This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/01/2019 at 01:02:40 (UTC).

JULIE A ESPHORST VS DARRYL LEANDER HICKS ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/03/2018 JULIE A ESPHORST filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against DARRYL LEANDER HICKS. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Torrance Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are LAURA A. SEIGLE and DEIRDRE HILL. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****0634

  • Filing Date:

    04/03/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

LAURA A. SEIGLE

DEIRDRE HILL

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

ESPHORST JULIE A.

ESPHORST JESSE

Claimant

CALIFORNIA VICTIM COMPENSATION BOARD

Defendants, Cross Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants

TORRANCE CITY OF

HICKS DARRYL LEANDER

LOS ANGELES COUNTY OF

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

MING TUNG

SHAWNAN

STATE OF CALIFORNIA

ESPHORST JESSE FRANKLIN

SHAWNAN SHAWNAN

HICKS DARRYL LEANDER JR

12 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

MARDIROSSIAN GARO ESQ.

TAYLOR JOHN CORNELL ESQ.

Claimant Attorney

DELAINI LARENDA RAI

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

SPRADLIN DANIEL

WESIERSKI & ZUREK LLP

HYDE SHERAL ANN

SHCERER JEANNE E. CHIEF COUNSEL

STEWART BRIAN K. ESQ.

VUONG NENA T. DEPUTY ATTORNEY

KAHN RUTH D. ESQ.

COLLINS COLLINS MUIR & STEWART LLP

SPRADLIN DANIEL KEVIN ESQ.

SPRADLIN DANIEL K. ESQ.

Cross Defendant Attorneys

MARKS LAWRENCE

MAKI KEVIN MICHAEL

 

Court Documents

DEFENDANT SHAWANS ANSWER TO PLAINTIFFS UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT

6/11/2018: DEFENDANT SHAWANS ANSWER TO PLAINTIFFS UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT

DEFENDANT SHAWANS DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

6/11/2018: DEFENDANT SHAWANS DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FFES BY DEFENDANT SHAWNAN

6/11/2018: NOTICE OF POSTING JURY FFES BY DEFENDANT SHAWNAN

CIVIL DEPOSIT

6/11/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ANSWER TO PLAINTIFFS COMPLAINT

6/12/2018: COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ANSWER TO PLAINTIFFS COMPLAINT

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

6/19/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

Notice of Related Cases

6/26/2018: Notice of Related Cases

DEFENDANT CITY OF TORRANCE'S DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT MEMORANDUM OF POIN1S AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF MYLES S. COUCH

7/6/2018: DEFENDANT CITY OF TORRANCE'S DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT MEMORANDUM OF POIN1S AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF MYLES S. COUCH

DEFENDANT CITY OF TORRANCE'S REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

7/6/2018: DEFENDANT CITY OF TORRANCE'S REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

Minute Order

7/26/2018: Minute Order

REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL

8/9/2018: REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL

NOTICE OF TAKING DEMURRER HEARING OFF CALENDAR

8/13/2018: NOTICE OF TAKING DEMURRER HEARING OFF CALENDAR

CROSS-COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF; IMPLIED PARTIAL INDEMNITY; AND EQUITABLE APPORTIONMENT

8/14/2018: CROSS-COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF; IMPLIED PARTIAL INDEMNITY; AND EQUITABLE APPORTIONMENT

ANSWER OF DEFENDANT TUNG MING TO COMPLAINT

8/14/2018: ANSWER OF DEFENDANT TUNG MING TO COMPLAINT

Minute Order

8/14/2018: Minute Order

Summons on Cross Complaint

8/14/2018: Summons on Cross Complaint

NOTICE OF TAKING DEMURRER HEARING OFF CALENDAR

8/21/2018: NOTICE OF TAKING DEMURRER HEARING OFF CALENDAR

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES' ANSWER TO CROSS-COMPLAINANT TUNG MING'S CROSS-COMPLAINT AS TO PLAINTIFF JESSE FRANKLIN ESPHORST'S COMPLAINT

8/29/2018: COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES' ANSWER TO CROSS-COMPLAINANT TUNG MING'S CROSS-COMPLAINT AS TO PLAINTIFF JESSE FRANKLIN ESPHORST'S COMPLAINT

87 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/26/2019
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 06/14/2019
  • DocketNotice of Lien; Filed by California Victim Compensation Board (Claimant)

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  • 06/04/2019
  • DocketStipulation and Order (Re: City of Torrance's Informal Production of Documents to Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.); Filed by Torrance, City of (Defendant)

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  • 05/31/2019
  • DocketNotice (of Court Order Re: Notice of Related Cases); Filed by Julie A. Esphorst (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/23/2019
  • DocketAnswer (of City of Torrance to Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint); Filed by Torrance, City of (Defendant)

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  • 05/21/2019
  • Docketat 10:32 AM in Department B, Deirdre Hill, Presiding; Court Order

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  • 05/21/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Court Order re: Notice of Related Cases)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/21/2019
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Minute Order (Court Order re: Notice of Related Cases) of 05/21/2019); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/14/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department B, Deirdre Hill, Presiding; Case Management Conference (re ruling on all notice of related cases) - Held - Continued

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  • 05/14/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department B, Deirdre Hill, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike - Held

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148 More Docket Entries
  • 05/15/2018
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 05/15/2018
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 05/15/2018
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 05/15/2018
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 05/10/2018
  • DocketReceipt; Filed by Julie A. Esphorst (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/10/2018
  • DocketCIVIL DEPOSIT

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  • 04/11/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Jesse Esphorst (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/03/2018
  • DocketPLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

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  • 04/03/2018
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 04/03/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Julie A. Esphorst (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: ****0634 Hearing Date: September 22, 2022 Dept: M

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Southwest District

Torrance Dept. M

JULIA A. ESPHORST,

Plaintiff,

Case No.:

****0634 r/t BC701531 r/t 21STCV07919 r/t 21TRCV00141

vs.

[Tentative] RULING

DARRYL LEANDER HICKS, et al.,

Defendants.

Hearing Date: September 22, 2022

Moving Parties: Defendant Tung Ming

Responding Party: Plaintiffs Julie A. Esphorst and Jesse Esphorst

Motion to Bifurcate Liability, Compensatory Damages, and Punitive Damages

The court considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers.

RULING

The motion is GRANTED as to punitive damages and DENIED as to liability and compensatory damages.

LEGAL AUTHORITY

Under CCP 598, “[t]he court may, when the convenience of witnesses, the ends of justice, or the economy and efficiency of handling the litigation would be promoted thereby, on motion of a party, after notice and hearing, make an order . . . that the trial of any issue or any part thereof shall precede the trial of any other issue or any part thereof in the case . . . .”

Under CCP 1048(b), “[t]he court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, or when separate trials will be conducive to expedition and economy, may order a separate trial of any cause of action . . . or of any separate issue or of any number of causes of action or issues.”

DISCUSSION

Defendant Tung Ming requests that the court bifurcate the trial into three phases: (1) liability, (2) compensatory damages, and (3) punitive damages.

Defendant contends that given the fact that this case involves a teenage decedent, it is anticipated that the damages portion will be “highly emotional and that plaintiffs will be asking the jury to award multiple millions of dollars.” Defendant contends that plaintiffs’ testimony about “the loss of their oldest son and the impact it has had on their lives and their family” “could easily bleed over into the jury’s evaluation of liability,” “resulting in severe prejudice to” defendant. Defendant argues that the issue of liability is “highly disputed.”

Defendant also argues that bifurcation of punitive damages is mandatory under Civil Code 3295(d).

Plaintiffs do not oppose bifurcating punitive damages, acknowledging that it is mandatory.

Plaintiffs oppose bifurcating liability and compensatory damages. Plaintiff Jesse Esphorst asserts that that the motion does not address “the many complexities that would arise” if the court were to order trial in three-phases. Plaintiff also argues that the motion is devoid of any authority to support that evidence of damages is a basis upon which to bifurcate. Plaintiff also contends that defendant’s logic is flawed as to whether he is liable because another party “bears some degree of fault.” See CACI No. 431.

In her opposition, plaintiff Julie Esphorst argues that none of the conditions exist under CCP 598 as bifurcation would not promote the convenience of witnesses, the ends of justice, or the economy and efficiency of handling the litigation. Further, plaintiff asserts, Ming was criminally convicted of vehicular manslaughter and “criminal convictions conclusively establish liability res judicata against Ming in the civil case.” Also, plaintiff contends, many witnesses have testimony that is relevant to both liability and damages.

In trials where punitive damages are claimed, bifurcation is mandatory on defendant’s motion: No evidence of defendant’s wealth (e.g., assets, income, financial condition, etc.) is admissible “until after the trier of fact returns a verdict for plaintiff awarding actual damages and finding the defendant guilty of malice, oppression or fraud in accordance with Section 3294” (requiring clear and convincing evidence). Civ. Code 3295(d); see CACI 3948, 3949; see also BAJI 14.72.1, 14.72.2. “Upon a defendant’s motion, a trial must be bifurcated when a plaintiff seeks punitive damages.” Westrec Marina Mgt., Inc. v. Jardine Ins. Brokers Orange County, Inc. (2000) 85 Cal. App. 4th 1042, 1050. This avoids the risk that defendant’s financial condition might taint the jury's determination of the underlying liability case and the issues of “oppression, fraud or malice.” Medo v. Superior Court (1988) 205 Cal. App. 3d 64, 67–68.

As to bifurcating liability and compensatory damages, the court finds that the convenience of witnesses, the ends of justice, or the economy and efficiency of handling the litigation would not be promoted. Further, separate trials would not be conducive to expedition and economy.

Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED as to bifurcating punitive damages and DENIED as to liability and compensatory damages.

Moving party is ordered to give notice of the ruling.



Case Number: ****0634 Hearing Date: February 15, 2022 Dept: M

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Southwest District

Torrance Dept. M

JULIE A. ESPHORST,

Plaintiff,

Case No.:

****0634 c/w 21STCV07919

vs.

[Tentative] RULING

DARRYL LEANDER HICKS, et al.,

Defendants.

Hearing Date: February 15, 2022

Moving Parties: Defendant Tung Ming

Responding Party: Defendant Toyota, et al.

Motion for Complete Consolidation

The court considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers.

RULING

The motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

On April 3, 2018, plaintiff Julie A. Esphorst filed a complaint against Darryl Leander Hicks, Tung Ming, Caltrans, County of Los Angeles, City of Torrance, and Shawnan for wrongful death – negligence, negligence per se, and dangerous condition of public property based on the death of her 16-year old son in a vehicle accident.

On October 16, 2018, plaintiff filed a FAC.

On May 21, 2019, this case was related to 19STCV07616 [Julie A. Esphorst v. Toyota Motor Corp.] and 19STCV08243 [Jesse Franklin Esphorst v. Toyota Motor Corp.].

On August 2, 2021, the case was related to 21STCV07919 [Jesse Franklin Esphorst v. Tung Ming, et al.].

On November 2, 2021, the court granted defendant County of Los Angeles’ motion for determination of good faith settlement.

Trial is scheduled for June 29, 2022.

LEGAL AUTHORITY

CCP 1048 states: “When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.”

CCP 1049 states: “An action is deemed to be pending from the time of its commencement until its final determination upon appeal, or until the time for appeal has passed, unless the judgment is sooner satisfied.”

Under California Rules of Court Rule 3.350(a)(1), a notice of motion to consolidate must: (A) List all named parties in each case, the names of those who have appeared, and the names of their respective attorneys of record; (B) Contain the captions of all the cases sought to be consolidated, with the lowest numbered case shown first; and (C) Be filed in each case sought to be consolidated. (2) The motion to consolidate: (A) Is deemed a single motion for the purpose of determining the appropriate filing fee, but memorandums, declarations, and other supporting papers must be filed only in the lowest numbered case; (B) Must be served on all attorneys of record and all non-represented parties in all of the cases sought to be consolidated; and (C) Must have a proof of service filed as part of the motion.

DISCUSSION

Defendant Tung Ming requests that the court consolidate the consolidated matters ****0634 (lead case)/BC701531 [wrongful death/negligence] with related cases 19STCV07616 (Julie Esphorst v. Toyota) and 19STCV08243 (Jesse Esphorst v. Toyota) [wrongful death/products liability].

Defendant argues that the four actions arise out of the same motor vehicle accident and involve identical issues of fact and law and that consolidation will promote judicial efficiency. Defendant contends that the trial dates are different but the court notes that the trial is set for June 29, 2022 for all four actions. See minute order dated January 10, 2022, continuing the trial date from March 2, 2022 to June 29, 2022.

In opposition, the Toyota defendants contend that plaintiffs have a very specific and technical argument against the Toyota defendants, which deals with the design and manufacture of the 2000 Toyota Sienna, including the Sienna structure, airbags, and seat belts. Toyota asserts that their defense will involve the presentation of discrete experts, a discrete set of jury instructions, and a discrete verdict form. Toyota argues that there is no commonality of legal issues between the wrongful death/negligence cases and the wrongful death/product liability cases. Toyota argues that consolidation will result in serious prejudice to them because it would significantly increase the cost of defending the action and confuse the jury.

In reply, defendant argues that there is a risk of inconsistent verdicts. Further, defendant argues, the “substantial factor” jury question is the overlapping law in all cases. Defendant also contends that Toyota’s potential increased costs do not rise to the level of prejudice. Defendant further argues that jury confusion would result if the actions were not consolidated. Defendant also argues that plaintiffs’ actions are “joint, single and indivisible.” See Corder v. Corder (2007) 41 Cal. 4th 644.

The court finds that although the motion is procedurally deficient in that it fails to caption all the cases, list the names of the respective party’s attorneys of record, and it was not filed in the other related cases, all counsel have been served. Consolidation is proper as the cases arise out of the same accident and there is an overlap as to legal issues, including substantial factor. Further, consolidation would promote judicial efficiency.

The motion is therefore GRANTED.

Moving party is ordered to give notice of the ruling.



Case Number: ****0634 Hearing Date: February 1, 2022 Dept: M

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Southwest District

Torrance Dept. M

JESSE FRANKLIN ESPHORST,

Plaintiff,

Case No.:

****0634

vs.

[Tentative] RULING

TUNG MING, et al.,

Defendants.

Hearing Date: February 1, 2021

Moving Parties: Plaintiff Jesse Franklin Esphorst

Responding Party: Defendant Tung Ming

(1) Motion to Compel Response to Special Interrogatories

(2) Motion to Compel Response to Inspection Demands

The court considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers.

RULING

The motions are DENIED AS MOOT except as to sanctions.

The court orders defendant Tung Ming to pay sanctions to plaintiff Jesse Franklin Esphorst in the amount of $520, within 30 days,

BACKGROUND

On March 1, 2021, Jesse Franklin Esphorst filed a complaint against Tung Ming, Kwan Cheung, and Teddyland LLC for Uniform Voidable Transactions Act.

On April 14, 2021, Teddyland LLC filed a cross-complaint.

On August 2, 2021, the case was deemed related to 21STCV07919 and 21STCV00141.

On October 26, 2021, the court granted conditionally Teddyland’s motion to expunge lis pendens upon an undertaking in the amount of $3.5 million.

On November 29, 2021, the court denied the motion to expunge because defendant had not shown fulfillment of the bond.

LEGAL AUTHORITY

Interrogatories

If a party to whom interrogatories are directed fails to serve a timely response, the propounding party may move for an order compelling responses and for a monetary sanction. CCP 2030.290(b). The statute contains no time limit for a motion to compel where no responses have been served. All that need be shown in the moving papers is that a set of interrogatories was properly served on the opposing party, that the time to respond has expired, and that no response of any kind has been served. Leach v. Superior Court (1980) 111 Cal. App. 3d 902, 905-906.

Request for Production of Documents

Where there has been no timely response to a CCP 2031.010 demand, the demanding party must seek an order compelling a response. CCP 2031.300. Failure to timely respond waives all objections, including privilege and work product. Thus, unless the party to whom the demand was directed obtains relief from waiver, he or she cannot raise objections to the documents demanded. There is no deadline for a motion to compel responses. Likewise, for failure to respond, the moving party need not attempt to resolve the matter outside court before filing the motion. Where the motion seeks only a response to the inspection demand, no showing of “good cause” is required. Weil & Brown, Civil Procedure Before Trial, 8:1487.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff Jesse Franklin Esphorst requests that the court compel defendant Tung Ming to serve responses to plaintiff’s special interrogatories, set two and inspection demand, set two.

Plaintiff served his discovery requests on September 24, 2021. On October 25, 2021, defense counsel requested a two-week extension. On December 9, 2021, plaintiff’s counsel sent an email notifying defense counsel that timely responses had not been received. As of the date of filing the motions on January 3, 2022, plaintiff’s counsel had not received responses.

In a supplemental opposition, defendant contends that he served responses on January 21, 2022.

In reply, plaintiff acknowledges receipt of defendant’s responses and seeks sanctions only.

The motions are DENIED AS MOOT except as to sanctions.

Sanctions

Under CCP 2023.030(a), “[t]he court may impose a monetary sanction ordering that one engaging in the misuse of the discovery process, or any attorney advising that conduct, or both pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by anyone as a result of that conduct. . . . If a monetary sanction is authorized by any provision of this title, the court shall impose that sanction 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.” Under CCP 2023.010, an example of the misuse of the discovery process is “(d) Failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery.”

Sanctions are mandatory in connection with motions to compel responses to interrogatories and requests for production of documents against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel unless the court “finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.” CCP 2030.290(c), 2031.300(c).

Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1348(a) states: “The court may award sanctions under the Discovery Act in favor of a party who files a motion to compel discovery, even though no opposition to the motion was filed, or opposition to the motion was withdrawn, or the requested discovery was provided to the moving party after the motion was filed.”

Plaintiff requests sanctions against defendant in the amount of $1060 for each motion. The court finds that $520 ($400 x 1 hr., $120 filing fees) is a reasonable amount to be imposed against defendant in total for both motions.

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of ruling.



b'

Case Number: ****0634 Hearing Date: November 2, 2021 Dept: M

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Southwest District

Torrance Dept. M

JULIE A. ESPHORST,

Plaintiff,

Case No.:

****0634

r/t 19STCV08243

vs.

[Tentative] RULING

DARRYL LEANDER HICKS, et al.,

Defendants.

Hearing Date: November 2, 2021

Moving Parties: Defendant County of Los Angeles

Responding Party: None

Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement

The court considered the moving papers. No opposition was filed.

RULING

The motion is GRANTED. The court ORDERS that in this action and all related actions, all present claims and cross-complaints of any kind for implied indemnity, equitable comparative contribution and apportionment or partial or comparative indemnity and apportionment based on comparative negligence or comparative fault against County of Los Angeles be and are dismissed with prejudice. Any and all present and future claims against County of Los Angeles by or on behalf of joint tortfeasors or co-obligors are barred.

BACKGROUND

On April 3, 2018, plaintiff Julie A. Esphorst filed a complaint against Darryl Leander Hicks, Tung Ming, Caltrans, County of Los Angeles, City of Torrance, and Shawnan for wrongful death – negligence, negligence per se, and dangerous condition of public property based on the death of her 16-year old son in a vehicle accident.

On October 16, 2018, plaintiff filed a FAC.

On May 21, 2019, this case was related to 19STCV07616 and 19STCV08243.

DISCUSSION

Defendant County of Los Angeles requests an order that the settlement entered into by and among moving defendant and plaintiffs was made in good faith.

In City of Grand View Terrace v. Superior Court (1987) 192 Cal. App. 3d 1251, 1261, the court provided the following guidance regarding a motion for a good faith settlement determination:

This court notes that of the hundreds of motions for good faith determination presented for trial court approval each year, the overwhelming majority are unopposed and granted summarily by the trial court. At the time of filing in many cases, the moving party does not know if a contest will develop. If each motion required a full recital by declaration or affidavit setting forth a complete factual response to all of the Tech-Bilt factors, literally thousands of attorney hours would be consumed and inch-thick motions would have to be read and considered by trial courts in an exercise which would waste valuable judicial and legal time and clients’ resources. . . . That is to say, when no one objects, the barebones motion which sets forth the ground of good faith, accompanied by a declaration which sets forth a brief background of the case is sufficient.

If the good faith settlement is contested, section 877.6, subdivision (d), sets forth a workable ground rule for the hearing by placing the burden of proving the lack of good faith on the contesting party. Once there is a showing made by the settlor of the settlement, the burden of proof on the issue of good faith shifts to the nonsettlor who asserts that the settlement was not made in good faith. If contested, declarations by the nonsettlor should be filed which in many cases could require the moving party to file responsive counterdeclarations to negate the lack of good faith asserted by the nonsettling contesting party.

192 Cal. App. 3d 1251, 1260-1261 (citation omitted).

“[Code of Civil Procedure] Section 877.6 was enacted by the Legislature in 1980 to establish a statutory procedure for determining if a settlement by an alleged joint tortfeasor has been entered into in good faith and to provide a bar to claims of other alleged joint tortfeasors for equitable contribution or partial or comparative indemnity when good faith is shown.” IRM Corp. v. Carlson (1986) 179 Cal. App. 3d 94, 104.

CCP ; 877.6(a)(1) provides, in relevant part, that, on noticed motion, “[a]ny party to an action wherein it is alleged that two or more parties are joint tortfeasors or co-obligors on a contract debt shall be entitled to a hearing on the issue of the good faith of a settlement entered into by the plaintiff or . . . and one or more alleged tortfeasors or co-obligors . . . .” “A determination by the court that the settlement was made in good faith shall bar any other joint tortfeasor or co-obligor from any further claims against the settling tortfeasor or co-obligor for equitable comparative contribution, or partial or comparative indemnity, based on comparative negligence or comparative fault.” CCP ; 877.6(c). Although a determination that a settlement was in good faith does not discharge any other party from liability, “it shall reduce the claims against the others in the amount stipulated” by the settlement. CCP ; 877(a).

“The party asserting the lack of good faith shall have the burden of proof on that issue.” CCP ; 877.6(d).

In Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde & Associates (1985) 38 Cal.3d 488, 499, the California Supreme Court identified the following nonexclusive factors courts are to consider in determining if a settlement is in good faith under section 877.6: “a rough approximation of plaintiffs\' total recovery and the settlor\'s proportionate liability, the amount paid in settlement, the allocation of settlement proceeds among plaintiffs, and a recognition that a settlor should pay less in settlement than he would if he were found liable after a trial. Other relevant considerations include the financial conditions and insurance policy limits of settling defendants, as well as the existence of collusion, fraud, or tortious conduct aimed to injure the interests of nonsettling defendants.”

The evaluation of whether a settlement was made in good faith is required to “be made on the basis of information available at the time of settlement.” Tech-Bilt, 38 Cal.3d at 499. “‘[A] defendant’s settlement figure must not be grossly disproportionate to what a reasonable person, at the time of the settlement, would estimate the settling defendant’s liability to be.’ [Citation.]” Id. at 499.

“The party asserting the lack of good faith, who has the burden of proof on that issue (; 877.6, subd. (d)), should be permitted to demonstrate, if he can, that the settlement is so far ‘out of the ballpark’ in relation to these factors as to be inconsistent with the equitable objectives of the statute. Such a demonstration would establish that the proposed settlement was not a ‘settlement made in good faith’ within the terms of section 877.6.” Tech-Bilt, 38 Cal.3d at 499-500.

“Thus, Tech-Bilt held that in determining whether a settlement was made in good faith for purposes of section 877.6, a key factor a trial court should consider is whether the amount paid in settlement bears a reasonable relationship to the settlor’s proportionate share of liability. (Tech-Bilt, supra, 38 Cal.3d at pp. 499–500 . . . .) This is because one of the main goals of section 877.6 is ‘allocating costs equitably among multiple tortfeasors.’ (Tech-Bilt, supra, 38 Cal.3d at p. 502 . . . .).” TSI Seismic Tenant Space, Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 159, 166. “Accordingly, a court not only looks at the alleged tortfeasor\'s potential liability to the plaintiff, but it must also consider the culpability of the tortfeasor vis- -vis other parties alleged to be responsible for the same injury. Potential liability for indemnity to a nonsettling defendant is an important consideration for the trial court in determining whether to approve a settlement by an alleged tortfeasor. [Citation.]” Id. at 166.

Here, although there is no opposition, the court considered the Tech-Bilt factors as applied to the settlement between moving defendant and plaintiffs.

First, as to a rough approximation of plaintiffs’ total recovery, defendant asserts that plaintiff Jesse Esphorst is seeking recovery of approximately $78,540 in lost earnings and $100,000 in medical expenses. Defendant also asserts that plaintiffs’ damages focus on and arise from their wrongful death claims and that there “is no doubt that the Esphorst family was close and the death of their son has had a significant impact on plaintiffs” and that placing an economic value on such damages is impossible to calculate with any certainty.

Second, as to moving defendant’s proportionate liability, plaintiffs have alleged the negligence of Deputy Jessica Lindsay, a LA County Sheriff’s Watch Deputy who received a 911 call from defendant Tung Ming that he had been in a hit and run accident and was “chasing” defendant Darry Hicks. Plaintiffs allege that Deputy Lindsay acted with gross negligence by encouraging Ming to continue to chase Hicks in an effort to get the license plate of Hicks’ vehicle. Ming purportedly continued to race after Hicks while still on the phone with Deputy Lindsay. Defendant asserts though that its potential liability is limited under the immunity provided under Health and Safety Code ;1799.107 as to emergency personnel and that Deputy Lindsay’s conduct does not rise to the level of gross negligence. Defendant contends that the 911 call lasted 57 seconds and that three times during the call, Deputy Lindsay “presented an open-ended question to Defendant Ming, asking him to give her a license plate number ‘when he can’” and that Ming never told her that he had already decided to chase Hicks before calling 911 and that he and Hicks were travelling in excess of 80 to 100 mph. Defendant also contends that her actions were in line with her extensive training. Defendant also asserts that its potential liability is minimal compared to that of Hicks and Ming.

Third, as to the amount paid in settlement, the parties settled for $6.5 million.

Fourth, as to the allocation of settlement proceeds, such allocation will be determined by plaintiffs.

Fifth, the court recognizes that defendant should pay less in settlement than if it was found liable after a trial.

Sixth, as to financial condition and insurance policy limits of settling defendant, the County is a self-insured public entity.

Seventh, as to whether there is evidence of collusion, fraud, or tortious conduct aimed to injure the interests of the other defendants or cross-defendants, in April 2021, the County and plaintiffs began negotiations of potential settlement through the use of private mediator Richard Copeland. On July 7, 2021, the mediator issued a proposal suggesting that the parties should settle the matter for $6.5 million, which the parties accepted. Further, all parties have conducted significant discovery.

After considering the Tech-Bilt factors that were addressed, the court finds and determines that the settlement entered into between moving defendant and plaintiffs was made in good faith within the meaning of CCP ;877.6. Therefore, the motion is GRANTED.

Moving defendant is ordered to give notice of the ruling.

'


Case Number: ****0634    Hearing Date: April 28, 2021    Dept: M

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Southwest District

Torrance Dept. M

JULIE A. ESPHORST,

Plaintiff,

Case No.:

****0634

vs.

[Tentative] RULING

DARRYL LEANDER HICKS, et al.,

Defendants.

Hearing Date: April 28, 2021

Moving Parties: Plaintiff Julia Esphorst

Responding Party: Defendant Tung Ming

Motion to Compel the In-Person Deposition of Defendant Tung Ming

The court considered the moving, opposition, and reply.

RULING

The motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

On April 3, 2018, plaintiff Julie A. Esphorst filed a complaint against Darryl Leander Hicks, Tung Ming, Caltrans, County of Los Angeles, City of Torrance, and Shawnan for wrongful death – negligence, negligence per se, and dangerous condition of public property based on the death of her son in a vehicle accident.

LEGAL AUTHORITY

CCP ;2025.450(a) provides: “If, after service of a deposition notice, a party to the action or an officer, director, managing agent, or employee of a party, . . , without having served a valid objection under Section 2025.410, 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 the notice may move for an order compelling the deponent’s attendance and testimony, and the production for inspection of any document . . . described in the deposition notice.”

CCP ;2025.450(b) provides, “A motion under subdivision (a) shall comply with both of the following:

(1) The motion shall set forth specific facts showing good cause justifying the production for inspection of any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing described in the deposition notice.

(2) The motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040, or, when the deponent fails to attend the deposition and produce the documents, electronically stored information, or things described in the deposition notice, by a declaration stating that the petitioner has contacted the deponent to inquire about the nonappearance.”

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff requests an order compelling defendant Tung Ming to appear for his deposition in-person.

Plaintiff contends that plaintiff noticed defendant’s deposition twice but that defendant Ming failed to object to either notice but refused to appear for his deposition unless it was taken remotely from an undisclosed location.

Plaintiff argues that she has good cause because during the deposition, counsel needs to show him maps and illustrations so that he can explain when and what occurred at various locations and will necessarily require him to point to, mark up and draw on exhibits; plaintiff intends to show defendant dozens of exhibits and if forced to take the deposition remotely, the deposition may go beyond seven hours; depositions involving multiple parties when taken via remote means “often result in transcript errors”; and plaintiff has filed a separate lawsuit for fraudulent conveyance against Ming and Ming has been avoiding service of the summons and complaint and Ming should be required to personally appear for his deposition so that he can be served. Plaintiff further represents that counsel will provide face masks, sanitizer, and a large enough conference room to allow for distancing.

In opposition, defendant argues that there is no good cause to compel defendant to appear in person at his deposition. Defendant contends that plaintiff’s request “is out of the ordinary for current practices and requiring defendant Ming to appear in person just so he can then be served with another summons and complaint is in no way an authorized reason or basis for ordering a deposition in person.” Defendant argues that the provision of facemasks, sanitizer, and social distancing “do not vitiate applicable public health department rules.” Defendant contends that the use of maps and illustrations can still be done in a virtual deposition. Defendant suggests providing to defense counsel the exhibits to allow defendant to mark the exhibits in person. Defendant also argues that there is no reason to expect transcript errors because the deposition is taken remotely.

In reply, plaintiff asserts that Ming has failed to raise any special health or safety concerns that he has that would require a virtual deposition. Plaintiff argues that a virtual deposition would be prejudicial to plaintiff as there exist numerous technological issues and challenges. As to sharing exhibits ahead of time, it would eliminate the ability to impeach a witness with exhibits. Further, plaintiff contends, defendant is continuing to evade service.

Under CCP ;2025.310, “(a) At the election of the deponent or the deposing party, the deposition officer may attend the deposition at a different location than the deponent via remote means. A deponent is not required to be physically present with the deposition officer when being sworn in at the time of the deposition.

(b) Subject to Section 2025.420, any party or attorney of record may, but is not required to, be physically present at the deposition at the location of the deponent.

(c) The procedures to implement this section shall be established by court order in the specific action or proceeding or by the California Rules of Court.

(d) An exercise of the authority granted by subdivision (a) or (b) does not waive any other provision of this title, including, but not limited to, provisions regarding the time, place, or manner in which a deposition shall be conducted. . . .”

Defendant may attend the deposition via remote means at his election. Plaintiff has not shown good cause for defendant and counsel to appear in person.

The motion is thus DENIED.

Plaintiff is ordered to serve notice of this ruling.



Case Number: ****0634    Hearing Date: January 07, 2021    Dept: M

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Southwest District

Torrance Dept. M

JULIE A. ESPHORST,

Plaintiff,

Case No.:

****0634

vs.

[Tentative] RULING

DARRYL LEANDER HICKS, et al.,

Defendants.

Hearing Date: January 7, 2020

Moving Parties: Plaintiff Julie A. Esphorst

Responding Party: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Motion for Peace Officer Personnel Records (Pitchess)

The court considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers.

RULING

The motion is GRANTED subject to a protective order as follows: Defendant County of Los Angeles is ordered to produce by February 5, 2021 the following documents for an in camera inspection under Evidence Code ;1045:

(1) any and all writings that reflect the training that Jessica Lindsay received prior to March 7, 2017 regarding the duties and responsibilities of 9-1-1 operators;

(2) any and all documents, reports, memorandums, and writings that reflect performance reviews of Jessica Lindsay;

(3) any and all written complaints made against Jessica Lindsay; and

(4) any and all disciplinary records for Jessica Lindsay (including but not limited to those regarding the March 7, 2017 incident).

The motion is DENIED as to any and all documents, reports, memorandums, and writings that reflect the County’s investigation of Jessica Lindsay’s role in the March 7, 2017 incident.

BACKGROUND

On April 3, 2018, plaintiff Julie A. Esphorst filed a complaint against Darryl Leander Hicks, Tung Ming, Caltrans, County of Los Angeles, City of Torrance, and Shawnan for wrongful death – negligence, negligence per se, and dangerous condition of public property based on the death of her son in a vehicle accident.

LEGAL AUTHORITY

“To initiate discovery [of the personnel files of police officers], the defendant must file a motion supported by affidavits showing ‘good cause for the discovery,’ first by demonstrating the materiality of the information to the pending litigation and second by ‘stating upon reasonable belief’ that the police agency has the records or information at issue. This two-part showing of good cause is a ‘relatively low threshold for discovery.’” Warrick v. Superior Court (2005) 35 Cal. 4th 1011, 1019 (citations omitted). “If the trial court finds good cause for the discovery, it reviews the pertinent documents in chambers and discloses only that information falling within the statutorily defined standards of evidence.” Id.

Evidence Code ;1043 states: “ (a) In any case in which discovery or disclosure is sought of peace or custodial officer personnel records or records maintained pursuant to Section 832.5 of the Penal Code or information from those records, the party seeking the discovery or disclosure shall file a written motion with the appropriate court or administrative body upon written notice to the governmental agency which has custody and control of the records. . . . (b) The motion shall include all of the following:

(1) Identification of the proceeding in which discovery or disclosure is sought, the party seeking discovery or disclosure, the peace or custodial officer whose records are sought, the governmental agency which has custody and control of the records, and the time and place at which the motion for discovery or disclosure shall be heard.

(2) A description of the type of records or information sought.

(3) Affidavits showing good cause for the discovery or disclosure sought, setting forth the materiality thereof to the subject matter involved in the pending litigation and stating upon reasonable belief that the governmental agency identified has the records or information from the records. . . .”

“The affidavits may be on information and belief and need not be based on personal knowledge, but the information sought must be requested with sufficient specificity to preclude the possibility of a defendant’s simply casting about for any helpful information.” People v. Mooc (2001) 26 Cal. 4th 1216, 1226 (citation omitted).

“[I]f a defendant has established good cause for the discovery, ‘the trial court proceeds to an in chambers examination of the records to determine whether they have any relevance to the issues presented in the current proceedings.’” Slayton v. Superior Court (2006) 146 Cal. App. 4th 55, 60.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff Julie A. Esphorst requests an order directing County of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and their representatives, the following documents:

(1) any and all writings that reflect the training that Jessica Lindsay received prior to March 7, 2017 regarding the duties and responsibilities of 9-1-1 operators;

(2) any and all documents, reports, memorandums, and writings that reflect performance reviews of Jessica Lindsay;

(3) any and all written complaints made against Jessica Lindsay;

(4) any and all disciplinary records for Jessica Lindsay (including but not limited to those regarding the March 7, 2017 incident)

(5) any and all documents, reports, memorandums, and writings that reflect the County’s investigation of Jessica Lindsay’s role in the March 7, 2017 incident.

Plaintiff asserts that on March 7, 2017, defendants Hicks and Ming were involved in a minor fender bender and when Hicks fled the scene Ming began chasing him. Ming called 911 and informed LA County Sheriff’s Department Watch Deputy (and acting dispatch operator) Jessica Lindsay that he was chasing after the car that hit him. Plaintiff contends that instead of following police protocol by telling Ming to stop chasing Hicks, she told him to “give me the license plate on the vehicle when you can.” As Ming was chasing Hicks, with Deputy Lindsay still on the phone with him, he and Hicks both ran through a red light and struck the Esphorsts’ family van. Plaintiff also contends that at Deputy Lindsay’s deposition on October 30, 2020, she testified that she has a “long history” of “outstanding evaluations” with the County every year, her actions complied with the County’s policies and procedures, and her County superiors ratified her handling of the subject 911 call. Plaintiff argues that the County has a duty to train 911 operators in “hectic and potentially dangerous situations, such as a high-speed car chase” and that whether Deputy Lindsay was trained and how adequately is one of the primary issues with regard to the County’s liability. Plaintiff also argues that the County has a duty to supervise and discipline and that such documents are relevant as potential impeachment evidence.

In opposition, defendant argues that the request is overly broad because the “blanket request for ‘all’ records from the deputy’s file supplants Section 1043’s specificity requirement.” Defendant also agues that plaintiff fails to identify a reasonable time period. Defendant also argues that the affidavit does not set forth good cause for each of the confidential records requested except as to (1). Further, defendant contends, plaintiff is not entitled to disclosure of the Sheriff’s Department’s conclusions or analyses of its investigators. In any event, defendant asserts, the court should issue a protective order for any privileged material.

In reply, plaintiff argues that she has shown good cause and that the declaration in support of the motion is as specific as can reasonably be expected without having inspected the documents themselves.

The court finds that plaintiff has complied with Evidence Code ;1043. She has met her burden of showing good cause for defendant’s records of Deputy Lindsay as to (1) through (4) above. The requests are sufficiently specific, and the affidavit is sufficient to show the materiality of the records as they relate to plaintiff’s claims as to the County’s liability regarding training, supervision, and discipline. She has not shown good cause for documents reflecting the County’s investigation, if any, of Lindsay’s role in the incident. See Haggerty v. Superior Court (2004) 117 Cal. App. 4th 1079, 1088 (“neither the trial court nor Guindazola articulated any possible relevance of the investigating officer’s subjective analysis and conclusions to the issues raised in Guindazola’s lawsuit.”).

The motion is GRANTED as to (1) through (4) and DENIED as to (5).

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of the ruling.



Case Number: ****0634    Hearing Date: October 29, 2020    Dept: M

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Southwest District

Torrance Dept. M

JULIE A. ESPHORST,

Plaintiff,

Case No.:

****0634

r/t 19STCV08243

vs.

[Tentative] RULING

DARRYL LEANDER HICKS, et al.,

Defendants.

Hearing Date: October 29, 2020

Moving Parties: Defendant and cross-defendant Shawnan

Responding Party: None

Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement

The court considered the moving papers. No opposition was filed.

RULING

The motion is GRANTED. The court ORDERS that in this action and all related actions, all present claims and cross-complaints of any kind for implied indemnity, equitable comparative contribution and apportionment or partial or comparative indemnity and apportionment based on comparative negligence or comparative fault against Shawnan be and are dismissed with prejudice. Any and all present and future claims against Shawnan by or on behalf of joint tortfeasors or co-obligors are barred.

BACKGROUND

On April 3, 2018, plaintiff Julie A. Esphorst filed a complaint against Darryl Leander Hicks, Tung Ming, Caltrans, County of Los Angeles, City of Torrance, and Shawnan for wrongful death – negligence, negligence per se, and dangerous condition of public property based on the death of her 16-year old son in a vehicle accident.

On October 16, 2018, plaintiff filed a FAC.

On May 21, 2019, this case was related to 19STCV07616 and 19STCV08243.

DISCUSSION

Defendant and cross-defendant Shawnan requests an order that the settlement entered into by and among moving defendant and plaintiffs was made in good faith.

In City of Grand View Terrace v. Superior Court (1987) 192 Cal. App. 3d 1251, 1261, the court provided the following guidance regarding a motion for a good faith settlement determination:

This court notes that of the hundreds of motions for good faith determination presented for trial court approval each year, the overwhelming majority are unopposed and granted summarily by the trial court. At the time of filing in many cases, the moving party does not know if a contest will develop. If each motion required a full recital by declaration or affidavit setting forth a complete factual response to all of the Tech-Bilt factors, literally thousands of attorney hours would be consumed and inch-thick motions would have to be read and considered by trial courts in an exercise which would waste valuable judicial and legal time and clients’ resources. . . . That is to say, when no one objects, the barebones motion which sets forth the ground of good faith, accompanied by a declaration which sets forth a brief background of the case is sufficient.

If the good faith settlement is contested, section 877.6, subdivision (d), sets forth a workable ground rule for the hearing by placing the burden of proving the lack of good faith on the contesting party. Once there is a showing made by the settlor of the settlement, the burden of proof on the issue of good faith shifts to the nonsettlor who asserts that the settlement was not made in good faith. If contested, declarations by the nonsettlor should be filed which in many cases could require the moving party to file responsive counterdeclarations to negate the lack of good faith asserted by the nonsettling contesting party.

192 Cal. App. 3d 1251, 1260-1261 (citation omitted).

“[Code of Civil Procedure] Section 877.6 was enacted by the Legislature in 1980 to establish a statutory procedure for determining if a settlement by an alleged joint tortfeasor has been entered into in good faith and to provide a bar to claims of other alleged joint tortfeasors for equitable contribution or partial or comparative indemnity when good faith is shown.” IRM Corp. v. Carlson (1986) 179 Cal. App. 3d 94, 104.

CCP ; 877.6(a)(1) provides, in relevant part, that, on noticed motion, “[a]ny party to an action wherein it is alleged that two or more parties are joint tortfeasors or co-obligors on a contract debt shall be entitled to a hearing on the issue of the good faith of a settlement entered into by the plaintiff or . . . and one or more alleged tortfeasors or co-obligors . . . .” “A determination by the court that the settlement was made in good faith shall bar any other joint tortfeasor or co-obligor from any further claims against the settling tortfeasor or co-obligor for equitable comparative contribution, or partial or comparative indemnity, based on comparative negligence or comparative fault.” CCP ; 877.6(c). Although a determination that a settlement was in good faith does not discharge any other party from liability, “it shall reduce the claims against the others in the amount stipulated” by the settlement. CCP ; 877(a).

“The party asserting the lack of good faith shall have the burden of proof on that issue.” CCP ; 877.6(d).

In Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde & Associates (1985) 38 Cal.3d 488, 499, the California Supreme Court identified the following nonexclusive factors courts are to consider in determining if a settlement is in good faith under section 877.6: “a rough approximation of plaintiffs' total recovery and the settlor's proportionate liability, the amount paid in settlement, the allocation of settlement proceeds among plaintiffs, and a recognition that a settlor should pay less in settlement than he would if he were found liable after a trial. Other relevant considerations include the financial conditions and insurance policy limits of settling defendants, as well as the existence of collusion, fraud, or tortious conduct aimed to injure the interests of nonsettling defendants.”

The evaluation of whether a settlement was made in good faith is required to “be made on the basis of information available at the time of settlement.” Tech-Bilt, 38 Cal.3d at 499. “‘[A] defendant’s settlement figure must not be grossly disproportionate to what a reasonable person, at the time of the settlement, would estimate the settling defendant’s liability to be.’ [Citation.]” Id. at 499.

“The party asserting the lack of good faith, who has the burden of proof on that issue (; 877.6, subd. (d)), should be permitted to demonstrate, if he can, that the settlement is so far ‘out of the ballpark’ in relation to these factors as to be inconsistent with the equitable objectives of the statute. Such a demonstration would establish that the proposed settlement was not a ‘settlement made in good faith’ within the terms of section 877.6.” Tech-Bilt, 38 Cal.3d at 499-500.

“Thus, Tech-Bilt held that in determining whether a settlement was made in good faith for purposes of section 877.6, a key factor a trial court should consider is whether the amount paid in settlement bears a reasonable relationship to the settlor’s proportionate share of liability. (Tech-Bilt, supra, 38 Cal.3d at pp. 499–500 . . . .) This is because one of the main goals of section 877.6 is ‘allocating costs equitably among multiple tortfeasors.’ (Tech-Bilt, supra, 38 Cal.3d at p. 502 . . . .).” TSI Seismic Tenant Space, Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 159, 166. “Accordingly, a court not only looks at the alleged tortfeasor's potential liability to the plaintiff, but it must also consider the culpability of the tortfeasor vis-à-vis other parties alleged to be responsible for the same injury. Potential liability for indemnity to a nonsettling defendant is an important consideration for the trial court in determining whether to approve a settlement by an alleged tortfeasor. [Citation.]” Id. at 166.

Here, although there is no opposition, the court considered the Tech-Bilt factors as applied to the settlement between moving defendant and plaintiffs.

First, as to a rough approximation of plaintiffs’ total recovery, defendant asserts that plaintiff Julie Esphorst is seeking $19,908 for recoverable funeral and burial expenses for the decedent as well as an unknown amount in non-economic damages for the loss of affection, comfort, and society she enjoyed with her son. Plaintiff Jesse Esphorst is seeking a yet to be determined amount in economic and non-economic damages under his own cause of action for negligence.

Second, as to moving defendants’ proportionate liability, defendant contends that its liability is zero. Plaintiffs allege that contractor Shawnan had a duty to exercise reasonable care in performing construction work to design, maintain, construct, inspect, supervise, and/or repair the roadway at or near the intersection of Crenshaw Blvd. and Crest Rd. in Torrance where the incident occurred; Shawnan’s alleged negligence created a dangerous condition of public property and an undiscovered trap, which was a substantial factor in causing the fatal collision; the alleged dangerous condition existed, in part, due to obscured sightlines caused by the design of the roadway, curvature of the roadway, elevation variances, adjoining land features, improper striping and/or signage, ongoing construction, poor lighting, and improper and/or nonfunctioning traffic control signs/signals, leaving drivers exposed to risks, such as chaotic traffic condition and undiscovered trap for motorists using the roadway in a foreseeable manner.

Defendant contends that it was not performing road construction at, on, or around the subject intersection on the date of the incident or any relevant time prior, and therefore had no involvement or causal connection to the incident and/or resulting injuries/damages. There were no lane closures, equipment, or obstacles in the traffic lanes of that area at the time of the incident. Shawnan complied with all approved construction plans, traffic controls, warning signs, and safety/security/housekeeping guidelines on the day of the incident. See Ruth Kahn decl., and accompanying exhibits. Rather, defendant asserts, the cause of the fatal collision and resulting injuries/damages was defendants Hicks and Ming’s criminal conduct and traffic violations.

Third, as to the amount paid in settlement, the parties settled for $30,000.

Fourth, as to the allocation of settlement proceeds, defendant did not address.

Fifth, the court recognizes that defendant should pay less in settlement than if it was found liable after a trial.

Sixth, as to financial conditions and insurance policy limits of settling defendant, the motion does not address.

Seventh, as to whether there is evidence of collusion, fraud, or tortious conduct aimed to injure the interests of the other defendants or cross-defendants, Shawnan asserts that it accepted plaintiffs’ collective settlement demand on September 18, 2020.

After considering the Tech-Bilt factors that were addressed, the court finds and determines that the settlement entered into between moving defendant and plaintiffs was made in good faith within the meaning of CCP ; 877.6. Therefore, the motion is GRANTED.

Moving defendant is ordered to give notice of the ruling.



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