This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 12/08/2019 at 16:42:38 (UTC).

JEREMIAH STROUD ET AL VS KIA MOTORS AMERICA INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 05/14/2018 JEREMIAH STROUD filed a Personal Injury - Other Product Liability lawsuit against KIA MOTORS AMERICA INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are GEORGINA T. RIZK, YOLANDA OROZCO and KRISTIN S. ESCALANTE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****5872

  • Filing Date:

    05/14/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Product Liability

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

GEORGINA T. RIZK

YOLANDA OROZCO

KRISTIN S. ESCALANTE

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs, Petitioners and Not Yet Classified

HARRISON STEVEN

BOYD LAWRENCE

HARRISON MAIA

HARRISON DANIELLE

DANIELS JASON

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

HARRISON STEVEN

BOYD LAWRENCE

HARRISON DANIELLE

DANIELS JASON

Defendants and Respondents

KIA MOTORS MANUFACTURING GEORGIA INC.

KIA MOTORS CORPORATION

KIA MOTORS AMERICA INC.

AVIS BUDGET GROUP INC.

BUDGET RENT-A-CAR

AVIS RENT A CAR SYSTEMS LLC

PV HOLDING CORP.

HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP

AVIS BUDGET HOLDINGS LLC

AVIS BUDGET CAR RENTAL LLC

AVIS BUDGET RENT-A-CAR HAWTHORNE (H8C)

HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

DOES 1-100 INCLUSIVE

Plaintiffs, Guardian Ad Litems and Not Yet Classified

HARRISON MAIA

STROUD JEREMIAH

Minor and Not Yet Classified

STROUD JEREMIAH

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff, Petitioner and Minor Attorneys

GHOZLAND MICHAEL F.

Attorney at Ghozland Law Firm, PC

626 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1170

Los Angeles, CA 90013

DENNIS JONATHAN SCOTT

Attorney at Dennis Law Group, PC

19200 Von Karman Ave Ste 400

Irvine, CA 92612

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

LAW OFFICE OF MICHAEL A. KRUPPE

LONNIE DOMMOND E. ESQ.

LONNIE DOMMOND EDWARD

KRUPPE MICHAEL ANTHONY

JUNG ROBIN H

LONNIE DOMMOND EDWARD ESQ.

FITZGERALD JOSEPH O.

FILZGERALD JOSEPH O.

FITZGERALD JOSEPH OWEN

 

Court Documents

Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEPOSITION NOTICES TO KOREA BASED HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY WITNESSES

12/5/2019: Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEPOSITION NOTICES TO KOREA BASED HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY WITNESSES

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER GRANTING LEAVE F...)

12/3/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER GRANTING LEAVE F...)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEP...) OF 12/02/2019

12/2/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEP...) OF 12/02/2019

Reply - REPLY SUR REPLY TO DEFENDANT'S REPLY

12/2/2019: Reply - REPLY SUR REPLY TO DEFENDANT'S REPLY

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE)

11/19/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE)

Answer

9/16/2019: Answer

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

8/5/2019: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER ADOPTING COMPROM...) OF 08/07/2019

8/7/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER ADOPTING COMPROM...) OF 08/07/2019

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

7/23/2019: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION EX PARTE TO CONTINUE TRIAL

7/23/2019: Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION EX PARTE TO CONTINUE TRIAL

Reply - REPLY TO OPPOSITION TO MOTION FOR PREFERENCE

7/16/2019: Reply - REPLY TO OPPOSITION TO MOTION FOR PREFERENCE

Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

4/29/2019: Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

4/29/2019: Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

4/29/2019: Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Opposition - OPPOSITION OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO COMPEL

4/30/2019: Opposition - OPPOSITION OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO COMPEL

KIA MOTORS AMERICA, INC.'S ANSWER TO PLAINTIFFS' UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

8/6/2018: KIA MOTORS AMERICA, INC.'S ANSWER TO PLAINTIFFS' UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS -

7/16/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS -

213 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/14/2021
  • Hearing05/14/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; : OSC RE Dismissal

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  • 02/04/2020
  • Hearing02/04/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash Motion to Quash Depo Notice of Soonseock Ok and Stay Depo

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  • 02/04/2020
  • Hearing02/04/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash Motion to Quash Depo Notice of Junsan Tak and Stay Depo

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  • 02/03/2020
  • Hearing02/03/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash Motion to Quash Depo Notice of Eiubong Kim and Stay Depo

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  • 01/13/2020
  • Hearing01/13/2020 at 09:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 01/07/2020
  • Hearing01/07/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 01/03/2020
  • Hearing01/03/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Ex Parte Application TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEPOSITION NOTICES TO KOREA BASED HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY WITNESSES

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  • 01/03/2020
  • Hearing01/03/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Ex Parte Application COMPEL KIA MOTORS CORPORATION COMPLIANCE WITH ITS REPRESENTATION OF COMPLIANCE AND PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

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  • 01/03/2020
  • Hearing01/03/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash Depo Notice of Sunmok Lee and Stay Depo

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  • 01/03/2020
  • Hearing01/03/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Quash Depo Notice of Sanghyuk Lee and Stay Depo

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289 More Docket Entries
  • 07/16/2018
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Lawrence Boyd (Plaintiff); Jason Daniels (Plaintiff); Danielle Harrison (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 07/06/2018
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 07/06/2018
  • DocketSummons; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 06/21/2018
  • DocketApplication ; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 06/21/2018
  • DocketAPPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM-CIVIL EX PARTE

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  • 06/13/2018
  • DocketNOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

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  • 06/13/2018
  • DocketApplication ; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 06/13/2018
  • DocketAPPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM-CIVIL

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  • 05/14/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Lawrence Boyd (Plaintiff); Jason Daniels (Plaintiff); Danielle Harrison (Plaintiff) et al.

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  • 05/14/2018
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR: (1) STRICT PRODUCT LIABILITY; ETC

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC705872    Hearing Date: January 03, 2020    Dept: 31

Background

On May 14, 2018, Plaintiffs Jeremaih Stroud, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem Maia Harrison; Maia Harrison; Steven Harrison; Danielle Harrison; Jason Daniels; and Lawrence Boyd filed the instant action against Defendants Kia Motors America, Inc.; Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc.; Kia Motors Corporation; Hyundai Motor America; Hyundai Motor Group; Avis Budget Group, Inc.; Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC; Avis Budget Holdings, LLC; PV Holding Corp; Avis Budget Rent-A-Car; and Avis Budget Rent-A-Car Hawthorne (H8C). On July 9, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), asserting causes of action for:

  1. Strict Product Liability;

  2. Negligence;

  3. Wrongful Death (Strict Product Liability);

  4. Negligence (Maintenance and Repair);

  5. Wrongful Death (Negligence);

  6. Intentional Misrepresentation;

  7. Negligent Misrepresentation;

  8. Negligence (Failure to Provide Access to Child Restraint System in Violation of California Vehicle Code 27365 et seq.); and

  9. Negligence Per Se (Failure to Provide Access to Child Restraint System in Violation of California Vehicle Code 27635 et seq.).

On September 11, 2019, the Court sustained Defendants Avis Budget Group, Inc., Avis Rent A Car System, Inc., and Amiocap, Inc.’s demurrer to the eighth and ninth causes of action and granted the motion to strike as to punitive damages allegations with 20 days leave to amend. At the hearing, Plaintiffs informed the Court that they chose not to amend, effectively striking the eighth and ninth causes of action.

Defendant Hyundai Motor Company (hereinafter “Defendant” or “HMC”) moves to quash the deposition notices of Namyoung Kim (“Kim”), Inhyumg Rew (“Rew”), Sanghyuk Lee (“Sanghyuk”), and Sunmok Lee (“Sunmok”) on the grounds that the deposition notices are insufficient to compel the requested depositions as the deponents are South Korean nationals who reside in South Korea. Plaintiffs oppose those motions. 

Legal Standard

Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.410 provides:

(a) Any party served with a deposition notice that does not comply with Article 2 (commencing with Section 2025.210) waives any error or irregularity unless that party promptly serves a written objection specifying that error or irregularity at least three calendar days prior to the date for which the deposition is scheduled, on the party seeking to take the deposition and any other attorney or party on whom the deposition notice was served.

(b) If an objection is made three calendar days before the deposition date, the objecting party shall make personal service of that objection pursuant to Section 1011 on the party who gave notice of the deposition. Any deposition taken after the service of a written objection shall not be used against the objecting party under Section 2025.620 if the party did not attend the deposition and if the court determines that the objection was a valid one.

(c) In addition to serving this written objection, a party may also move for an order staying the taking of the deposition and quashing the deposition notice. This motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040. The taking of the deposition is stayed pending the determination of this motion.

(d) The court shall impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to quash a deposition notice, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.

(Code of Civ. Proc. § 2025.410(a)-(d).)

Any party may obtain discovery, subject to restrictions, by taking the oral deposition of any person, including any party to the action. (Code of Civ. Proc., § 2025.010.) A properly served deposition notice is effective to require a party or party-affiliated deponent to attend and to testify, as well as to produce documents for inspection and copying. (Code of Civ. Proc., § 2025.280, subd. (a).)  

“If, after service of a deposition notice, a party . . . fails to appear for examination, or to proceed with it, or to produce for inspection any document . . . described in the deposition notice, the party giving notice may move for an order compelling deponent’s attendance and testimony, and the production . . . of any document . . . described in the deposition notice.”  (Code of Civ. Proc., § 2025.450, subd. (a).)

Discussion

Defendant Hyundai Motor Company (hereinafter “Defendant” or “HMC”) moves to quash the deposition notices of Namyoung Kim (“Kim”), Inhyumg Rew (“Rew”), Sanghyuk Lee (“Sanghyuk”), and Sunmok Lee (“Sunmok”) on the grounds that the deposition notices are insufficient to compel the requested depositions as the deponents are South Korean nationals who reside in South Korea and Plaintiffs are thus required to issue subpoenas and comply with the procedures under the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters (the Hague Convention).

Defendant additionally filed two other motions to quash regarding the deposition notices of Junwan Tak (“Tak”) and Soonseock Ok (“Ok”). Plaintiffs, in an opposing motion, seek to compel compliance with the deposition notices of Tak and Ok. 

Because all the motions raise similar legal issues and rely on the same legal authorities, the Court addresses the underlying issues of the motions in one tentative ruling. 

Employees of a Party & the Hague Evidence Convention

“The service of a deposition notice under Section 2025.240 is effective to require any deponent who is a party to the action or an officer, director, managing agent, or employee of a party to attend and to testify, as well as to produce any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing for inspection and copying.” (Code of Civ. Proc., § 2025.280.)

“In Société Nat. Ind. Aéro. v. U. S. Dist. Court (1987) 482 U.S. 522 [107 S.Ct. 2542, 96 L.Ed.2d 461] (Aérospatiale), the United States Supreme Court rejected the idea that discovery in a foreign country subscribing to the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters (the Hague Convention) must first proceed under the Hague Convention before discovery is attempted under federal rules. The court deemed such a requirement both unwise and inconsistent with the text of the Hague Convention. [Citation.] It held that the interests of international comity demanded a “more particularized analysis” involving “prior scrutiny in each case of the particular facts, sovereign interests, and likelihood that resort to [Hague Convention] procedures will prove effective.” [Citation.] .

[T]he rule of first resort to the Hague Convention announced in Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Superior Court (1981) 123 Cal.App.3d 840, 858 [176 Cal.Rptr. 874] (Volkswagenwerk) has been superseded by the balancing test provided in Aérospatiale. We also conclude that the Aérospatiale court's interpretation of the Hague Convention has nullified the holding of Pierburg GmbH & Co. KG v. Superior Court (1982) 137 Cal.App.3d 238, 244 [186 Cal.Rptr. 876] (Pierburg) that a litigant cannot waive the requirement of first resort by failing to demand compliance with the Hague Convention. In this case, the tactics of the party responding to discovery were so inconsistent with Hague Convention procedures that the trial court properly found the party had waived the right to insist on those procedures.” (American Home Assurance Co. v. Societe Commerciale Toutelectric (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 406, 408–409 (American Home Assurance Co.))

“In Aérospatiale, the United States Supreme Court . . . ruled that the Hague Convention is not the exclusive means of obtaining evidence abroad. “[A] rule of exclusivity would subordinate the court's supervision of even the most routine of these pretrial proceedings to the actions or, equally, to the inactions of foreign judicial authorities.” [Citation.] The court noted the Hague Convention itself includes no statement declaring a preemptive intent. [Citation.] However, the Aérospatiale court rejected any notion that the Hague Convention establishes a “minimum measure of international cooperation,” as the Volkswagenwerk court believed. To the contrary, “the text of the [Hague] Evidence Convention, as well as the history of its proposal and ratification by the United States, unambiguously supports the conclusion that it was intended to establish optional procedures that would facilitate the taking of evidence abroad. [Citations.]” [Citation.]” (Id. at 423.)

Defendant moves to quash the deposition notices arguing that the deposition notices fail to compel the depositions of South Korean nationals. Defendant asserts that California case law supports its position, citing to Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Superior Court ((1973) 33 Cal.App.3d 503 (“Volkswagenwerk 1973”)), Pierburg GmbH & Co. KG v. Superior Court ((1982) 137 Cal.App.3d 238 (“Pierburg”)), and Volkswagenwerk Aktiengensellschaft v. Superior Court ((1981) 123 Cal.App.3d 840 (“Volkswagenwerk 1981”). Defendant contends that if Plaintiffs wish to take the noticed depositions, they will need to submit a request to the Korean Central Authority for the Hague Evidence Convention. Further, as to the deposition of Rew, Defendant argues that Rew’s deposition is noticed to be held in Irvine, California, which violates the distance limitations of Section 2025.250(a).

In their opposition and motion to compel, Plaintiffs argue that the motions to quash rely on the fallacious argument that California law does not allow the Court to order that the domestic companies make the witnesses available for deposition. Plaintiffs contend that pursuant to American Home Assurance Co., Defendant can be ordered to produce the witnesses under its control. Plaintiffs argue that three of the witnesses here have been specifically identified by Defendants HMC and Kia Motor Company (hereinafter “KMC”) as key employees who have specific information regarding the design of the subject vehicle. (Dennis Decl., Exh. 1-3.)

Plaintiffs assert that Defendant has repeatedly relied on inapposite law to block the witnesses’ deposition. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant’s reliance on Volkswagenwerk 1973 is misplaced, as the court actually held that a California court cannot order a foreign citizen to appear for deposition, not that a domestic corporation cannot be ordered to produce witnesses. Plaintiffs argue that here, the issue is Defendant’s refusal to submit to an authorized form of discovery, not whether the Court has jurisdiction over the individuals in Korea.

As to Defendant’s reliance on Volkswagenwerk 1981, Plaintiffs assert that California law is clear that the “first resort” rule articulated in Volkswagenwerk 1981 has been overruled. Plaintiffs contend that there is no “first resort” requirement as Defendant’s insist. Plaintiffs argue that they should not be required to jump through the extensive and expensive procedures under the Hague Convention, which could take at least six months and require a continuance of a legislatively mandated preferential trial. Plaintiffs assert Defendant should be ordered to make the witnesses available since Defendant is based, in part, in California, and clearly controls the witnesses regardless of their location.

Plaintiffs argue there is no evidence that the Korean Ministry, any consular official or any person with authority to enforce the Hague Convention’s evidentiary procedures in Korea has objected to the depositions proceeding. Plaintiffs assert that, instead, Defendant has simply used the Hague Convention as a shield to block discovery.

In reply, Defendant argues that the comity analysis provided for in American Home Assurance Co. falls in its favor, and therefore the depositions should not go forward.

The Court finds that the authorities cited by Defendant to support its contention that Plaintiffs must first submit to the procedures under the Hague Convention have been overruled by more recent controlling authority. As held by American Home Assurance Co., the Hague Convention outlines an optional procedure, and a party is not required to first resort to its procedures before it may propound discovery. Still, the balancing test laid out in Aérospatiale may require that a party use the Hague Convention’s evidence procedures. For purposes of the Court’s analysis on these Motions, the Court assumes, without deciding, that the comity analysis weighs in favor of application of those procedures here. 

As it is abundantly clear from the cited authorities that a party may waive application of the Hague Convention, the Court thus turns to whether Defendant has waived its right to insist on those procedures in this case.

Waiver of Hague Evidence Convention

“Because Hague Convention procedures are only an optional method of pursuing discovery abroad, it stands to reason they may be waived.” (American Home Assurance Co., supra, 104 Cal.App.4th at 428.) “[T]he party seeking to utilize Hague Convention procedures has the burden of convincing the trial court that they are justified by considerations of international comity. It necessarily follows that a party may indeed waive the claim that discovery must proceed under the Hague Convention, by failing to properly raise the issue.” (Id. at 429.)

“We emphasize, however, that a waiver of the Hague Convention should never be lightly implied. A due regard for the interests of comity requires the courts to exercise caution and show courtesy to the foreign jurisdiction. Courts should dispense with the balancing of interests described by the Aérospatiale court only in those cases where the party relying on the Hague Convention has clearly abandoned the claim in prior proceedings. Just as disclosure of a privileged communication must be ‘significant’ for the privilege to be waived [citation], a party's neglect of its right to request the application of Hague Convention procedures must be substantial to support a finding of waiver.” (Id. at 430.)

“A finding of waiver requires clear and convincing evidence of intentional relinquishment of a known right with awareness of the relevant facts. The waiver may be express, based on the party's words, or implied from conduct indicating an intent to relinquish the right. [Citation.]” (Id.)

In its moving papers, Defendant, citing to Pierberg (supra, 137 Cal.App.3d at 244-245), argues that “[t]he failure of one litigant in the domestic action to demand compliance with the convention cannot divest the foreign nation of its sovereign rights under the convention. The convention may be waived only by the nation whose judicial sovereignty would thereby be infringed upon.”

In opposition and in their motion to compel, Plaintiffs correctly note that a party may waive application of the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters by failing to invoke its provisions during prior discovery. (American Home Assurance Co., supra, 104 Cal.App.4th at 429.) Plaintiffs assert that Defendant was aware of the Hague Convention’s procedures from the start because Defendant insisted that Plaintiff effectuate service of process of the Complaint pursuant to the Hague Convention. Plaintiffs contend that, thereafter, Defendant knowingly and intentionally abandoned the Hague Convention’s procedures in its responses to and handling of extensive discovery in this case.

Plaintiffs present evidence that for more than a year, KMC has had all of its discovery responses verified by Rew, who is a resident of Korea. Plaintiffs assert that KMC has also produced both discovery responses and voluminous documents from Korea.[1] Plaintiffs submit evidence that at least as early as March 2019, and multiple times thereafter (on five separate occasions in March, August and September 2019), Defendant and KMC produced, answered and verified discovery that was propounded upon them in compliance with California’s statutory procedures for discovery without a claim that Plaintiffs’ discovery had to proceed under the Hague Convention in the first instance. (Dennis Decl. in Opp., Exh. 2.)

Three of the depositions noticed by Plaintiffs (Namyoung Kim, Sanghyuk Lee and Sunmok Lee) are of individuals who were identified in verified discovery responses as Korea-based engineers who were “principally involved” in the design and development of the steering systems at issue with the subject vehicle. (Dennis Decl. in Opp., Exh. 1.) Defendant and KMC did not initially object to the deposition notices on the basis that the depositions were subject to the Hague Convention. Plaintiffs first served the deposition notices on November 8, 2019. KMC’s first response (via email) to the deposition notices was to request a subpoena for the deponents, and a few days later, assured Plaintiffs that “[w]e are attempting to contact the witnesses and will get back to you regarding the depositions before the end of the day today.” (Dennis Decl. in Opp., Exh. 10.)

Plaintiffs assert that by the time of the hearing on these Motions, Defendant and KMC will have produced their designated PMK witnesses for deposition live and by videofeed from Korea. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant and KMC cannot be allowed to unilaterally decide which Korea-based witnesses they will produce for deposition and which will be shielded by a claim that Plaintiffs must first resort to the Hague Convention procedures.

The Court notes that it convened several hours-long informal discovery conferences with the parties to attempt to resolve the numerous discovery dispute between them. It is the Court’s recollection that none of the Hyundai/Kia Defendants raised any argument that any discovery had to be conducted in the first instance through the Hague Convention procedures until November 19, 2019, at which time the subject depositions were discussed and Defendants informed the Court that motions to quash on that basis had been filed.

The Court notes that Defendant’s reply brief does not address the waiver argument at all, leaving unrebutted Plaintiffs’ evidence and arguments on this issue.

Based on the evidence before it, the Court finds that Defendant has waived its right to insist that the subject depositions must be conducted in conformity with the Hague Convention. The evidence presented by Plaintiffs indicates that Defendant has been responding to discovery and producing voluminous documents in compliance with California statutory procedures for more than a year, verifying those responses through deponent Rew, a Korean national, without a claim that the Hague Convention must be utilized for that discovery. Additionally, Defendant has allowed the deposition of its PMK Korea-based witnesses to go forward without requiring that Plaintiffs resort to the procedures laid out in the Hague Convention.

It is undisputed that after this case was filed, Defendant insisted that service on the Hyundai/Kia Defendants be made pursuant to the Hague Convention procedures on service of foreign parties. Defendant’s failure to insist on Hague Convention procedures for all discovery at any time prior to moving to quash the instant deposition notices evinces a clear intent to waive such procedures. Defendant simply cannot pick and choose which discovery will be responded to without complaint, and for which discovery Defendant will insist that the Hague Convention must be the first resort. As in American Home Assurance, Defendant here demonstrated clear awareness of its Hague Convention rights at the earliest stage of this case, yet went on to substantially comply with discovery under California law until very late.

The Court finds that Kim, Sanghyuk, Sunmok, Tak, and Ok are all employees of Defendant. Accordingly, the Court finds that service of the deposition notices was effective to require the attendance of the witnesses as employees of Defendant pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.280.

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s motions to quash the deposition notices of Kim, Sanghyuk, and Sunmok are DENIED.

Deponent Rew

Section 2025.250 provides:

(a) Unless the court orders otherwise under Section 2025.260, the deposition of a natural person, whether or not a party to the action, shall be taken at a place that is, at the option of the party giving notice of the deposition, either within 75 miles of the deponent's residence, or within the county where the action is pending and within 150 miles of the deponent's residence.

(b) The deposition of an organization that is a party to the action shall be taken at a place that is, at the option of the party giving notice of the deposition, either within 75 miles of the organization's principal executive or business office in California, or within the county where the action is pending and within 150 miles of that office.

(Code of Civ. Proc. § 2025.250(a)-(b).)

“The plain language of the statutory scheme and the legislative history of that language [found in Section 2025.250] fully support the conclusion that a trial court cannot order a nonresident to appear at a California deposition.” (Toyota Motor Corp. v. Superior Court (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 1107, 1125.)

Defendant additionally moves to quash the deposition notice of Rew on the grounds that the Plaintiffs’ deposition notice violates Section 2025.250(a) as Rew resides in Seoul, South Korea and the deposition was noticed to take place in Irvine, California. (Rew Decl. ¶ 2.) Defendant argues that this is clearly beyond the 75 and 150 mile distance limitations allowed under the law.

In reply, Defendant notes that Plaintiffs fail to address this argument in their opposition or motion to compel.

The Court finds that the deposition notice of Rew fails to comply with the requirements of Section 2025.250(a), as the deposition of Rew, a South Korean resident was noticed to take place in Irvine, California, more than 150 miles from Rew’s residence.

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s motion to quash the deposition notice of Rew is GRANTED.

Deponents Tak and Ok

In Plaintiffs’ motion to compel the depositions of Tak and Ok, Plaintiffs argue that the witnesses are both current employees of Defendant and therefore Defendant controls them and is obligated to produce them in response to the duly served deposition notices. Plaintiffs contend that the witnesses are authors of an article which is a key piece of evidence in this matter entitled “Analysis of an Automotive Ground System Based on a Ground Model and Current Distribution in it.” (Dennis Decl., Exh. 1.) Plaintiffs argue that the article addresses the design of vehicle parts relevant to the issue of product liability in this case, and the witnesses therefore are in possession of relevant and discoverable information regarding Defendant’s knowledge at the time the subject vehicle was designed.

In opposition, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs’ depositions of the witnesses are unduly burdensome and an abuse of discovery. Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs have noticed PMK depositions of Kia Motors America (“KMA”), KMC, and Defendant with 54 separate deposition categories each. Defendant contends that Plaintiffs’ attempt to also compel the deposition of these two witnesses is unduly burdensome. Defendant argues that the article is dated March 2004, over 10 years before the subject vehicle was manufactured. Defendant asserts that the vehicle platform for the Kia Optima in 2004 is different from the vehicle platform for the subject 2016 Kia Optima and a general article about vehicle components from 2004 is simply not relevant to this case.

In reply, Plaintiffs argue that the Defendant does not deny that the witnesses are engineers who worked on the vehicle at issue or that they had anything to do with the design of the vehicle and vehicle systems which injured Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs assert that the only way to know how involved these engineers actually were is to ask them directly under cross-examination. Plaintiffs argue that the article authored by these witnesses is highly relevant, and far more than just “conceptual.” Plaintiffs assert that the article lays out a proposal years before the subject vehicle was produced. Plaintiffs contend that these engineers will therefore know if their proposals and ideas were implemented and made their way into the subject vehicle. Plaintiffs argue that the witnesses will also know whether their ideas should have been adopted, and if so, how such an adoption may have prevented the fatal defects found in this case.

Plaintiffs assert that these witnesses are employees who design vehicles for a key defendant in this case. Plaintiffs contend that they would be well within their rights to depose them as a part of routine discovery. Plaintiffs argue that they are not relegated to only deposing PMKs that are handpicked and prepped by Defendant and that Defendant has no right to decide what is and is not relevant. Plaintiffs contend that discovery is broad and the witnesses are the authors of an article dealing with vehicle components exactly like the ones which caused the accident in this case.

The Court finds that service of the deposition notices was effective to require the attendance of the witnesses as employees of Defendant pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.280. The Court further finds that there is good cause to compel the deposition of witnesses Tak and Ok. Nothing before the Court indicates that the depositions are unduly burdensome or are an abuse of discovery. As noted by Plaintiffs, they are entitled to depose those employees of Defendant they believe will lead to the discovery of relevant information or admissible evidence. Plaintiffs’ choice to notice depositions of Defendant’s PMKs does not affect their right to depose other witnesses. To the extent Defendant will argue that these witnesses can only be deposed pursuant to the Hague Convention, the Court finds that Defendant has waived its right to insist that the Hague Convention govern discovery in this case.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs’ motion to compel the depositions of Tak and Ok is GRANTED. Defendant’s motions to quash the deposition notices of Tak and Ok are DENIED.

Sanctions

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2024.410(d), “[t]he court shall impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to quash a deposition notice, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”

Plaintiffs seek $8,187.50 in monetary sanctions against Defendant and its counsel for 6.7 hours spent drafting the opposition, an anticipated 1.5 hours spent reviewing and analyzing the reply to the motion, an anticipated 2.9 hours spent traveling to and from the hearing, and an anticipated 2.0 hours spent appearing and arguing the motion billed at a rate of $625 per hour.

The Court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to sanctions in that Defendant’s position with respect to the motions to quash was largely without substantial justification. However, the amount of sanctions is excessive and therefore unreasonable. Moreover, the Court finds that Defendant was justified in bringing its motion to quash with regards to witness Rew. The Court thus awards reduces the amount of sanctions to $4,380.00 for 5 hours drafting the opposition, 1 hour spent reviewing and analyzing the reply, and 1 hour traveling to and appearing at the hearing billed at a rate of $625 an hour.

Conclusion

Defendant’s motion to quash the deposition notice of Rew is GRANTED. Defendant’s motions to quash the deposition notices of Kim, Sanghyuk, and Sunmok are DENIED. Plaintiffs’ motion to compel the depositions of Tak and Ok is GRANTED. Defendant’s motions to quash the deposition notices of Tak and Ok are DENIED. Defendant and its counsel of record are ordered to pay monetary sanctions in the amount of $4,380.00 to Plaintiffs within 30 days of this order. The subject depositions are ordered to proceed forthwith and without further delay.

Moving parties to give notice.


[1] The parties’ joint trial exhibit list references numerous documents bate-stamped with the initials KMC or KIA offered by Plaintiffs, and equally voluminous documents offered by Defendants as documents produced in discovery by the Kia Defendants. It is reasonable to conclude that many, if not all, of these documents were produced by the Hyundai/Kia Defendants and had their origins in Korea.

Case Number: BC705872    Hearing Date: December 06, 2019    Dept: 31

MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES IS GRANTED, IN PART.

Background

On May 14, 2018, Plaintiffs Jeremaih Stroud, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem Maia Harrison; Maia Harrison; Steven Harrison; Danielle Harrison; Jason Daniels; and Lawrence Boyd filed the instant action against Defendants Kia Motors America, Inc.; Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc.; Kia Motors Corporation; Hyundai Motor America; Hyundai Motor Group; Avis Budget Group, Inc.; Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC; Avis Budget Holdings, LLC; PV Holding Corp; Avis Budget Rent-A-Car; and Avis Budget Rent-A-Car Hawthorne (H8C). On July 9, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), asserting causes of action for:

  1. Strict Product Liability;

  2. Negligence;

  3. Wrongful Death (Strict Product Liability);

  4. Negligence (Maintenance and Repair);

  5. Wrongful Death (Negligence);

  6. Intentional Misrepresentation;

  7. Negligent Misrepresentation;

  8. Negligence (Failure to Provide Access to Child Restraint System in Violation of California Vehicle Code 27365 et seq.); and

  9. Negligence Per Se (Failure to Provide Access to Child Restraint System in Violation of California Vehicle Code 27635 et seq.).

Defendants Kia Motors America, Inc., Kia Motors Corporation, and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (“Defendants”) move the Court to compel Plaintiffs Jeremaih Stroud, Maia Harrison, Steven Harrison, Danielle Harrison, Jason Daniels and Lawrence Boyd (“Plaintiffs”) to produce further responses to Defendants’ Special Interrogatories, Set One. Specifically, Defendants move for further Special Interrogatories 25 through 51, 79, and 81.

Legal Standard

A motion to compel further responses to form or specially prepared interrogatories may be brought if the responses contain: (1) answers that are evasive or incomplete; (2) an unwarranted or insufficiently specific exercise of an option to produce documents in lieu of a substantive response; or (3) unmerited or overly generalized objections. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.300(a).) 

Motions to compel further responses must always be accompanied by a meet-and confer-declaration (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.040) demonstrating a “reasonable and good faith attempt an informal resolution of each issue presented by the motion.” (Id., §§ 2030.300(b), 2031.310(b)(2), 2033.290(b).) They must also be accompanied by a separate statement containing the requests and the responses, verbatim, as well as reasons why a further response is warranted. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(a).) The separate statement must also be complete in itself; no extrinsic materials may be incorporated by reference. (Id., rule 3.1345(c).)

Discussion

Defendants contend that Plaintiffs responded to the Special Interrogatories, Set One, (“SIs”) with boilerplate objections and evasive responses despite the SIs seeking information pertinent to Plaintiffs’ product liability claims.

Prior Informal Discovery

Plaintiffs note that on August 8, 2019, the parties entered into a “Joint Stipulation to Resolve Discovery Issues between Plaintiffs and the Kia-Hyundai Defendant” (the “Stipulation”). The Stipulation provides that as to Factual Interrogatories,

[o]ne Kia and one Hyundai entity may each identify up to 36 Special Interrogatories that were previously served by that defendant regarding facts on one Plaintiff. Within 30 days after service, Plaintiffs will serve their collective verified responses (plus time for mailing if Kia-Hyundai defendants provide their selection by a means other than personal service).

(Stipulation 3:5-8.)

As to Damages,

[o]ne Kia or Hyundai Defendant may identify up to 36 Special Interrogatories that were previously served regarding damages on each Plaintiff. Within 30 days after service, Plaintiffs will serve their individual verified responses (plus time for mailing if Kia-Hyundai defendants provide their selection by a means other than personal service). 

(Id. 3:10-13.)

Plaintiffs argue that despite the Stipulation, on August 9, 2019, Defendants served SIs from all three Kia entities. At the September 25, 2019, Informal Discovery Conference (“IDC”) on the matter, the Court said: “[t]he Court noted that as long as the total number of requests did not exceed 36 for each defendant group, the fact that the 36 requests were propounded by more than one Defendant in the group was not prejudicial even if not technically within the four corners of the parties' Stipulation. Plaintiffs will respond to the requests which were not responded to by October 14, 2019.” (9/25/2019 IDC.) 

Meet and Confer

As an initial matter, Plaintiffs contend that Defendants failed to meet and confer prior to bringing the present motion. On October 16, 2019, counsel for Defendants sent Plaintiffs’ counsel an email addressing what Defendants perceived as deficiencies in the October 14, 2019, set of supplemental response, and requested that Plaintiffs correct issues with responses numbering within one day. (Dennis Decl. Exh. 7.) On October 22, 2019, Defense counsel sent a letter to Plaintiff’s counsel addressing in more detail substantive deficiencies in the responses. On November 4, 2019, the parties exchanged emails discussing potentially setting an IDC, and arranging for the deposition of a Mr. Harrison. (Id. Exh. 9.) However, Defendants filed the present motion on that same day, November 4, 2019. 

Although ineffective, Defendants sent a compliant meet and confer letter on October 22, 2019. It does not appear from the evidence before the Court that Plaintiffs offered any substantive response thereto. Rather, Plaintiffs argue that their counsel was preparing to respond at the time of this motion’s filing. Despite a potentially eager filing, an attempt to meet and confer occurred. Moreover, the parties have since engaged in an Informal Discovery Conference with the Court on November 19, 2019 regarding the instant motion. While the IDC took place after the filing of the motion, Defendants were instructed to inform the Court by December 3, 2019 if the motion was to go forward. Accordingly, the Court finds that the parties have sufficiently met and conferred prior to the hearing of this motion.

Motion to Compel Further Responses

The Court notes at the outset that Plaintiffs have filed a Sur-Reply addressing Defendants’ Reply. Plaintiffs were not authorized to file anything beyond their Opposition and supporting papers. Accordingly, the Court will disregard Plaintiffs’ Sur-Reply.

Plaintiffs contend that they responded to the SIs with all available information on October 14, 2019. Attached as Exhibit 6 to the declaration of Jonathan Dennis are Plaintiff Steven Harrison’s supplemental responses to Kia Motors Corporation’s SIs. The SIs seek information pertaining alleged “defects” and “failures” in the subject vehicle. Although there is no burden of showing good cause for purpose of a motion to compel further responses to interrogatories, Defendants argue that all SIs at issue seek relevant information because they seek information relevant to Plaintiff’s contentions of product liability. 

Plaintiffs note that to all SIs seeking information pertaining to alleged defects, Plaintiffs responded:

[t]he Subject Vehicle's steering system, including the instability, directional bias, stick slip, electronic power steering controls, rack and pinion, steering rack, controller area network, motor driven power steering and each of the component parts in connection thereto, were defective, causing the Subject Vehicle's steering wheel to suddenly, and without warning, malfunction/fail/stick/lock. The Subject Vehicle's safety systems, including but not limited to its front passenger airbags, as well as the rear passenger seatbelts, were also defective, however these defects were not the cause of the crash.

(Separate Statement, SI 25.)

As to the SIs seeking information pertaining to the facts supporting the existence of a defect, Plaintiffs articulated facts detailing the collision and resulting injuries and medical care. (Id. SI 26.) Similarly, as to the SIs seeking identification of persons with knowledge of relevant information, Plaintiffs responded that Defendants’ employees involved in the design of the vehicle and Plaintiffs’ experts possess such information. (Id. SI 27.) 

Plaintiffs’ Opposition is largely premised on the argument that Plaintiffs’ October 14, 2019, supplemental responses were compliant and provided all information available to Plaintiffs’ at the time of the response. 

Defendants argue that such responses are defective. The ask: “How is the product defective? How is the defect causally connected to the accident or injury? About what potential risk did Kia fail to warn? The game playing must end. The ridiculous objections stop. Actual substantive discovery responses are required by the code and case law.” (Motion 11:19-22.) 

Upon review of Plaintiffs’ supplemental responses provided on November 26, 2019, the Court rules as follows:

Interrogatories Nos. 25, 32, 36, 39, 43-51

Special Interrogatory no. 25 provides: “Please state specifically every defect YOU contend existed in the SUBJECT VEHICLE that YOU claim caused the SUBJECT INCIDENT.”

SI nos. 32, 36, 39, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, and 51 similarly request that Plaintiffs specifically identify any defect that they contend caused Plaintiffs’ injuries and the accident.

In response, Plaintiffs asserted a number of objections including that the interrogatory is overbroad, oppressive, vague and ambiguous, seeks the premature discovery of expert witness testimony, and seeks information protected by the attorney-client privilege and attorney work-product doctrine. Notwithstanding those objections, Plaintiffs also provided:

The Subject Vehicle's steering system, including the instability, directional bias, stick slip, electronic power steering controls, rack and pinion, steering rack, controller area network, motor driven power steering and each of the component parts in connection thereto, were defective, causing the Subject Vehicle's steering wheel to suddenly, and without warning, malfunction/fail/stick/lock.

The Subject Vehicle's safety systems, including but not limited to its front passenger airbags, as well as the rear passenger seatbelts, were also defective, however these defects were not the cause of the crash.

In their supplemental responses provided on November 26, 2019, Plaintiffs further stated:

Upon information and belief, the Subject Vehicle’s wiring, engine and transmission control system, and steering system are defective.

The Court finds that Plaintiffs’ responses are insufficient, as they are conclusory and devoid of facts. Simply stated, Plaintiffs must provide factual specificity that informs Defendants of the nature of the defects that are claimed and what these defects caused and how. 

Based on the foregoing, Defendants’ motion to compel further responses to special interrogatories nos. 25, 32, 36, 39, 43-51 is GRANTED.

Interrogatories Nos. 26, 29, 33, 40, 77, 79, 81

Special Interrogatory no. 26 states: “If YOU contend the SUBJECT INCIDENT was caused by a defect in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, state the facts upon which YOU base YOUR contention.”

SIs nos. 29, 33, 40, 77, 79, and 81 similarly seek all facts that support Plaintiffs’ contentions that a defect caused Plaintiffs’ injuries and the accident.

In response, Plaintiffs again asserted a number of objections, including those previously noted. Notwithstanding those objections, Plaintiffs also provided a summary of the allegations in the SAC. In their supplemental responses provided on November 26, 2019, Plaintiffs further stated:

The Subject Vehicle’s wiring, engine and transmission control system, and steering system, front passenger airbag, and left rear passenger seat belt are defective.

There are over 200 complaints on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration database of erratic steering on Kia Optimas, as well as numerous complaints made directly to Defendant Kia Motors America, Inc. ("KMA") regarding steering issues with Kia Optimas.

On July 10th, 2019 various Electronically Stored Information (ESI) and serial data was imaged/downloaded from the Subject vehicle's electronic control modules. This imaged/downloaded data included Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) and other data pertaining to the Airbag Control Module (ACM), Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) module, Engine Control Module (ECM) and other modules on the vehicle.

DTC C161l was downloaded from the Subject Vehicle's MDPS.

DTC P060500 was downloaded from the Subject Vehicle's Engine Control Module. ("ECM").

The Subject Vehicle's wiring, engine and transmission control system, and steering system malfunctioned in the moments leading up to the crash. It was the malfunctions of the wiring, ECM, MDPS and/or CAN which caused the engine and transmission control system and steering system to malfunction.

The ACM malfunctioned resulting in a non-deployment of the front passenger airbag.

The Subject Vehicle's Event Data Recorder ("EDR") recorded available pre-crash data for the -5 seconds leading up to the crash. This EDR report has been produced and is available to all Parties. 

The Court finds that Plaintiffs’ responses are insufficient, as they do not identify in what manner any of the systems malfunctioned or how the malfunctions caused the accident or any injury sustained in the accident. 

Based on the foregoing, Defendants’ motion to compel further responses to special interrogatories nos. 26, 29, 33, 40, 77, 79, 81 is GRANTED.

Interrogatories Nos. 27, 30, 34, 37, 41

The Court notes that Defendants’ reply, which was filed after their receipt of Plaintiffs’ supplemental responses on November 26, 2019, fails to address these interrogatories as “remaining disputed interrogatories.” Accordingly, the Court construes this as Defendants’ concession that the responses are sufficient.

Based on the foregoing, Defendants’ motion to compel further responses to special interrogatories nos. 27, 30, 34, 37, 41 is DENIED as moot.

Interrogatories Nos. 28, 31, 35, 38, 42

Special Interrogatory no. 28 provides: “If YOU contend the SUBJECT INCIDENT was caused by a defect in the SUBJECT VEHICLE, describe all DOCUMENTS YOU reply upon in support of YOUR contention.”

SIs nos. 31, 35, 38, and 42 similarly request the identification of documents supporting Plaintiffs’ contention that a defect caused Plaintiffs’ injuries and the accident.

In addition to a number of objections, Plaintiffs provide the following response notwithstanding their objections:

In order to fully respond to this Interrogatory a compilation, audit and/or summary of the documents produced by the Propounding Party and its co-Defendants the Kia and Hyundai Defendants, as well as the Traffic Collision Report, bates P0000l-00015, and related documents are necessary in order to answer this Interrogatory. No such compilation, audit or summary presently exists. The burden and expense of preparing or making such a compilation, audit or summary would be substantially the same for the Propounding Party as for the Responding Party. Therefore, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure §2030.230, the Responding Party refers Propounding Party to the documents produced by the Propounding Party and its co-defendants the Kia and Hyundai Defendants, as well as the Traffic Collision Report, bates P0000l-00015.

Responding Party also identified Plaintiffs' production of documents, bates P00016- P02746.

Responding Party also identifies documents believed to be in the possession and control of the Propounding Party, which are being improperly withheld by the Propounding Party, responsive to Plaintiffs' Requests for Production of Documents.

Responding Party also identifies documents which may be produced by the Parties' respective experts at the time of expert disclosure.

In their supplemental responses provided on November 26, 2019, Plaintiffs further stated:

There are over 200 complaints on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration database of erratic steering on Kia Optimas, as well as numerous complaints made directly to Defendant Kia Motors America, Inc. ("KMA") regarding steering issues with Kia Optimas.

On July 10th, 2019 various Electronically Stored Information (ESI) and serial data was imaged/downloaded from the Subject vehicle's electronic control modules. This imaged/downloaded data included Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) and other data pertaining to the Airbag Control Module (ACM), Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) module, Engine Control Module (ECM) and other modules on the vehicle.

DTC C161l was downloaded from the Subject Vehicle's MDPS.

DTC P060500 was downloaded from the Subject Vehicle's Engine Control Module. ("ECM").

The Subject Vehicle's Event Data Recorder ("EDR") recorded available pre-crash data for the -5 seconds leading up to the crash. This EDR report has been produced and is available to all Parties. 

The Court finds Plaintiffs’ responses insufficient, as they identify “over 200 complaints” without further identification. As noted by Defendants, there are thousands of documents available in NHTSA’s database. Plaintiffs must specifically identify the complaints upon which they rely.

Based on the foregoing, Defendants’ motion to compel further responses to special interrogatories nos. 28, 31, 35, 38, 42 is GRANTED.

Sanctions

Defendants seek sanctions against Plaintiffs’ counsel of record, Jonathan Dennis and Michael Ghozland, in the amount of $4,860.00 consisting of 20 hours “sorting out the confusion created by the . . . discovery responses” and preparing the instant motion, an anticipated 2 hours preparing a Reply, and 2 hours attending the hearing billed at a rate of $200 an hours, plus the $60 filing fee. 

The Court finds that the amount of sanctions requested is excessive. Defendants may only recover for the amount of time spent preparing the instant motion. Accordingly, the Court awards reduced sanctions in the amount of $1,660.00 for 5 hours spent preparing the moving papers, 2 hours spent preparing the reply, and 1 hour attending the hearing on the motion billed at a rate of $200, plus the $60 filing fee.

Conclusion

Defendants’ motion to compel further responses is GRANTED as to special interrogatories nos. 25-26, 28-29, 31-33, 35-36, 38-40, 42-51, 77, 79, and 81. Defendants’ motion to compel further responses is DENIED as moot as to special interrogatories nos. 27, 30, 34, 37, and 41. Plaintiffs’ counsel of record, Jonathan Dennis and Michael Ghozland, are ordered to pay sanctions in the amount of $1,660.00 to Defendants within thirty (30) days of this order.

Moving party to give notice.