV. PROC., 170.6)

7/28/2017: PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE TO JUDICIAL OFFICER (CODE CIV. PROC., 170.6)

101 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 11/12/2019
  • Hearingat 09:30 AM in Department B at 300 East Olive, Burbank, CA 91502; Jury Trial

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  • 10/24/2019
  • Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department B at 300 East Olive, Burbank, CA 91502; Final Status Conference

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  • 07/16/2019
  • DocketGeneral Denial; Filed by Fifuang Chen (Defendant)

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  • 07/01/2019
  • Docketat 09:30 AM in Department B; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Party's Motion

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  • 06/26/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by DEBORAH CANTER (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/20/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department B; Final Status Conference - Held - Continued

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  • 06/20/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Final Status Conference and Plaintiff's Ex Parte Application ...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/20/2019
  • DocketOrder (Granting Plaintiff?s Ex Parte Application To Continue Trial); Filed by DEBORAH CANTER (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/19/2019
  • DocketEx Parte Application (to Continue Trial); Filed by DEBORAH CANTER (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/03/2019
  • DocketAmendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name); Filed by DEBORAH CANTER (Plaintiff)

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150 More Docket Entries
  • 05/17/2017
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

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  • 05/17/2017
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

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  • 05/17/2017
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 05/17/2017
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 05/17/2017
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 04/05/2017
  • DocketComplaint

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  • 04/05/2017
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by DEBORAH CANTER (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/05/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by DEBORAH CANTER (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/05/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR PERSONAL INJURIES 1. PREMISES LIABILITY BASED ON NEGLIGENT INSTALLATION ;ETC

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  • 04/05/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC656797    Hearing Date: April 19, 2021    Dept: NCB

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

North Central District

Department B

deborah canter,

Plaintiff,

v.

glassical creations, inc., et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC656797

Date: April 19, 2021

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

motions in limine

BACKGROUND

In this action, Plaintiff Deborah Canter (“Plaintiff”) alleges that on April 8, 2015, as she was obtaining clothes from her closet, the shelving unit suddenly collapsed and struck her. She alleges that the shelves were negligently installed on the premises. Defendants Glassical Creations, Inc., Lap Shun Hui aka John Hui, and Vernon M. Lee are the alleged owners of the premises located at 1510 La Loma Road, Pasadena, CA 91105.

The complaint, filed April 5, 2017, alleges causes of action for: (1) premises liability based on negligent installation; (2) premises liability; (3) premises liability based on landlord’s duty; (4) product liability based on strict liability; and (5) product liability based on negligence.

The Final Status Conference is set for April 20, 2021.

The Jury Trial is set for April 26, 2021.

DISCUSSION

The Court makes the following tentative rulings on the motions in limine brought by each party.

It bears noting that all rulings on motions in limine, even when finally made before trial, are in some sense, tentative. As the trial evolves, it may be that evidence originally thought inadmissible becomes admissible considering the admission of other evidence not anticipated at the beginning of trial. Also, by placing facts in issue, a party can make previously inadmissible evidence admissible to prevent unfairness to the other side. The Court cautions the parties from using an in limine ruling as a sword to lead the jury to inferences of facts that are not true, rather than a shield to avoid passion and prejudice.

Where it is reasonable, and where circumstances have truly changed, the Court will permit some revisiting of in limine rulings. Until an in limine ruling is revised, however, compliance is expected, and counsel should advise the Court outside the presence of the jury before allowing a witness to go outside the bounds of a motion in limine.

  1. Plaintiff’s request for “Adequate Time for Voir Dire,” “Mini Opening” and “Use of Juror Questionnaire.”

The Court will ask the parties about their views of “adequate time for voir dire.” The Court will consider “mini-openings,” and suggests that the parties consider recording them. Use of a juror questionnaire may indeed have benefit in this case, and the Defendant will be asked to comment on Plaintiff’s draft questionnaire.

  1. Tentative Ruling on Plaintiff’s Motions in Limine

1. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine No. 1: Claims made by Ray Romano.

The motion is denied without prejudice to specific objection at trial under LASC 3.57(a) and Kelly v. New West Fed. Sav. (1996) 49 Cal. App. 4th 659, 670 because Plaintiff fails to cite specific evidence to be excluded. This Court cannot assess relevance and prejudice out of context. There is apparently much evidence regarding prior claims by either Mr. Romano or Plaintiff. The Court cannot assess the relevance or prejudice of this information without reviewing it specifically and in total as Defendants contend that it constitutes evidence of a plan to defraud them. Cal. Evid. Code § 1101(b). Defendants have made an offer of proof indicating that Plaintiff and her brother entered into eleven rental agreements between 2013 and 2015 without intent to pay rent, made claims for an accommodation, and then filed a bankruptcy to avoid a subsequent unlawful detainer. Defendant alleges that Plaintiff and Mr. Romano have also made claims for personal injury against their landlords in the past. If this offer of proof is met, these prior transactions will indeed bear exploring in this case. It also appears that some evidence sought to be excluded may become relevant if Plaintiff or Mr. Romano take the stand. Cal. Evid. Code § 1101(c). Given the breadth of evidence suggested by Defendants, it may become cumulative, but this objection is not yet raised.

2. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 2: Evidence of other claims by Plaintiff.

The motion is denied without prejudice to specific objection at trial under LASC 3.57(a) and Kelly v. New West Fed. Sav. (1996) 49 Cal. App. 4th 659, 670 because Plaintiffs fail to cite specific evidence to be excluded. This Court cannot assess relevance and prejudice out of context. There is apparently much evidence regarding prior claims by either Mr. Romano or Plaintiff. The Court cannot conclusively assess the relevance or prejudice of this information without reviewing it specifically. Defendants have made an offer of proof that it constitutes evidence of a plan to defraud them, and that this is the normal way that Plaintiff and her brother do business with landlords. Cal. Evid. Code § 1101(b). It also appears that some additional evidence may become relevant if Plaintiff or Mr. Romano take the stand. Cal. Evid. Code § 1101(c). The number of personal injury claims apparently made by Plaintiff in the past may raise an inference regarding the credibility of her claim in this case. Given the breadth of evidence suggested by Defendants, it may become cumulative, but this objection is not yet raised. Therefore, the Court will rule on objections as presented at trial.

3. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine No. 3: Plaintiff’s history of any unrelated conditions, including orthopedic injuries.

The motion is denied without prejudice to objection at trial. The motion is denied under LASC 3.57(a) and Kelly v. New West Fed. Sav. (1996) 49 Cal. App. 4th 659, 670 because Plaintiffs fail to cite specific evidence to be excluded. This Court cannot assess relevance and prejudice out of context. Plaintiff apparently claimed other injuries in this case, and in previous cases, but now makes claim only for a traumatic brain injury. Without more specifics about what these injuries are, and what evidence is being offered, and which injuries were first claimed in this case, the Court cannot intelligently rule. Therefore, the Court will rule on objections as presented at trial.

4. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 4: Evidence of Plaintiff’s previous earnings and employment history.

The motion is denied.

At present, Defendants do not intend to introduce evidence of previous earnings. Apparently, there is no claim for lost earnings.

Evidence of employment history is reasonable background for any witness unless it involves some prejudice, but there appears to be nothing controversial about Plaintiff’s past employment.

5. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine No. 5: Regarding Plaintiff’s Orthopedic Injuries as a result of the subject incident.

The motion is denied without prejudice to specific objections at trial. Plaintiff seeks to exclude evidence of her orthopedic injuries.

First, with respect to injuries allegedly incurred in this incident, the motion is denied. These injuries seem relevant to the event and the injury.

With respect to prior injuries, the Court will hear objections. The Court cannot determine the relationship to the injuries in this case, the events in this case, or the credibility of the Plaintiff without more context.

6. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine No. 6. To preclude evidence of Prior Claims.

The motion is denied without prejudice to specific objections at trial.

Plaintiff’s motion refers to an ISO report attached as Exhibit 1. There is no Exhibit 1. While the report, as described, may itself be hearsay, the matters to which it refers may be relevant as stated in the rulings on other motions.

7. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine No. 7. Evidence regarding cosmetic surgeries.

The parties have stipulated that there will be no evidence or argument regarding Plaintiff’s “elective” procedures. In view of the LASC Rule. 3.57, Plaintiff should spell out what “non-elective” procedures she seeks to exclude as both the Court and Defendant may agree that they should be off limits as well.

8. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine No. 8. Evidence regarding the rent dispute or eviction proceedings.

The motion is denied.

The history of the landlord-tenant relationship between the parties appears sufficiently relevant to be explored at trial. It is part of the basic transaction out of which the incident arose. At some point, evidence in this regard could become cumulative though that is not raised now.

9. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine No. 9. Evidence regarding “unrelated” legal proceedings.

The motion is denied without prejudice to renewal of objection at trial. Plaintiff has only vaguely described the incidents and lawsuits that she seeks to exclude, but some points bear noting. The Defendants are alleging a custom and practice of making injury claims against landlords followed or coincident with the use of bankruptcy proceedings to delay eviction. This seems to be the pattern in the 1999 matters. Auto incident claims may be less probative, but the Court cannot make a judgment with only a few abstract facts. The injuries claimed for may be common to injuries claimed in this case. Given the number of prior claims by this Plaintiff, the Court may need to review more evidence to see whether particular claims can be used to establish a common pattern and practice by the Plaintiff. Moreover, until the Plaintiff testifies, the extent to which such claims can be used to impeach her cannot be established. The number of claims apparently made also is so highly unusual that it may in itself raise issues about Plaintiff’s credibility in asserting another personal injury claim against another landlord. The Court cannot make a final judgment on these matters prior to hearing the evidence.

10. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 10 relating to Plaintiff’s Medical Costs to Date.

The Court is inclined to grant this motion given Plaintiff’s waiver of medical costs. (The Court is understanding that Plaintiff is waiving both past and future medical costs.) The Plaintiff’s treatment remains relevant, but costs of medical care can be difficult to put in context given the confused marketplace, and the Court is inclined not to admit such evidence if no such recovery is sought.

11. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 11 relating to Plaintiff’s Criminal Conviction.

This conviction does appear to be older, and may be excluded under Evidence Code § 352. If possible, the Court would like further information regarding,

1. When and under what circumstances did Plaintiff complete probation?

2. Has Plaintiff stated under oath that she has had no further criminal convictions?

3. What are the specifics of Plaintiff’s criminal conduct?

4. How do these specifics coincide with the allegations of a course of conduct in this case?

12. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 12 relating to Dr. Davis’s slides.

Both parties request an Evidence Code § 402 hearing at which the Court will review the slides of Dr. Katherine Davis. The Court will grant the request as the Court reviews all slides of all experts and rules on them before the expert takes the stand. The Court makes the following preliminary comments: Both sides’ experts in a case like this tend to use slides. Generally, the Court views their use as demonstrative, and does not admit them in evidence unless their admissibility is clear. Both sides’ experts tend to use slides in the same way, and the Court usually instructs the jury that the slides are demonstrative and only the witness’ testimony is evidence. This creates a situation of détente that usually allows both sides’ experts to get their point across while keeping the jury from giving undue weight to hearsay.

13. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 13 Regarding Concussion Evidence.

The Court denies this motion as made. As a starting matter, the study referenced appears to be hearsay, and would not be admissible without a foundation for a hearsay exception. The Court cannot state that the study is so far afield as to not be an appropriate reliance document. Cross-examination will be governed by Evidence Code § 721.

14. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 14: Opinions of Katherine Davis.

This motion is denied as there is simply insufficient grounds to exclude Dr. Davis’s opinion based on the motion.

15. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 15: Testimony of Investigator Mathews.

This motion is likewise denied as there are not sufficient grounds to rule on Mr. Mathews’ testimony on a blanket basis. It is possible that some objections to some portions of his testimony may be sustained, but the Court cannot rule that “any” of his testimony will not be permitted based upon the information provided. Mr. Mathews may have sufficient knowledge to provide valid foundational testimony for certain of Plaintiff’s past claims.

16. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 16: Precluding Testimony by Other Landlords.

The motion is denied. These landlords will be allowed to testify to elements in which their experience is part of a pattern of conduct by Plaintiff and her brother towards their landlords. The testimony may be limited by objection or by the Court to prevent undue consumption of time.

17. Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine 17: Precluding the witness, Jim Stewart.

While it does not appear that Mr. Stewart is an undisclosed expert, the Court has difficulty understanding the relevance of his testimony based upon the submission so far. The Court will hear argument.

  1. Tentative Ruling on Defendant’s Motions in Limine

1. Defendant’s Motion in Limine 1: To Prevent Evidence Not Disclosed in Discovery.

This motion is denied as made. The Court will expect that if objection is made on this basis at trial, that objecting counsel be prepared to show:

1. The discovery request that was made.

2. The discovery response that did not contain the information.

Counsel should also be prepared to demonstrate prejudice from the failure to make discovery.

2. Defendant’s Motion in Limine 2: To Exclude Non-Party Witnesses from the Courtroom.

It is the normal practice of the Court to exclude non-party witnesses on request.

3. Defendant’s Motion in Limine 3: To Require 24-hour Notice of the Calling of Witnesses.

Local Rule 3.81 provides: “In order to facilitate efficient scheduling of future witnesses and court time, counsel must communicate with one another and exchange good faith estimates of the length of witness examination together with any information pertinent to trial scheduling.” 24-hour notice appears called for at a minimum, but as reflected by this rule, updating opposition counsel is a continuing duty.

4. Defendant’s Motion in Limine No. 4.

The Court understands that this motion has been withdrawn.

5. Defendant’s Motion in Limine No. 5. Reptile Theory.

The motion is granted in part and denied in part subject to renewal as objection during trial.

The Court assumes that the Plaintiff’s counsel is familiar with the prohibition on “Golden-Rule” arguments that encourage jurors to place themselves in the place of the Plaintiff and award damages on that basis. See e.g., Brokopp v. Ford Motor Co. (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 841, 860. Such arguments are forbidden.

Making a determination regarding the “Reptile Theory” is more difficult. There are few cases defining what the Reptile Theory is, and what is a Reptile Theory argument. The Reptile Theory has not been much defined by courts observing improper argument, and so it is mainly portrayed by a group of Plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking to sell, as an expensive commercial product, a package of conventional wisdom and arguments. Some such arguments can represent an appeal to the jury to decide a case based on passion and prejudice. After all, the claim of those selling “Reptile” materials is that they can help other plaintiff’s lawyers obtain larger than normal jury verdicts by getting jurors to react out of instinctual fear rather than a consideration of the facts of the case. But whether a specific argument is improper must be evaluated based on its actual content, not on the contentions of those who sell such arguments.

Plaintiff’s counsel has not responded to the motion, and from that the Court infers that Plaintiff understands those improper aspects of the reptile theory. The Court provides the following guidance regarding what type of such arguments 1) constitute an appeal to passion or prejudice, or 2) encourage the jury to decide the case based on standards of care not supported by the evidence or instructions of the Court.

· First, while the jury speaks for the community, the jury should not be encouraged to disregard standards of care supported by the law or by testimony and to instead impose a standard of care of its own based in its own assessment of safety.

· Second, this is not a case where punitive damages are allowed, and the jury should not be encouraged to send a message regarding how persons other than the Plaintiff are to be treated, or how persons in the community in general are to be protected. In general, the jury is not to be told to send a message to anyone.

6. Defendants’ Motion in Limine No. 6: To Exclude Costs of Future Treatment.

First, the Court finds this motion and the response a bit confusing in that the Court understood the Plaintiff’s position to be that no evidence of medical expense would be offered. But assuming that Plaintiff does intend to offer evidence of the cost of future treatment through some of its non-retained experts it is not clear from the motion that none of them would qualify to testify on that question.

For these reasons, the Court denies the motion.

7. Defendant’s Motion in Limine 7: To limit recovery of medical expenses to the amount actually paid.

Once again, this motion is somewhat confusing as the Court understood from the briefing on other motions that there was no claim for medical expenses. This issue is often confronted in personal injury cases, so the Court does have a “usual” view.

In Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. (2011) 52 Cal.4th 541, the Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs whose medical expenses were paid by insurers through negotiated arrangements would be limited to the recovery of the amounts actually paid by the insurer. (Howell, supra, 52 Cal.4th at 566.) Because the Howell Court also stated that this ruling “in no way” abrogated or modified the collateral source rule (id.), the lower courts (including this one) have struggled with how to apply the principles of Howell to a real-life trial in which insurance payments represent the amount recoverable, but Plaintiff’s insurance arrangements start out as inadmissible under the collateral source rule.

With respect to the period of time in which Plaintiff was insured, the amounts paid by that insurer are the amounts admissible. As to these bills, Plaintiff will be limited to the reduced amount actually paid. With respect to the introduction of the amounts paid, the parties should cooperate in the preparation of the evidence so that evidence of Plaintiff’s actual insurance arrangements are not revealed to the jury. A stipulation as to the amount paid would be helpful. If such a stipulation cannot be obtained, the parties should discuss with the Court the evidence of payment that is to be submitted and the redaction of references to Plaintiff’s insurance arrangements.

As to the services provided under a lien, the bills will only be admissible upon a proper foundation showing that they were both incurred and that the amount stated is reasonable. As stated in Howell, to be recoverable a medical expense must be both incurred and reasonable, and a showing of these facts will be necessary before the bill is admissible or the amount of the bill may be related to the jury.

With respect to the issue of reasonableness of the uninsured bills, the Howell Court noted the provisions of the Restatement 2d of Torts to the effect that the reasonable value of a service is its exchange rate. Howell, supra, 52 Cal.4th at 556; accord Markow v. Rossner (2016) 3 Cal.App.5th 1027, 1050 (“Our Supreme Court has endorsed a market or exchange value as the proper way to think about the reasonable value of medical services.”).

As stated in Burmedez v. Ciolek (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 1311 the examination of what might be a reasonable bill in a market exchange is a wide-ranging one:

Conversely, the measure of damages for uninsured plaintiffs who have not paid their medical bills will usually turn on a wide-ranging inquiry into the reasonable value of medical services provided, because uninsured plaintiffs will typically incur standard, nondiscounted charges that will be challenged as unreasonable by defendants.

Burmedez, supra, 237 Cal.App.4th at 1330-31. It may be that in the course of such a wide-ranging inquiry, evidence of rates paid by insurers or Medicare will be admissible to show the exchange rate of a particular service. To be admissible, however, there will need to be some foundation sufficient to show that a substantial number of these transactions take place in the marketplace so that the rates charged represent evidence of an economic exchange rate. Care must be taken in the presentation of this evidence to avoid any suggestion that the Plaintiff herself is eligible for such transactions unless there is evidence that she is in fact eligible. Thus, any mention or evidence of Plaintiff’s actual insurance arrangements is, for now, prohibited.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

The Court tentatively rules on the motions in limine as discussed above. The Court will hear further argument on April 20, 2021.

Case Number: BC656797    Hearing Date: November 08, 2019    Dept: NCB

 

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

North Central District

Department B

deborah canter,

Plaintiff,

v.

glassical creations, inc., et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC656797

Hearing Date: November 8, 2019

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

motion for protective order as to Plaintiff’s special interrogatories

BACKGROUND

  1. Allegations

    In this action, Plaintiff Deborah Canter (“Plaintiff”) alleges that she suffered injury when the shelving unit in her closet collapsed and struck her. The subject incident occurred on April 8, 2015. She alleges that the shelves were negligently installed on the premises. Defendants Glassical Creations, Inc. (“GCI”), Lap Shun Hui aka John Hui (“Hui”), and Vernon M. Lee (“Lee”) (collectively, “GCI Defendants”) are the alleged owners of the premises located at 1510 La Loma Road, Pasadena, CA 91105 where the incident occurred. Defendants Rubbermaid, Inc. (“Rubbermaid”) and Knape & Vogt Manufacturing Company (“Knape”) allegedly designed, manufactured, supplied, and sold the shelving system.

    The complaint, filed April 5, 2017, alleges causes of action for: (1) premises liability based on negligent installation against GCI Defendants; (2) premises liability against GCI Defendants; (3) premises liability based on landlord’s duty against GCI Defendants; (4) product liability based on strict liability against Rubbermaid, Knape, and GCI; and (5) product liability based on negligence against Rubbermaid, Knape, and GCI.

  2. Motion for Protective Order

    On October 11, 2019, Defendants Glassical Creations, Inc. (“GCI”) filed a motion for protective order as to Plaintiff’s special interrogatories (set four) (“SROG”) propounded on GCI on September 10, 2019.

    On October 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion. GCI filed a reply brief on November 1, 2019.

    There is no trial currently set. A Trial Setting Conference is set for November 12, 2019.

    LEGAL STANDARD

    A party may propound 35 specially prepared interrogatories that are relevant to the subject matter in the pending action. (CCP §2030.030(a)(1).) A party propounding more than 35 SROGs to another party shall attach to each set of SROGs a declaration pursuant to CCP §2030.050. However, the responding party may move for a protective order where the number of SROGs is unwarranted, contrary to the representation of the section 2030.050 declaration. (CCP §2030.090(b)(2).) When the responding party moves for a protective order on the ground that the number of SROG is unwarranted, the burden is on the propounding party to prove that the number of SROGs is justified. (CCP §2030.040(b).)

    DISCUSSION

    GCI seeks an order that it need only answer SROG nos. 1-17, so that the total number of SROGs propounded by Plaintiff on GCI is 35. GCI argues that the balance of the SROGs in set four seek to invade attorney work product doctrine and would cause GCI to suffer unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, and/or undue burden and expense.

    In opposition, Plaintiff argues that she does not seek attorney work-product doctrine and that the information would, at most, only qualify for qualified protection. The subject issue arises from a 34-page Insurance Services Office (ISO) report, which collected loss data from the insurers that purchase its products and services. Plaintiff argues that it does not have access to the information.

    The SROG (set four) includes 144 interrogatories. (Mot., Ex. C.) The Court has reviewed the SROGs at issue. The SROGs take on a character where Plaintiff first asks if: (1) GCI contends Plaintiff was involved in an incident on a particular date, and, if so, to state (2) the facts supporting the contention, (3) identify persons with knowledge of the facts/events, (4) identify all supporting documents, (5) describe GCI’s knowledge of the incident, and (6) identify any information GCI has that the claim was in any way improper. This includes incidents Plaintiff was or may have been involved in as far back as 1987 to 2018.

    The number of SROGs propounded is excessive. A review of the SROGs show that they can be better limited and tailored to seek information from Defendant. While the information sought in the SROGs may be relevant to some extent, the Court finds that the SROGs can be tailored to seek pertinent information. In particular, the information sought is regarding incidents involving Plaintiff nearly 30 years back, which is likely to be information that is equally available to Plaintiff. In tailoring the requests, Plaintiff and counsel should consider pursuing discovery on incidents/issues that involve the same or similar types of damages that are at issue in this action (i.e., injuries to Plaintiff’s head and/or traumatic brain injury claims).

    According to the declaration of Stephen K. McElroy Re Additional Discovery, he states that the excessive number of SROGs is warranted because they address critical allegations and issues raised by GCI regarding other claims and losses identified as potentially related to Plaintiff and the questions cannot be addressed in depositions as the information is not known to any witness other than counsel who has access to the claims information. (Mot., Ex. D [McElroy Decl., ¶7].) While Mr. McElroy’s declaration complies with CCP §2030.050 in form, the Court does not necessarily find that the declaration sufficiently explains why all of the incidents involving Plaintiff from over 30 years back are relevant and necessary such as to justify the need for 144 SROGs. Further, as the incidents involve Plaintiff, Plaintiff should have more avenues open to discover this information that the Defendant.

    As pointed out by GCI in reply, Plaintiff could have tailored the request to seek only pertinent and relevant information, asking: (1) which of the 34 pages of claims listed on the ISO report that GCI alleges involved Plaintiff; (2) which involve personal injuries claimed by Plaintiff; (3) GCI to identify witnesses known to it to support its allegations; and (4) GCI to identify all writings that support the allegations. (Reply at p.3.) Although the SROGs do not have to be exactly as laid out by GCI in the reply, Plaintiff is encouraged to propound more narrowly tailored SROGs that result in responses regarding matters that are relevant to this action from GCI.

    With regard to GCI’s reliance on the attorney work product doctrine, other than invoking the doctrine, GCI has not explained why the doctrine is actually implicated. Nevertheless, the Court finds that the SROGs are excessive in number and should be narrowed to a more limited number and topics.

    CONCLUSION AND ORDER

    GCI’s motion for protective order is granted as to the SROGs (set four), such that Plaintiff is ordered to limit the number of SROGs propounded to a reasonable amount of 35 and propound this amended set on GCI.

    GCI shall provide notice of this order.

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