This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 04/18/2021 at 01:32:29 (UTC).

MICHAEL BOLSINGER VS HOUSTON ASTROS, LLC, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 02/10/2020 MICHAEL BOLSINGER filed a Contract - Business lawsuit against HOUSTON ASTROS, LLC,. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are MALCOLM MACKEY and KEVIN C. BRAZILE. The case status is Disposed - Dismissed.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******5242

  • Filing Date:

    02/10/2020

  • Case Status:

    Disposed - Dismissed

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Business

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

MALCOLM MACKEY

KEVIN C. BRAZILE

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

BOLSINGER MICHAEL

Defendants

HOUSTON ASTROS LLC

VIGOA DOE1 DEREK

CRANE DOE 2 JAMES ROBERT

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

MEISELAS BEN J.

Defendant Attorney

JACKSON BRITTANI A.

 

Court Documents

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

3/25/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Notice of Ruling

3/25/2021: Notice of Ruling

Order - RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO QUASH

3/17/2021: Order - RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO QUASH

Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

3/10/2021: Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

Declaration - DECLARATION OF GILES KIBBE

3/10/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF GILES KIBBE

Declaration - DECLARATION OF HARRY A. MITTLEMAN

3/10/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF HARRY A. MITTLEMAN

Declaration - DECLARATION = OF HARRY A. MITTLEMAN

3/10/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION = OF HARRY A. MITTLEMAN

Declaration - DECLARATION OF GILES KIBBE

3/10/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF GILES KIBBE

Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION TO DISMISS OR STAY FOR INCONVENIENT FORUM

3/10/2021: Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION TO DISMISS OR STAY FOR INCONVENIENT FORUM

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON MOTION TO DISMISS; HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH SERV...) OF 03/17/2021

3/17/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (HEARING ON MOTION TO DISMISS; HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH SERV...) OF 03/17/2021

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO DISMISS; HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH SERV...)

3/17/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO DISMISS; HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH SERV...)

Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER STIPULATED FACTS IN CONNECTIONS WITH DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS ON JURISDICTIONAL GROUNDS AND FOR INCONVENIENT FORUM

3/2/2021: Stipulation - No Order - STIPULATION - NO ORDER STIPULATED FACTS IN CONNECTIONS WITH DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS ON JURISDICTIONAL GROUNDS AND FOR INCONVENIENT FORUM

Request for Judicial Notice

3/4/2021: Request for Judicial Notice

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS & AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS OR STAY

3/4/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS & AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS OR STAY

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS & AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS, EXHIBITS A, B, & C

3/4/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF'S MEMORANDUM OF POINTS & AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS, EXHIBITS A, B, & C

Order - RULING RE: JOINT MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

12/4/2020: Order - RULING RE: JOINT MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE JOINT STIPULATION AND [PROPOSED[ ORDER TO RESC...) OF 01/15/2021

1/15/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE JOINT STIPULATION AND [PROPOSED[ ORDER TO RESC...) OF 01/15/2021

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE JOINT STIPULATION AND [PROPOSED[ ORDER TO RESC...)

1/15/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE JOINT STIPULATION AND [PROPOSED[ ORDER TO RESC...)

52 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/16/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 78; Case Management Conference - Not Held - Vacated by Court

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  • 04/15/2021
  • DocketOrder (of Dismissal Without Prejudice); Filed by Houston Astros LLC (Defendant); Derek Vigoa (Doe1) (Defendant); James Robert Crane (doe 2) (Defendant)

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  • 04/15/2021
  • DocketOrder (Granting Motion to Quash); Filed by Houston Astros LLC (Defendant); Derek Vigoa (Doe1) (Defendant); James Robert Crane (doe 2) (Defendant)

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  • 03/30/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 78; Hearing on Motion to Dismiss

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  • 03/30/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 78; Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons

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  • 03/25/2021
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Houston Astros LLC (Defendant); Derek Vigoa (Doe1) (Defendant); James Robert Crane (doe 2) (Defendant)

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  • 03/25/2021
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by Houston Astros LLC (Defendant); Derek Vigoa (Doe1) (Defendant); James Robert Crane (doe 2) (Defendant)

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  • 03/17/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 78; Hearing on Motion to Dismiss - Held

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  • 03/17/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 78; Hearing on Motion to Quash Service of Summons - Held

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  • 03/17/2021
  • DocketRuling Re: Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Quash; Filed by Clerk

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70 More Docket Entries
  • 03/16/2020
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by Michael Bolsinger (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/16/2020
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail; Filed by Michael Bolsinger (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/13/2020
  • DocketStipulation - No Order (Joint Stipulation Pursuant to Cal. Rules of Court 3.110(d) to Extend Time for Defendants to Answer or Otherwise Respond to Complaint); Filed by Houston Astros LLC (Defendant)

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  • 02/20/2020
  • DocketAmendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name); Filed by Michael Bolsinger (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/20/2020
  • DocketAmendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name); Filed by Michael Bolsinger (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/18/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Michael Bolsinger (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/10/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/10/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Michael Bolsinger (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/10/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Michael Bolsinger (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/10/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Michael Bolsinger (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******5242    Hearing Date: March 17, 2021    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

MICHAEL BOLSINGER;

Plaintiff,

vs.

HOUSTON ASTROS, LLC, et al.;

Defendants.

Case No.:

*******5242

Hearing Date:

March 17, 2021

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

specially appearing defendants houston Astros, llc, james robert crane and derek vigoa’s motion to dismiss or stay for inconvenient forum

specially appearing defendants houston Astros, llc, james robert crane and derek vigoa’s motion to quash service of summons for lack of personal jurisdiction

Specially Appearing Defendants Houston Astros, LLC, James Robert Crane and Derek Vigoa’s Motion to Quash Service of Summons for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction is GRANTED.

Specially Appearing Defendants Houston Astros, LLC, James Robert Crane and Derek Vigoa’s Motion to Dismiss for Inconvenient Forum is GRANTED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for unfair business practices and interference with contractual relations and prospective economic relations. The Complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff Michael Bolsinger (“Bolsinger”) was a professional baseball pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays (“Blue Jays”) who played in a baseball game against Defendant Houston Astros, LLC (“Astros”) on August 4, 2017. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Bolsinger was immediately terminated from the Blue Jays after giving up four runs to the Astros in the game. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Later, it was discovered that the Astros engaged in a “sign stealing scheme” during the 2017 season by conveying the signs given by a catcher to the pitcher of an opposing team to the batter by making a particular noise. (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 34-41.) The Complaint alleges that the most noises (“bangs”) used by the Astros took place during the August 4, 2017 game and the Astros stole the sign for nearly every pitch thrown by Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 40.) Bolsinger alleges he is entitled to restitution for his losses. (Compl. ¶ 49.)

procedural history

Plaintiff filed the Complaint on February 10, 2020, alleging 5 causes of action:

  1. Unfair business practices

  2. Negligence

  3. Intentional interference with contractual relations

  4. Intentional interference with prospective economic relations

  5. Negligence interference with prospective economic relations

On February 20, 2020, Plaintiff filed two Amendments to Complaint, adding Defendants Derek Vigoa (“Vigoa”) and James Robert Crane (“Crane”).

On March 25, 2020, the Court in Department 55 granted a peremptory challenge.

On March 27, 2020, the case was transferred from Dept. 55 to Dept. 20.

On March 30, 2020, the Astros, Vigoa, and Crane filed a Motion to Dismiss or Stay for Inconvenient Forum and a Motion to Quash Service of Summons.

On April 9, 2020, the Court in Department 20 granted a second peremptory challenge and the case was transferred from Dept. 20 to the instant Dept. 78.

On March 30, 2020, Specially Appearing Defendants Astros, James Robert Crane (“Crane”) and Derek Vigoa (“Vigoa,” collectively, the “Defendants”) filed the instant Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Quash.

On December 3, 2020, this Court granted Astros, Crane, and Vigoa’s Joint Motion for Protective Order.

On March 4, 2021, Bolsinger filed Oppositions.

On March 10, 2021, the Defendants filed Replies.

DISCUSSION

  1. MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION

A defendant may serve and file a motion to quash service of summons on the grounds of a lack of jurisdiction over him or her. (Code Civ. Proc., ; 418.10 subd. (a)(1).) A plaintiff opposing a motion to quash service for lack of personal jurisdiction “has the initial burden to demonstrate facts establishing a basis for personal jurisdiction.” (HealthMarkets, Inc. v. Superior Court (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1160, 1167.) If the opposing party satisfies this burden, the burden then shifts to defendant to show that exercise of jurisdiction would be unreasonable. (Id.)

A Court may exercise jurisdiction on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitutions of California or of the United States. (Code Civ. Proc., ; 410.10.) The exercise of personal jurisdiction is constitutionally permissible only “if the defendant has sufficient ‘minimum contacts’ with the forum state so that the exercise of jurisdiction ‘does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” [Citations.]’ ” (HealthMarkets, Inc. v. Superior Court (“HealthMarkets, Inc.”) (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1160, 1166 [citing International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945) 326 U.S. 310, 316].) A defendant’s conduct with the forum state must be such that the defendant has “fair warning” that its activities might subject it to personal jurisdiction. (HealthMarkets, Inc., supra, 171 Cal.App.4th at p. 1166–1167; Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz (1985) 471 U.S. 462, 472.)

“Minimum contacts exist where the defendant's conduct in the forum state is such that he should reasonably anticipate being subject to suit there, and it is reasonable and fair to force him to do so. [Citations.] In contrast, contacts that are random, fortuitous, or attenuated do not rise to the minimum level, and general jurisdiction cannot be exercised under these circumstances.” (F. Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. v. Superior Court (“F. Hoffman-La Roche”) (2005) 130 Cal.App.4th 782, 795.)

A defendant that has substantial, continuous, and systematic contacts with the forum state is subject to general jurisdiction in the state, meaning jurisdiction on any cause of action. Absent such extensive contacts, a defendant may be subject to specific jurisdiction, meaning jurisdiction in an action arising out of or related to the defendant's contacts with the forum state. Specific jurisdiction depends on the quality and nature of the defendant's forum contacts in relation to the particular cause of action alleged. (HealthMarkets, Inc. v. Superior Court (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1160, 1167.)

Specially Appearing Defendants the Astros, Crane, and Vigoa argue that they are not subject to general or specific jurisdiction. (Motion at pp. 5-7.)

  1. Specific Jurisdiction

Defendant Astros is a Texas corporation with its principal place of business in Harris County, Texas. (Kibbe Decl. 1, ¶ 4.) The Astros have no offices or bank accounts in California, do not own or lease officers or other real property in California,. They have never paid state income taxes or filed state tax returns in California, do not maintain corporate records in California, none of the Astros’ officers or directors are domiciled in California, and the Astros “do not routinely conduct business in California beyond occasional games against California teams.” (Kibbe Decl. 1, ¶¶ 5-10.)

Defendant Crane is an owner, Chairman, and Major League Control Person of the Astros. (Crane Decl. ¶ 1.) Crane is a resident of the State of Texas, his offices are in Houston, Texas, and he does not have an office or bank account in California and he has never resided in California. (Crane Decl. ¶ 3.) Crane owns a vacation home in Pebble Beach, California, which is not the subject of this litigation, and Crane does not reside at the vacation home. (Crane Decl. ¶ 4.)

Defendant Vigoa is the Director of Team Operations of the Astros. (Vigoa Decl., ¶ 1.) Vigoa is a resident of the State of Texas, his office is in Houston, Texas, and he does not have a residence, office, business, or bank account in California. (Vigoa Decl., ¶ 3.)

“A Court may exercise specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant only if: (1) the defendant has purposefully availed himself or herself of forum benefits; (2) the controversy is related to or arises out of’ the defendant's contacts with the forum; and (3) the assertion of personal jurisdiction would comport with fair play and substantial justice.” (Snowney v. Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. (2005) 35 Cal.4th 1054, 1062, internal quotation marks and alterations omitted.)

Defendants argue that they are not subject to specific jurisdiction because “Plaintiff does not allege any facts to show that the Astros, Crane, or Vigoa engaged in intentional conduct that occurred in, was targeted at, or in any way created a substantial connection to California.” (Motion at p. 8.)

The Court agrees. The Complaint is between Plaintiff Bolsinger, who was a baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays located in Canada, and the Houston Astros regarding a game between the teams in Houston, Texas on August 4, 2017.This is the game in which “Bolsinger gave up four runs due to the Houston Astros’ sign stealing scheme,” which cost Bolsinger his job. (Compl. ¶ 23.) The Complaint only alleges as to California that “(a) Los Angeles is the situs where the Defendant Astros fraudulently won the 2017 World Series; (b) [ ] Defendant has member-investors involved in the fraudulent scheme who reside in Los Angeles, California; and (c) the impact and damages caused within the County of Los Angeles exceed all other jurisdictions and substantial tortious conduct was directed at Los Angeles.” (Compl. ¶ 12.)

The underlying conduct in the Complaint, the alleged sign-stealing scheme on August 4, 2017 which cost Bolsinger his job, took place in Houston, Texas between a Texas team and a Toronto, Canada team. There are no allegations in the Complaint (related to the August 4, 2017 game otherwise), which involve any contacts of any Defendant with the State of California.

Accordingly, the Court finds that the Defendants do not have sufficient minimum contacts with California such that specific jurisdiction may be imposed without offending the notions of fair play and substantial justice.

  1. General Jurisdiction

“If a nonresident defendant’s activities may be described as ‘extensive or wide-ranging’[citation] or ‘substantial ... continuous and systematic’ [citation], there is a constitutionally sufficient relationship to warrant jurisdiction for all causes of action asserted against him. In such circumstances, it is not necessary that the specific cause of action alleged be connected with the defendant's business relationship to the forum. (Mihlon (1985) 169 Cal.App.3d 703, 710–711.)

In Opposition, Plaintiff argues, based on information uncovered in discovery for this Motion, that the Defendants have substantial and wide-ranging contacts with California. (Oppo. at p. 8.) Plaintiff contends that Crane owns multiple properties in California and visits them regularly. He also has three offices in California as CEO of Crane Worldwide Logistics, and acts as GP of an LLC which regularly conducts business in California. (Oppo. at pp. 8-9.) Plaintiff also argues that the Astros “continuously compete against California teams” and in 2017 competed in 23 games in California. (Oppo. at p. 9.) Lastly, Plaintiff contends that from 2014-2018, the Astros had a contract with Triple-A team, the Fresno Grizzlies, which “allowed Defendants to systematically groom players from a California Triple-A team for its major league roster[.]” (Oppo. at p. 10.)

The Court is unpersuaded. “General jurisdiction exists when a defendant is domiciled in the forum state or his activities there are substantial, continuous, and systematic.” (F. Hoffman-La Roche, Ltd. v. Superior Court (2005) 130 Cal.App.4th 782, 796.)

The standard for general jurisdiction is high, and only a specific set of affiliations with a forum state will cause a defendant to be subject to all-purpose general jurisdiction. Generally, a corporation will be subject to general jurisdiction if its place of incorporation and principal place of business are located within the forum state. (Daimler AG v. Bauman (2014) 571 U.S. 117, 137.) Neither Crane nor the Astros are domiciled in California. The allegations that the Astros occasionally play (approximately 23) games in a given year in California is not sufficient to establish “substantial, continuous, and systematic” contacts. Further, the Astros submit evidence that “No individual or entity affiliated with the Astros has ever owned an interest in the Fresno Grizzlies” and the Astros “did not receive any revenue from Fresno Sports Management’s business operations.” (Kibbe Decl. 2, ¶¶ 6-7.) Defendants’ also present evidence regarding Crane’s contacts with California: Crane is not licensed in California, travels to California on business once a year, used to own a vacation home in Monterey that he occasionally visited for vacation but has since sold, and only owns a lot in Monterey with an abandoned and uninhabitable house. (Reply at p. 7; Mittleman Decl., Exh. A.)

The Court finds that these limited contacts are insufficient to establish that Defendants’ contacts with California are substantial, continuous, and systematic for general jurisdiction.

The Motion to Quash Service of Summons for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction is GRANTED.

  1. MOTION TO DISMISS OR STAY FOR INCONVENIENT FORUM

“Forum non conveniens is an equitable doctrine invoking the discretionary power of a Court to decline to exercise the jurisdiction it has over a transitory cause of action when it believes that the action may be more appropriately and justly tried elsewhere.” (Stangvik v. Shiley Inc. (1991) 54 Cal.3d 744, 751.)  Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 410.30, subdivision (a), “When a Court upon motion of a party or its own motion finds that in the interest of substantial justice an action should be heard in a forum outside this state, the Court shall stay or dismiss the action in whole or in part on any conditions that may be just.”  Code of Civil Procedure section 418.10, subdivision (a), also provides that “[a] defendant, on or before the last day of his or her time to plead or within any further time that the Court may for good cause allow, may serve and file a notice of motion . . . [t]o stay or dismiss the action on the ground of inconvenient forum.”  If a stay is granted, the California Court retains jurisdiction with the ability to order the action resumed if the plaintiff is denied a prompt trial in the alternative forum, while on the other hand, the Court loses jurisdiction if the matter is dismissed.  (Archibald v. Cinerama Hotels (1976) 15 Cal.3d 853, 857–858.)

“In determining whether to grant a motion based on forum non conveniens, a Court must first determine whether the alternate forum is a suitable place for trial.  If it is, the next step is to consider the private interests of the litigants and the interests of the public in retaining the action for trial in California.”  (Stangviksupra, 54 Cal.3d at p. 751 [quotation marks omitted].)  “The private interest factors are those that make trial and the enforceability of the ensuing judgment expeditious and relatively inexpensive,” including (1) “the ease of access to sources of proof,” (2) the cost of obtaining attendance of witnesses,” and (3) the availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling witnesses.”  (Ibid).  “The public interest factors include” (1) “avoidance of overburdening local Courts with congested calendars,” (2) “protecting the interests of potential jurors so that they are not called upon to decide cases in which the local community has little concern,” and (3) “weighing the competing interests of California and the alternate jurisdiction in the litigation.”  (Ibid.)

The moving party bears the burden of proof on a motion for forum non conveniens. (Ibid.)  While a California resident plaintiff enjoys a “strong presumption” in favor of plaintiff’s choice of forum, a nonresident plaintiff’s choice of forum is entitled to “due deference” under all circumstances but not a “strong presumption” of appropriateness.  (See Nat’l Football League v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co. (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 902, 924–930.)

Here, neither Plaintiff nor Defendants are California residents. Instead, all parties are residents of the State of Texas. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-9.) Where the Plaintiff is not a California resident, as in this case, the moving party is not required to demonstrate that California is a “seriously inconvenient forum[.]” (Fox Factory, Inc. v. Superior Court (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 197, 206.)

Defendants argues that Texas is a suitable alternative forum because the Defendants are all subject to general jurisdiction in Texas because they are “at home” in Texas, and Plaintiff’s causes of action would not be barred by the statutes of limitations. (Motion at p. 5.) Defendants also argue as to the “private interest factors” that it would be more cost-effective to litigate the case in Texas because “virtually all witnesses and documents relating to this action are in Texas,” as well as documentary evidence. (Motion at pp. 6-7.)

The Court agrees. Because all parties reside in Texas and the events that comprise the fundamental allegations in the Complaint took place in Texas, it is more efficient to try the case in Texas where witnesses are located for purposes of hearings, depositions, and trial. Plaintiff argues that Texas is not a suitable forum because “Plaintiff will not have a fair trial in Houston as he played for a competitor team against the Houston Astros.” (Oppo. at p. 7.) However, there is no evidence that this is the case, nor is this single factor sufficient to override the numerous significant factors in favor of Texas as an alternative forum.

The Motion to Dismiss for Inconvenient Forum is GRANTED.

DATED: March 17, 2021 ________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court



Case Number: *******5242    Hearing Date: December 04, 2020    Dept: 78

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 78

MICHAEL BOLSINGER;

Plaintiff,

vs.

HOUSTON ASTROS, LLC, et al.;

Defendants.

Case No.:

*******5242

Hearing Date:

December 4, 2020

[TENTATIVE] RULING RE:

specially appearing defendants james robert crane and derek vigoa’s joint motion for Protective Order

Specially Appearing Defendants James Robert Crane and Derek Vigoa’s Joint Motion for Protective Order is GRANTED with the scope proposed by Defendants Crane and Vigoa.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This is an action for unfair business practices and interference with contractual relations and prospective economic relations. The Complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff Michael Bolsinger (“Bolsinger”) was a professional baseball pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays (“Blue Jays”) who played in a baseball game against Defendant Houston Astros, LLC (“Astros”) on August 4, 2017. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Bolsinger was immediately terminated from the Blue Jays after giving up four runs to the Astros in the game. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Later, it was discovered that the Astros engaged in a “sign stealing scheme” during the 2017 season by conveying the signs given by a catcher to the pitcher of an opposing team to the batter by making a particular noise. (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 34-41.) The Complaint alleges that the most noises (“bangs”) used by the Astros took place during the August 4, 2017 game and the Astros stole the sign for nearly every pitch thrown by Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 40.) Bolsinger alleges he is entitled to restitution for his losses. (Compl. ¶ 49.)

procedural history

Plaintiff filed the Complaint on February 10, 2020, alleging 5 causes of action:

  1. Unfair business practices

  2. Negligence

  3. Intentional interference with contractual relations

  4. Intentional interference with prospective economic relations

  5. Negligence interference with prospective economic relations

On February 20, 2020, Plaintiff filed two Amendments to Complaint, adding Defendants Derek Vigoa (“Vigoa”) and James Robert Crane (“Crane”).

On March 25, 2020, the court granted a peremptory challenge.

On March 27, 2020, the case was transferred from Dept. 55 to Dept. 20.

On March 30, 2020, the Astros, Vigoa, and Crane filed a Motion to Dismiss or Stay for Inconvenient Forum and a Motion to Quash Service of Summons.

On April 9, 2020, the court granted a second peremptory challenge. The case was transferred from Dept. 20 to the instant Dept. 78.

On July 24, 2020, Vigoa and Crane, specially appearing, filed the instant Motion for Protective Order.

On November 19, 2020, Plaintiff filed an Opposition.

On November 25, 2020, Vigoa and Crane filed a Reply.

DISCUSSION

  1. MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

“When an inspection, copying, testing, or sampling of documents, tangible things, places, or electronically stored information has been demanded, the party to whom the demand has been directed, and any other party or affected person, may promptly move for a protective order. This motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040.” (Code Civ. Proc. ; 2031.060, subd. (a).) “The court, for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party or other person from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense.” (Code Civ. Proc. ; 2031.060, subd. (b).)

“A party seeking the protective order must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the issuance of a protective order is proper.” (Stadish v. Superior Court (1999) 71 Cal.App.4th 1130, 1145.)The state has two substantial interests in regulating pretrial discovery. The first is to facilitate the search for truth and promote justice. The second is to protect the legitimate privacy interests of the litigants and third parties.” (Id.)

On March 27, 2020, Plaintiff noticed depositions of Crane and Vigoa to take place in June 2020. (Motion at p. 1.) The parties agreed that the scope should be limited to “jurisdictional” issues, but Plaintiff sought to include “foundational questions” into the merits of the case. (Motion at p. 1.) Then, on March 30, 2020, the Astros, Vigoa, and Crane filed a Motion to Dismiss or Stay for Inconvenient Forum and a Motion to Quash Service of Summons.

Specially Appearing Defendants Crane and Vigoa seek a protective order to limit discovery pending the outcome of the Motion to Quash Service and Motion to Dismiss or Stay. (Motion at p. 2.) They contend that discovery should be limited, pending the outcome of the two motions, to: (1) the deponents’ residential properties, owned and rented, as of the date Plaintiff’s complaint was filed, including how much time Crane and Vigoa spend there; (2) the deponents’ offices, places of business, and location of bank accounts as of the date the Plaintiff’s complaint was filed; (3) the contents of the deponents’ declarations, insofar as they relate to issues of personal jurisdiction and inconvenient forum in California; and (4) the deponents’ contacts and interactions with the Plaintiff.” (Motion at p. 2.)

In Opposition, Plaintiff argues that Plaintiff has a right to conduct discovery with regards to the issue of jurisdiction and this burden requires cross-examination of the statements made by Defendants in their declarations to the Motion to Quash and Motion to Dismiss. (Oppo. at p. 9.)

Plaintiff’s Opposition does not address the parameters put forth by Defendants or argue why these parameters will not allow it access to the information that it deems essential to the Motion to Quash/Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff’s argument is unclear as to what information it is seeking which would extend beyond these parameters. Plaintiff contends that it seeks information related to the “MLB Report,” which is incredibly critical to the Court’s analysis,” but does not present any argument as to why such a report, and related cross-examination as to this report, would relate to a decision as to venue.

At this point, Defendants Crane and Vigoa have challenged this court’s personal jurisdiction over them by filing a Motion to Quash. Per Code of Civil Procedure section 418.10, Crane and Vigoa have not made an appearance that subjects them to jurisdiction. (Code Civ. Proc., ; 418.10.) Accordingly, discovery is limited to “jurisdictional” discovery. “A plaintiff is generally entitled to conduct discovery with regard to a jurisdictional issue before a court rules on a motion to quash.” (Goehring v. Superior Court (Bernier) (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 894, 911.)

Here, Plaintiff has failed to show (1) what discovery it seeks beyond the jurisdictional parameters set by Defendants, (2) what kind of jurisdictional facts this discovery might disclose, and/or (3) how cross-examination as to the “MLB Report,” or other sought discovery relates to the limited category of jurisdiction.

The Court finds that Defendants’ propose parameters for discovery are appropriate for the limited purpose of jurisdictional discovery.

The Motion for Protective Order is GRANTED as the scope of the discovery proposed by Defendants Crane and Vigoa.

DATED: December 3, 2020 ________________________________

Hon. Robert S. Draper

Judge of the Superior Court