Pending - Other Pending
Personal Injury - Other Product Liability
LAURA A. SEIGLE
AMY D. HOGUE
SPORT CHALET LLC
COLEMAN COMPANY INC.
THE COLEMAN COMPANY INC.
WORTHINGTON CYLINDERS KANSAS LLC
DROUET BRETT CHRISTOPHER ESQ.
ERGO RICHARD ALLEN
BROWER FRANCES PANG-MA
11/12/2019: Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUED OSC RE PROOF OF SERVICE AND TRIAL SETTING CONFERENCE
11/8/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (CONFERENCE RE: STATUS OF SERVICE AS TO DOE DEFENDANT 1 - COL...)
10/23/2019: Case Management Statement
10/24/2019: Case Management Statement
10/1/2019: Request for Dismissal
9/6/2019: Proof of Service by Mail
8/21/2019: Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF CONTINUED CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE
8/14/2019: Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF AUGUST 8, 2019 STATUS CONFERENCE
8/8/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (CONFERENCE RE: STATUS OF SERVICE AS TO DOE DEFENDANT 1 - COL...)
8/1/2019: Case Management Statement
7/25/2019: Status Report
6/28/2019: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)
5/15/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service
5/8/2019: Notice of Ruling
5/8/2019: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)
5/2/2019: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)
5/6/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE RE: BANKRUPTCY AS TO DEFENDANT SPORTS CHALE...)
Hearing05/11/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 4B at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Hearing03/20/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 4B at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Trial Setting Conference[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Hearing03/20/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 4B at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Conference Re: Status of Service as to Doe Defendant 1 - Coleman Company, Inc.[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketNotice (of Continued Osc Re Proof of Service and Trial Setting Conference); Filed by Ignatius Wangsadidjaja (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Status Conference Re: Bankruptcy (as to Defendant Sports Chalet, LLC (Notice filed 07/27/2017) and How Plaintiff Intends to Proceed -) - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Conference (Re Status of Service as to Doe Defendant 1 - Coleman Company, Inc.) - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Conference Re: Status of Service as to Doe Defendant 1 - Col...)); Filed by Clerk[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by Ignatius Wangsadidjaja (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by Worthington Cylinders Kansas, LLC (Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketRequest for Dismissal; Filed by Ignatius Wangsadidjaja (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketNotice of Stay of Proceedings (Bankruptcy); Filed by Sport Chalet, LLC (Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketENERCO GROUP, INC.'S ANSWER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketNOTICE OF STAY OF PROCEEDINGS[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Ignatius Wangsadidjaja (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketPROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by Ignatius Wangsadidjaja (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketComplaint[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketSummons; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by Ignatius Wangsadidjaja (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Case Number: ****8341 Hearing Date: March 9, 2021 Dept: 27
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT
ENERCO GROUP, INC.,
[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
March 9, 2021
On May 11, 2017, Plaintiff Ignatius Wangsadidjaja filed this action against Defendants Enerco Group (“Enerco”) and Sport Chalet, LLC (“Sport Chalet”). Plaintiff alleged that on May 24, 2015: (1) he was injured by a product named “Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater” (the “Heater”), (2) Enerco manufactured and designed the product as well as its components, and (3) Sport Chalet sold the product. Plaintiff also alleges theories of negligence and breach of warranty against Enerco and Sport Chalet.
On February 13, 2019, Plaintiff named The Coleman Company, Inc. (“Coleman”) as Doe 2. On June 28, 2019, Plaintiff named Worthington Cylinders Kansas, LLC (“Worthington”) as Doe 3. Coleman tendered its defense to Worthington and was dismissed from the case on March 16, 2020. As Doe 3, Worthington is alleged to have: (1) manufactured or assembled the Heater, (2) designed and manufactured component parts supplied to the manufacturer, and (3) sold the Heater to the public. Plaintiff also asserts claims for negligence and breach of warranty against Worthington.
On November 17, 2020, Worthington moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the action is barred by the two-year statute of limitations because the Doe amendment did not relate back to the initial filing of the Complaint.
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On May 24, 2015, Plaintiff was operating a Heater. (Defendant’s Undisputed Material Fact (“UMF”) No. 1.) While operating the Heater, Plaintiff attached a propane fuel cylinder (“Cylinder”) to the Heater. (UMF No. 2.) Plaintiff heard a hissing sound after he connected the Cylinder to the Heater. (UMF No. 3.) Plaintiff observed gas coming out of the Cylinder. (UMF No. 4.) Plaintiff claims that the Cylinder was detached from the Heater and it was subsequently ignited. (UMF No. 5.) After the Cylinder ignited, Plaintiff threw it away from him. (UMF No. 6.) The Cylinder continued to burn after it was detached from the Heater and thrown. (UMF No. 7.)
Before using the Cylinder, Plaintiff read the label. (UMF No. 8.) He claims either the Heater or the Cylinder was defective. (UMF No. 9.) He knew that the Cylinder was a propane fuel cylinder manufactured by Worthington. (UMF No. 11.) Plaintiff gave the Cylinder to his attorneys and on May 11, 2017, filed this lawsuit against Enerco and Sport Chalet. (UMF Nos. 14-15.)
Worthington did not manufacture or sell the Heater. (UMF No. 13.)
III. LEGAL STANDARDS
In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, courts must apply a three-step analysis: “(1) identify the issues framed by the pleadings; (2) determine whether the moving party has negated the opponent’s claims; and (3) determine whether the opposition has demonstrated the existence of a triable, material factual issue.” (Hinesley v. Oakshade Town Center (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 289, 294.)
“[T]he initial burden is always on the moving party to make a prima facia showing that there are no triable issues of material fact.” (Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1519.) A defendant moving for summary judgment or summary adjudication “has met his or her burden of showing that a cause of action has no merit if the party has shown that one or more elements of the cause of action . . . cannot be established, or that there is a complete defense to the cause of action.” (Code Civ. Proc., ; 437c, subd. (p)(2).) A moving defendant need not conclusively negate an element of plaintiff’s cause of action. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 854.)
To meet this burden of showing a cause of action cannot be established, a defendant must show not only “that the plaintiff does not possess needed evidence” but also that “the plaintiff cannot reasonably obtain needed evidence.” (Aguilar, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 854.) It is insufficient for the defendant to merely point out the absence of evidence. (Gaggero v. Yura (2003) 108 Cal.App.4th 884, 891.) The defendant “must also produce evidence that the plaintiff cannot reasonably obtain evidence to support his or her claim.” (Ibid.) ; The supporting evidence can be in the form of affidavits, declarations, admissions, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and matters of which judicial notice may be taken. (Aguilar, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 855.)
“Once the defendant . . . has met that burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff . . . to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action or a defense thereto.” (Code Civ. Proc., ; 437c, subd. (p)(2).) The plaintiff may not merely rely on allegations or denials of its pleadings to show that a triable issue of material fact exists, but instead, “shall set forth the specific facts showing that a triable issue of material fact exists as to the cause of action.” (Ibid.) “If the plaintiff cannot do so, summary judgment should be granted.” (Avivi v. Centro Medico Urgente Medical Center (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 463, 467.)
IV. EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS
Worthington objects to Plaintiff’s counsel’s testimony that the label on the Cylinder has the Coleman brand in larger font on the front and identifies Worthington in smaller font in the back panel as lacking personal knowledge and irrelevant because Plaintiff admits he read the text, constituting improper opinion testimony, and violating the advocate-witness rule. However, the Court only needs to rule on objections to evidence deemed material to the disposition of the Motion. Therefore, the Court declines to rule on this objection.
Worthington argues that the amendment to the Complaint that names it as a party does not relate back to the filing of the Complaint because Plaintiff had full knowledge that both Coleman and Worthington were involved. As the statute of limitations for an action for personal injury is 2 years, Defendant argues that Plaintiff should have named Coleman or Worthington as defendants before May 24, 2017. (See Code Civ. Proc., ; 335.1.)
“When the plaintiff is ignorant of the name of a defendant, he must state that fact in the complaint, or the affidavit if the action is commenced by affidavit, and such defendant may be designated in any pleading or proceeding by any name, and when his true name is discovered, the pleading or proceeding must be amended accordingly ;. . . .” ; (Code Civ. Proc., ; 474.) ; ; ;
Where a complaint is amended after the statute of limitations has run to identify a fictitiously-named defendant, the amended complaint will “relate back” to and be deemed filed as of the date of the original complaint, if: (1) the original complaint stated a valid cause of action against the now-identified Doe defendant; (2) plaintiff was “genuinely ignorant” of the defendant’s identity; and (3) the amended complaint is based on the same general set of facts as the original. ; ;(Austin v. Massachusetts Bonding & Ins. Co. ;(1961) 56 Cal.2d 596, 600-601.) ;
Relation back effect will be given only when plaintiff was ;genuinely ;ignorant of that person’s identity or liability when the action was commenced. ; ;(McClatchy v. ;Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, LLP ;(2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 368, 371-372.) ; “Ignorance of the facts giving rise to a cause of action, like ignorance of the true name, should be real and not feigned.” ; ;(Scherer v. Mark ;(1976) 64 Cal. App. 3d 834, 841.) ; ; ;“’Ignorance’ has been repeatedly interpreted to mean that plaintiff must be unaware of defendant’s identity or unaware of the defendant’s potential culpability.” ; ;(Marasco ;v. Wadsworth ;(1978) 21 Cal. 3d 82, 88. ;)
The requirement of good faith ignorance of the true name of a fictitiously designated defendant, as a prerequisite for amending the complaint to supply a name, after the running of statute of limitations, is designed to promote the policies supporting the statute of limitations. ; (McGee Street Productions v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. ;(2003) 108 Cal.App.4th 717.) ;To defeat the amendment, the burden is on defendant to prove plaintiff's earlier awareness of defendant’s identity and facts creating its liability. ; (See ;Fara ;Estates Homeowners ;Ass’n ;v. ;Fara ;Estates, Ltd. ;(9th Cir. 1998) ;134 F.3d 377, 377 (applying Calif. law); ;Breceda ;v. ;Gamsby ;(1968) 267 Cal.App.2d 167, 179.) ;
Worthington argues that Plaintiff’s Doe amendment does not relate back because Plaintiff knew of its identity. On April 30, 2018, Plaintiff testified in deposition that he believed either the connecter to the Heater or the valve on the Cylinder was defective. (Nagle Decl., Ex. 3, Plaintiff’s Depo., 144:6-2145:4.) Also, the Cylinder used with the Heater identified Coleman and Worthington on the label. (Gentry Decl., Ex. B.) Additionally, the receipt from Big 5 Sporting Goods reflecting Plaintiff’s purchase of the Cylinder identifies the product as “Coleman Propane.” (Nagle Decl., Ex. F.)
Plaintiff was already aware of the facts giving rise to Worthington’s liability at the time of filing. Plaintiff testified that he was using the Cylinder and Heater at the time of the incident and he was aware that the Cylinder caught on fire and caused his burns. He testified that he heard a hissing sound after he connected the Cylinder to the Heater (UMF No. 3.), observed gas coming out of the Cylinder (UMF No. 4.), and claims the Cylinder was detached from the Heater and subsequently caught on fire (UMF No. 5.)
Worthington has met its moving burden to establish a prima facie case that there is no triable issue of fact as to whether Plaintiff’s action is barred by the statute of limitations.
Plaintiff argues that his Doe amendment relates back to his Complaint. Plaintiff argues he initially believed the cause of the fire was a defective heater and a failure to warn him not to operate two heaters at the same time. (Panah Decl., Ex. D, Plaintiff’s Depo. at 143:5-144:1.) He states he did not realize that the Cylinder caused the explosion and that the Heater was not defective until July 9, 2018, when Enerco’s Vice President of Engineering, Brian Vandrak, executed a declaration stating that no manufacturing or design defects were found with the Heater. (Plaintiff’s Ex. F.) Plaintiff also argues that Worthington’s identity was not readily available at the time of filing because the label on the Cylinder read “Coleman.” (Opp., 6:10-11.) Plaintiff further states that it was “only after filing of the complaint, deposition of Plaintiff on or about April 12, 2018, and inspection of the Heater on or about June 26, 2018 that Plaintiff became aware of the possibility that the Cylinder was the cause of the ignition that resulted in his injuries.
As an initial matter, Plaintiff’s claim that Worthington’s identity was not readily available is not credible as the label of the Cylinder says “2014 Worthington Cylinder Corporation.” The fact that Worthington’s name is located in the “back” of the tank in smaller font is insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact as to Plaintiff’s genuine ignorance of Worthington’s identity, especially when Plaintiff admits that he read the Cylinder’s label. (UMF No. 8.) Similarly, Plaintiff’s reliance on his deposition as evidence of his ignorance and eventual discovery is unavailing. This is not a situation where another party’s deposition testimony reveals facts that the Plaintiff did not previously know.
Plaintiff does not raise a triable issue of fact regarding his genuine ignorance of Worthington’s potential culpability. The facts giving rise to culpability by Worthington, Enerco, and Sport Chalet are the same: the Cylinder caught on fire and caused Plaintiff to suffer burn injuries. Plaintiff testified that he believed the Heater’s defective connecter caused the Cylinder valve to “misfunction [sic] or make leaks.” (Plaintiff’s Depo., p. 144:3-14.) He also testified that he suspected the valve itself was defective. (Plaintiff’s Depo., p. 144:18-145:5.) Plaintiff’s testimony was given a few months before Plaintiff received the sworn declaration from Enerco, indicating that Plaintiff had a suspicion that either the Heater or the Cylinder was defective even before Enerco confirmed that the Heater was not at fault. (Ex. D at 144:11-145:1.)
Based on the evidence submitted by the parties, Plaintiff has failed to raise a triable issue as to whether Plaintiff was genuinely ignorant of Worthington’s identity and potential culpability. The action against Worthington is time-barred.
In light of the foregoing, the Motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.
Moving party to give notice.
Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT27@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court’s website at www.lacourt.org.
Dated this 9th day of March 2021
Hon. Edward B. Moreton, Jr.
Judge of the Superior Court
Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases