This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/18/2019 at 23:03:56 (UTC).

MAHAMADOU SOUBOUNDOU VS CHAKKA CHIRAN JEEVI ET AL

Case Summary

On 12/21/2017 a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle case was filed by MAHAMADOU SOUBOUNDOU against CHAKKA CHIRAN JEEVI in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7678

  • Filing Date:

    12/21/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

LAURA A. SEIGLE

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

SOUBOUNDOU MAHMADOU

Respondents and Defendants

JEEVI CHAKKA CHIRAN

TANG JONATHAN

DOES 1 TO 20

TANG ARTHUR C.

 

Court Documents

PLAINTIFF'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT;

4/17/2018: PLAINTIFF'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT;

DEFENDANT CHIRANJEEVI CHAKKA'S S REPLY TO OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES FROM PLAINTIFF' S COMPLAINT

4/24/2018: DEFENDANT CHIRANJEEVI CHAKKA'S S REPLY TO OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES FROM PLAINTIFF' S COMPLAINT

Proof of Service

6/5/2018: Proof of Service

Proof of Service

6/5/2018: Proof of Service

NOTICE OF NAME CHANGE

9/11/2018: NOTICE OF NAME CHANGE

Notice

12/26/2018: Notice

Motion to Compel

3/4/2019: Motion to Compel

Motion to Compel

3/4/2019: Motion to Compel

Motion to Compel

3/4/2019: Motion to Compel

Minute Order

3/29/2019: Minute Order

Opposition

4/5/2019: Opposition

Opposition

4/5/2019: Opposition

Opposition

4/5/2019: Opposition

Minute Order

4/18/2019: Minute Order

Minute Order

4/25/2019: Minute Order

Notice of Ruling

5/20/2019: Notice of Ruling

Unknown

12/21/2017: Unknown

SUMMONS

12/21/2017: SUMMONS

27 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/06/2019
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Party's Motion

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  • 05/20/2019
  • Notice of Ruling; Filed by Chakka Chiran Jeevi (Defendant)

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  • 05/17/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (for an order continuing the trial date and all related dates) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 05/17/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Ex Parte Application for an order continuing the t...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/17/2019
  • Ex Parte Application (FOR AN ORDER CONTINUING THE TRIAL DATE AND ALL RELATED DATES); Filed by Chakka Chiran Jeevi (Defendant)

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  • 04/25/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (to Modify Court's Order Regarding Neuropsychological Examination) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 04/25/2019
  • Notice of Ruling; Filed by Chakka Chiran Jeevi (Defendant)

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  • 04/25/2019
  • Ex Parte Application (to Modify Court's Order Regarding Plaintiff's Neuropsychological Examination); Filed by Chakka Chiran Jeevi (Defendant)

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  • 04/25/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Ex Parte Application to Modify Court's Order Regar...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/18/2019
  • at 1:30 PM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel (MOTION TO COMPEL NEUROLOGY EXAMINATION) - Held - Motion Granted

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44 More Docket Entries
  • 04/17/2018
  • Opposition Points & Authorities; Filed by Mahmadou Souboundou (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/17/2018
  • PLAINTIFF'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT;

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  • 03/14/2018
  • Motion to Compel; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 03/14/2018
  • DEFENDANT CHIRANJEEVI CHAKKA'S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES FROM PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT;

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  • 02/23/2018
  • Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Mahmadou Souboundou (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/23/2018
  • Proof of Service

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  • 12/21/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Mahmadou Souboundou (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/21/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. NEGLIGENCE

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  • 12/21/2017
  • SUMMONS

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  • 12/21/2017
  • ORDER ON COURT FEE WAIVER

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC687678    Hearing Date: December 17, 2019    Dept: 4B

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: DEFENDANT LUIS ANGEL ALFONSO’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Humberto Delgado Martinez (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant Luis Angel Alfonso (“Defendant”) and other defendants for negligence arising from an automobile accident. Defendant moves for summary adjudication as to Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damage.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

“A motion for summary adjudication shall be granted only if it completely disposes of a cause of action, an affirmative defense, a claim for damages, or an issue of duty.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (f)(1).) A motion for summary adjudication shall proceed in all procedural respects as a motion for summary judgment. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (f)(2).) In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, courts must apply a three-step analysis: “(1) identify the issues framed by the pleadings; (2) determine whether the moving party has negated the opponent’s claims; and (3) determine whether the opposition has demonstrated the existence of a triable, material factual issue.” (Hinesley v. Oakshade Town Center (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 289, 294.)

“[T]he initial burden is always on the moving party to make a prima facia showing that there are no triable issues of material fact.” (Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1519.) A defendant moving for summary judgment or summary adjudication “has met his or her burden of showing that a cause of action has no merit if the party has shown that one or more elements of the cause of action . . . cannot be established, or that there is a complete defense to the cause of action.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).) A moving defendant need not conclusively negate an element of plaintiff’s cause of action. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 854.) “Once the defendant . . . has met that burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff . . . to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action or a defense thereto.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).)

The court must “determine what any evidence or inference could show or imply to a reasonable trier of fact.” (Aguilar, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 856.) The court assesses “the sufficiency of the evidence to determine whether a reasonable juror could find that the plaintiff has satisfied his burden of persuasion.” (Id. at p. 856, fn. 26.) A higher evidentiary standard applies to a motion for summary adjudication on a punitive damages claim. (Basich v. Allstate Ins. Co. 87 Cal.App.4th 1112, 1121.) “If the plaintiff is going to prevail on a punitive damages claim, he or she can only do so by establishing malice, oppression or fraud by clear and convincing evidence. Thus, any evidence submitted in response to a motion for summary adjudication must necessarily meet that standard.” (Ibid.)

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant argues punitive damages are not available here because he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident and was not driving in a manner sufficient to support punitive damages. Plaintiff does not contend Defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Defendant argues that his conduct was not malicious, oppressive or fraudulent because speeding alone is not sufficient to constitute despicable conduct, and no other aggravating circumstances exist, such as intoxication, using a cell phone, or eating while driving. Defendant cites to Taylor v. Superior Court (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890 for the proposition that routine negligence or reckless disobedience of traffic laws do not justify punitive damages.

Punitive damages may be imposed where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. (Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (a).) “Malice” is conduct intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. (Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (c)(1).) “‘Punitive damages are proper only when the tortious conduct rises to levels of extreme indifference to the plaintiff’s rights, a level which decent citizens should not have to tolerate.’ [Citation.]” (Lackner v. North (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1210.) “As amended to include [despicable], the [Civil Code section 3294] plainly indicates that absent an intent to injure the plaintiff, ‘malice’ requires more than a ‘willful and conscious’ disregard of the plaintiffs’ interests. The additional component of ‘despicable conduct’ must be found.” (College Hospital Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 725.) The statute’s reference to despicable conduct represents a “new substantive limitation on punitive damage awards.” (Ibid.) Despicable conduct is “conduct which is so vile, base, contemptible, miserable, wretched or loathsome that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary decent people. Such conduct has been described as ‘having the character of outrage frequently associated with crime.’” (Tomaselli v. Transamerica Ins. Co. (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 1269, 1287.)

In Taylor, the California Supreme Court held that punitive damages may be imposed for driving while intoxicated under certain circumstances. (Taylor, supra, 24 Cal.3d at p. 892.) The defendant had previously caused a serious automobile accident while driving under the influence, had been arrested and convicted for drunken driving on numerous prior occasions, had recently completed a period of probation following a drunk driving conviction, and was presently facing an additional pending criminal drunk driving charge at the time of the accident. (Id. at p. 893.) Further, the defendant accepted employment which required him both to call on various commercial establishments where alcoholic beverages were sold and to deliver or transport such beverages in his car. (Ibid.) Finally, the complaint alleged that at the time of the accident, defendant was transporting alcoholic beverages and simultaneously driving while consuming an alcoholic beverage. (Ibid.) The California Supreme Court found these circumstances to be aggravating or outrageous, and there was “no valid reason whatever for immunizing the driver himself from the exposure to punitive damages given the demonstrable and almost inevitable risk visited upon the innocent public by his voluntary conduct as alleged in the complaint.” (Id. at p. 898.)

Subsequently, the court in Dawes v. Superior Court (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 82 held that “[t]he risk of injury to others from ordinary driving while intoxicated is certainly foreseeable, but it is not necessarily probable,” and punitive damages may be warranted where the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s decision to drive while intoxicated made the risk of harm to others probable. (Id. at p. 89.) In Dawes, the circumstances constituted more than the “ordinary driving while intoxicated,” where there was a probable risk of injury to others due to the defendant’s driving while intoxicated, at a high rate of speed, zigzagging through traffic, in the middle of the afternoon, and in locations of heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic. (Id. at pp. 88-89.)

The accident here occurred at 12:55 p.m. in a residential neighborhood. The street on which Defendant was driving had two lanes in the direction he was driving plus a lane for parking. Defendant testified he was driving 55 miles per hour. Plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert opined Defendant was driving 80 mile per hour. The speed limit was 35 miles per hour. A witness testified that Defendant ran a red light because based on the speed he was going, he did not have room to brake. Defendant lost control of the car, either after hitting a bump or after quickly switching lanes and hitting a bump. Either the vehicle went airborne or felt like the tires came off of the ground due to the vehicle’s suspension and speed. Witnesses saw sparks indicating the undercarriage hit the ground. The vehicle fishtailed and collided with vehicles parked along the curb. Plaintiff was sitting in one of the cars.

The facts are disputed regarding Defendant’s speed, what caused him to lose control of the car, and whether he ran a red light. Defendant contends that even if these facts are decided against him (i.e., he was driving 80 miles an hour, lost control when he hit a bump, and ran a red light), punitive damages are not available on this record. Defendant argues that the cases like Taylor and Dawes focus on situations involving speeding and drunk driving, not simply speeding and maybe running a red light, and that that conduct as a matter of law does not rise to the level of malice, oppression or fraud required for punitive damages. Plaintiff counters that running a red light and driving 80 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood, even when not intoxicated, is sufficient to show a willful and malicious disregard for the safety of others.

In Taylor the Supreme Court stated, in regard to a contention that conduct not involving alcohol can display a conscious disregard of the safety of others, that “one who willfully disobeys traffic signals or speed limit laws arguably possesses such a state of mind and culpability. That case is not before us and we express no opinion on it . . . .” (Taylor, supra, 24 Cal.3d at p. 899.) The Court also stated that “the circumstances in a particular case may disclose similar willful or wanton behavior in other forms,” although “ordinarily, routine negligent or even reckless disobedience of traffic laws would not justify an award of punitive damages.” (Id. at pp. 899-900.) Thus, the Supreme Court did not foreclose that some forms of non-intoxicated driving may support punitive damages.

The court in Dawes favorably quoted a law review article that “if the facts show that the defendant intentionally drove his vehicle at a high speed into an intersection crowded with pedestrians, or if he drove at a high speed through a crowded residential area where children were playing in street, a legitimate inference of actual malice perhaps could arise. This would be particularly true if the defendant had not been drinking . . . .” (Dawes, supra, 111 Cal.App.3d at p. 90.) The Dawes court recognized that conduct may be more reprehensible if the defendant is not intoxicated because he is more “aware of the situation confronting him.” (Ibid.) In such circumstances, “it reasonably might be said that the defendant acted in such an outrageous and reprehensible manner that the jury could infer that he knowingly disregarded the substantial certainty of injury to others.” (Ibid.)

The situation here is not similar to the hypothetical scenarios posited in Dawes, where the driver drove through a crowded intersection or where children were playing in the street. The street on which Defendant was driving was wide – three lanes going in one direction including the parking lane next to the curb. There is no evidence of any pedestrians or people in or near the street. There is no evidence the street was busy with traffic or that Defendant was weaving in and out of traffic. Plaintiff was sitting in a parked car, and there is no evidence he was visible to drivers on the road. Thus, while the evidence supports the inference that Defendant drove in “reckless disobedience of traffic laws,” that is not enough to “justify an award of punitive damages.” (Taylor, supra,, 24 Cal.3d at p. 900.) There is not clear and convincing evidence presented from which a jury could conclude Defendant “knowingly disregarded the substantial certainty of injury to others.” (Dawes, supra, 111 Cal.App.3d at p. 90.)

IV. CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s Motion for Summary Adjudication is GRANTED.

Defendant to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT4B@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative. The Court will be dark on December 17, 2019. A party requesting argument should contact Dept. 4B for an alternate hearing date.