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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 01/02/2021 at 16:58:26 (UTC).

JULIETA G., AN INDIVIDUAL VS SIGNATURE HEALTHCARE SERVICES, LLC, A MICHIGAN CORPORATION, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 09/17/2019 JULIETA G , AN INDIVIDUAL filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against SIGNATURE HEALTHCARE SERVICES, LLC, A MICHIGAN CORPORATION. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Burbank Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is DANIEL M. CROWLEY. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******2969

  • Filing Date:

    09/17/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Burbank Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

DANIEL M. CROWLEY

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

G. AN INDIVIDUAL JULIETA

Defendants

SIGNATURE HEALTHCARE SERVICES LLC A MICHIGAN CORPORATION

LAS ENCINAS HOSPITAL A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

DOE AN INDIVIDUAL JOHN

AURORA LAS ENCINAS LLC A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

CANTOR ZACHARY

Defendant Attorney

GASPARIAN CHRISTINA

 

Court Documents

Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT (2ND) (2ND)

11/2/2020: Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT (2ND) (2ND)

Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF ZACHARY CANTOR IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITIONS TO DEFENDANTS DEMURRER AND MOTION TO STRIKE

11/9/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF ZACHARY CANTOR IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITIONS TO DEFENDANTS DEMURRER AND MOTION TO STRIKE

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE

11/9/2020: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

11/10/2020: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER TRANSFERRING CASE TO AN INDEPENDENT CALENDAR COURT)

11/12/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER TRANSFERRING CASE TO AN INDEPENDENT CALENDAR COURT)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER) OF 11/12/2020

11/12/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER) OF 11/12/2020

Opposition - OPPOSITION TO EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

11/12/2020: Opposition - OPPOSITION TO EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER)

11/13/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER)

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION AN ORDER SHORTENING TIME TO H...)

11/13/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION AN ORDER SHORTENING TIME TO H...)

Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER TO SUBMIT DISCOVERY ISSUES TO INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE

11/30/2020: Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER TO SUBMIT DISCOVERY ISSUES TO INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE (IDC))

12/29/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE (IDC))

Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

7/13/2020: Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

7/13/2020: Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

Notice - NOTICE RE NOTICE OF HEARING ON MOTION

7/30/2020: Notice - NOTICE RE NOTICE OF HEARING ON MOTION

Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

8/19/2020: Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

Proof of Personal Service

1/14/2020: Proof of Personal Service

PI General Order

10/16/2019: PI General Order

Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

9/17/2019: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

38 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/25/2021
  • Hearing03/25/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department B at 300 East Olive, Burbank, CA 91502; Case Management Conference

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  • 02/05/2021
  • Hearing02/05/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department B at 300 East Olive, Burbank, CA 91502; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

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  • 02/05/2021
  • Hearing02/05/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department B at 300 East Olive, Burbank, CA 91502; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)

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  • 12/29/2020
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department B; Informal Discovery Conference (IDC) - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Court

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  • 12/29/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Informal Discovery Conference (IDC))); Filed by Clerk

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  • 11/30/2020
  • DocketStipulation and Order (TO SUBMIT DISCOVERY ISSUES TO INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE); Filed by Julieta G., an Individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/16/2020
  • Docketat 3:30 PM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Party

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  • 11/16/2020
  • Docketat 3:30 PM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/16/2020
  • Docketat 3:30 PM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/13/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (AN ORDER SHORTING TIME TO HEAR A MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, RELIEF PER CCP 473(b) FOR AN ORDER CONTINUING HEARING ON DEMURRER AND MOTION TO STRIKE) - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Court

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42 More Docket Entries
  • 07/13/2020
  • DocketMotion to Strike (not initial pleading); Filed by Signature Healthcare Services, LLC, a Michigan Corporation (Defendant); Aurora Las Encinas, LLC Erroneously Sued As Las Encinas Hospital a California Corporation (Defendant)

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  • 07/13/2020
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Court Order) of 07/13/2020); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/17/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Julieta G., an Individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/14/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Julieta G., an Individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/16/2019
  • DocketPI General Order; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/16/2019
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ([PI General Order], Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates); Filed by Clerk

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  • 09/17/2019
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Julieta G., an Individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/17/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Julieta G., an Individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/17/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Julieta G., an Individual (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/17/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STCV32969    Hearing Date: May 21, 2021    Dept: NCB

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

North Central District

Department B

JULIETA G.,

Plaintiff,

v.

SIGNATURE HEALTHCARE SERVICES, LLC, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: 19STCV32969

Hearing Date: May 21, 2021

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

demurrer; motion to strike

BACKGROUND

A. Allegations

Plaintiff Julieta G. (“Plaintiff”) alleges she is a “mentally disabled person” and a “person with mental disabilities”. Defendant Signature Healthcare Services, LLC (“Signature”) (dba Aurora Las Encinas Hospital and Aurora Behavioral Health Care) operates 13 acute psychiatric hospital, including Aurora Las Encinas Hospital. Defendant Aurora Las Encinas, LLC dba Las Encinas Hospital (“Aurora”) operates a psychiatric hospital at 2900 East Del Mar Blvd. in Pasadena.

Plaintiff alleges that in July 2018, she voluntarily admitted herself for suicide and severe depression, and was transferred to Aurora Las Encinas Hospital. During her stay in August 2018, she alleges that she was physically attacked by another patient, Juandell F. She alleges Juandell F. grabbed a pen from one of the mental health workers (Nurse Kyle Ann Carlson), entered her room, and violently attacked and stabbed her with a pen.

The second amended complaint (“SAC”), filed November 2, 2020, alleges causes of action for: (1) negligence against Signature; and (2) dependent adult neglect/abuse against all Defendants.

B. Motions on Calendar

On March 5, 2021, Defendants Signature and Aurora filed a demurrer to the SAC. On March 24, 2021, Defendants Signature and Aurora filed a motion to strike portions of the SAC.

On May 5, 2021, Plaintiff filed opposition briefs to the demurrer and motion to strike.

On May 10, 2021, Defendants filed a combined reply brief.

DISCUSSION RE DEMURRER

A. Negligence (1st cause of action)

Civil Code, § 3333.1(c) states:

(1) “Health care provider” means any person licensed or certified pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) of the Business and Professions Code, or licensed pursuant to the Osteopathic Initiative Act, or the Chiropractic Initiative Act, or licensed pursuant to Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 1440) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code; and any clinic, health dispensary, or health facility, licensed pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 1200) of the Health and Safety Code. “Health care provider” includes the legal representatives of a health care provider;

(2) “Professional negligence” means a negligent act or omission to act by a health care provider in the rendering of professional services, which act or omission is the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death, provided that such services are within the scope of services for which the provider is licensed and which are not within any restriction imposed by the licensing agency or licensed hospital.

(Civ. Code, § 3333.1(c)(1)-(2); see also Bus. & Profs. Code, § 6146(c)(2)-(3); CCP § 340.5(1)-(2).) “Acute psychiatric hospital” means “a health facility having a duly constituted governing body with overall administrative and professional responsibility and an organized medical staff that provides 24-hour inpatient care for persons with mental health disorders or other patients referred to in Division 5 (commencing with Section 5000) or Division 6 (commencing with Section 6000) of the Welfare and Institutions Code, including the following basic services: medical, nursing, rehabilitative, pharmacy, and dietary services.” (Health & Saf. Code, § 1250(b).)

In the SAC, Plaintiff alleges that Signature is not a healthcare provider because it is not licensed to provide healthcare services and instead provides management services. (SAC, ¶5.) Plaintiff further alleges that Signature is owned by Dr. Soon Kuyan Kim, who is not a licensed physician in California and thus not permitted to form a professional corporation in California. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) does not apply. (Id.) She alleges that Signature does business as “Aurora Behavioral Health Care”, collects an annual fee of about $850,000 plus a performance bonus to directly manage all administrative and clerical aspects of each of its 14 hospitals in its chain organization. (Id., ¶6.)

In the 1st cause of action for negligence, Plaintiff alleges that Signature had a duty to keep Plaintiff (a patient of Signature’s acute psychiatric facility) safe and free from health and safety hazards, but that Signature breached that duty. (SAC, ¶¶41, 45-46.) Plaintiff alleges that Signature knew or should have known about Juandell F.’s dangerous propensities and history of violence. (Id., ¶42.) She alleges Signature was negligent by failing to exercise reasonable care and had inadequate staffing, training, and documentation and communication of patient risks and mental states and failed to adequately supervise staff and patients. (Id., ¶43.)

Signature demurs to the negligence cause of action, arguing that Plaintiff cannot assert a mere negligence cause of action against it in an attempt to deprive Signature of its rights under MICRA. Signature argues that this cause of action should be a professional negligence cause of action where the standard of care should be the professional standards of a psychiatric hospital. It argues that its treatment rendered to a mental health patient in a psychiatrist hospital arise from the quality of medical services to Juandell F. and Plaintiff, which will rely on the opinion of a qualified expert. Signature also argues that the SAC makes clear that Signature was a health care provider charged with rendering professional services to Plaintiff at Aurora Las Encinas Hospital (which it argues is an accepted health care provider) and thus Signature may be vicarious liable for an employee subject MICRA such that MICRA protections apply.

In opposition, Plaintiff argues that Signature is an unlicensed operation and is not a healthcare provider as defined above such that MICRA does not apply. Plaintiff argues that while Signature operates 13 acute psychiatric hospitals, it contracted with Aurora to provide for the day-to-day management and operational services and Signature manages all guidelines and aspects of hiring at the hospitals. (SAC, ¶¶3-4.) Plaintiff argues that this cause of action is not regarding the diagnosis and treatment of anyone’s medical condition, but rather Signature’s direct (and not vicarious) failure in its custodial obligations to protect Plaintiff from known health and safety hazards—which is more akin to a slip and fall where MICRA would not apply.

Signature relies on Lathrop v. HealthCare Partners Medical Group (2004) 114 Cal.App.4th 1412. In Lathrop, the Court of Appeal found that while a medical group consisting of a partnership of physicians was not a “health care provider” because the group was not itself licensed to practice medicine, the group was still subject to the MICRA caps as an employer held vicariously liable for the negligent acts of its licensed physician employees. The plaintiff had been treated by 3 separate physicians from the medical group who did not order a mammogram and she sued the medical group for medical malpractice for failure of the physicians to diagnose and treat her breast cancer. MICRA applies to 2 basic categories of health care providers: licensed practitioners and licensed facilities. (Lathrop, supra, 114 Cal.App.4th at 1419.) The medical group did not claim it was a licensed facility, nor was it a licensed physician (as it was not a natural person); rather, the physicians were licensed and were the only “health care providers.” Nevertheless, the Court of Appeal found that under the doctrine of respondeat superior, a principal or employer is vicariously liable for the acts of an agent or employee committed in the course of employment. (Id. at 1421.) Although the physicians were dismissed from the lawsuit, it was understood that the medical group’s liability was solely vicarious, based upon the professional negligence of its physician employees. (Id. at 1422.) While an employer cannot be held vicariously liable unless the employee is found responsible, this does not necessarily mean that the “employer and employee must be joined in the action as codefendants. The two may be sued separately, and the employer may be held vicariously liable without a judgment against the employee personally.” (Id. at 1423.) Any substantive defense available to the employee inures to the benefit of the employer, including that an employer cannot be held vicariously liable for an amount of compensatory damages that exceeds the amount for which the employee is liable. (Id.)

Here, Signature itself is not a licensed facility or a licensed physician, such that it is not a “health care provider.” Plaintiff also alleges that Dr. Kim is not a licensed physician in California and thus argues that Dr. Kim nor Signature can be considered a health care provider. (SAC, ¶3.) Nevertheless, Signature argues that if Aurora Las Encinas Hospital is considered a licensed health care provider, then MICRA should apply to Signature, who is sought to be held vicariously liable for the conduct of Aurora Las Encinas Hospital. In opposition, Plaintiff does not address whether Aurora Las Encinas Hospital is a licensed health care provider. Nevertheless, Aurora Las Encinas Hospital is alleged to be an acute psychiatric hospital. (See SAC, ¶¶3, 7.) At the pleading stage, the allegation provides a sufficient basis to find that Signature may be vicariously liable under Lathrop for Aurora Las Encinas Hospital’s alleged negligence.

Next, Plaintiff argues that Defendants breached their custodial obligations when the attack occurred and they failed to protect Plaintiff and keep her safe, such that this is not a professional negligence claim. (See SAC, ¶57; Opp. at p.5.) While Plaintiff attempts to liken the facts of this case to that of an ordinary trip/slip-and-fall amounting to ordinary negligence or premises liability, the allegations, read as a whole, show that this cause of action arises from professional negligence. According to Plaintiff’s own allegations, Defendants knew that Juandell F. was schizophrenic and a safety threat to other patients long before he attacked Plaintiff; in an interview with the police, Manny Czarka (Chief Nursing Officer) stated that Juandell F. had no reason for his violence and he would hit you “just because”; Juandell F.’s intake form indicated that he had ideas of hurting people; Juandell F. physically attacked staff members; etc. (SAC, ¶¶25, 27-29.) At the demurrer stage, the Court takes the truth of the allegations of the pleadings. While Plaintiff argues that Defendants breached their custodial obligations, it is also clear that Plaintiff alleges facts showing that Defendants breached their duties to properly provide care for and supervise Juandell F. based on his medical evaluation, which resulted in injury to Plaintiff.

As such, the Court finds that based on the allegations, the 1st cause of action for negligence actually arises from professional negligence. Thus, the demurrer to the 1st cause of action for negligence s sustained with leave to amend.

B. Dependent Adult Neglect/Abuse (2nd cause of action)

This cause of action is a statutory remedy provided under Welfare and Institutions Code §15657, which is part of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, enacted at Welfare and Institutions Code §§ 15600 to 15675 (references to code sections refer to the Act).  In order to protect elders and dependent adults, the Legislature added heightened civil remedies for egregious elder abuse, seeking thereby to enable interested persons to engage attorneys to take up the cause of abused elderly persons and dependent adults.  (Covenant Care, Inc. v. Superior Court (2004) 32 Cal. 4th 771, 787.)  These heightened remedies are enacted in section 15657, which permits a plaintiff who proves the elder abuse by clear and convincing evidence to obtain heightened remedies, including attorney’s fees and pain and suffering for elders who have died. 

In order to obtain these heightened remedies and show elder abuse under section 15657, the plaintiff must plead and show that the defendant is liable for the following: (1) physical abuse as defined in section 15610.63; or (2) neglect as defined in Section 15610.57. In addition, section 15657 requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant has been guilty of recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice in the commission of this abuse.  Accordingly, the plaintiff must show that the defendant engaged in conduct, either physical abuse or neglect, and that the defendant engaged in the conduct with a specific mental state, either recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice.

There are several factors that must be pled with particularity, including: (1) defendants had responsibility for meeting the basic needs of the elder or dependent adult, such as nutrition, hydration, hygiene or medical care; (2) defendants knew of conditions that made the elder or dependent adult unable to provide for his or her own basic needs; (3) defendants denied or withheld goods or services necessary to meet the elder or dependent adult’s basic needs, either with knowledge that injury was substantially certain to befall the elder or dependent adult (if the plaintiff alleges oppression, fraud or malice) or with conscious disregard of the high probability of such injury (if the plaintiff alleges recklessness); and (4) the neglect caused the elder or dependent adult to suffer physical harm, pain or mental suffering. (Carter v. Prime Healthcare Paradise Valley LLC (2011) 198 Cal. App. 4th 396, 406-407.)

In the 2nd cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that she was neglected by Defendants and their employees in violation of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. (SAC, ¶51.) She alleges that Defendants’ employees had care or custody of Plaintiff, she was a dependent adult while in their care/custody, and Defendants’ management and employees failed to use the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would have used in protecting Plaintiff from health and safety hazards. (Id., ¶¶52-54.) Plaintiff alleges that the performance of medical services is not at issue in this case and that claim is not based on Defendants’ negligence in treating her medical condition of being mentally disabled, but rather that Defendants failed in their custodial obligations while rendering healthcare to Plaintiff for her psychiatric condition. (Id., ¶57.) She alleges Defendants’ reckless failure to protect her from being physically assaulted and harmed constitute a failure to provider her basic needs and comforts and to protect her from health and safety hazards, which results in adult dependent neglect/abuse. (Id., ¶58.)

For her dependent adult abuse/neglect claim, Plaintiff must allege facts regarding dependent adult abuse with particularity as this is a statutory claim. These allegations regarding the injuries resulting from an attack by another patient identify injuries that occurred because of care that should have been provided. However, the allegations that Defendants and their staff failed to protect Plaintiff from harm as a result of Juandell F.’s attack are not accompanied by particular facts demonstrating that this incident arose out of Defendants’ denial of services necessary to meet Plaintiff’s basic needs with the knowledge that injury was substantially certain (or that Defendants acted in a reckless, oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious manner)—i.e., Plaintiff has not alleged egregious conduct. As a result, the pleadings do not include the particular allegations of egregious conduct necessary to plead a dependent adult abuse claim.

Next, as Defendants are corporate entity employers, Plaintiff has not alleged facts showing that Defendants ratified the alleged intentional conduct of their employees. Pursuant to Welfare & Institutions Code, § 15657(c), “[t]he standards set forth in subdivision (b) of Section 3294 of the Civil Code regarding the imposition of punitive damages on an employer based upon the acts of an employee shall be satisfied before any damages or attorney's fees permitted under this section may be imposed against an employer.” Civil Code, § 3294(b) states:

An  shall not be liable for damages pursuant to subdivision (a), based upon acts of an employee of the employer, unless the employer had advance knowledge of the unfitness of the employee and employed him or her with a conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others or authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct for which the damages are awarded or was personally guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. With respect to a  the advance knowledge and conscious disregard, authorization, ratification or act of oppression, fraud, or malice must be on the part of an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation.

Facts regarding employer authorization/ratification have not been adequately alleged.

Thus, the demurrer to the 2nd cause of action is sustained with 20 days leave to amend.

DISCUSSION RE MOTION TO STRIKE

Plaintiff moves to strike certain allegations from the SAC, including: (1) ¶39 regarding “numerous instances of staff raping and sexually assaulting patients”; (2) ¶¶62-66 for “Enhanced Remedies Based on Reckless Conduct”; (3) the prayer for relief at ¶2 for punitive damages; (4) the prayer for relief at ¶3 for attorney’s fees and costs under the Welfare & Institutions Code and all related statutes including CCP § 1021; and (5) the prayer for relief at ¶5 for pre- and post-judgment interest at the prevailing statutory rates.

In paragraph 39, Plaintiff alleges that Signature’s facilities had staff shortages and inadequate supervision and that there have been numerous instances of Signature staff raping and sexually assaulting patients, which emphasizes its conscious disregard for patients’ health and safety. However, this action is not a sexual abuse case and such allegations will not be a basis upon which the Court will ultimately determine whether Signature failed to provide staffing and supervision. The Court may, upon a motion, or at any time in its discretion, strike out any irrelevant, false or improper matter contained in a pleading, or parts of any pleading that has not been drawn or filed in conformity with the laws. (CCP § 436.) As such, this portion of paragraph 39 shall be stricken.

As for Plaintiffs’ allegations in connection with the 2nd cause of action (¶¶62-66 and the prayer for relief at ¶3), the motion to strike is moot in light of the ruling on the demurrer to the 2nd cause of action. Similarly, the motion to strike allegations for punitive damages is moot in light of the ruling on the demurrer.

With regard to pre- and post-judgment interest, Defendants argue that pre-judgment interest is improper for a personal injury action. “A person who is entitled to recover damages certain, or capable of being made certain by calculation, and the right to recover which is vested in the person upon a particular day, is entitled also to recover interest thereon from that day….” (Civ. Code, § 3287(a).) “[T]his action lies in tort and it is the generally accepted view that interest cannot be awarded on damages for personal injury.” (Curtis v. State of California ex rel. Dept. of Transportation[D]amages for the intangible, noneconomic aspects of mental and emotional injury are not readily subject to precise calculation and the amount of such damages is necessarily left to the subjective discretion of the trier of fact.” (Id.) In opposition, Plaintiff argues that she seeks economic damages such that pre-judgment interest is proper; however, Plaintiff has not specified what economic damages she seeks. At this time, the Court grants the motion to strike with leave to amend.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Defendants’ demurrer to the 1st and 2nd causes of action in the Second Amended Complaint is sustained with 20 days leave to amend.

Defendants’ motion to strike the language “numerous instances of staff raping and sexually assaulting patients” from paragraph 39 in the Second Amended Complaint is granted without leave to amend. The motion to strike the prayer for relief at paragraph 5 for pre- and post-judgment interest is granted with 20 days leave to amend. The remainder of the motion is denied as moot.

Defendants shall provide notice of this order.

Case Number: 19STCV32969    Hearing Date: February 05, 2021    Dept: NCB

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

North Central District

Department B

JULIETA G.,

Plaintiff,

v.

SIGNATURE HEALTHCARE SERVICES, LLC, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: 19STCV32969

Hearing Date: February 5, 2021

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

demurrer; motion to strike

BACKGROUND

A. Allegations

Plaintiff Julieta G. (“Plaintiff”) alleges she is a “mentally disabled person” and a “person with mental disabilities”. Defendant Signature Healthcare Services, LLC (“Signature”) does business as Aurora Las Encinas Hospital and Defendant Aurora Las Encinas, LLC dba Las Encinas Hospital (“Aurora”) operates a psychiatric hospital at 2900 East Del Mar Blvd. in Pasadena. Plaintiff alleges that in July 2018, she voluntarily admitted herself for suicide and severe depression, and was transferred to Aurora Las Encinas Hospital. During her stay in August 2018, she alleges that she was physically attacked by another patient, Juandell F. She alleges Juandell F. grabbed a pen from one of the mental health workers, entered her room, and violently attacked and stabbed her and another staff member.

The first amended complaint (“FAC”), filed July 30, 2020, alleges causes of action for: (1) negligence; and (2) dependent adult neglect/abuse.

B. Motions on Calendar

Based on the Court’s docket, there are two demurrers and two motions to strike scheduled for this hearing date under Reservation Numbers 860488248085 and 019409398269.

On August 19, 2020, Defendants Signature and Aurora filed a demurrer and motion to strike portions of the FAC. The demurrer and motion to strike each state that the Reservation Number associated with the filings are Reservation Numbers 860488248085 and 019409398269. Thus, it appears that there is only one demurrer and one motion to strike on calendar, but reserved under two reservation numbers.

The motions were initially scheduled for November 16, 2020. On November 6, 2020, Defendants filed a notice of non-opposition to their motions. However, on November 12, 2020, the Court in Department 28 of the Spring Street Courthouse entered an order transferring the case to this Department B in the Burbank Courthouse.

On November 9, 2020, Plaintiff filed oppositions to the demurrer and motion to strike. In the declaration of counsel, Zachary Cantor, Mr. Cantor explains that he did not timely file oppositions, believing that the filing of the SAC would have taken the motions off-calendar. (Cantor Decl., ¶18.) Mr. Cantor stated that the SAC did not add any new claims, but rather proffered additional facts to substantiate the existing claims and remedies sought. (Id., ¶17.)

On January 29, 2021, Defendants filed reply briefs.

DISCUSSION

A. Filing of the Second Amended Complaint

On November 2, 2020, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), wherein Plaintiff stated that she is filing the SAC pursuant to CCP § 430.41(e)(1) after receiving additional information and evidence in response to her subpoena served on the Pasadena Police Department.

CCP § 430.41(e)(1) states: “In response to a demurrer and prior to the case being at issue, a complaint or cross-complaint shall not be amended more than three times, absent an offer to the trial court as to such additional facts to be pleaded that there is a reasonable possibility the defect can be cured to state a cause of action. The three-amendment limit shall not include an amendment made without leave of the court pursuant to Section 472, provided the amendment is made before a demurrer to the original complaint or cross-complaint is filed.” This subsection does not apply to allow Plaintiff to file the SAC without leave of Court, but is rather about the limitations on amendments.

The Court also notes that Plaintiff did not move for leave to amend the pleading and that Defendants Signature and Aurora objected to the filing of the SAC pursuant to CCP § 472(a). A party may amend its pleading once without leave of the court at any time before the answer, demurrer, or motion to strike is filed, or after a demurrer or motion to strike is filed but before the demurrer or motion to strike is heard if the amended pleading is filed and served no later than the date for filing an opposition to the demurrer or motion to strike.” (CCP § 472(a).) After filing the initial complaint, Defendants filed demurrers and motions to strike the initial complaint, but took the motions off-calendar on July 28, 2020. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed the FAC on July 30, 2020. Defendants then filed a demurrer and motion to strike the FAC and Plaintiff filed the recent SAC in lieu of oppositions. Although section 472(a) states that Plaintiff may amend the pleading without leave of Court once, Plaintiff was attempting to do so twice.

Nevertheless, the Court will allow the filing of the amended pleading as there is a liberal policy in favor of allowing amendment and doing so would promote judicial economy by reducing the number of demurrers heard on the pleadings.

The Court has reviewed the SAC. The SAC includes additional allegations regarding statements made by Plaintiff, Manny Czarka (Chief Nursing Officer at Las Encinas), and Mellissa Mitchell (Assistant Nursing Officer) to Pasadena Police Officers, describing the August 7, 2018 incident and Juandell F., and that the police department had to come again on August 8, 2018 to respond to another call regarding Juandell F. By accepting the filing of the SAC, the Court makes no determination as to whether the SAC sufficiently pleads facts to support Plaintiff’s causes of action.

At this time, the Court will accept the filing of the SAC and take the demurrer and motion to strike portions of the FAC off-calendar. In her opposition papers, Plaintiff argues that if there are deficiencies in the pleadings, she has already prepared the SAC. Thus, it appears redundant to hear this demurrer and motion to strike regarding the FAC when additional allegations have already been added to the SAC.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

The Court overrules Defendants’ objections to the filing of the SAC.

Defendants’ demurrer and motion to strike the First Amended Complaint is taken off-calendar.

Defendants shall have 30 days to file a demurrer from the date of this order. (CCP § 430.40(a).)

Defendants shall provide notice of this order.

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