This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/15/2021 at 11:42:27 (UTC).

HORACIO COVARRUBIAS VS WALMART CLAIMS MANAGEMENT INC./AR CLAIMS MANAGEMENT INC.

Case Summary

On 12/22/2020 HORACIO COVARRUBIAS filed a Personal Injury - Uninsured Motor Vehicle lawsuit against WALMART CLAIMS MANAGEMENT INC /AR CLAIMS MANAGEMENT INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is STEPHEN MORGAN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******0875

  • Filing Date:

    12/22/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Uninsured Motor Vehicle

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

STEPHEN MORGAN

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

COVARRUBIAS HORACIO

Defendant

WALMART CLAIMS MANAGEMENT INC./AR CLAIMS MANAGEMENT INC.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorney

COLBERT MICHAEL

 

Court Documents

Complaint

12/22/2020: Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet

12/22/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

12/22/2020: Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

12/22/2020: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

Notice of Rejection - Pleadings

2/22/2021: Notice of Rejection - Pleadings

Proof of Personal Service

3/3/2021: Proof of Personal Service

Answer

6/7/2021: Answer

Demand for Jury Trial

6/7/2021: Demand for Jury Trial

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) - WITHOUT DEMURRER)

5/6/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) - WITHOUT DEMURRER)

Opposition - OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES FROM ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

4/29/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES FROM ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

Declaration - DECLARATION OF MICHAEL F. COLBERT ISO DEFENDANT WALMART INC.'S MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES FROM PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

4/9/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF MICHAEL F. COLBERT ISO DEFENDANT WALMART INC.'S MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES FROM PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

4/9/2021: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

4/9/2021: Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

1 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 12/26/2023
  • Hearing12/26/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department A14 at 42011 4th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93534; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal

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  • 02/25/2022
  • Hearing02/25/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department A14 at 42011 4th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93534; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 02/16/2022
  • Hearing02/16/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department A14 at 42011 4th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93534; Final Status Conference

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  • 06/07/2021
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by Walmart Inc. Erroneously Sued As Walmart Claims Management Inc./AR Claims Management Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 06/07/2021
  • DocketDemand for Jury Trial; Filed by Walmart Inc. Erroneously Sued As Walmart Claims Management Inc./AR Claims Management Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 05/06/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department A14, Stephen Morgan, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 05/06/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/29/2021
  • DocketOpposition (to Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from original Complaint); Filed by Horacio Covarrubias (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/09/2021
  • DocketMemorandum of Points & Authorities; Filed by Walmart Inc. Erroneously Sued As Walmart Claims Management Inc./AR Claims Management Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 04/09/2021
  • DocketDeclaration (of Michael F. Colbert ISO Defendant Walmart Inc.'s Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff's Complaint); Filed by Walmart Inc. Erroneously Sued As Walmart Claims Management Inc./AR Claims Management Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 04/09/2021
  • DocketMotion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer; Filed by Walmart Inc. Erroneously Sued As Walmart Claims Management Inc./AR Claims Management Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 03/03/2021
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Horacio Covarrubias (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/22/2021
  • DocketNotice of Rejection - Pleadings (Proof of Service); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/22/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/22/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/22/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Horacio Covarrubias (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/22/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Horacio Covarrubias (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20AVCV00875    Hearing Date: May 6, 2021    Dept: A14

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES – NORTH DISTRICT

HORACIO COVARRUBIAS,

Plaintiff,

v.

WALMART CLAIMS MANAGEMENT INC., and AR CLAIMS MANAGEMENT INC.,

Defendants.

Case Number 20AVCV00875

[TENTATIVE]

STATEMENT OF DECISION

Date of Hearing:

May 06, 2021

Dept. A-14

Judge Stephen T. Morgan

Background

The instant case arises from a slip and fall incident. On December 23, 2018, Plaintiff Horacio Covarrubias allegedly slipped and fell while walking between aisles 18 and 19 of a Walmart Superstore located at 40130 10th Street, West Palmdale, CA.

On December 22, 2020, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants Walmart Claims Management Inc. and AR Claims Management Inc. for negligence.

On April 9, 2021, Defendant Walmart Inc. filed the instant Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff’s Complaint. Plaintiff filed an opposition on April 29, 2021.

Analysis

Standard for Motion to Strike – The proper procedure to attack false allegations in a pleading is a motion to strike. (Code Civ. Proc., § 436(a).) In granting a motion to strike made under Code Civ. Proc., § 435, “[t]he court may, upon a motion made pursuant to Section 435 [notice of motion to strike whole or part of complaint], or at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper: [¶] (a) Strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading.” (Code Civ. Proc., §436(a).) Irrelevant matters include immaterial allegations that are not essential to the claim or those not pertinent to or supported by an otherwise sufficient claim. (Code Civ. Proc., § 431.10.) The court may also “[s]trike out all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of this state, a court rule, or an order of the court.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 436(b).)

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Untimely Opposition – The Court notes that Plaintiff filed an opposition on April 29, 2021. An opposition to a motion to strike must be filed and served at least nine court days before the hearing. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1005(b).) Based on the May 6, 2021 hearing date, Plaintiff had until April 23, 2021 to file and serve an opposition to Defendant’s motion to strike. As Plaintiff did not file an opposition until April 29, 2021, Plaintiff’s opposition is untimely. Therefore, the Court will not consider Plaintiff’s opposition.

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Meet and Confer – Defendant has satisfied the meet and confer requirements pursuant to CCP section 435.5(a). (Colbert Decl., ¶ 5.)

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Punitive Damages – Defendant moves to strike punitive damages from Plaintiff’s Complaint.

Civil Code, § 3294(a) authorizes punitive damages in non-contract cases, as here, “where the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice.” (Civ. Code, § 3294(a).) “Under the statute, malice does not require actual intent to harm. Conscious disregard for the safety of another may be sufficient where the defendant is aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his or her conduct and he or she willfully fails to avoid such consequences. Malice may be proved either expressly through direct evidence or by implication through indirect evidence from which the jury draws inferences.” (Pfeifer v. John Crane, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1270, 1299 (internal quotations omitted).)

“In order to survive a motion to strike an allegation of punitive damages, the ultimate facts showing an entitlement to such relief must be pled by a plaintiff. In passing on the correctness of a ruling on a motion to strike, judges read allegations of a pleading subject to a motion to strike as a whole, all parts in their context, and assume their truth. In ruling on a motion to strike, courts do not read allegations in isolation.” (Clauson v. Superior Ct. (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 1253, 1255.) That is, “[t]he mere allegation an intentional tort was committed is not sufficient to warrant an award of punitive damages. Not only must there be circumstances of oppression, fraud or malice, but facts must be alleged in the pleading to support such a claim.” (Grieves v. Superior Ct. (1984) 157 Cal.App.3d 159, 166.)

As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that the copy of the Complaint served on Defendant appears to differ from the copy of the Complaint filed with the court in terms of the third page of the form complaint. While the copy served on Defendant completes items 10, 11, and 14 of the third page of the form complaint, the copy filed with the Court is completely blank regarding the third page of the form complaint. (Colbert Decl., ¶ 4, Ex. 2; Complaint.) Despite the differences in the form complaints served on Defendant and filed with the Court, the Court notes that Plaintiff has requested punitive damages in the prayer of the document titled “Complaint” attached to the form complaint. (Complaint, Attached Complaint, p. 4: 4.) The Court will thus consider the merits of Defendant’s motion to strike.

A review of Plaintiff’s Complaint demonstrates that there are no allegations of malice, oppression, or fraud on Defendant’s part. Defendant’s alleged negligence in failing to keep the floors clean and free of debris between aisles 18 and 19 is insufficient to show malice, oppression, or fraud. Plaintiff has thus failed to plead entitlement to punitive damages.

Accordingly, the motion to strike punitive damages is granted with leave to amend.

Conclusion

The Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from Plaintiff’s Complaint is GRANTED with leave to amend.

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