This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/08/2019 at 05:16:27 (UTC).

EDWIN SOTO ET AL VS NEAL LENARSKY ET AL

Case Summary

On 01/06/2017 EDWIN SOTO filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against NEAL LENARSKY. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****5862

  • Filing Date:

    01/06/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

SOTO PATRICIA

SOTO EDWIN

Claimant

NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY

Defendants and Respondents

LENARSKY NEAL

LENARSKY PAULINA B.

DOES 1 TO 25

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

ARZANI SHERWIN S. ESQ.

ARZANI SHERWIN SEAN

ALDER MICHAEL

Defendant Attorneys

LIEBHABER JACK M

LIEBHABER JACK MITCHELL

Other Attorneys

MARSILIO JEFFREY SCOTT

 

Court Documents

Case Management Statement

10/4/2018: Case Management Statement

Minute Order

10/10/2018: Minute Order

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

12/20/2018: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Case Management Statement

12/26/2018: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

12/27/2018: Case Management Statement

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

12/28/2018: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Case Management Statement

1/8/2019: Case Management Statement

Notice of Change of Firm Name

1/8/2019: Notice of Change of Firm Name

Minute Order

1/9/2019: Minute Order

Notice of Ruling

1/9/2019: Notice of Ruling

Request for Dismissal

2/13/2019: Request for Dismissal

 

Docket Entries

  • 02/13/2019
  • Request for Dismissal (as to Paulina B. Lenarsky only); Filed by Edwin Soto (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/09/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 49; Case Management Conference (and Post-Mediation Status Conference) - Held

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  • 01/09/2019
  • Notice of Ruling; Filed by Neal Lenarsky (Defendant)

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  • 01/09/2019
  • Minute Order ((Case Management Conference and Post-Mediation Status Conference)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/08/2019
  • Notice of Change of Firm Name; Filed by Neal Lenarsky (Defendant); Paulina B. Lenarsky (Defendant)

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  • 01/08/2019
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by Neal Lenarsky (Defendant); Paulina B. Lenarsky (Defendant)

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  • 12/28/2018
  • Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

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  • 12/27/2018
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by Edwin Soto (Plaintiff); Patricia Soto (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/26/2018
  • Case Management Statement; Filed by NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY (Legacy Party)

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  • 12/20/2018
  • Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice; Filed by Clerk

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109 More Docket Entries
  • 03/06/2017
  • Miscellaneous-Other; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 03/06/2017
  • ANSWER OF DEFENDANTS NEAL LENARSKY AND PAULINA B. LENARSKY TO PLAINTIFFS' UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT

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  • 03/06/2017
  • CIVIL DEPOSIT

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  • 02/14/2017
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Edwin Soto (Plaintiff); Patricia Soto (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/14/2017
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 02/14/2017
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 02/14/2017
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Edwin Soto (Plaintiff); Patricia Soto (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/06/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Edwin Soto (Plaintiff); Patricia Soto (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/06/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR: (A) NEGLIGENCE; AND (B) LOSS OF CONSORTIUM.

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  • 01/06/2017
  • SUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC645862    Hearing Date: June 25, 2020    Dept: 49

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Edwin Soto, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

Case No.

BC645862

v.

[Tentative] Ruling

Neal Lenarsky, et al.

Defendants.

Hearing Date: June 25, 2020

Department 49, Judge Stuart M. Rice

1. Plaintiff’s Motion to Quash or Modify Deposition Subpoena

2. Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Further

Moving Party:  Plaintiff Edwin Soto

Responding Party:      Defendant Neal Lenarsky

Ruling:

1.

provide further responses and produce responsive documents within 30 days of this ruling.

The parties are reminded that the court requires an informal discovery conference prior to the filing of discovery motions to resolve any issues the parties are unable to resolve on their own. (See Code Civ. Proc. § 2016.080, subd. (a).) “If an informal resolution is not reached by the parties, as described in Section 2016.040, the court may conduct an informal discovery conference upon request by a party or on the court’s own motion for the purpose of discussing discovery matters in dispute between the parties.” (Id.)

Quash Subpoena for Insurance Records Served on State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Plaintiff moves to quash or modify the deposition subpoenas defendant served on

State Farm claiming the subpoena violates plaintiff’s privacy rights and is overbroad.

Defendant opposes this motion, arguing that the deposition subpoena is proper because the information sought is relevant to whether plaintiff’s claimed injuries and damages are attributable to the subject accident.

Matters are subject to discovery if the matter either is itself admissible in evidence or appears reasonable calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2017.010.) Discovery “is not confined to the actual issues framed by the pleadings. The information sought need not be in a form that would be admissible at trial. There need only be a reasonable prospect that it might lead to admissible evidence.” (Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 1072, 1095.) “[D]oubts about the permissible scope of discovery are to be resolved in favor of disclosure.” (Advanced Modular Sputtering, Inc. v. Superior Court (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 826, 835.)

If a subpoena requires the production of documents, electronically stored information, or other things at the taking of a deposition, the court may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.1.) The party opposing discovery has the burden of showing good cause for an order limiting discovery. (Valley Bank of Nevada v. Superior Court (1975) 15 Cal.3d 652, 657.)

Each category of item sought by the demanding party must be reasonably particularized from the standpoint of the party who is subjected to the burden of producing the materials. (Calcor Space Facility, Inc., 53 Cal.App.4th at 222.) Particularly when dealing with an entity that is not party to the litigation, the court should attempt to structure discovery in a manner which is least burdensome to such an entity. (Id.)

The right to privacy must be balanced against other important interests. (John B. v. Superior Court (2006) 38 Cal.4th 1177, 1199, citing Hill v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1, 37.) “The party asserting a privacy right must establish a legally protected privacy interest, an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the given circumstances, and a threatened intrusion that is serious.” (Williams v. Superior Court (2017) 3 Cal.5th 531, 552, citing Hill, 7 Cal.4th at 35-37.) “The party seeking information may raise in response whatever legitimate and important countervailing interests disclosure serves, while the party seeking protection may identify feasible alternatives that serve the same interests or protective measures that would diminish the loss of privacy. A court must then balance these competing considerations.” (Id.)

The subpoena appears to only seek documents which “[pertain] to the incident which occurred on 10/30/19 pertaining to Edward Soto.” However, there is some ambiguity as to whether that limitation refers to all the documents that precede it, or only the last. To the extent that the subpoena seeks the insurance and medical records beyond those which pertain to the incident referenced in the subpoena, the court hereby limits the subpoena to seek records from January 8, 2015, the date of the accident, to the present.  

To address plaintiff’s privacy concerns, review of the records produced in accordance with this ruling shall be limited to defendant’s counsel and consulting experts only. At the February 24, 2020 hearing, the court ordered to parties to meet and confer regarding a protective order. The parties should advise the court at this hearing of the status of such protective order.

Motion to Compel Further Responses to Form Interrogatories and Requests for Production

This motion was initially heard on February 24, 2020, along with the plaintiff’s previous motion to quash or modify, which the court ruled upon that date. Per the agreement of the parties, the motion to compel further was continued from February 24 to this date with the goal that the parties would resolve their differences without further court intervention.  Defendant has since filed an opposition to the motion, which the court has considered.

Plaintiff moves to compel defendant to provide further responses to form interrogatories 13.1, 13.2, 15.1, 16.3, 16.4, and 16.5 and requests for production of documents 4, 13, and 14.

Form interrogatories 13.1, 13.2, 15.1, and 16.3-16.5 are all reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. They are also presumptively valid, and none of defendant’s objections to these interrogatories has merit. It appears that defendant has already provided substantive responses to 16.3-16.5. If any information responsive to form interrogatories 16.3-16.5 remain, defendant should provide it along with his responses to the other interrogatories.

Demand for production numbers 4, 13, and 14 seek: all videos relating to plaintiff in defendant’s possession, custody, or control; security or surveillance recordings of the subject incident; and photos, films or videos, depicting the injuries plaintiff suffered because of the subject incident. These requests are reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

Defendant opposes producing material responsive to requests 4, 13, 14 claiming it is surveillance footage for potential impeachment and protected under the work product doctrine.

Impeachment

In support of his argument that he should not be ordered to produce what he refers to as “surveillance videos,” defendant cites Evidence Code sections 768 and 769.

There is no indication that this section 768 concerns videos taken of a plaintiff, and defendant cites no cases interpreting video or other recordings to be “writings” within the meaning of that section. (See Section 768 [“(a) In examining a witness concerning a writing, it is not necessary to show, read, or disclose to him any part of the writing.[¶] (b) If a writing is shown to a witness, all parties to the action must be given an opportunity to inspect it before any question concerning it may be asked of the witness].)

Section 769 provides that information about an inconsistent statement, whether oral or in writing, need not be disclosed to the witness who is examined about the inconsistent statement. (Evid. Code, § 769 [“In examining a witness concerning a statement or other conduct by him that is inconsistent with any part of his testimony at the hearing, it is not necessary to disclose to him any information concerning the statement or other conduct”].) The comment by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary in the editors’ notes explains that section 769 eliminates the distinction between oral and written statements and permits a witness to be asked about prior inconsistent statements, regardless of whether written or oral, even though no disclosure is made to him regarding the prior statement.

Neither the surrounding Evidence Code sections nor the corresponding editors’ notes suggest that section 769 applies to anything other than inconsistent statements, which is only one of the many possible kinds of impeachment testimony (see Evidence Code, § 780). Section 225 of the Evidence Code defines a “statement” as a “(a) written or verbal expression or (b) nonverbal conduct of a person intended by him as a substitute for oral or written verbal expression.” Thus, the court interprets the words “statement or other conduct” in section 769 as referring to nonverbal conduct intended to substitute as an oral or written expression.

Defendant does not contend that the surveillance videos consist of inconsistent statements. Rather, defendant argues that merely by virtue of their potential to contradict plaintiff’s testimony that they need not be produced before raised as impeachment. None of the law defendant cites stands for such a proposition. In addition to the sections discussed above, defendant cites Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rule 3.52. This local rule merely governs the marking of exhibits and thus does not support defendant’s argument. Additionally, defendant’s discussion about his authority to conduct unilateral investigation does not bear on any issue raised by this motion, which is to compel discovery, not to authorize it.

Therefore, defendant’s argument that he should not be ordered to produce material responsive to requests for production 4, 13, and 14 because the responsive material may be used for impeachment is unavailing.

Work Product

Defendant argues that the material responsive to requests for production 4, 13, and 14 is protected from disclosure under the work product doctrine because it reflects counsel’s “impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal research or theories.” (See Code Civ. Proc., § 2018.030.)

Section 2018.030 of the Code of Civil Procedure codifies the work product doctrine as follows: “(a) A writing that reflects an attorney’s impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal research or theories is not discoverable under any circumstances. [¶] (b) The work product of an attorney, other than a writing described in subdivision (a), is not discoverable unless the court determines that denial of discovery will unfairly prejudice the party seeking discovery in preparing that party’s claim or defense or will result in an injustice.”

In Suezaki v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (1962) 58 Cal.2d 166, the trial court’s denial of plaintiffs’ motion to compel videos taken by defendants’ independent investigator was based on its improper understanding that under, Holm v. Superior Court (1954) 42 Cal.2d 500, overruled in part by Suezaki, all photographs taken by an investigator and intended for an attorney’s use at trial were privileged as a matter of law. The Suezaki court declared that to the extent Holm stands for such a proposition, it is overruled. (Id. at p. 176.) Rather, the “work product” status of the matter sought may be one of multiple factors to consider in determining whether to order its production. (Id. at pp. 178-179.)

Although the trial court’s order was silent as to any showing of good cause, the trial court stated during oral argument that he was satisfied that plaintiffs had shown a need for the films, both to protect against surprise and to prepare examination of the person who took the pictures. (Id. at p. 172.) The court of appeal observed that “[s]uch a finding is entirely consistent with the purposes of the discovery act and supported by the showing made.” (Id.) Because the trial judge did not weigh these important considerations but opined that the videos were protected as a matter of law, the court of appeal vacated the order denying the motion to compel, and required the trial court to enter a new and further order consistent with this opinion. (Id. at p. 170.) Although Suezaki was decided before attorney work product received statutory protection, it remains good law and supports the court’s conclusion that the purported surveillance videos taken for defendant’s use at trial is subject to qualified, not absolute work product protection.

Although the court recognizes that the material sought may consist of qualified work product, plaintiff will be unduly prejudiced if deprived of the opportunity to see the recordings and prepare questions for the witness who took them. 

Conclusion

Plaintiff’s motion to quash is denied. The motion to modify the subpoena served on State Farm is granted to limit the records sought to the date of the accident to the present.

Plaintiff’s motion to compel further is granted. Defendant is ordered to provide further responsive documents, without objection, within 30 days of this ruling.

 Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of these rulings.

Date: June 25, 2020

Honorable Stuart M. Rice

Judge of the Superior Court

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