This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 11/14/2020 at 17:54:28 (UTC).

JOSEPH LAMBERT VS CITY OF LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE ET AL

Case Summary

On 11/21/2017 JOSEPH LAMBERT filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against CITY OF LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are CHRISTOPHER K. LUI and DANIEL M. CROWLEY. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4456

  • Filing Date:

    11/21/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

CHRISTOPHER K. LUI

DANIEL M. CROWLEY

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs, Petitioners, Cross Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants

LAMBERT JOSEPH

JEN LEWIN STUDIO LLC

DESCANSO GARDENS GUILD INC

DESCANSO GARDENS GUILD INC.

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

ROES 1 THROUGH 100 INCLUSIVE

Defendants, Respondents, Cross Plaintiffs and Not Classified By Court

DESCANSO GARDENS GUILD INC

DOES 1 TO 20

LA CANADA FLINTRIDE CITY OF

LOS ANGELES COUNTY OF

DESCANSO GARDENS GUILD INC.

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

CITY OF LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE

JEN LEWIN STUDIO LLC

LIGHTSWITCH DBA LIGHTSWITCH INC DBA LIGHTSWITCH LLC

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff, Petitioner, Cross Defendant and Defendant Attorneys

HANKEY JORDAN D.

HANKEY JORDAN DANA

OLAN DAVID RAPHAEL ESQ.

MORRISON EDWARD F

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorney

HANKEY JORDAN D.

Plaintiff, Cross Plaintiff, Cross Defendant and Defendant Attorneys

MORRISON EDWARD F

FRIEDENTHAL DANIEL RAY

THE LEE LAW GROUP PC

LEE TED MATTHEW

GROSSBERG SCOTT J. ESQ.

O'DAY DALLAS

OLAN DAVID RAPHAEL ESQ.

LEE TED M.

Defendant and Respondent Attorney

GROSSBERG SCOTT J. ESQ.

 

Court Documents

Request for Dismissal

9/11/2020: Request for Dismissal

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

5/5/2020: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 04/24/2020

4/24/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 04/24/2020

Answer

4/16/2020: Answer

Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

1/30/2020: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

Answer

10/17/2019: Answer

Cross-Complaint

9/12/2019: Cross-Complaint

Cross-Complaint

8/8/2019: Cross-Complaint

Notice of Ruling

8/8/2019: Notice of Ruling

Motion for Leave to Amend - MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND THEIR CROSS-COMPLAINT

6/14/2019: Motion for Leave to Amend - MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND THEIR CROSS-COMPLAINT

Request for Dismissal

2/5/2019: Request for Dismissal

Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

11/19/2018: Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

6/6/2018: DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

CROSS-COMPLAINT OF DESCANSO GARDENS GUILD. INC. FOR: 1. INDEMNITY; ETC

6/7/2018: CROSS-COMPLAINT OF DESCANSO GARDENS GUILD. INC. FOR: 1. INDEMNITY; ETC

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

6/29/2018: DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

CROSS-COMPLAINT OF COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

6/29/2018: CROSS-COMPLAINT OF COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

SUMMONS -

11/21/2017: SUMMONS -

COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES) -

11/21/2017: COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES) -

42 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 12/02/2020
  • Hearing12/02/2020 at 10:30 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Trial Setting Conference

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  • 10/21/2020
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike (Portions of Plaintiff's Complaint) - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 10/21/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Defendant Jen Lewin Studio, LLC's...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/14/2020
  • DocketReply (REPLY OF JEN LEWIN STUDIO, LLC TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER TO DOE AMENDMENT NUMBER 2 TO COMPLAINT); Filed by Jen Lewin Studio, LLC (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/01/2020
  • DocketOpposition (to Demurrer); Filed by JEN LEWIN STUDIO LLC (Defendant)

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  • 09/11/2020
  • DocketRequest for Dismissal; Filed by Jen Lewin Studio, LLC (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by JEN LEWIN STUDIO LLC (Defendant)

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  • 06/22/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 06/11/2020
  • Docketat 10:00 AM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 06/09/2020
  • Docketat 07:31 AM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Court Order

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66 More Docket Entries
  • 06/06/2018
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 06/06/2018
  • DocketCross-Complaint; Filed by Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 06/06/2018
  • DocketDemand for Jury Trial; Filed by Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 06/06/2018
  • DocketDEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

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  • 06/06/2018
  • DocketANSWER TO DESCANSO GARDENS GUILD INC. TO COMPLAINT

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  • 06/06/2018
  • DocketSummons; Filed by Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 06/06/2018
  • DocketCross-Complaint (For Indemnity; Contribution and Apportionment of Fault); Filed by Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. (Cross-Complainant)

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  • 11/21/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)

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  • 11/21/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Jen Lewin Studio, LLC (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/21/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC684456    Hearing Date: October 21, 2020    Dept: 28

Demurrer without a Motion to Strike

Having considered the moving, opposing, and reply papers, the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

On November 21, 2018, Plaintiff Joseph Lambert (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendants City of La Canada Flintridge, County of Los Angeles, and Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. Plaintiff alleges premises liability in the complaint for a slip-and-fall that occurred on November 26, 2016.

On June 6, 2018, Defendant/Cross-Complainant Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. filed a cross-complaint against Roes 1-100 seeking indemnity, contribution, and apportionment of fault.

On June 29, 2018, Defendant/Cross-Complainant County of Los Angeles filed a cross-complaint against Roes 1-100 seeking indemnity, contribution, and apportionment of fault.

On February 5, 2019, the Court dismissed the complaint as to Defendant City of La Canada Flintridge.

On June 12, 2019, Defendant/Cross-Complainant Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. filed an amendment to its cross-complaint naming Cross-Defendant Jen Lewin Studio LLC as Roe 1.

Also on June 12, 2019, Defendant/Cross-Complainant County of Los Angeles filed an amendment to its cross-complaint naming Cross-Defendant Jen Lewin Studio LLC as Roe 1.

On August 8, 2019, Defendants/Cross-Complainants Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. and County of Los Angeles filed a first amended complaint.

On September 12, 2019, Cross-Defendant/Cross-Complainant Jen Lewin Studio LLC filed a cross-complaint against Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Cross-Defendant Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. seeking express indemnity, implied equitable indemnity, contribution, and declaratory relief.

On March 18, 2020, Plaintiff filed an amendment to his complaint naming Defendant Lightswitch as Doe 1.

On May 5, 2020, Plaintiff filed an amendment to this complaint naming Cross-Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Defendant Jen Lewin Studio LLC as Doe 2.

On June 5, 2020, Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Defendant Jen Lewin Studio LLC filed a demurrer to Plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10, subdivisions (e) and (f).

On June 9, 2020, the Court scheduled Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Defendant Jen Lewin Studio LLC’s demurrer to be heard on October 21, 2020.

On September 18, 2020, the Court dismissed Defendant Lightswitch from Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice.

A trial setting conference is scheduled for December 2, 2020.

PARTY’S REQUEST

Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Defendant Jen Lewin Studio LLC (“Defendant Studio”) asks the Court to sustain its demurrer to Plaintiff’s complaint for two reasons.  First, the statute of limitations has passed.  Second, Plaintiff has not alleged Defendant Studio had ownership or control of the property necessary to allege premises liability against Defendant Studio.

JUDICIAL NOTICE

Defendant Studio asks the Court to take judicial notice of the following documents: (1) Plaintiff’s complaint, (2) Defendant/Cross-Complainant Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc.’s amendment to its complaint naming Defendant Studio as a cross-defendant, (3) Defendant Studio’s answer to Defendant/Cross-Complainant Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc.’s cross-complaint, (4) a continuance stipulation, and (5) Plaintiff’s amendment to his complaint naming Defendant Studio as a defendant.  The Court takes judicial notice of these documents pursuant to California Evidence Code section 452, subdivision (d)(1).

LEGAL STANDARD

Meet and Confer

Before filing a demurrer, the demurring party is required to meet and confer with the party who filed the pleading sought to be demurred to, in person or telephonically, 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. (See Code of Civ. Proc. § 430.41.)

Demurrer

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 via proper judicial notice. (Donabedian v. Mercury Ins. Co. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 968, 994.) “A demurrer tests the pleadings alone and not the evidence or other extrinsic matters. Therefore, it lies only where the defects appear on the face of the pleading or are judicially noticed.” (SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 902, 905.) “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 p. 747.)

DISCUSSION

Meet and Confer

The Court finds Defendant Studio has filed a code-compliant meet and confer declaration. (Morrison Decl., 3.)

Demurrer – Statute of Limitations

An action for premises liability must be brought within two years of the date of the negligently caused injury. (Code Civ. Proc., § 335.1; Jolly v. Eli Lilly & Co. (1988) 44 Cal.3d 1103, 1109.)

“The general rule is that an amended complaint that adds a new defendant does not relate back to the date of filing the original complaint and the statute of limitations is applied as of the date the amended complaint is filed, not the date the original complaint is filed.  A recognized exception to the general rule is the substitution under section 474 of a new defendant for a fictitious Doe defendant named in the original complaint as to whom a cause of action was stated in the original complaint.  If the requirements of section 474 are satisfied, the amended complaint substituting a new defendant for a fictitious Doe defendant filed after the statute of limitations has expired is deemed filed as of the date the original complaint was filed.” (Woo v. Superior Court (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 169, 176.)

“Among the requirements for application of the section 474 relation back doctrine is that the new defendant in an amended complaint be substituted for an existing fictitious Doe defendant named in the original complaint.” (Id.) “A further and nonprocedural requirement for application of the section 474 relation-back doctrine is that [Plaintiff] must have been genuinely ignorant of [Defendant Doe’s] identity at the time she filed her original complaint. The omission of the defendant’s identity in the original complaint must be real and not merely a subterfuge for avoiding the requirements of section 474. Furthermore, if the identity ignorance requirement of section 474 is not met, a new defendant may not be added after the statute of limitations has expired even if the new defendant cannot establish prejudice resulting from the delay. However, if the plaintiff is actually ignorant of the defendant’s identity, the section 474 relation-back doctrine applies even if that ignorance is the result of the plaintiff's negligence.” (Id. at p. 177; see also Optical Surplus, Inc. v. Superior Court (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 776, 779-782.)

Here, Defendant Studio’s negligence allegedly caused Plaintiff’s injuries on November 26, 2016.  (Compl., p. 4.)  Plaintiff named Defendant Studio as a defendant in this action more than two years later on May 5, 2020.  (5/5/20 Doe Amendment).  The general rule operates by baring Plaintiff’s action against Defendant Studio because two years passed between the date Plaintiff was negligently harmed and the date Plaintiff named Defendant Studio.

Defendant Studio argues that Plaintiff was not ignorant of Defendant Studio’s true identity.  This is because Defendant/Cross-Complainant Descanso Gardens Guild, Inc. filed an amendment to its cross-complaint naming Defendant Studio as a cross-defendant on June 12, 2019.  Plaintiff agrees that he was ignorant of Defendant Studio’s true identity until June 12, 2019.  (See Opposition, p. 4:11-4:14.)

The relevant inquiry is whether Plaintiff was ignorant of Defendant Studio’s identity “. . . at the time [he] filed [his] original complaint . . . . Woo, supra, 75 Cal.App.4th at p. 177.)  All evidence pertaining to Plaintiff’s ignorance of Defendant Studio’s identity shows Plaintiff was truly ignorant of Defendant Studio’s identity and, thus, the relation back doctrine applies.

Defendant Studio’s argument that Plaintiff knew of Defendant Studio’s identity and waited too long to name it as a defendant is essentially an argument of laches.  More specifically, the relation-back doctrine can be defeated if the Defendant Studio shows Plaintiff was dilatory in naming Defendant Studio and Defendant Studio was prejudiced by the delay.  (See Winding Creek v. McGlashan (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 933, 944.)

Defendant Studio states it has been prejudiced and implies that it would be difficult to prepare for trial.  (Motion, pp. 5:26-6:5.)  However, trial is not set in this matter.  Moreover, Defendant Studio has been a party to this action in the capacity as a cross-defendant for over a year.  Accordingly, Defendant Studio has had sufficient notice of being a cross-defendant and a possible defendant for a sufficient amount of time to prepare for trial.  Accordingly, the relation-back doctrine’s application to Plaintiff’s naming of Defendant Studio as a defendant is not overcome by Defendant Studio’s laches argument.

Demurrer – Failure to State Sufficient Facts

The elements for negligence and premises liability are the same: duty, breach, causation, and damages.  (Castellon v. U.S. Bancorp (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 994, 998.)  Those who own, possess, or control property generally have a duty to exercise ordinary care in managing the property to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.  (Annocki v. Peterson Enterprises, LLC (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 32, 37.)

Plaintiff’s complaint alleges the following against Defendant Studio, who was previously named Doe 2.  On November 26, 2016, Plaintiff visited Descanso Gardens in City of La Canada Flintridge.  (Compl., p. 4.)  Plaintiff encountered a light display consisting of a field of round dangerous disks that lit up when stepped on.  (Ibid.)  Plaintiff fell while walking on the discs and sustained injuries.  (Ibid.)  Defendant Studio owned, maintained, managed, and operated the property.  (Ibid.)

The Court finds Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to state a cause of action against Defendant Studio for premises liability.  Defendant Studio’s argument that it was not the owner of the property is unavailing because it requires the Court to consider extrinsic evidence that is suited to be considered in an evidentiary proceeding, such as at a summary judgment hearing.  Accordingly, the demurrer must be overruled.

CONCLUSION

The demurrer is OVERRULED.

Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Defendant Jen Lewin Studio LLC is ordered to give notice of this ruling.

The parties are directed to the header of this tentative ruling for further instructions.