This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 01/19/2023 at 05:10:10 (UTC).

GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH OF THE VALLEY, ET AL. VS ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 08/12/2020 GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH OF THE VALLEY, filed a Civil Right - Other Civil Right lawsuit against ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES,. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Glendale Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is WILLIAM D. STEWART. The case status is Other.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******0497

  • Filing Date:

    08/12/2020

  • Case Status:

    Other

  • Case Type:

    Civil Right - Other Civil Right

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

WILLIAM D. STEWART

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs, Appellants and Defendants

GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH OF THE VALLEY

MACARTHUR PASTOR JOHN

DAVIS M.D. M.P.H. MUNTO

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

MACARTHUR JOHN

Defendants and Appellants

ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

MUNTU DAVIS IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER OF THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

ERICA PAN IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ACTING CALIFORNIA PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER

ERIC GARCETTI IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES

MICHEL MOORE IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHIEF OF POLICE FOR THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT

XAVIER BECERRA IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CALIFORNIA

BARBARA FERRER IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR OF THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH OF THE VALLEY

GAVIN NEWSOM IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA

SANDRA SHEWRY IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ACTING CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR

LOS ANGELES COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT A BODY CORPORATE AND POLITIC

JAMES T. SPARKS IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE SURVEY/MAPPING & PROPERTY MANAGEMENT DIVISION OF THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT

MACARTHUR JOHN

Plaintiffs and Respondents

DAVIS M.D. M.P.H. MUNTO

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

Not Classified By Court

HADDON MIKE

GUTHIRE ROBERT

AMICUS CURIAE GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM

JENNA ELLIS OF THE THOMAS MORE SOCIETY

6 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant and Plaintiff Attorneys

LIMANDRI CHARLES SALVATORE

MORRISSEY EDWARD ALBURO

SIEGEL AMNON ZVI

JONNA PAUL MICHAEL

ANTHONY GREGORY JON

SCHRADER ANDREW LOUIS

TOKORO JASON HIROSHI

WICKHAM MARY CONWAY

EISENBERG JONATHAN MICHAEL

EISENMAN JONATHAN H

CHAPMAN BENJAMIN F

COHEN HEATHER SHARON

ELLIS JENNA

FERRARI ANNA

GRABARSKY TODD

JONNA PAUL

SCHRAGER KIVA GRACE

TOKORO JASON

Not Classified By Court Attorney

DUNN JEFFREY VINCENT

3 More Attorneys Available

 

Court Documents

Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER STIPULATION TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

1/8/2021: Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER STIPULATION TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Request - REQUEST FOR EXEMPTION FROM MANDATORY ELECTRONIC FILING AND SERVICE

1/28/2021: Request - REQUEST FOR EXEMPTION FROM MANDATORY ELECTRONIC FILING AND SERVICE

Notice - NOTICE OF CHANGE OF COUNSEL

1/28/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF CHANGE OF COUNSEL

Order - ORDER OF EXEMPTION FROM ELECTRONIC FILING AND SERVICE

2/5/2021: Order - ORDER OF EXEMPTION FROM ELECTRONIC FILING AND SERVICE

Case Management Statement

7/15/2021: Case Management Statement

Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER TO CONTINUE THE HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND OSC RE CONTEMPT

7/26/2021: Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER TO CONTINUE THE HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND OSC RE CONTEMPT

Order - ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND OSC RE CONTEMPT

7/26/2021: Order - ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND OSC RE CONTEMPT

Notice - NOTICE OF ENTRY OF STIPULATED ORDER ON JULY 27, 2021 RE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND RELATED DEADLINES

7/27/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF ENTRY OF STIPULATED ORDER ON JULY 27, 2021 RE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND RELATED DEADLINES

Order - ORDER [PROPOSED] ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND RELATED DEADLINES BY THIRTY (30) DAYS

7/27/2021: Order - ORDER [PROPOSED] ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND RELATED DEADLINES BY THIRTY (30) DAYS

Request for Dismissal - REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE ENTIRE ACTION

9/3/2021: Request for Dismissal - REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE ENTIRE ACTION

Notice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service

9/13/2021: Notice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service

Notice - NOTICE FOURTH NOTICE OF NEW AUTHORITY ISO MOTION TO VACATE PI

6/3/2021: Notice - NOTICE FOURTH NOTICE OF NEW AUTHORITY ISO MOTION TO VACATE PI

Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND RELATED DEADLINES BY 30 DAYS

6/7/2021: Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND RELATED DEADLINES BY 30 DAYS

Order - ORDER [PROPOSED] ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND RELATED DEADLINES BY 30 DAYS

6/7/2021: Order - ORDER [PROPOSED] ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND RELATED DEADLINES BY 30 DAYS

Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND OSC RE CONTEMPT

6/8/2021: Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND OSC RE CONTEMPT

Order - ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND OSC RE CONTEMPT)

6/9/2021: Order - ORDER GRANTING STIPULATION TO CONTINUE THE HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND OSC RE CONTEMPT)

Notice - NOTICE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES NOTICE OF NEW AUTHORITY IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND THE OSC RE: CONTEMPT AS VOID

6/15/2021: Notice - NOTICE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES NOTICE OF NEW AUTHORITY IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO VACATE THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND THE OSC RE: CONTEMPT AS VOID

Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER JOINT STIPULATION RE HEARING DATES FOR MOTION TO VACATE AND ORDER

4/22/2021: Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER JOINT STIPULATION RE HEARING DATES FOR MOTION TO VACATE AND ORDER

134 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 09/13/2021
  • DocketNotice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service; Filed by: Grace Community Church of the Valley (Plaintiff); Pastor John MacArthur (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/13/2021
  • DocketCase Management Conference scheduled for 09/15/2021 at 08:30 AM in Glendale Courthouse at Department D Not Held - Vacated by Court on 09/13/2021

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  • 09/07/2021
  • DocketHearing on Motion to Vacate Preliminary Injunction and OSC Re Contempt as Void filed on behalf of Plaintifs Grace Community Church of the Valley, et al. scheduled for 09/17/2021 at 09:30 AM in Stanley Mosk Courthouse at Department 86 Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Court on 09/03/2021

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  • 09/03/2021
  • DocketRequest for Dismissal with prejudice entire action; Filed by: Grace Community Church of the Valley (Plaintiff); Pastor John MacArthur (Plaintiff); As to: Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Eric Garcetti, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Los Angeles (Defendant) et al.

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  • 09/03/2021
  • DocketUpdated -- Request for Dismissal: Name Extension: blank; As To Parties changed from Sandra Shewry, in her official capacity as Acting California Department of Public Health Director (Defendant), Erica Pan, in her official capacity as Acting California Public Health Officer (Defendant), Los Angeles County Flood Control District, a body corporate and politic (Defendant), Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant), Gavin Newsom, in his official capacity as the Governor of California (Defendant), Michel Moore, in his official capacity as Chief of Police for the City of Los Angeles Police Department (Defendant), Muntu Davis, in his official capacity as Public Health Officer of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant), James T. Sparks, in his official capacity as Assistant Deputy Director of the Survey/Mapping & Property Management Division of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District (Defendant), Eric Garcetti, in his officia

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  • 09/03/2021
  • DocketOn the Amended Complaint (2nd) filed by Grace Community Church of the Valley, et al. on 12/23/2020, entered Request for Dismissal with prejudice filed by Grace Community Church of the Valley and Pastor John MacArthur as to the entire action

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  • 07/27/2021
  • DocketNotice of Entry of Stipulated Order on July 27, 2021 re Case Management Conference and Related Deadlines; Filed by: Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Muntu Davis, in his official capacity as Public Health Officer of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Los Angeles County Flood Control District, a body corporate and politic (Defendant); James T. Sparks, in his official capacity as Assistant Deputy Director of the Survey/Mapping & Property Management Division of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District (Defendant); As to: Grace Community Church of the Valley (Plaintiff); Pastor John MacArthur (Plaintiff); Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant) et al.

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  • 07/27/2021
  • DocketAddress for Paul Jonna (Attorney) updated

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  • 07/27/2021
  • DocketOrder [Proposed] Order Granting Stipulation to Continue the Case Management Conference and Related Deadlines by Thirty (30) Days; Signed and Filed by: Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Muntu Davis, in his official capacity as Public Health Officer of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Los Angeles County Flood Control District, a body corporate and politic (Defendant); James T. Sparks, in his official capacity as Assistant Deputy Director of the Survey/Mapping & Property Management Division of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District (Defendant); As to: Grace Community Church of the Valley (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/27/2021
  • DocketUpdated -- Order [Proposed] Order Granting Stipulation to Continue the Case Management Conference and Related Deadlines by Thirty (30) Days: Filed By: Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant),Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant),James T. Sparks, in his official capacity as Assistant Deputy Director of the Survey/Mapping & Property Management Division of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District (Defendant),Muntu Davis, in his official capacity as Public Health Officer of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant),Los Angeles County Flood Control District, a body corporate and politic (Defendant); Result: Granted; Result Date: 07/27/2021

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215 More Docket Entries
  • 08/14/2020
  • DocketUpdated -- Munto Davis, M.D., M.P.H. (Plaintiff): Last Name changed from Davis, M.D., \M.P.H. to Davis, M.D., M.P.H.

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  • 08/13/2020
  • DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: Grace Community Church of the Valley (Plaintiff); Pastor John MacArthur (Plaintiff); As to: Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Eric Garcetti, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Los Angeles (Defendant) et al.

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  • 08/13/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 08/13/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Failure to File Proof of Service; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 08/13/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 10/28/2020 at 08:30 AM in Burbank Courthouse at Department A

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  • 08/13/2020
  • DocketCase Management Conference scheduled for 01/12/2021 at 08:30 AM in Burbank Courthouse at Department A

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  • 08/13/2020
  • DocketCase assigned to Hon. William D. Stewart in Department A Burbank Courthouse

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  • 08/12/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by: Clerk

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  • 08/12/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: Grace Community Church of the Valley (Plaintiff); Pastor John MacArthur (Plaintiff); As to: Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Eric Garcetti, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Los Angeles (Defendant) et al.

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  • 08/12/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by: Grace Community Church of the Valley (Plaintiff); Pastor John MacArthur (Plaintiff); As to: Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles (Defendant); Eric Garcetti, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Los Angeles (Defendant) et al.

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******0497    Hearing Date: December 11, 2020    Dept: D

TENTATIVE RULING

Calendar: 21

Date: 12/11/2020

Case No: 20 BBCV00497 Trial Date: None Set

Case Name: Grace Community Church of the Valley, et al. v. Newson, et al.

MOTION TO TRANSFER, COORDINATE AND

CONSOLIDATE CASES

Moving Party: Defendants Gavin Newsom, Xavier Becerra, Sandra Shewry, Erica Pan,

Eric Garcetti, and Michel Moore, in their official capacities.

“Joinder” filed by defendants Barbara Ferrer, Alejandro Villanueva, Muntu Davis

Responding Party: Plaintiffs Grace Community Church of the Valley and Pastor John MacArthur

Real Party in Interest Father Trevor Burfitt

Real Party in Interest Kern County Defendants Sheriff Donny Youngblood and

Matthew Constantine

REQUEST TO CONSOLIDATE the following cases:

Case No.

Plaintiff(s)

Defendant(s)

20 BBCV00497

Grace Community Church of the Valley

Pastor John MacArthur

Gavin Newsom

Xavier Becerra

Sandra Shewry

Erica Pan

Barbara Ferrer

Alejandro Villanueva

Muntu Davis

Eric Garcetti

Michel Moore

Los Angeles County Flood Control District

James T. Sparks

20 STCV30695

Father Trevor Burfitt

Gavin Newsom

Xavier Becerra

Sandra Shewry

Erica Pan

Matthew Constantine

Donny Youngblood

Greg Terry

Corwin Porter

John MacMahon

Mike Hadden

William Wooten, M.D.

William D. Gore

David Nisleit

Barbara Ferrer

Alejandro Villanueva

Muntu Davis

Eric Garcetti

Michel Moore

Robert T. Guthrie

CCP ; 404.1 provides that coordination of civil actions sharing a common question of fact of law is appropriate if it will promote the ends of justice, considering the following:

· the common question of fact or law is predominating and significant to litigation

· convenience of parties, witnesses and counsel

· relative development of the actions and work product of counsel

· efficient utilization of judicial facilities and manpower

· the calendar of the courts

· the disadvantages of duplicative and inconsistent rulings

· likelihood of settlement of the actions without further litigation should coordination be denied.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND:

Plaintiffs Grace Community Church of the Valley and Pastor John MacArthur, in his official capacity as representative of the Grace Community Church Board of Elders, allege that the Grace Community Church operates a long standing church and congregation in Sun Valley California, presided over by Pastor-Teacher MacArthur, and governed by the 42-member Board of Elders.

Plaintiffs bring this action against defendants Gavin Newsom, in his official capacity as Governor of California, Xavier Becerra, in his official capacity as Attorney General of California, Sandra Shewry, in her official capacity as Acting California Department of Public Health Director, Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles, Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles, Muntu Davis, in his official capacity as Public Health Officer of the County of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, Michel Moore, in his official capacity as the Chief of Police for the City of Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Flood Control District, and James T. Sparks, in his official capacity as Assistant Deputy Director of the Survey/Mapping & Property Management Division of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.

The First Amended Complaint alleges that in response to the coronavirus pandemic, on March 12, 2020, Pastor MacArthur and the elders of Grace Community Church decided to close all in-person services to temporarily protect the congregation from the coronavirus and began to conduct livestream services. Within the next few days, the City of Los Angeles and its officials, the County of Los Angeles and its officials, and the

State of California and its officials issued stay-home orders banning gatherings, and Grace Community Church voluntarily complied with these orders and closed its campus officially between March 15 and July 19, 2020.

Plaintiffs allege that after being closed for in person services for 19 weeks, Pastor MacArthur and the elders of Grace Community Church held a meeting on July 23, 2020 and voted unanimously to reopen the Grace Community Church campus and conduct worship services in their regular auditorium, in part because they have no adequate place to hold services outside. The complaint alleges that in light of the requirements of its faith, Grace Community Church has continued to permit its members to worship, so far for eight consecutive Sundays, with no health ramifications at all. Plaintiffs allege that nevertheless, the County of Los Angeles has initiated legal action against the Church, seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which issues are currently pending before Los Angeles Superior Court in another proceeding. The FAC alleges that the orders banning gatherings are not based on a real health threat to warrant such a restraint, and that the orders against Grace Community Church constitute an illegitimate misuse of power. It is also alleged that the orders are being enforced against gatherings involving religious worship, but not consistently enforced against other public gatherings, such as those involving public protests.

The FAC also alleges that defendant Los Angeles County Flood Control District has improperly engaged in self-help to enforce its public health orders, by attempting to terminate a lease it has with plaintiff Grace Community Church with respect to an area used by plaintiff as a parking area. The FAC alleges that defendant James T. Sparks is the Assistant Deputy Director of a Division of the County Flood Control District.

The FAC seeks an order and judgment declaring the executive orders issued facially and as applied to plaintiffs, violate Article I, Sections 1, 2, 4, and 7 of the California Constitution, and Article II, Section 3 of the California Constitution, an order enjoining defendants from enforcing their coronavirus regulations against plaintiff, an order enjoining the County Flood Control District from terminating its lease with Grace Community Church, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.

The file shows that on August 14, 2020, plaintiffs filed a Notice of Related Case, indicating that this case is related to Case No. 20 STCV30695, pending in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, which is an action brought by the County of Los Angeles against Grace Community Church of the Valley, et al., and that the parties have filed in this matter a Stipulation to Consolidate Actions.

This motion concerns a third action, pending in Kern County, which is brought by a different plaintiff, Father Trevor Burfitt, concerning a different church organization and its churches, against some of the same defendants in their official capacities, as well as several other defendants. There does not appear to be any notice of related cases filed with respect to the Kern County action, and this case has not been formally related to that action.

The matter was originally heard on December 4, 2020. The Court issued its tentative ruling via posting on the court’s website. The minute order indicates the matter was continued to this date “to hear argument on merit.”

ANALYSIS:

The motion is made by the State of California defendants, as well as the mayor and police chief of the City of Los Angeles, to coordinate and consolidate this case with the case brought in Kern County by a plaintiff Father Trevor Burfitt. The notice of motion indicates it is made “pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure sections 403 and 1048…”

Under CCP section 403:

“A judge may, on motion, transfer an action or actions from another court to that judge's court for coordination with an action involving a common question of fact or law within the meaning of Section 404. The motion shall be supported by a declaration stating facts showing that the actions meet the standards specified in Section 404.1, are not complex as defined by the Judicial Council and that the moving party has made a good faith effort to obtain agreement to the transfer from all parties to each action. Notice of the motion shall be served on all parties to each action and on each court in which an action is pending. Any party to that action may file papers opposing the motion within the time permitted by rule of the Judicial Council. The court to which a case is transferred may order the cases consolidated for trial pursuant to Section 1048 without any further motion or hearing.

The Judicial Council may adopt rules to implement this section, including rules prescribing procedures for preventing duplicative or conflicting transfer orders issued by different courts.”

Under CCP section 1048 (a):

“(a) When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.”

This section grants discretion to the trial court to consolidate actions involving common questions of law or fact. The court's decision will not be disturbed on appeal absent a clear showing of abuse of discretion. Todd-Stenberg v Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust (1996) 48 Cal. App. 4th 976, 978; Estate of Baker (1982, 2nd Dist) 131 Cal App 3d 471, 485; Fellner v Steinbaum (1955, 2nd Dist) 132 Cal.App 2d 509, 511.

CCP section 404.1 provides:

“Coordination of civil actions sharing a common question of fact or law is appropriate if one judge hearing all of the actions for all purposes in a selected site or sites will promote the ends of justice taking into account whether the common question of fact or law is predominating and significant to the litigation; the convenience of parties, witnesses, and counsel; the relative development of the actions and the work product of counsel; the efficient utilization of judicial facilities and manpower; the calendar of the courts; the disadvantages of duplicative and inconsistent rulings, orders, or judgments; and, the likelihood of settlement of the actions without further litigation should coordination be denied.”

Although relief is not sought under CCP section 404, section 403 refers to this section, which provides:

“When civil actions sharing a common question of fact or law are pending in different courts, a petition for coordination may be submitted to the Chairperson of the Judicial Council, by the presiding judge of any such court, or by any party to one of the actions after obtaining permission from the presiding judge, or by all of the parties plaintiff or defendant in any such action. A petition for coordination, or a motion for permission to submit a petition, shall be supported by a declaration stating facts showing that the actions are complex, as defined by the Judicial Council and that the actions meet the standards specified in Section 404.1. On receipt of a petition for coordination, the Chairperson of the Judicial Council may assign a judge to determine whether the actions are complex, and if so, whether coordination of the actions is appropriate, or the Chairperson of the Judicial Council may authorize the presiding judge of a court to assign the matter to judicial officers of the court to make the determination in the same manner as assignments are made in other civil cases.”

As an initial matter, the motion is brought under CCP section 403, which, as set forth above, and as noted in the moving papers, requires that the motion be supported by a declaration stating facts showing that the are not complex as defined by the Judicial Council. The motion merely indicates that plaintiffs represented in the civil cover sheets accompanying the complaints in both the Kern Action and the Lead Action that these cases are not complex. [Ferrari Decl., Ex. I].

However, it would appear that the cases may in fact qualify as complex as defined by the Judicial Council. Specifically, the Los Angeles County defendants in their supplemental brief in support of their joinder to the motion expressly agree that the Grace Church and Kern Actions might appropriately be designated as complex. The moving defendants in their supplemental briefing indicate that if the court were to determine the present case is complex, then the Kern Action would also have to be deemed complex, and transfer, coordination and consolidation would still be appropriate, just under different procedures, handled by the Judicial Council.

CRC Rule 3.400 set forth factors for deciding whether a case is complex:

“(a) Definition

A “complex case” is an action that requires exceptional judicial management to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court or the litigants and to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, and promote effective decision making by the court, the parties, and counsel.

(b) Factors

In deciding whether an action is a complex case under (a), the court must consider, among other things, whether the action is likely to involve:

(1) Numerous pretrial motions raising difficult or novel legal issues that will be time-consuming to resolve;

(2) Management of a large number of witnesses or a substantial amount of documentary evidence;

(3) Management of a large number of separately represented parties;

(4) Coordination with related actions pending in one or more courts in other counties, states, or countries, or in a federal court; or

(5) Substantial postjudgment judicial supervision.

(c) Provisional designation

Except as provided in (d), an action is provisionally a complex case if it involves one or more of the following types of claims:

(1) Antitrust or trade regulation claims;

(2) Construction defect claims involving many parties or structures;

(3) Securities claims or investment losses involving many parties;

(4) Environmental or toxic tort claims involving many parties;

(5) Claims involving mass torts;

(6) Claims involving class actions; or

(7) Insurance coverage claims arising out of any of the claims listed in (c)(1) through (c)(6).

(d) Court's discretion

Notwithstanding (c), an action is not provisionally complex if the court has significant experience in resolving like claims involving similar facts and the management of those claims has become routine. A court may declare by local rule that certain types of cases are or are not provisionally complex under this subdivision.”

This case appears to involve several of the enumerated factors, as the basis for this motion is essentially that there are or will be numerous pretrial motions in each case raising difficult or novel legal issues that will be time-consuming to resolve, and that there should be coordination with related actions pending in one or more courts in other counties. It also appears there are numerous parties, represented by different sets of counsel. In addition, this action seeks to adjudicate the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to the management of the pandemic and worship practices going forward, so raises a strong potential for requiring substantial post-judgment judicial supervision. Under the circumstances, the court would be inclined to consider this case complex. This would defeat relief under CCP section 403, and require that relief be instead sought under CCP section 404 by appropriate petition for coordination submitted to the Chairperson of the Judicial Council.

With respect to the remaining factors to be considered under CCP section 404.1, the statute provides that in making the determination whether coordination would promote the ends of justice, the court should take into account whether the common question of fact or law is predominating and significant to the litigation. The moving papers argue that the Kern Action and Lead Action share common questions of law and fact that are significant to the litigation and the public interest, as plaintiffs in both cases challenge the constitutionality of state and local public health orders issued to combat the coronavirus pandemic by, among other things, regulating indoor gatherings such as worship services. Defendants argue that these claims are based on general, legislative facts, not specific facts, and question the assessment of the dangers and the efficacy of restrictions, which challenges will be made based on presentations by the same experts offered by plaintiffs, as they have offered the same experts to testify in the enforcement action and in response to the Kern Action motion for preliminary injunction. [Ferrari Decl., Exs. B, G].

The actions do have differences. In the Lead Case, plaintiffs sue two defendants not present in the Kern Action, the County Flood Control District and its assistant deputy director, based on alleged breach of a lease agreement with Grace Community Church. In the Kern Action, plaintiff Father Burfitt challenges mask-wearing and physical distancing requirements, a challenge not raised in this action. More fundamentally, each case challenges not only the overall constitutionality of the various orders, but their constitutionality as applied to two separate church organizations, with distinct faiths, practices, buildings and compliance challenges. Plaintiffs in opposition argue that the distinct locations of the plaintiffs in each case raises a need for distinct epidemiological proof.

In the Kern Action, Father Burfitt sues ten defendants not involved in this case. In addition, the Lead Case involves significant issues related to the enforcement actions taken by various defendants directly against Grace Community Church, when there has evidently been only one citation issued to one of the five Kern County churches, and those enforcement issues would be distinct as to each set of plaintiffs. [See Burfitt Decl.,

para. 15]. The opposition filed by plaintiff in the Kern Action also indicates that the Kern Action will involve an argument that in terms of religious practice, physical presence is required to practice the Catholic religion, not merely desirable, as such physical presence might be for non-Catholic Christians. [Burfitt Decl., para. 18]. The Kern Action also evidently includes claims in addition to those asserted in this case based on religious hostility, freedom of assembly, and the right to autonomy, privacy and bodily integrity. [Trissell Decl., para. 42]. Overall, while there is a common issue of law with respect to the general constitutionality of certain orders, there are significant other issues of fact and law which would not be the same for each matter, and would require each set of plaintiffs to deal with many issues extraneous to their own case.

The court also considers the convenience of parties, witnesses, and counsel. The moving papers argue that the defendants sued in this action are either based in Los Angeles, or represented by counsel in Los Angeles, and nine of them have been sued in the Kern Action. An additional defendant, the Arcadia police chief, is located in Los Angeles County, as is Father Burfitt, who serves as the pastor for the church in Arcadia. This leaves numerous defendants which are located elsewhere, although there is a brief argument that the defendants in San Diego and San Bernardino Counties would actually be closer to the Glendale Courthouse than to the Kern County venue. It is not clearly explained how the convenience of witnesses would be served, other than named parties.

Father Burfitt submits a declaration detailing the factual challenges intended to be asserted in the Kern Action with respect to the ability of each of his five church locations to safely worship, and identifies no less than three witnesses from each church, located in Kern County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, and Los Angeles County, who will be called. [Burfitt Decl., paras. 8-17]. The witnesses in the counties outside of Los Angeles County do not appear subject to any greater convenience in having the matter tried in this county. The explanation of the litigation plan going forward, and the projection of what evidence plaintiffs in this action will need to present suggests that there will be a great deal of evidence pertinent to one case which will have no bearing on the other, so that the parties would actually be inconvenienced by having to be involved in each other’s discovery, pretrial motion practice, and major portions of trial. The Kern County defendants have also filed opposition to the motion, indicating that these two defendants in the Kern Action are not located in Los Angeles County, and their counsel’s offices are across the street from the courthouse in Kern County.

With respect to the relative development of the actions and the work product of counsel, as well as the efficient utilization of judicial facilities and manpower and the calendar of the courts, it would appear that this case, when considered in connection with the Enforcement Action, has been the subject of motion practice, an appeal, and significant pre-trial factual investigation and development of evidence, including expert evidence. Contempt proceedings are evidently pending. The Los Angeles Superior Court has already devoted significant court and judicial resources to consideration of the matters raised in the Enforcement Action. The Kern Action was relatively recently filed and served, and has pending a motion for preliminary injunction, which has not yet been heard, and evidently very little discovery has been conducted. The opposition filed by Father Burfitt argues that being put in a position where his case is consolidated with cases which have developed so much further would prejudice his efforts, when his case should be pursued separately. The moving papers do not detail any efficiencies that would be achieved by consolidation and coordination, or explain how the calendars of each court are such that it should impact the determination.

The court also considers the disadvantages of duplicative and inconsistent rulings, orders, or judgments, which is the major factor argued here. As discussed above, the overall constitutionality of certain orders as a pure matter of law may pose a danger of resulting in different courts reaching inconsistent rulings, orders or judgments. However, it would appear that the disadvantage of these separate actions generating such inconsistency could be minimal, as a pure question of law could be easily appealed and determined in a distinct analysis. The actions appear to involve significant issues of application of the orders to the specific circumstances of each church and its facilities, distinct issues involving the application of facts, which would be distinct as to each action, and rulings which might otherwise appear inconsistent would not be disadvantageous, as based on the unique facts and evidence in each case.

Finally, the statute also provides that it be taken into account the likelihood of settlement of the actions without further litigation should coordination be denied. This is not addressed by the parties, and it does not appear that these litigants will be more inclined to settle the actions if coordination is denied.

Overall, the factors appear to favor denying consolidation and coordination, and permitting the actions to proceed independently.

RULING:

State Defendants, Eric Garcetti, and Michel Moore’s Joint Motion to Transfer, Coordinate, and Consolidate Cases is DENIED.

GIVEN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, AND TO PROMOTE APPROPRIATE SOCIAL DISTANCING, UNTIL FURTHER ORDERED, DEPARTMENT D IS ENCOURAGING AUDIO OR VIDEO APPEARANCES

Please make arrangements in advance if you wish to appear via LACourtConnect by visiting www.lacourt.org, and scheduling a remote appearance. Please note that LACourtConnect offers an audio-only appearance option at a current cost of $15.00 and a video appearance option at a cost of $23.00. Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are encouraged not to personally appear, unless they have obtained advance permission of the Court. Anyone who appears in person for the hearing will be required to comply with strict social distancing measures, including, but not limited to, assigned seating, capacity limitations in the courtroom, designated waiting areas, and strictly enforced spacing in line to communicate with court staff. If no appearance is set up through LACourtConnect, or otherwise, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative.



Case Number: *******0497    Hearing Date: December 04, 2020    Dept: D

TENTATIVE RULING

Calendar: 28

Date: 12/4/20

Case No: 20 BBCV00497 Trial Date: None Set

Case Name: Grace Community Church of the Valley, et al. v. Newson, et al.

Moving Party: Defendants Gavin Newsom, Xavier Becerra, Sandra Shewry, Erica Pan,

Eric Garcetti, and Michel Moore, in their official capacities.

“Joinder” filed by defendants Barbara Ferrer, Alejandro Villanueva, Muntu Davis

Responding Party: Plaintiffs Grace Community Church of the Valley and Pastor John MacArthur

MOTION TO TRANSFER, COORDINATE AND CONSOLIDATE CASES

REQUEST TO CONSOLIDATE the following cases:

Case No.

Plaintiff(s)

Defendant(s)

20 BBCV00497

Grace Community Church of the Valley

Pastor John MacArthur

Gavin Newsom

Xavier Becerra

Sandra Shewry

Erica Pan

Barbara Ferrer

Alejandro Villanueva

Muntu Davis

Eric Garcetti

Michel Moore

Los Angeles County Flood Control District

James T. Sparks

20 STCV30695

Father Trevor Burfitt

Gavin Newsom

Xavier Becerra

Sandra Shewry

Erica Pan

Matthew Constantine

Donny Youngblood

Greg Terry

Corwin Porter

John MacMahon

Mike Hadden

William Wooten, M.D.

William D. Gore

David Nisleit

Barbara Ferrer

Alejandro Villanueva

Muntu Davis

Eric Garcetti

Michel Moore

Robert T. Guthrie

Procedural Requirements of Motion [CRC Rule 3.350]:

Mandatory in notice

All named parties in each case: No

Names of parties who have appeared: No

Names of each party's respective attorneys of record: No

Caption of each case listed: No

Notice copied and filed in all cases to be consolidated: Yes

Substantive Allegation Checklist:

CCP ; 403 provides the motion shall be supported by a declaration stating:

Case meets standards specified in CCP ; 404.1 Mentions some standards

The case is not complex. Yes

Moving party has made good faith effort

to obtain agreement to the transfer from all parties to each action. Yes

Notice served on all parties to each action

and on each court. Cannot confirm

LASC Rules Requirements

Notice of related cases filed: No

Order relating cases: No

CCP ; 404.1 provides that coordination of civil actions sharing a common question of fact of law is appropriate if it will promote the ends of justice, considering the following:

· the common question of fact or law is predominating and significant to litigation

· convenience of parties, witnesses and counsel

· relative development of the actions and work product of counsel

· efficient utilization of judicial facilities and manpower

· the calendar of the courts

· the disadvantages of duplicative and inconsistent rulings

· likelihood of settlement of the actions without further litigation should coordination be denied.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND:

Plaintiffs Grace Community Church of the Valley and Pastor John MacArthur, in his official capacity as representative of the Grace Community Church Board of Elders, allege that the Grace Community Church

operates a long-standing church and congregation in Sun Valley California, presided over by Pastor-Teacher MacArthur, and governed by the 42-member Board of Elders.

Plaintiffs bring this action against defendants Gavin Newsom, in his official capacity as Governor of California, Xavier Becerra, in his official capacity as Attorney General of California, Sandra Shewry, in her official capacity as Acting California Department of Public Health Director, Barbara Ferrer, in her official capacity as Public Health Director of the County of Los Angeles, Alejandro Villanueva, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles, Muntu Davis, in his official capacity as Public Health Officer of the County of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, Michel Moore, in his official capacity as the Chief of Police for the City of Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Flood Control District, and James T. Sparks, in his official capacity as Assistant Deputy Director of the Survey/Mapping & Property Management Division of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.

The First Amended Complaint alleges that in response to the coronavirus pandemic, on March 12, 2020, Pastor MacArthur and the elders of Grace Community Church decided to close all in-person services to temporarily protect the congregation from the coronavirus and began to conduct livestream services. Within the next few days, the City of Los Angeles and its officials, the County of Los Angeles and its officials, and the State of California and its officials issued stay-home orders banning gatherings, and Grace Community Church voluntarily complied with these orders and closed its campus officially between March 15 and July 19, 2020.

Plaintiffs allege that after being closed for in person services for 19 weeks, Pastor MacArthur and the elders of Grace Community Church held a meeting on July 23, 2020 and voted unanimously to reopen the Grace Community Church campus and conduct worship services in their regular auditorium, in part because they have no adequate place to hold services outside. The complaint alleges that in light of the requirements of its faith, it has continued to permit its members to worship, so far for eight consecutive Sundays, with no health ramifications at all. Plaintiffs allege that nevertheless, the County of Los Angeles has initiated legal action against the Church, seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which issues are currently pending before Los Angeles Superior Court in another proceeding. The FAC alleges that the orders banning gatherings are not based on a real health threat to warrant such a restraint, and that the orders against it constitute an illegitimate misuse of power. It is also alleged that the orders are being enforced against gatherings involving religious worship, but not consistently enforced against other public gatherings, such as those involving public protests.

The FAC also alleges that defendant Los Angeles County Flood Control District has improperly engaged in self-help to enforce its public health orders, by attempting to terminate a lease it has with plaintiff Grace Community Church with respect to an area used by plaintiff as a parking area. The FAC alleges that defendant James T. Sparks is the Assistant Deputy Director of a Division of the County Flood Control District.

The FAC seeks an order and judgment declaring the executive orders issued facially and as applied to plaintiffs, violate Article I, Sections 1, 2, 4, and 7 of the California Constitution, and Article II, Section 3 of the California Constitution, an order enjoining defendants from enforcing their coronavirus regulations against plaintiff, an order enjoining the County Flood Control District from terminating its lease with Grace Community Church, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.

The file shows that on August 14, 2020, plaintiffs filed a Notice of Related Case, indicating that this case is related to Case No. 20 STCV30695, pending in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, which is an action brought by the County of Los Angeles against Grace Community Church of the Valley, et al., and that the parties have filed in this matter a Stipulation to Consolidate Actions.

Those actions have not been formally related or consolidated.

This motion concerns a third action, pending in Kern County, which is brought by a different plaintiff, Father Trevor Burfitt, concerning a different church organization and its churches, against some of the same defendants in their official capacities, as well as several other defendants. There does not appear to be any notice of related cases filed with respect to the Kern County action, and this case has not been formally related to that action.

ANALYSIS:

Procedural

Statutory Requirements

The motion is made by the State of California defendants, as well as the mayor and police chief of the City of Los Angeles, to coordinate and consolidate this case with the case brought in Kern County by a plaintiff Father Trevor Burfitt. The notice of motion indicates it is made “pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure sections 403 and 1048…” As noted above, the motion fails to conform with a number of procedural requirements for bringing this type of motion.

CCP section 403 provides that a judge may on motion transfer an action from another court to that judge’s court for coordination with an action involving a common question of fact or law, and provides, in pertinent part:

“The motion shall be supported by a declaration stating facts showing that the actions meet the standards specified in Section 404.1, are not complex as defined by the Judicial Council and that the moving party has made a good faith effort to obtain agreement to the transfer from all parties to each action. Notice of the motion shall be served on all parties to each action and on each court in which an action is pending.”

(Emphasis added)

CRC Rule 3.350(a) specifies further requirements for a motion to consolidate, providing, in pertinent part:

“(1) A notice of motion to consolidate must:

(A) List all named parties in each case, the names of those who have appeared, and the names of their respective attorneys of record

(B) Contain the captions of all the cases sought to be consolidated, with the lowest numbered case shown first; and

(C) Be filed in each case sought to be consolidated.”

In this case, the notice of motion does not expressly name each party in each case, and does not name attorneys of record. The caption of the other case is not set forth. This lack of this information makes it impossible for this court to tell if the notice of this motion has been served on all parties to each action, as required under CCP section 403, so that each party entitled to service has in fact been provided notice of this motion and the hearing, and permitted the opportunity to be heard on the matter. The motion accordingly is denied for failure to comply with the mandatory statutory requirements.

Not in Same District, Department

As noted above, relief is sought under CCP section 403, which provides, in pertinent part, “A judge may, on motion, transfer an action or action from another court to that judge’s court for coordination with an action involving common questions of fact or law within the meaning of Section 404.”

Relief is also sought under CCP section 1048 (a), which provides:

“(a) When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.”

The actions here are not both pending before this court, but are pending in entirely different counties, and it is not set forth how this court has authority to order coordination, transfer or consolidation under the circumstances. In fact, if the Kern County case were pending in a different district of the Los Angeles Superior Court, the determination of any consolidation or transfer would be appropriately made only by the Supervising Judge of the Civil Division, and this court would have authority only after a transfer of the other case to this department had been ordered or otherwise made.

Under LASC Rule 2.3(b)(2):

“The Supervising Judge of the Civil Division may, for the convenience of the witnesses or to promote

the ends of justice, transfer a civil case from one district to another. Except for proceedings concerning transfer of a Personal Injury Action,…motions to transfer a civil action from one district to another, including motions based upon the failure to file the case in accordance with the requirements set forth in this Chapter must be made in Department 1 in the Central District.

Under LASC Rule 3.3(g)(1):

“Cases may not be consolidated unless they are in the same department. A motion to consolidate two or more cases may be noticed and heard after the cases, initially filed in different departments, have been related into a single department, or if the cases were already assigned to that department.”

The cases here have not been related into the same department, are not even in different districts of this court, but are pending in entirely different counties and courts. The court accordingly declines to make a determination concerning the consolidation, transfer or coordination of the actions under the authorities cited.

Change of Venue

The opposition papers appear to treat this motion as a motion for change in venue. To the extent this is the intent of the moving parties, the notice of motion does not cite any of the venue statutes, or seek relief on this ground, which would evidently be improper, because such a motion should be directed to the Kern County court in which the Burfitt v. Newsom case is pending.

Under CCP ; 395:

“Except as otherwise provided by law and subject to the power of the court to transfer actions or proceedings as provided in this title, the county in which the defendants or some of them reside at the commencement of the action is the proper county for the trial of the action.”

CCP ; 396b provides, in pertinent part:

“…if an action or proceeding is commenced in a court having jurisdiction of the subject matter thereof, other than the court designated as the proper court for the trial thereof, under this title, the action may, notwithstanding, be tried in the court where commenced, unless the defendant…within the time otherwise allowed to respond to the complaint, files with the clerk, a notice of motion for an order transferring the action or proceeding to the proper court…”

Such a motion clearly must be directed to the court where the Kern County action was commenced, not this court, and any request for such relief accordingly is not considered by this court.

RULING:

State Defendants, Eric Garcetti, and Michel Moore’s Joint Motion to Transfer, Coordinate, and Consolidate Cases is DENIED.

The moving parties have failed to comply with the procedural requirements for filing a motion to consolidate, as the declaration submitted does not indicate establish that the motion has been served on all parties to each action. See CCP ; 403. The notice of motion also fails to list each named party in each case, the names of those who have appeared, and the names of their respective attorneys of record, and also fails to set forth the caption of the case sought to be transferred and consolidated, Kern County Superior Court case No. BCV-2—102267, as required under CRC Rule 3.350 (a). This makes it impossible for the court to determine that the motion has been served on all parties entitled to notice.

In addition, it would appear that the subject cases, pending in different counties, districts, and departments, may not be appropriately deemed consolidated by this court under the authorities cited, or transferred from another county to this county, district, and department.

To the extent the motion seeks to transfer venue, such relief is not sought in the notice of motion, giving rise to issues of due process, and such relief must be sought in the Kern County case, not in this action, where there is no challenge to the appropriateness of venue of the case pending before this Court.

GIVEN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, AND TO PROMOTE APPROPRIATE SOCIAL DISTANCING, UNTIL FURTHER ORDERED, DEPARTMENT D IS ENCOURAGING AUDIO OR VIDEO APPEARANCES

Please make arrangements in advance if you wish to appear via LACourtConnect by visiting www.lacourt.org, and scheduling a remote appearance. Please note that LACourtConnect offers an audio-only appearance option at a current cost of $15.00 and a video appearance option at a cost of $23.00. Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are encouraged not to personally appear, unless they have obtained advance permission of the Court. Anyone who appears in person for the hearing will be required to comply with strict social distancing measures, including, but not limited to, assigned seating, capacity limitations in the courtroom, designated waiting areas, and strictly enforced spacing in line to communicate with court staff. If no appearance is set up through LACourtConnect, or otherwise, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative.



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