Pending - Other Pending
Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury
MICHELLE WILLIAMS COURT
DANIEL S. MURPHY
HALEY CHAPMAN AS SUCCESSOR-IN-INTEREST TO DECEDENT NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY
BIRCH M.D. JONATHAN
DAVIS M.D. JEREMY C.
GAMBOA NOAH RUBEN
HUNTINGTON HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT LLC
HUNTINGTON HOTEL GROUP DBA COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT
KERSHAW M.D. JEFFREY ROBERT
LEVINS M.D. PAUL C.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY
LOS ANGELES COUNTY CORONER'S OFFICE
LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
MAINWARING M.D. WALKER
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL INC.
MILLER M.D. MATTHEW J.
OBAGI M.D ZIEN
ONG M.D. TIARA
PATEL D.O. FAAD MAYHA
RAASTAD M.D KATE
DUMMIT CRAIG S.
FRIEDENTHAL DANIEL RAY
6/27/2023: Notice of Posting of Jury Fees
6/15/2023: Request for Dismissal
6/15/2023: Request for Dismissal - REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE, COMPLAINT, AS TO PAUL C. LEVINS, M.D.,; TIARA ONG, M.D.,; ANDREW J. VARDANIAN, M.D., ONLY
6/15/2023: Request for Dismissal - REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE, COMPLAINT, AS TO JEFFREY ROBERT KERSHAW., M.D.; JONATHAN BIRCH, M.D.; WALKER MAINWARING, M.D., ONLY
6/8/2023: Notice of Posting of Jury Fees
6/7/2023: Case Management Order
6/7/2023: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITHOUT MOTION TO STRIKE; CASE MANAGEME...)
6/7/2023: Order - ORDER RE DEFENDANT COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES AND BRETT SCOTT'S DEMURRER
6/7/2023: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore
5/31/2023: Case Management Statement
5/31/2023: Case Management Statement
5/31/2023: Case Management Statement
5/26/2023: Case Management Statement
5/24/2023: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER)
5/24/2023: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 05/24/2023
5/23/2023: Notice - NOTICE OF REASSIGNMENT TO INDEPENDENT CALENDAR COURT
5/22/2023: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE REASSIGNMENT TO AN INDEPENDENT CALENDAR COURT)
Hearing06/04/2024 at 08:30 AM in Department 32 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Hearing05/23/2024 at 08:30 AM in Department 32 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketAnswer; Filed by: VENTURA COUNTY (Defendant); BRETT SCOTT (Defendant); As to: HALEY CHAPMAN (Plaintiff); HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketNotice of Posting of Jury Fees; Filed by: VENTURA COUNTY (Defendant); BRETT SCOTT (Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketOn the Complaint filed by HALEY CHAPMAN, et al. on 02/16/2023, entered Request for Dismissal without prejudice filed by HALEY CHAPMAN and HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY as to PAUL C. LEVINS, M.D., TIARA ONG, M.D., and ANDREW J. VARDANIAN, M.D.[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketRequest for Dismissal; Filed by: HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketUpdated -- Request for Dismissal Without prejudice, Complaint, As to Paul C. Levins, M.D.,; Tiara Ong, M.D.,; Andrew J. Vardanian, M.D., Only: Name Extension: Without prejudice, Complaint, As to Paul C. Levins, M.D.,; Tiara Ong, M.D.,; Andrew J. Vardanian, M.D., Only ; As To Parties: PAUL C. LEVINS, M.D. (Defendant), TIARA ONG, M.D. (Defendant), ANDREW J. VARDANIAN, M.D. (Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketOn the Complaint filed by HALEY CHAPMAN, et al. on 02/16/2023, entered Request for Dismissal without prejudice filed by HALEY CHAPMAN and HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY as to JEREMY C. DAVIS, M.D., SHAFI SHAHRAM, M.D., and MAYHA PATEL, D.O., FAAD[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketRequest for Dismissal; Filed by: HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketUpdated -- Request for Dismissal Without prejudice, Complaint, As to Jeremy C. Davis, M.D.,; Shafi Shahram, M.D.,; Mayha Patel, M.D., D.O, FAAD Only.: Name Extension: Without prejudice, Complaint, As to Jeremy C. Davis, M.D.,; Shafi Shahram, M.D.,; Mayha Patel, M.D., D.O, FAAD Only. ; As To Parties: MAYHA PATEL, D.O., FAAD (Defendant), SHAFI SHAHRAM, M.D. (Defendant), JEREMY C. DAVIS, M.D. (Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCase assigned to Hon. Kerry Bensinger in Department 27 Spring Street Courthouse[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketFinal Status Conference scheduled for 08/01/2024 at 10:00 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 27[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by: HALEY CHAPMAN (Plaintiff); HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY (Plaintiff); As to: MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. (Defendant); HUNTINGTON HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT, LLC (Defendant); HUNTINGTON HOTEL GROUP (Defendant) et al.[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: HALEY CHAPMAN (Plaintiff); HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY (Plaintiff); As to: MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. (Defendant); HUNTINGTON HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT, LLC (Defendant); HUNTINGTON HOTEL GROUP (Defendant) et al.[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketDeclaration DECLARATION OF HALEY CHAPMAN, ON BEHALF OF DECEDENT NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY, PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 377.32; Filed by: HALEY CHAPMAN (Plaintiff); HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY (Plaintiff); As to: MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. (Defendant); HUNTINGTON HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT, LLC (Defendant); HUNTINGTON HOTEL GROUP (Defendant) et al.[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: HALEY CHAPMAN (Plaintiff); HALEY CHAPMAN as successor-in-interest to Decedent NOELLE K. GLOTFELTY (Plaintiff); As to: MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. (Defendant); HUNTINGTON HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT, LLC (Defendant); HUNTINGTON HOTEL GROUP (Defendant) et al.[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketAlternate Dispute Resolution Packet; Filed by: Clerk[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketVoluntary Efficient Litigation Stipulation Packet; Filed by: Clerk[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketEighth Amended Standing Order for Procedures in the Personal Injury Hub Courts; Filed by: Clerk[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Personal Injury Case; Filed by: Clerk[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Case Number: *******3486 Hearing Date: June 7, 2023 Dept: 32
MARRIOT INTERNATIONAL, INC., et al.,
Case No.: *******3486
Hearing Date: June 7, 2023
[TENTATIVE] order RE:
defendant county of los angeles and brett scott’s demurrer
On February 16, 2023, Plaintiff Haley Chapman, individually and as successor-in-interest to Noelle Glotfelty (Decedent), filed this action against various Defendants for (1) wrongful death, (2) survival cause of action, and (3) negligence.
The complaint stems from the death of Decedent, who committed suicide inside a Marriott hotel room. Plaintiff is Decedent’s daughter. (Compl. 1.) On February 24, 2022, Decedent checked into the hotel amidst a mental health crisis. (Id., 22.) Upon becoming concerned that Decedent did not appear for a scheduled visit, Decedent’s relatives contacted the Moorpark Police Department, which was staffed and operated by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. (Id., 23.) Two deputies, Defendant Scott and Defendant Sperber, arrived at the relatives’ home and were advised of Decedent’s mental issues and threats of suicide. (Id., 24.) The deputies eventually identified the Marriott hotel in Agoura Hills as the location where Decedent was staying. (Id., 25.)
When the deputies arrived at the hotel, Defendant Gamboa, the only manager working at the time, refused to disclose the room number of Decedent based on hotel policy. (Compl. 27.) The deputies advised Gamboa to call the operations manager and assistant general manager, neither of whom answered. (Id., 28.) The deputies were given permission to walk throughout the hotel premises to try to verbally locate Decedent. (Id., 29.) After 30 to 40 minutes of searching in vain, the deputies were ordered to cease their search and instead respond to another missing persons report. (Ibid.) The deputies left at around 12:45am on the morning of February 25, 2022, and from that time until 6:00am on February 25, no hotel employee performed a welfare check on Decedent. (Id., 30.)
At approximately 6:00am on February 25, Gamboa was instructed by Marriott headquarters to perform a welfare check on Decedent. (Compl. 31.) Gamboa knocked on the door, but there was no response. (Ibid.) Gamboa took no further action until the arrival of deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. (Ibid.) The Los Angeles deputies discovered Decedent in her hotel room, after which she was pronounced dead. (Id., 32.)
On April 26, 2023, Defendants County of Ventura and Brett Scott filed the instant demurrer to the first and second causes of action in the complaint for wrongful death and survival. Plaintiff filed her opposition on May 16, 2023. Defendants replied on May 22, 2023.
A demurrer for sufficiency tests whether the complaint states a cause of action. (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747.) When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context. (Taylor v. City of Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 1216, 1228.) In a demurrer proceeding, the defects must be apparent on the face of the pleading or by proper judicial notice. (Code Civ. Proc., 430.30, subd. (a).) A demurrer tests the pleadings alone and not the evidence or other extrinsic matters. (SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 902, 905.) Therefore, it lies only where the defects appear on the face of the pleading or are judicially noticed. (Ibid.) The only issue involved in a demurrer hearing is whether the complaint, as it stands, unconnected with extraneous matters, states a cause of action. (Hahn, supra, 147 Cal.App.4th at 747.) A complaint will survive demurrer if it sufficiently apprises the defendant of the issues, and specificity is not required where discovery will clarify the ambiguities. (See Ludgate Ins. Co. v. Lockheed Martin Corp. (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 592, 608.) All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the complaint. (Kruss v. Booth (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 699, 713.)
MEET AND CONFER
Before filing a demurrer or a motion to strike, the demurring or moving party is required to meet and confer with the party who filed the pleading demurred to or the pleading that is subject to the motion to strike for the purposes of determining whether an agreement can be reached through a filing of an amended pleading that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer. (Code Civ. Proc., 430.41, 435.5.) The Court notes that Defendants have complied with the meet and confer requirement. (See Zambito Decl. 3-4.)
Plaintiff bases the first and second causes of action on a theory of negligence. “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.” (Civ. Code, 1714(a).) The elements of negligence are: (1) a duty to exercise ordinary care; (2) breach of that duty; (3) causation; and (4) damages. (Ladd v. County of San Mateo (1996) 12 Cal.4th 913, 917.)
I. Duty of Care
a. General Principles
Generally, “one owes no duty to control the conduct of another, nor to warn those endangered by such conduct.” (Regents of University of California v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 607, 619.) “A person who has not created a peril is not liable in tort merely for failure to take affirmative action to assist or protect another unless there is some relationship between them which gives rise to a duty to act.” (Ibid.) A special relationship may arise when one undertakes to render services to another: “One who undertakes, gratuitously or for consideration, to render services to another which he should recognize as necessary for the protection of a third person or his things, is subject to liability to the third person for physical harm resulting from his failure to exercise reasonable care to [perform] his undertaking.” (Paz v. State of California (2000) 22 Cal.4th 550, 558.) As applied to law enforcement, a special relationship arises “when the state, through its agents, voluntarily assumes a protective duty toward a certain member of the public and undertakes action on behalf of that member, thereby inducing reliance . . . .” (Williams v. State of California (1983) 34 Cal.3d 18, 24.)
b. Liability for Inadequate Search Efforts
In Arista v. County of Riverside (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 1051, 1062, the family of a bicyclist successfully pled that deputies were negligent in their search for the victim. The victim was injured while riding in Cleveland National Forest, and law enforcement pinged the victim’s approximate location using cellphone data. (Id. at p. 1055.) The lieutenant in charge, who was not trained in search and rescue, assumed the victim was not missing but rather having an affair and therefore declined to initiate a search until morning, which would leave the victim in cold temperatures overnight. (Ibid.) The lieutenant also assumed that an adult could survive the cold overnight and did not dispatch off-road vehicles owned by the sheriff’s department which could operate at night. (Ibid.) The sheriff’s department told the wife not to interfere and promised that law enforcement would handle the search. (Id. at pp. 1055-56.) The victim had died of hypothermia by the time he was found in the morning. (Id. at p. 1056.) The court held that the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged a wrongful death claim, reasoning as follows:
“Assuming the foregoing facts are true, Sheriff's Department personnel (the deputies), through their actions, undertook the responsibility of rescuing the victim because the deputies were actively involved in all aspects of locating the victim, and by appointing an Incident Commander, the deputies signaled that they were taking control of the rescue. Therefore, the deputies had the duty to exercise due care in performing the rescue, which means (a) using reasonable care not to increase the risk of harm, and (b) following through in a reasonable manner after inducing reliance on the rescue.”
(Id. at p. 1061.)
Here, Plaintiff alleges that the Ventura County deputies conducted an inadequate welfare check, failed to call for backup, failed to order hotel personnel to conduct a welfare check, and failed to timely transfer the search to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which had jurisdiction over the Agoura Hills location. (Compl. 42.) Plaintiff alleges that the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department owed a duty of care towards Decedent by assuming a special relationship. (Id., 45.) Plaintiff alleges that Decedent’s relatives relied on the Sheriff’s Department to assist Decedent and therefore did not continue their own search. (Id., 46.) The facts are similar to those in Arista. In both cases, law enforcement undertook to search for a missing person who they were informed was in danger, knew the approximate location of the person, induced reliance on their search efforts, and then allegedly conducted the search inadequately. Like in Arista, the officers here also did not resume their search until the following morning, while inducing the family to believe that the officers would handle the search in the meantime.
c. Liability for Suicides
Defendants argue that Arista is distinguishable because it did not involve a suicide. Defendants contend that courts have generally refused to impose a duty to prevent suicide. However, the cited cases do not negate the principle expressed in Arista that where law enforcement undertakes a search and induces reliance on their efforts, they may be held liable for inadequately performing the search.
1. Adams v. City of Fremont
In Adams v. City of Fremont (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 243, 248, the court held that “police officers responding to a crisis involving a person threatening suicide with a loaded firearm have no legal duty under tort law that would expose them to liability if their conduct fails to prevent the threatened suicide from being carried out.” In Adams, police officers responded to a domestic disturbance involving gunfire. (Id. at pp. 250-51.) Officers confronted the victim, but negotiations broke down, and the victim became increasingly agitated, eventually shooting and killing himself. (Id. at pp. 254-55.) The court declined to apply “the special relationship exception to police officers at the scene of a suicidal standoff.” (Id. at p. 279.) The court wished to avoid a precedent that would “discourage police officers from rendering assistance in these inherently unpredictable situations . . . .” (Id. at p. 273.)
Adams is distinguishable because it involved an imminent situation with an individual brandishing a firearm. By contrast, this case does not involve a “suicidal standoff” or a rapidly deteriorating and unpredictable situation. Instead, officers freely walked throughout the hotel for at least 30 to 40 minutes in search of one individual, with no perceptible threat to public safety. Because officers were aware that Decedent was suffering a mental breakdown and had threatened suicide, it was predictable that if officers failed to find Decedent and abandoned the search, Decedent would end up harming herself.
Adams does not preclude liability under the facts of this case. Although this case happens to also involve a suicide, that does not automatically render it analogous to Adams. In fact, the court in Adams acknowledged that liability is possible where the police “induced reliance on a promise, express or implied, that they would provide protection.” (Adams, supra, 68 Cal.App.4th at p. 280, citing Williams, supra, 34 Cal.3d at p. 25.) In Adams, “the responding officers made no express or implied promises that they would prevent Patrick's suicide or that they would approach Patrick in a nonconfrontational manner. Nor have respondents alleged that detrimental reliance occurred.” (Id. at p. 281.) By contrast, the complaint here alleges detrimental reliance on Defendants’ conduct, which implied that they would locate and assist Decedent. (Compl. 46.) This is more analogous to Arista, where the sheriffs took control of the rescue, thereby taking on a duty to follow through with the rescue with reasonable care. (Arista, supra, 29 Cal.App.5th at p. 1061.)
2. Golick v. State of California
In Golick v. State of California (2022) 82 Cal.App.5th 1127, 1133, a mentally troubled veteran killed three hostages and then himself after a shootout with police. The police were found not liable as a matter of law for the deaths of the hostages. Relying on Adams, the court in Golick held that officers did not develop a special relationship with the hostages by merely responding to the scene. (Id. at p. 1149.) The court reaffirmed that “[c]ases finding a special relationship based on the performance of police duties are rare and involve situations in which the victim detrimentally relied on some conduct or representation by the officer.” (Ibid.) Those facts did not exist in Golick, and the court found no authority supporting the plaintiffs’ theory that “because [the officer] attempted to apply deadly force against [the veteran], he thereby assumed a tort duty of care to the hostages to prevent [the veteran] from subsequently killing them.” (Id. at pp. 1140-41, 1149.)
By contrast, facts suggesting detrimental reliance do exist in this case (Compl. 46), and Plaintiffs have authority supporting their theory regarding inadequate search efforts (see Arista, supra, 29 Cal.App.5th at pp. 1061-62). Like Adams, Golick does not preclude liability under the facts of this case and expressly acknowledges that detrimental reliance may support liability. In this case, the sheriff’s deputies did not merely respond to the scene. They met with Decedent’s family, obtained specific information about Decedent, undertook to search for Decedent, induced Decedent’s family into relying on their efforts, and then conducted the search without due care. This supports a special relationship under both parties’ caselaw.
3. Elie v. L.A. Unified
Defendants rely on Elie v. L.A. Unified Sch. Dist., 2022 Cal. Super. LEXIS 80157 as a recent case precluding liability for suicide. However, the plaintiffs in Elie alleged that “Defendants owed Plaintiff a duty to prevent Xavier's suicide by implementing certain policies and procedures . . . and that Defendant's failure to implement those policies and procedures caused Xavier to suffer an uncontrollable impulse to take his own life.” (Id. at *6-7.)
While that theory was unsupported by law, Plaintiff’s theory in this case is supported by Arista and other cases on negligent undertaking. Elie did not implicate negligent undertaking or negligent search efforts, and therefore the court did not comment on the validity of imposing liability under such a theory.
Defendant also cites to other nonbinding caselaw holding that there is no right to a certain suicide prevention protocol or a right to proper implementation of such protocols. (See Dem. 4:22-5:2.) However, Plaintiff is not arguing that Decedent was entitled to a certain suicide prevention protocol. Rather, Plaintiff argues that sheriff’s deputies, having undertaken a search for Decedent, failed to conduct the search with due care and therefore allowed a threatened harm to materialize. Arista expressly supports liability under this fact pattern. There is no logical reason why Defendants would be liable had Decedent died from natural causes such as hypothermia but not liable if Decedent committed suicide. Defendants cite no authority holding that suicide is an exception to the negligent undertaking rule.
II. Breach of Duty
Defendants argue that they did not breach the duty of care because the complaint reveals they spoke with Decedent’s relatives, located the hotel, tried to obtain Decedent’s room number, and then searched the hotel for 30 to 40 minutes before being called to another situation. However, while the existence of a duty is a question of law, “the elements of breach of that duty and causation are ordinarily questions of fact for the jury's determination.” (Vasquez v. Residential Investments, Inc. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 269, 278.) “Because application of this principle is inherently situational, the amount of care deemed reasonable in any particular case will vary . . . .” (Flowers v. Torrance Memorial Hospital Medical Center (1994) 8 Cal.4th 992, 997.) It cannot be determined as a matter of law from the pleadings alone that Defendants discharged their duty of care.
Defendants argue that suicide is an intervening cause that breaks the chain of causation. For this proposition, Defendants rely again on the nonbinding case of Elie and another nonbinding case, Jui-Wei Chiang Lin v. Wanchen Han, 2021 Cal. Super. LEXIS 4298, *6. Both cases cited to Tate v. Canonica (1960) 180 Cal.App.2d 898, 914, which acknowledged that a defendant may be liable for a suicide if their conduct creates an uncontrollable impulse to commit suicide. On the other hand, Tate held that causation is cut off if the victim “is able to realize the nature of the act of suicide and has the power to control it if he so desires.” (Id. at p. 915.)
None of these cases addressed causation in the context of negligent undertaking. Plaintiff does not argue that Defendants directly caused Decedent’s suicide by creating an uncontrollable impulse. Rather, Plaintiff argues that Decedent’s suicide was a foreseeable consequence of Defendants’ failure to conduct their search with due care.
“[W]hen a defendant's negligence is based upon his or her having exposed the plaintiff to an unreasonable risk of harm from the actions of others, the occurrence of the type of conduct against which the defendant had a duty to protect the plaintiff cannot properly constitute a superseding cause that completely relieves the defendant of any responsibility for the plaintiff's injuries.” (Lugtu v. California Highway Patrol (2001) 26 Cal.4th 703, 725.) This principle applies here, where Defendants were specifically informed of Decedent’s suicide risk and undertook to search for her, presumably to prevent the suicide. Because the risk of suicide was precisely the hazard which Defendants sought to prevent, the occurrence of the suicide does not serve as an intervening event that absolves Defendants of liability. In other words, the suicide was not a “harm of a kind and degree so far beyond the risk the original tortfeasor should have foreseen that the law deems it unfair to hold him responsible.” (Ibid.)
Defendants attempt to distinguish this principle on the grounds that it refers to harm caused by “others,” whereas Decedent harmed herself. As discussed above, there is no logical reason to distinguish suicide from other types of harm in this context. Whether Decedent died from the acts of another, natural causes, or herself, the concept remains the same—Defendants knew of a particular risk to a particular individual, undertook to protect the individual from that risk, but conducted their undertaking without due care. Neither Elie, Jui-Wei, or Tate stand for the proposition that suicide constitutes an intervening cause in cases of negligent undertaking.
Ultimately, causation is a question of fact for the jury. (See Vasquez, supra, 118 Cal.App.4th at p. 278.) It cannot be determined from the pleadings alone that Defendants’ actions did not cause Decedent’s suicide.
IV. Duplicative Defendant
Plaintiff has no response to Defendants’ argument that the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department is a duplicative defendant because it is a subdivision of the County of Ventura. (See Dem. 9:21-10:13.)
Defendants’ demurrer is SUSTAINED without leave to amend as to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department as a defendant and OVERRULED in all other respects.