This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/25/2019 at 02:11:27 (UTC).

KEN BABALYAN ET AL VS ALEXADER HARPER WATTS ET AL

Case Summary

On 06/28/2017 KEN BABALYAN filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against ALEXADER HARPER WATTS. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are BENNY C. OSORIO and STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****6678

  • Filing Date:

    06/28/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

BENNY C. OSORIO

STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs, Petitioners and Cross Defendants

GOLAN SHAHAR

BABALYAN KEN

MARTIROSYAN LEVON

RIGGS SHAUN

CITY OF LOS ANGELES

ROES 1 TO 25 INCLUSIVE

ROES 1 TO 25

BABALYN KEN

Respondents, Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

WATTS ALEXANDER HARPER

LOS ANGELES CITY OF

LOS ANGELES COUNTY OF

STATE OF CALIFORNIA CALTRANS

DOES 1 TO 100

WATTS ANDREW

WATTS CATHY

CITY OF LOS ANGELES

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

CALIFORNIA STATE OF

BABALYAN KAREN GEORGIEVICH

WATTS CATHY H.

Guardian Ad Litem

TSINMA SIMONA AND IN HER CAPACITY AS AN

9 More Parties Available

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

MARDIROSSIAN GARO ESQ.

MARDIROSSIAN & ASSOCIATES INC. APC

MARDIROSSIAN GARO

FRANKLIN STANLEY C.

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

TYSON & MENDES LLP

FEUER MICHAEL N. CITY ATTORNEY

TATE JUSTINA LEILANI

FEUER MICHAEL NELSON

SASSOUNIAN DIKRAN HOWARD

TYSON ROBERT FRANCIS JR

KAYE ASHLEY L.

SASSOUNIAN DIKRAN H. DEPUTY CITY ATTY

Cross Defendant Attorneys

CHANG CHIAYU VALENIA

MCCLAUGHERTY JAY

PAULSON JOHN KENNETH ESQ.

Other Attorneys

ARDALAN PEZHMAN CHRISTOPHER ESQ.

HICKEY GEOFFREY S.

 

Court Documents

Minute Order

10/5/2017: Minute Order

PLAINTIFFS' MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS ANDREW WATFS CATHY WATTS AND ALEXANDER HATPER WATTS' MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS' FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

1/23/2018: PLAINTIFFS' MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS ANDREW WATFS CATHY WATTS AND ALEXANDER HATPER WATTS' MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS' FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS' OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS ALEXANDER HARPER WATTS, ANDREW WATTS, AND CATHY WATTS' MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS' FIRST AMENDED COMP

1/29/2018: MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS' OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS ALEXANDER HARPER WATTS, ANDREW WATTS, AND CATHY WATTS' MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS' FIRST AMENDED COMP

NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

2/1/2018: NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

APPLICATION FOR ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM- CIVIL

2/1/2018: APPLICATION FOR ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM- CIVIL

Minute Order

2/5/2018: Minute Order

MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS? FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

2/5/2018: MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS? FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Minute Order

2/5/2018: Minute Order

NOTICE OF RULING

2/8/2018: NOTICE OF RULING

APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM- CIVIL

2/28/2018: APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM- CIVIL

DECLARATION OF JEREMY R. CRONIN IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMFEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF LEVON MARTIROSYAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET TWO) AND REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS

4/27/2018: DECLARATION OF JEREMY R. CRONIN IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMFEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF LEVON MARTIROSYAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET TWO) AND REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS

MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT CATHY WATT'S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF LEVON MARTIROSYAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET TWO) AND REQUEST

4/27/2018: MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT CATHY WATT'S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF LEVON MARTIROSYAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET TWO) AND REQUEST

SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF LEVON MARTIROSYAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET TWO)

4/27/2018: SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF LEVON MARTIROSYAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET TWO)

DECLARATION OF JEREMY R CRONIN IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF LEVON MARTIROSYAN TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES (SET THREE) AND REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS

4/27/2018: DECLARATION OF JEREMY R CRONIN IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF LEVON MARTIROSYAN TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES (SET THREE) AND REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS

SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF SHAHAR GOLAN TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES (SET TWO)

4/27/2018: SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF SHAHAR GOLAN TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES (SET TWO)

DECLARATION OF JEREMY R. CRONIN IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF SHAHAR GOLAN TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES (SET TWO) AND REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS

4/27/2018: DECLARATION OF JEREMY R. CRONIN IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF SHAHAR GOLAN TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES (SET TWO) AND REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS

MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT CATHY WATTS' MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF SHAHAR GOLAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENT (SET TWO) AND REQUEST FOR M

4/27/2018: MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT CATHY WATTS' MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF SHAHAR GOLAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENT (SET TWO) AND REQUEST FOR M

SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF SHAHAR GOLAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET TWO)

4/27/2018: SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES OF PLAINTIFF SHAHAR GOLAN TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (SET TWO)

128 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/21/2019
  • DocketReply (Cross-Defendant Shaun Riggs Reply to Cross-Complianants opposition to motion to strike punitive damages); Filed by Shaun Riggs (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 05/16/2019
  • DocketOpposition (TO MOTION OF CROSS-DEFENDANT SHAUN RIGGS TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES); Filed by Alexander Harper Watts (Defendant); Andrew Watts (Defendant); Cathy Watts (Defendant)

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  • 05/14/2019
  • DocketNotice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information; Filed by Ken Babalyan (Cross-Defendant)

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  • 05/10/2019
  • DocketSeparate Statement (IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSTION SUBPOENA FOR PRODUCTION OF BUSINESS RECORDS TO QUICKSILVER TOWING); Filed by Ken Babalyan (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/10/2019
  • DocketMotion to Quash; Filed by Ken Babalyan (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/10/2019
  • DocketSeparate Statement; Filed by Shahar Golan (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/10/2019
  • DocketMotion to Quash; Filed by Levon Martirosyan (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/10/2019
  • DocketSeparate Statement; Filed by Levon Martirosyan (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/10/2019
  • DocketMotion to Quash; Filed by Shahar Golan (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/22/2019
  • DocketNotice of Posting of Jury Fees; Filed by Ken Babalyn (Cross-Defendant)

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245 More Docket Entries
  • 08/29/2017
  • DocketMotion to Strike; Filed by Alexander Harper Watts (Defendant); Andrew Watts (Defendant); Cathy Watts (Defendant)

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  • 08/29/2017
  • DocketREQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT

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  • 08/29/2017
  • DocketPoints and Authorities; Filed by Alexander Harper Watts (Defendant); Andrew Watts (Defendant); Cathy Watts (Defendant)

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  • 08/29/2017
  • DocketDEFENDANTS ALEXANDER HARPER WATTS, ANDREW WATTS, AND CATHY WATTS' NOTICE OF MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT

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  • 06/28/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Ken Babalyan (Plaintiff); Levon Martirosyan (Plaintiff); Shahar Golan (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/28/2017
  • DocketDeclaration; Filed by Ken Babalyan (Plaintiff); Levon Martirosyan (Plaintiff); Shahar Golan (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/28/2017
  • DocketSummons; Filed by Ken Babalyan (Plaintiff); Levon Martirosyan (Plaintiff); Shahar Golan (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/28/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 06/28/2017
  • DocketDECLARATION OF KEN BABALYAN, SIJCCESSOR-ININTEREST, PURSUANT TO C.C.P. 377.32

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  • 06/28/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. NEGLIGENCE;ETC

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: ****6678 Hearing Date: July 19, 2022 Dept: O

Case Name: Babylan, et al. v. Watts, et al.

Case No.: ****6678

Hearing: 7-19-22

Calendar #: 11

Notice: OK

Complaint Filed: 6-28-17

Motion C/O: 1-28-22

Discovery C/O: 2-14-22

Trial Date: 8-8-22

SUBJECT: MOTION TO REOPEN DISCOVERY

MOVING PARTY: Defendants/Cross-Complainants Alexander Harper Watts (a minor, by and through is guardian ad litem, Andrew Watts), Andrew Watts and Cathy Watts

RESP. PARTY: Plaintiffs Ken Babalyan and Shahar Golan

TENTATIVE RULING

I. Requested discovery

Watt Defendants ask that the Court reopen fact/percipient discovery to allow them to propound subpoenas and other written discovery regarding Ken Babalyan’s support care and income from decedent. Watt Defendants seek bank and tax records relevant to Ken’s standing to sue for wrongful death per CCP 377.60(b)(1).

II. Length of pending action and trial date continuances

Using the trial date of 2-28-22, the discovery cut-off expired on 1-28-22. The trial date was continued from 2-28-22 to 7-5-22 pursuant to a Stipulation and Order filed and entered on 3-10-22. The 3-10-22 Stipulation and Order acknowledged that fact/percipient discovery was closed and extended the expert discovery deadline to 5-20-22.

The 7-5-22 trial date was continued to 8-8-22 pursuant to a Stipulation and Order filed and entered on 4-4-22. The 4-4-22 Stipulation and Order preserved the fact/percipient discovery and expert discovery deadlines.

The action has been pending for approximately 5 years. The action was filed on June 28, 2017. Trial was initially set for 12-12-18 but the date was vacated when the action was transferred to Department O. In addition to this initial trial date, trial has been continued six times.

III. Watts Defendants fail to demonstrate good cause to reopen discovery under CCP 2024.050

Any party shall be entitled as a matter of right to complete discovery proceedings on or before the 30th day, and to have motions concerning discovery heard on or before the 15th day, before the date initially set for trial. See CCP 2024.020. “The purpose of imposing a time limit on discovery is to expedite and facilitate trial preparation and to prevent delay. Without a cutoff date, the parties could tie up each other and the trial court in discovery and discovery disputes right up to the eve of trial or beyond. Furthermore, . . . to be effective the cutoff date must be firm or some litigants will manipulate the proceedings to avoid the cut-off date.” Beverly Hosp. v. Superior Court (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 1289, 1295.

“On motion of any party, the court may grant leave to complete discovery proceedings, or to have a motion concerning discovery heard, closer to the initial trial date, or to reopen discovery after a new trial date has been set. This motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040.” CCP 2024.050(a). The reopening of discovery is a matter that is committed to the trial court’s sound discretion. CCP 2024.050(a), (b).

Pursuant to CCP 2024.050, the court shall take into consideration any matter relevant to the leave requested, including, but not limited to, the following: (1) The necessity and the reasons for the discovery; (2) The diligence or lack of diligence of the party seeking the discovery or the hearing of a discovery motion, and the reasons that the discovery was not completed or that the discovery motion was not heard earlier; (3) Any likelihood that permitting the discovery or hearing the discovery motion will prevent the case from going to trial on the date set, or otherwise interfere with the trial calendar, or result in prejudice to any other party; and (4) The length of time that has elapsed between any date previously set, and the date presently set, for the trial of the action. CCP 2025.050(b); see Cottini v. Enloe Medical Center (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 401, 420-421 (trial court properly denied request to reopen discovery to conduct expert discovery where moving party refused to disclose grounds for late expert witnesses and failed to demonstrate diligence in seeking discovery prior to the cutoff date).

Watts Defendants fail to demonstrate that they have diligently pursued discovery. Watts Defendants contend they have discovered other avenues that would yield relevant documents regarding Ken’s standing. Counsel indicates that these avenues were discovered after they were substituted in on 10-19-21. See Dec. of J. Bell, 4.

However, counsel provides no details in his declaration regarding what led to the “discovery” of new avenues. Counsel also fails to explain why these new avenues could not have been identified with reasonable diligence prior to expiration of the discovery cut-off.

Moreover, Watts Defendants moved for summary judgment as to Ken Babalyan based on his alleged lack of standing on 8-6-20. Ken successfully defeated the summary judgment based on his deposition testimony. The need for additional discovery regarding standing should have been apparent to the Watts Defendants by that time. However, Watts Defendants did not seek to conduct discovery or reopen the discovery deadline on the issue of Ken’s standing until 6-20-22, nearly two years later.

In fact, Watts Defendants first sought to reopen discovery per an ex parte application on filed on 5-2-22 and heard on 5-4-22. In its order denying the ex parte, the Court indicated that absent a stipulation, discovery could only be reopened by noticed motion. Despite this instruction, Watts Defendants did not file a proper noticed motion to reopen discovery until 6-20-22, nearly a month and a half later.

These facts do not support a finding of diligence or even necessity of the requested discovery. Watts Defendants did not act diligently or with any urgency in seeking discovery regarding Ken’s standing.

The requested discovery would also require a trial continuance. Trial is set for 8-8-22, only three weeks from this hearing date. The requested discovery could not reasonably be completed within that time, nor would it allow for parties to challenge the discovery by noticed motion. The trial date has been continued six times and this action has been pending for nearly 5 years. Given the length of time this action has been pending, the number of trial continuances, the failure of Watts Defendants to demonstrate diligence, a seventh trial continuance would be prejudicial.

Watts Defendants’ Motion to Reopen Discovery is DENIED.



Case Number: ****6678 Hearing Date: February 1, 2022 Dept: O

Case Name: Babylan, et al. v. Watts, et al.

Case No.: ****6678

Hearing: 1-18-22

Calendar #: 13

Notice: OK

Complaint Filed: 6-28-17

Motion C/O: 1-28-22

Discovery C/O: 2-14-22

Trial Date: 2-28-22

SUBJECT: MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

MOVING PARTY: Defendants/X-Complainants Alexander Harper Watts (a minor, by and through is guardian ad litem, Andrew Watts), Andrew Watts and Cathy Watts

RESP. PARTY: (1) Plaintiff Shaun Riggs

(2) Plaintiffs Ken Babalyan and Shahar Golan

TENTATIVE RULING

Defendants’ Motion for Summary Adjudication is GRANTED as to Plaintiffs’ punitive damages claims against Defendants in connection with the negligence cause of action and against Defendants Andrew and Cathy in connection with the negligent entrustment and negligent supervision causes of action.

Defendants’ Motion for Summary Adjudication is DENIED as to the negligence, negligent supervision and negligent entrustment causes of action against Defendants Andrew and Cathy.

Plaintiffs Babalyan and Golan’s Evidentiary Objections—SUSTAIN

Plaintiff Riggs Evidentiary Objections—SUSTAIN

REASONING

Defendants move for summary adjudication of (1) Plaintiffs Martirosyan’s, Golan’s and Riggs’ punitive damages claim against all three Defendants; and (2) Plaintiffs Ken Babalyan, Martirosyan, Golan and Riggs’ negligence, negligent entrustment and negligent supervision causes of action against Defendants Andrew Watts and Cathy Watts.

I. No triable issues of fact remain as to the punitive damages claims of Martirosyan, Golan and Riggs against Defendant Alec Watts

A. Defendants negate Plaintiffs’ allegations of malice in support of the punitive damages claim

Defendants submit evidence that Alexander turned left onto Chautauqua Blvd., and as he began his left turn, he collided with four motorcyclists, who ran into the right side of his vehicle. See Defendants’ SSUMF Nos. 5-8 in support of Issue Nos. 1 and 2. Defendants submit portions of Alexander’s deposition testimony that he looked as far in front of him as possible before initiating his left turn, that he did not see anything and that he was also focusing on the median to avoid hitting it. See Defendants’ SSUMF Nos. 5-8 in support of Issue Nos. 1 and 2. Defendants submit evidence that Alexander was not texting, emailing or using the telephone at the time he turned left. Id. at No. 6 in support of Issues 1 and 2. At the time of the accident, Alec held a provisional driver’s license and he had three passengers in the car under the age of 16. Id. at Nos. 1 and 3 in support of Issues 1 and 2.

Defendants’ evidence negates Plaintiffs’ allegation of malice, fraud or oppression. The evidence negates any finding of malice based on an intent to cause injury to Plaintiffs. CC 3294(c)(1). Defendants’ evidence establishes the accident was due to Alec’s negligence.

Defendants’ evidence also negates any allegation of malice based on “despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.” CC 3294(c)(1). As discussed in Lackner v. North (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1210-1212, the current standard for imposition of punitive damages based on the “despicable conduct” prong is more stringent than that applied in Taylor v. Supr. Ct. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890, Peterson v. Supr. Ct. (1982) 31 Cal.3d 147 and Dawes v. Supr. Ct. (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 82. Defendants’ evidence establishes Alec’s execution of a left turn was not “despicable conduct,” i.e. base and vile, but a negligent violation of the traffic rules. Even under the prior version of CC 3294 examined in Taylor, Peterson and Dawes, a negligent or reckless violation of traffic rules does not support an award of punitive damages.

D. Plaintiffs fail to raise a triable issue of material fact

In response, Plaintiffs argue Defendant Alec drove with other minors in the car, knowingly violating the conditions of his provisional license. Plaintiffs argue Defendant Alec did this on more than one occasion. See Plaintiff Riggs’ Response to Defendants’ SSUMF Nos. 28-29 in Issues Nos. 3 and 5. Plaintiffs also argue Alec was involved in an accident 30 days before the incident that killed David Babalyan and injured the other Plaintiffs. See Plaintiff Riggs’ Response to Defendants’ SSUMF Nos. 28-29 in Issues Nos. 3 and 5; See Plaintiff Babalyan, et al.’s Response to Defendants’ SSUMF Nos. 22-29 in Issues Nos. 3 and 5. Plaintiffs maintain these facts raise a triable issue as to whether Defendant Alec engaged in malicious conduct that resulted in Plaintiffs’ injuries.

However, none of these facts is direct or circumstantial evidence that Defendant Alec acted intentionally or despicably when he made the left turn that caused the accident. The Court can reasonably infer that Defendant Alec made the improper left turn due to the presence of the other minor passengers. The prior accident referenced by Plaintiffs involved Defendant’s attempt to change lanes and does not alone establish despicable conduct or willful and conscious disregard of Plaintiffs’ rights and safety. A single prior accident is not clear and convincing evidence of malice.

Plaintiffs also dispute whether Defendant Alec looked to see if the road was clear prior to making the left turn and whether Defendant Alec saw or should have seen the oncoming motorcycles. Plaintiffs cite to (1) Alec’s testimony that he was focusing on the median when he turned (Plaintiff Riggs’ Compendium of Evidence, Ex. 2, Alec Watts Depo, 116:7-25, 119:18-23 and 134:21-135:9); (2) a photograph of the intersection (Dec. of L. Marks, Ex. 13); (3) passenger Harrison Listen’s deposition testimony that Alec did not stop prior to turning left (Dec. of L. Marks, Ex. 7, Dep. of H. Listen, 107:19-24); (4) Harrison’s testimony that he saw the oncoming motorcycles, which prompted him to yell Alec’s name and duck down for protection (Dec. of L. Marks, Ex. 7, 66:6-67:9; 98:24-99:7).

Plaintiffs’ evidence does not raise a triable issue of fact as to whether Defendant Alec negligently made an unsafe left turn or if he made the unsafe left turn “despicably” and in willful and conscious disregard” of Plaintiffs’ rights. Even if Alec was focusing on the median, he testified that he focused on the median in order to ensure he cleared it. Even if Harrison saw the motorcyclists coming, that does not establish that Alec saw them. Harrison was riding in the front passenger seat and Alec was admittedly focusing on the median to clear it. Harrison also testified that he did not think Alec saw the motorcyclists, because Alec continued making the left turn.

Finally, Harrison only testified that he could not remember Alec stopping. Even if there was evidence that Alec did not stop before making the left turn, the failure to stop prior to making a left turn alone would be negligent, as opposed to failing to stop despite seeing the oncoming motorcyclists or some other aggravating circumstance. “Punitive damages are appropriate if the defendant's acts are reprehensible, fraudulent or in blatant violation of law or policy. The mere carelessness or ignorance of the defendant does not justify the imposition of punitive damages.” Scott v. Phoenix Schools, Inc. (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 702, 715. Punitive damages require “extreme indifference” to the “plaintiff’s rights, a level which decent citizens should not have to tolerate.” Id. at 716. “Something more than the mere commission of a tort is always required for punitive damages. There must be circumstances of aggravation or outrage, such as spite or ‘malice,’ or a fraudulent or evil motive on the part of the defendant, or such a conscious and deliberate disregard of the interests of others that his conduct may be called wilful or wanton.” Id.

Plaintiffs fail to raise a triable issue of material fact with regard to their punitive damages claim. No reasonable juror could find Plaintiffs’ evidence to be clear and convincing evidence of Defendant Alec Watts’ fraud, malice or oppression. Defendants’ motion for summary adjudication of Plaintiffs’ punitive damages is GRANTED.

II. Negligence, Negligent Entrustment and Negligent Supervision cause of action and Punitive Damages against Defendants Andrew Watts and Catherine Watts

A. Negligence, Negligent Entrustment and Negligent Supervision

Negligence claim is distinct. Defendants Andrew and Cathy argues the negligence claim is duplicative of the negligent supervision claim. However, the negligence claim is based on Vehicle Code 17707, which makes Andrew and Cathy vicariously liable for Alec’s negligence based on their status as the persons who signed and verified Alec’s application for a license. “Any civil liability of a minor arising out of his driving a motor vehicle upon a highway during his minority is hereby imposed upon the person who signed and verified the application of the minor for a license and the person shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages proximately resulting from the negligent or wrongful act or omission of the minor in driving a motor vehicle…” Veh. C. 17707. The negligence claim against Andrew and Cathy therefore seeks to hold them liable for Alec’s conduct, and it is legally distinct from the negligent supervision claim, which seeks to hold them liable for their own conduct.

Defendants fail to establish that Defendant Alec was not negligent as an issue of law based on the evidence presented. Defendants do not deny that Alec made an unsafe left turn in front of oncoming traffic. Reasonable jurors could determine that Alec was negligent in failing to note the oncoming traffic and executing a left turn unsafely. As such, Defendants fail to satisfy their burden as moving parties on the negligence cause of action based on Alec’s negligent driving.

Negligent entrustment. The elements of a negligent entrustment claim are (1) that the driver was negligent in operating the vehicle; (2) that the defendant owned the vehicle or had possession of the vehicle operated by the driver with the owner’s permission; (3) that defendant knew or should have known, that the driver was incompetent or unfit to drive the vehicle; (4) that defendant permitted the driver to drive the vehicle; (5) that defendant permitted the driver to drive the vehicle; and (5) that the driver’s incompetence or unfitness to drive was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s harm. CACI 724.

“It is generally recognized that one who places or entrusts his [or her] motor vehicle in the hands of one whom he [or she] knows, or from the circumstances is charged with knowing, is incompetent or unfit to drive, may be held liable for an injury inflicted by the use made thereof by that driver, provided the plaintiff can establish that the injury complained of was proximately caused by the driver's disqualification, incompetency, inexperience or recklessness.” Flores v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1055, 1063 (quoting Osoborn v. Hertz Corp. (1988) 205 Cal.App.3d 703)(companies had no duty to conduct an electronic search of driving records of customer before entrusting vehicle to him).

“Liability for negligent entrustment is determined by applying general principles of negligence, and ordinarily it is for the jury to determine whether the owner has exercised the required degree of care.” Allen v. Toledo (1980) 109 Cal.App.3d 415, 421.

Defendants Andrew and Cathy argue they exercised the required degree of care in entrusting the vehicle to their son Alec, because (1) they advised Alec not to drive with teen passengers; (2) they believed their son was a good driver and had no signs or warnings that he might have transported friends on the day of the accident; (3) Alec never received a single moving violation or citation between the date he received his provisional license and the date of the accident (Defendants’ UMF No. 22); (4) the subject accident was Alec’s first accident of that magnitude (UMF No. 21); (5) Alec had received positive reviews from his driving instructors (UMF No. 26). Based on Defendants’ evidence, reasonable jurors could determine that Andrew and Cathy knew or should have known that Alec was unfit to drive.

In response, Plaintiffs submit evidence raising a triable issue of material fact as to whether Defendants Andrew and Cathy knew or should have known that Defendant Alec was incompetent or unfit to drive. Plaintiffs submit evidence that (1) Alec was involved in a prior accident approximately 30 days before his accident with Plaintiffs (Plaintiffs Babalyan, et al.’s Response to SSUMF No. 22); (2) Alec could take the black Mercedes BMW to drive whenever he wanted without first informing his parents (Plaintiffs Babalyan’s Response to SSUMF No. 25); (3) Alec had frequently driven with minor passengers in the car in violation of his provisional license and allegedly in violation of his parents’ orders (Plaintiffs Babalyan’s Response to SSUMF No. 25); (4) Alec failed the DMV driving test twice and it required three attempts for him to pass the test, of which his parents were fully aware (Plaintiffs Babalyan et al.’s Response to Defendant’s SSUMF No. 26); (5) Alec had only had his provision license for 52 days before the accident with Plaintiffs (Plaintiffs Babalyan, et al.’s Response to Defendant’s SSUMF No. 27).

Triable issues of fact remain as to whether Defendants Andrew and Cathy Watts knew or should have known of Alec’s unfitness as a driver. The motion for summary adjudication of the negligent entrustment cause of action is DENIED.

Negligent supervision. The elements of a parental negligent supervision claim are (1) that defendant observed the minor’s dangerous behavior that led to plaintiff’s injury or was aware of the minor’s habits or tendencies that created an unreasonable risk of harm to other persons; (2) that defendant had the opportunity and ability to control the conduct of the minor; (3) that defendant was negligent because defendant failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent minior’s conduct or take reasonable precautions to prevent harm to others; (4) that plaintiff was harmed; and (5) that defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s harm. CACI 428.

Defendants Andrew and Cathy argue they are entitled to summary adjudication of the negligent supervision cause of action on the same grounds as the negligent entrustment cause of action. For the same reasons stated in connection with the negligent entrustment claim, triable issues of fact remain as to the negligent supervision cause of action. The motion for summary adjudication of the negligent supervision cause of action is DENIED.

B. Punitive damages against Defendants Andrew and Cathy

Even crediting Plaintiffs’ evidence regarding Defendants Andrew and Cathy’s negligent entrustment and supervision, no triable issues of fact remain as to the punitive damages claim in connection with these causes of action. Even if Andrew and Cathy knew or should have known of Alec’s unfitness to drive, reasonable jurors could not find that such evidence was clear and convincing evidence of fraud, malice or oppression. There is no clear and convincing evidence of aggravating circumstances that would have elevated Andrew and Cathy’s negligence to “despicable conduct undertaken in willful and conscious disregard of the rights and safety of others.”



Case Number: ****6678    Hearing Date: August 06, 2020    Dept: O

Case Name: Babylan, et al. v. Watts, et al. 
Case No.: ****6678
Hearing: 8-6-20
Calendar #: 10
Notice: OK 
Complaint Filed:      6-28-17
Motion C/O: 5-5-21
Discovery C/O: 4-19-21 
Trial Date: 5-17-21 
______________________________________________________________________________
SUBJECT: (1)  MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(2)  MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
MOVING PARTY: (1)  Plaintiff Michelle Babalyan 
(2)  Defendants Alexander Harper Watts, Andrew Watts and Cathy Watts
JOINED BY: (1)  Defendants Watts, et al.
(1)  Defendant The City of Los Angeles
RESP. PARTY: (1) AND (2)  Plaintiff Ken Babalyan
TENTATIVE RULING
Plaintiff Michelle Babalyan’s Motion for Summary Judgment (joined by Defendants Alexander Watts, Andrew Watts, Cathy Watts, and the City of Los Angeles)  is DENIED. Plaintiff Michelle’s RJN is GRANTED as to Exhibit 1 but not as to its contents and DENIED as to the copies of the reporter’s transcripts attached as Exhibits 2 and 3.  
Defendants Alexander Watts, Andrew Watts and Cathy Watts’ (collectively referred to as “Watts”) Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.  
Plaintiff Ken failed to submit evidentiary objections in compliance with CRC Rule 3.1345.  Ken includes his evidentiary objections as responses to Michelle’s statements of fact.  
Triable issues of fact remain as to whether Ken was financially dependent on David at the time of David’s death for purposes of standing under CCP ;377.60(b).  Moving parties fail to meet their initial burden on summary judgment and even if they had, Ken’s evidence in opposition raises a material issue of fact precluding summary judgment.  
(1)  Plaintiff Michelle’s Motion for Summary Judgment seeks summary judgment of Plaintiff Ken’s complaint.  Plaintiff Michelle fails to cite any authority that would allow her to attack Ken’s standing to assert the causes of action in his complaint. Plaintiff Michelle is not a defendant in Ken’s action.  Michelle is not seeking summary judgment of her complaint against Plaintiff Ken, nor is there any authority provided for Michelle to name Ken as a “nominal defendant” in her complaint. 
(2)  Both Plaintiff Michelle and Defendants Watts fail to satisfy their burden as the parties moving for summary judgment.  Michelle and Watts argue Plaintiff Ken lacks standing under CCP ;377.60(b) as “dependent” parent of decedent David Babalyan.  
CCP ;377.60(b) allows the parents of a decedent to sue for wrongful death if “they were dependent on the decedent” and regardless of whether the decedent had children.  “For purposes of this subdivision, dependence refers to financial support…Financial dependency should be the test for parents who are not heirs of the decedent…[¶]  Financial dependence generally presents a question of fact, which should be determined on a case-by-case basis.”  Chavez v. Carpenter (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 1433, 1445; see also Soto v. BorgWarner Morse TEC Inc. (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 165, 191 (interpreting CCP ;377.60(c) by relying on case law interpreting CCP ;377.60(b) and affirming nonsuit of great-grandson’s claims on grounds that decedent’s child care services were not financial necessities where parents admitted they could afford child care if decedent had not provided it)  
While there is no “strict formula” for determining financial dependence, case law has developed criteria in evaluating whether a parent establishes dependences under CCP ;377.60(b).  Id.  First, dependency is evaluated “at the time of the child’s death.”  Id. (citing Hazelwood v. Hazelwood (1976) 57 Cal.App.3d 693, 698).  Second, only “financial support from their child which aids them in obtaining the things, such as shelter, clothing, food and medical treatment, which one cannot and should not do without” qualifies as financial dependence under CCP ;377.60(b), as opposed to financial support that merely provides for “niceties” in life.   Id. at 1446.
Plaintiff Michelle and Defendants Watts fail to negate Ken’s allegation that he was “dependent” on decedent at the time of David’s death.  Moving parties rely on decedent’s 2014 testimony that he did not support his father.  See Plaintiff Michelle’s SSUMF Nos. 9-10; Defendant Watts’ SSUMF Nos. 9-10.  Such evidence is not probative of whether decedent was supporting Ken at the time of decedent’s death in June 2017. 
Moving parties also fail to establish that Ken is judicially estopped from contradicting David’s statements at the 2014 child support hearing.  Judicial estoppel should “quite clearly should be applied in the following situation: when (1) the same party has taken two positions; (2) the positions were taken in judicial or quasi-judicial administrative proceedings; (3) the party was successful in asserting the first position (i.e., the tribunal adopted the position or accepted it as true); (4) the two positions are totally inconsistent; and (5) the first position was not taken as a result of ignorance, fraud, or mistake.”  Thomas v. Gordon (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 113, 118. 
Ken and David are not the same person or party, nor were David’s statements “agreements” that could bind Ken in a wrongful action proceeding.  “Although a wrongful death claim is an independent action, wrongful death plaintiffs may be bound by agreements entered into by decedent that limit the scope of the wrongful death action.”  Ruiz v. Podolsky (2010) 50 Cal.4th 838, 851–852.  A wrongful death plaintiff may also be “bound by defenses applicable to the decedent if the statute giving rise to the defense is construed to intend such application.”  Id. at 852. 
In addition, David’s 2014 testimony that he was not providing any support to his father in 2014 is not wholly inconsistent with Ken’s position that David was providing financial support to him in 2017, as defined under CCP ;377.60(b).  David could not have been providing such support in 2014 but could have been doing so in 2017.  
(3)  A defendant may satisfy its initial burden on summary judgment by showing that the claim “cannot be established” because of the lack of evidence on some essential element of the claim.  See Union Bank v. Superior Court (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 574, 590.  The showing of lack of evidence may be made with a party’s factually devoid discovery responses.  Id. 
In an attempt to satisfy their initial burden based on lack of evidence on the essential element of standing, moving parties rely on Defendant Ken’s admission during discovery that he has no documentation to support his claim of financial dependence on David when David died.  However, documentation of David’s payments is only one form of evidence, and the lack of one form of evidence is not the same as the lack of any evidence of standing.
Moreover, Ken submits direct evidence supporting his claim of financial dependence, namely his deposition testimony.  See Dec. of L. Marks filed on 7-21-20, ¶4, Ex. 1.  Ken testified during deposition that David paid his father’s monthly expenses for groceries ($400), utilities ($280) and medications ($50), transportation ($250), $300 for automobile insurance and $450 for telephone service.  Id. at 28:4-8, 28:21-29:14, 51:15-52:3.  These expenses qualify as basic necessities under Chavez.  Ken also submits evidence that he needed David’s financial assistance for such basic necessities, because he could not otherwise afford them.  Id. at 35:5-22.  Ken also testified that David performed the grocery shopping, ran errands, administered Ken’s medication, chauffeured him and provided therapeutic/medical services to him.  Id. at 92:20-93:23.  Ken’s deposition testimony is evidence that raises a triable issue of fact as to his financial dependence on David when David died.  CCP ;437c(b)(2)(opposition “shall consist of … depositions…”).
(4)  Michelle’s argument that Ken’s claims “compete” with her claims is also unpersuasive.  Michelle cites her own complaint in support of this assertion.  Michelle’s complaint is irrelevant and inadmissible for this point.  
Moreover, Ken is suing for a very specific, distinct loss, i.e. loss of the specific financial support that David provided to him, not to Michelle. “The death of that child in this type of situation results in a distinct pecuniary loss to the parent which requires the parent to find aid elsewhere for the basic things we all need.”  Id. at 1446.  Such a loss includes loss of not just pure monetary support but may include loss of specific services the child provided, including grocery shopping and maintenance of the parent’s property.  Id. at 1447 (trial court erred in determining parents were not dependent on decedent under CCP ;377.60 on summary judgment where parents submitted evidence of money and services provided by decedent at time of death and parents testified they relied on decedent’s contributions of money and services to make ends meet).  


Case Number: ****6678    Hearing Date: July 14, 2020    Dept: O

Case Name: Babylan, et al. v. Watts, et al. 
Case No.: ****6678
Hearing: 7-14-20
Calendar #: 8
Notice: OK 
Complaint Filed:      6/28/17
Motion C/O: 1/20/20
Discovery C/O: 1/3/20
Trial Date: 2/3/20 
______________________________________________________________________________
SUBJECT: MOTION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA
MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Ken Babalyan 
RESP. PARTY: Hrach Gasparyan
TENTATIVE RULING
Plaintiff Ken Babalyan’s Motion to Compel Compliance with Deposition Subpoena by Hrach Gasparyan is GRANTED per CCP ;1987.1.  The only remaining issue in dispute is whether Gasparyan is required to appear for deposition in person.  Given the pandemic, the Court orders that the deposition be taken by video conference.  Gasparyan is ordered to appear for deposition on _____________________.  Plaintiff Ken Babalyan did not request sanctions. Gasparyan’s request for sanctions is denied. 
 
CCP ;1987.1
“If a subpoena requires the attendance of a witness or the production of books, documents, electronically stored information, or other things before a court, or at the trial of an issue therein, or at the taking of a deposition, the court, upon motion reasonably made by any person described in subdivision (b), or upon the court's own motion after giving counsel notice and an opportunity to be heard, may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders. In addition, the court may make any other order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.” CCP ;1987.1.


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