On 03/30/2017 ENRIQUE SANTANA filed a Labor - Wrongful Termination lawsuit against ADIR INTERNATIONAL LLC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are ALAN S. ROSENFIELD and MICHAEL JOHNSON. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
ALAN S. ROSENFIELD
ADIR INTERNATIONAL LLC
DOES 1 THROUGH 250
ADIR INTERNATIONAL LLC DBA EL CURACAO A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
LAW OFFICES OF CARLIN & BUCHSBAUM LLP
CARLIN & BUCHSBAUM LLP
CARLIN GARY RICHARD
ZAMBRANO RONALD LEONARDO
SCHWARTZ LAW CENTER
SCHWARTZ MATTHEW HOWARD
3/18/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (JURY TRIAL)
2/5/2020: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore
3/22/2018: DEFENDANT ADIR INTERNATIONAL, LLC'S INDEX OF EXHIBITS IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, OR, ALTERNATWELY, SUMMARY ADJUDICATIONS;
3/22/2018: DEFENDANT ADIR INTERNATIONAL, LLC'S NOTICE AND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, OR ALTERNATIVELY, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS & AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THEREOF.
6/1/2018: ERRATA TO PLAINTIFF'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO MSJ/MSA
6/8/2018: Minute Order -
7/16/2018: DEFENDANT'S REQUEST TO DENY PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO EVIDENCE ASSERTED IN RESPONSE TO SEPARATE STATEMENT IN OPPOSITION TO MSJ/MSA
3/4/2019: Witness List
3/4/2019: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore
3/4/2019: Opposition - Opposition to Defendant's Motion in Limine No.1; Declarations of Enrique Santana, Roger E. Haag, and Ronald L. Zambrano, in Support Thereof
1/26/2018: JOINT STIPULATION TO (1) AMEND THE COMPLAINT TO ADD CLAIMS RE MISCLASSIFICATION , ETC
1/26/2018: Minute Order -
3/30/2017: SUMMONS -
4/7/2017: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE
4/26/2017: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS -
5/25/2017: Minute Order -
Hearing05/18/2020 at 09:30 AM in Department 56 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury TrialRead MoreRead Less
Hearing05/06/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 56 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status ConferenceRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 56; Hearing on Motion for Order (Motion to reopen discovery) - HeldRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Order Motion to reopen discovery)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketOrder Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketMotion re: (to Reopen Discovery); Filed by Enrique Santana (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketOpposition (to Plaintiff's Motion to Re-Open Discovery); Filed by Adir International, LLC (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketMotion re: (TO RE-OPEN DISCOVERY; DECLARATION OF RONALD ZAMBRANO IN SUPPORT THEREOF; EXHIBITS IN SUPPORT THEREOF); Filed by Enrique Santana (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 56; Hearing on Motion for Order (Motion to reopen discovery) - Not Held - Rescheduled by PartyRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 09:30 AM in Department 56; Jury Trial - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by CourtRead MoreRead Less
DocketCASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENTRead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Enrique Santana (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCERead MoreRead Less
DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Enrique Santana (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCERead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by Enrique Santana (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. WRONGFUL TERMINATION IN VIOLATION OF PUBLIC POLICY; ETCRead MoreRead Less
DocketSUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC655851 Hearing Date: February 05, 2020 Dept: 56
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT
ENRIQUE SANTANA, etc.,
ADIR INTERNATIONAL, LLC. DBA “EL CURACAO”, etc., et al.,
CASE NO.: BC655851
[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: MOTION TO REOPEN DISCOVERY
Date: February 5, 2020
Time: 8:30 a.m.
FSC: May 6, 2020
Jury Trial: May 18, 2020
MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Enrique Santana
RESPONDING PARTY: Defendant Adir International, LLC
The Court has considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers. While filed and served late, the Court exercises its discretion pursuant to California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1300(d) and will consider Defendant’s opposition papers in their entirety.
Plaintiff filed the operative First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) arising from his alleged wrongful termination. The FAC alleges causes of action against Defendants for: (1) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; (2) violation of California Labor Code, Section 1102.5; (3) retaliation in violation of CFRA and FMLA; (4) violation of CFRA; (5) violation of California Labor Code, Sections 201 et seq.; (6) violation of California Labor Code, Section 510; (7) violation of California Labor Code, Section 226; and (8) unlawful business practices in violation of California Business and Professions Code, Section 17200.
Plaintiff filed a motion for an order reopening discovery. Plaintiff’s motion is made on the grounds that: (1) Defendant failed to produce any documents originating from Plaintiff’s work laptop (the “Work Laptop”) in response to requests for production after learning that Plaintiff himself did not have the documents; and (2) Defendant thereafter moved to exclude any evidence other than that obtained from the Work Laptop even though Defendant provided statements of compliance with respect to the requests for production. Plaintiff contends that since he is now limited to evidence obtained from the Work Laptop, and due to such laptop being solely in Defendant’s possession coupled with Defendant’s failure to respond to discovery, judicial intervention is now required to reopen discovery. Plaintiff’s moving memorandum of points and authorities states that “[g]iven the Court’s ruling on Defendant’s Motion In Limine No. 1 to exclude testimony regarding the personal laptop (and any other devices besides the Work Laptop), there is now a substantial interest in conducting discovery on the company-issued laptop that is in Defendant’s possession.” (Motion at 3:7-10.)
In his motion, Plaintiff asserts that: (1) the Court has authority to reopen discovery; (2) the requested discovery is necessary to a full and fair evaluation of damages; (3) Plaintiff has been diligent in requesting this discovery; and (4) reopening discovery on a limited basis will not prejudice Defendant or delay trial.
Defendant opposes Plaintiff’s motion on the grounds that: (1) there is no necessity to reopen discovery; (2) Plaintiff is only seeking to reopen discovery since he was subject to an evidentiary sanction; (3) Plaintiff was dilatory in his discovery campaign with respect to the Work Laptop; (4) an inordinate amount of time has passed since the multiple dates set for trial; (5) reopening discovery will likely delay the trial further; and (6) the Court should sanction Plaintiff and his counsel.
Brief Procedural History
Plaintiff filed his initial complaint on March 30, 2017. On January 26, 2018, the parties jointly stipulated to: (1) amend the complaint to add claims for misclassification; and (2) continue trial to allow sufficient time to conduct further discovery. The Court then entered an order: (1) allowing Plaintiff to file the operative FAC; and (2) advancing the trial date of May 14, 2018 to January 26, 2018 and continuing trial to September 20, 2018. On June 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed the operative FAC. On August 9, 2018, the Court granted the parties’ joint ex parte application to continue trial due to settlement efforts and the trial was continued from September 20, 2018 to December 3, 2018. On October 17, 2018, Defendant filed an ex parte application to continue trial which the Court granted and trial was continued from December 3, 2018 to March 18, 2019. On March 18, 2019, the Court continued the jury trial which was scheduled for March 18, 2019 to November 18, 2019. The Court also extended discovery to June 30, 2019 and indicated there would be no further extensions with respect to discovery.
On November 6, 2019, the Court held a Final Status Conference (“FSC”). At the FSC, the Court granted Defendant’s Motion In Limine No. 1 to exclude evidence that Plaintiff purportedly worked from his home-based computer based on his misuse of the discovery process. The Court, on its own motion, continued the jury trial to May 18, 2020. Defendant’s Motion In Limine No. 1 presented the argument that: (1) Plaintiff testified at his October 2017 deposition that he used his personal laptop to perform most of his work at home; (2) Plaintiff testified that although Defendnat issued him a company laptop for his work, he rarely used such laptop; and (3) he returned the company laptop to Defendant within a week of his termination.
MEET AND CONFER
The meet and confer requirement has been met.
California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2024.050(a) says that “[o]n motion of any party, the court may grant leave to complete discovery proceedings, or to have a motion concerning discovery heard, closer to the initial trial date, or to reopen discovery after a new trial date has been set.” The Court has discretion whether to grant or deny a motion to reopen discovery. (Code Civ. Proc. § 2024.050(b).) The Court takes into account the following factors when deciding whether to grant or deny a motion to reopen discovery: (1) the necessity and the reasons for the discovery; (2) the diligence or lack of diligence of the party seeking the discovery or the hearing of a discovery motion, and the reasons that the discovery was not completed or that the discovery motion was not heard earlier; (3) any likelihood that permitting the discovery will prevent the case from going to trial on the date set, or otherwise interfere with the trial calendar, or result in prejudice to any other party; and (4) the length of time that has elapsed between any date previously set, and the date presently set, for the trial of the action. (Code Civ. Proc. § 2024.050(b)(1)-(4).) Where a party’s actions or inadvertence has led to that party’s present circumstances with respect to a motion to reopen discovery, a court is empowered to deny a motion to reopen discovery. (Cottini v. Enloe Medical Center (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 401, 420-421.)
Plaintiff’s Evidence in Support of Reopening Discovery
Plaintiff presents the declaration of his counsel, Ronald Zambrano (“Zambrano”), who declares that: (1) on November 19, 2018, Defendant provided statements of compliance for multiple requests from the Laptop Discovery (Zambrano Decl. at ¶ 3); (2) upon receipt of these responses, he waited for Defendant to produce these documents (Id. at ¶ 4); (3) Defendant failed to produce any documents from the Laptop Discovery (Id. at ¶ 5); (4) as the trial date approached, and the deadline to file a motion to compel approached, he intended to file a motion to compel responses (Id. at ¶ 6); (5) on December 18, 2018, he met with Matthew Schwartz regarding the lack of production from the Laptop Discovery, Mr. Schwartz orally informed him that Defendant had no responsive documents to produce (Id. at ¶ 7); (6) Mr. Schwartz explained that the reason why Defendant was unable to produce any documents from the Work Laptop is because they have no responsive documents other than what they have already produced (Id. at ¶ 8); (7) Defendant never provided amended responses to the Laptop Discovery to include a statement of inability to comply satisfying the requirements of the Code of Civil Procedure, explaining why no responsive documents existed with respect to the Work Laptop (Id. at ¶ 9); and (8) to date, Defendant has not explained—what Defendant did to the Work Laptop, whether any forensic image of the Work Laptop was archived, and whether it has been preserved. (Id. at ¶ 10.)
Defendant’s Evidence in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion
Defendant presents evidence, via the declaration of its counsel Matthew H. Schwartz (“Schwartz”), who declares that: (1) during his 2017 deposition, Plaintiff testified that there is no evidence on the Work Laptop showing that he worked on it from home (Id. at ¶ 3 and Exhibit A at 207:4-208:25); (2) Plaintiff propounded three sets of Requests for Production of Documents on Defendant during this litigation and none of them requested physical production of the Work Laptop and none of them requested any data or files that are specifically and uniquely stored therein, and none of them even referenced the Work Laptop (Id. at ¶ 4); (3) he deposed Plaintiff a second time in September 2019 and Plaintiff testified that he used at least two other computers to perform his work which were maintained in Defendant’s offices (Id. at ¶ 5 and Exhibit B at 244:4-245:5); (4) in response to Plaintiff’s Third Request for Production of Documents, Defendant conducted a diligent search for all responsive documents in its possession, custody, and control (Id. at ¶ 6); (5) over the course of several weeks, Defendant assembled a vast collection of digital files responsive to those requests and downloaded them all to a hard drive with sufficient capacity to house all of these files (Id.); (6) he does not recall Plaintiff’s counsel complaining about Defendant’s failure to produce documents in response to Plaintiff’s Third Request for Production of Documents (Id.); (7) Defendant’s production even included documents and audio/visual content that were generated outside the 4-year period to which Plaintiff’s claims are limited (Id.); and (8) Defendant produced everything it promised to produce and otherwise fully complied with its obligations with respect to Plaintiff’s Third Request for Production of Documents. (Id.)
Issue No. 1: Analysis with Respect to Reopening Discovery
The Court finds that reopening discovery for purposes of Plaintiff examining the Work Laptop is not warranted. Plaintiff testified at his October 20, 2017 deposition that the Work Laptop, if it had not been touched and existed in the same manner he returned it, would not have certain timestamps on it indicating what he was doing because: (1) it was not working well; (2) he was only using the company computer for searching the internet but he was not allowed to do editing on the Work Laptop; and (3) he used his personal computer for editing and rarely used the Work Laptop. (Schwartz Decl, Exhibit A at 208:1-19.) During his September 2019 deposition, however, Plaintiff testified that he did use his Work Laptop for work purposes and did not use any other laptops or devices for work purposes, but he was a little confused during his October 2017 deposition. (Aynechi Decl., ¶ 5 and Exhibit 2 at 301:3-25.) Plaintiff’s Requests for Production of Documents, Set Three (Zambrano Decl. at Exhibit 1) does not mention the Work Laptop specifically. Plaintiff’s: (1) Request for Production of Documents and Things, Set Five (Id. at Exhibit 7); (2) Plaintiff’s Request for Admissions, Set One (Id. at Exhibit 8); (3) Plaintiff’s Special Interrogatories, Set Two (Id. at Exhibit 9); and (4) Demand for Inspection (Id. at Exhibit 11) do specifically reference the Work Laptop; however, those requests were authored in December of 2019. Moreover, the meet and confer with respect to the Work Laptop did not commence until November of 2019. (Id. at Exhibit 3.)
Plaintiff filed the operative FAC in June of 2018 yet based on the Court’s examination of the discovery requests, the discovery requests propounded by Plaintiff do not begin to evince any reference to the Work Laptop until much later in time. Given the inconsistencies in Plaintiff’s deposition testimony with respect to whether he used the Work Laptop for work purposes or not, the Court finds that this factor weighs against reopening discovery. Moreover, Plaintiff’s own moving papers indicate that the only reason he seeks to reopen discovery is due to the Court granting Defendant’s Motion In Limine No. 1 and as such this does not weigh in favor of reopening discovery. Neither Zambrano nor Aynechi’s declarations in support of Plaintiff’s motion indicates the necessity of reopening discovery for purposes of the Work Laptop.
The Court also finds that permitting the discovery makes it likely that trial in this action will be delayed and will not go forth on the date that is currently set for trial. Given that Plaintiff stated during his 2019 deposition that he did work on the Work Laptop, there exists the possibly that voluminous amounts of evidence may need to be analyzed, evaluated, or perhaps even a protective order may need to be issued and motion practice may be necessary in connection thereto. Also, there have been numerous changes in trial dates in this action from the initial trial date set for May 14, 2018 to the previously set trial date of November 18, 2019. A substantial amount of time—almost two years—has passed since the initial May 14, 2018 trial date in this action. The Court also finds that Plaintiff has been dilatory as Plaintiff did not file a motion to compel despite the unsuccessful meet and confer efforts between the parties and the claimed deficient discovery responses of Defendant. Plaintiff has presumably known about the relevancy of the Work Laptop to his case since this action was filed in March of 2017 and surely since the FAC since was filed since it includes allegation of failure to pay overtime wages.
Therefore, weighing the factors set forth in California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2024.050(b), the Court exercises its discretion and DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to reopen discovery.
Issue No. 2: Monetary Sanctions
Defendant requests monetary sanctions in the amount of $4,050.00 against Plaintiff and his counsel of record.
California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 2024.050(c) says that “[t]he court shall impose a monetary sanction . . . against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to extend or to reopen discovery, 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.”
Schwartz declares that: (1) he has been a practicing member of the California Bar in good standing continuously for approximately 27 years (Schwartz Decl. at ¶ 8); (2) the value of his professional services in the Los Angeles market is at least $450.00 per hour (Id.); (3) he spent approximately 1 hour analyzing Plaintiff’s moving papers and exhibits incorporated therein (Id.); (4) he spent approximately 6 hours conducting legal research, reading deposition transcripts and other file documents, drafting and revising Defendant’s opposition papers and locating exhibits and arranging for the filing and service of same (Id.); (5) he anticipates spending another 2 hours at the hearing on Plaintiff’s motion to reopen discovery (Id.); and (6) Defendant requests an award of monetary sanctions against Plaintiff and his counsel of record in the amount of $4,050.00 for attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with the instant motion to reopen discovery. (Id.)
The Court exercises its discretion and GRANTS Defendant’s request for monetary sanctions against Plaintiff and his counsel of record in the reasonable amount of $1,350.00 representing 3 hours of work with respect to opposing Plaintiff’s motion to reopen discovery. (Van Sickle v. Gilbert (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1495, 1516.) Sanctions are payable within 20 days of the date of this order by Plaintiff and his counsel of record to Defendant.
Plaintiff’s motion to reopen discovery is DENIED in its entirety.
Moving Party is ordered to give notice of this ruling.
Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SMC_DEPT56@lacourt.org as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. If the department does not receive an email and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion will be placed off calendar.
Dated this 5th day of February 2020
Hon. Holly J. Fujie
Judge of the Superior Court