This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 10/03/2018 at 00:17:26 (UTC).

Michael Speziali Vs The Viper Room Lp Et Al

Case Summary

On 02/02/2018 a Labor - Wrongful Termination case was filed by Michael Speziali against The Viper Room Lp 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:

    ****2932

  • Filing Date:

    02/02/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Wrongful Termination

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Holly E. Kendig

 

Party Details

Petitioner and Plaintiff

Speziali Michael

Defendants and Respondents

Wilson Mike

Viper Room Management Llc

The Viper Room Lp

Does 1 To 100

Wilson Maci Jane

Viper Room Sunset Llc

 

Court Documents

Amended Complaint

11/14/2019: Amended Complaint

Opposition - OPPOSITION DEFENDANT VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLC, VIPER ROOM MANAGEMENT, LLC, AND THE VIPER ROOM, L. PS OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; DECLARATION

10/30/2019: Opposition - OPPOSITION DEFENDANT VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLC, VIPER ROOM MANAGEMENT, LLC, AND THE VIPER ROOM, L. PS OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; DECLARATION

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES; HEAR...)

11/13/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES; HEAR...)

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: WHY LEAVE TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT FOR ...)

10/15/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: WHY LEAVE TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT FOR ...)

Order - ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE REPLY IN SUPPORT OF THE COURT GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT

10/18/2019: Order - ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE REPLY IN SUPPORT OF THE COURT GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT

Order - ORDER RE: PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO FORM INTERROGATORIES

9/11/2019: Order - ORDER RE: PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO FORM INTERROGATORIES

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES)

9/17/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES)

Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT

9/18/2019: Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT

Declaration - DECLARATION OF JESSICA GOODWIN SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLCS FURTHER RESPONSE AND PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

8/29/2019: Declaration - DECLARATION OF JESSICA GOODWIN SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLCS FURTHER RESPONSE AND PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

Objection - OBJECTION OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF JESSICA GOODWIN IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL FURHTER RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFFS REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

9/4/2019: Objection - OBJECTION OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF JESSICA GOODWIN IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL FURHTER RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFFS REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

Notice - NOTICE OF ERRATA FOR SUPPLEMENTAL DECLARATION OF ROBERT A. MADISON ATTACHED TO REPLY IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLCS FURTHER RESPONSE TO FORM INTER

9/5/2019: Notice - NOTICE OF ERRATA FOR SUPPLEMENTAL DECLARATION OF ROBERT A. MADISON ATTACHED TO REPLY IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLCS FURTHER RESPONSE TO FORM INTER

Motion for Terminating Sanctions

8/30/2019: Motion for Terminating Sanctions

Motion for Terminating Sanctions

8/7/2019: Motion for Terminating Sanctions

Notice of Ruling

8/8/2019: Notice of Ruling

Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLC'S RESPONSE TO FORM INTERROGATORIES

7/17/2019: Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLC'S RESPONSE TO FORM INTERROGATORIES

Motion to Compel Discovery (not Further Discovery) - 1 moving party, 1 motion

4/8/2019: Motion to Compel Discovery (not Further Discovery) - 1 moving party, 1 motion

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY (NOT "FURTHER DISCOVERY"))

5/2/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY (NOT "FURTHER DISCOVERY"))

Proof of Service by Mail

5/8/2019: Proof of Service by Mail

88 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 09/14/2020
  • Hearing09/14/2020 at 09:30 AM in Department 26 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 09/01/2020
  • Hearing09/01/2020 at 09:00 AM in Department 26 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 06/02/2020
  • Hearing06/02/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Post-Mediation Status Conference

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  • 04/07/2020
  • Hearing04/07/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses

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  • 03/10/2020
  • Hearing03/10/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Further Discovery Responses

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  • 02/20/2020
  • Hearing02/20/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Terminating Sanctions

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  • 12/16/2019
  • Hearing12/16/2019 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Terminating Sanctions

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  • 11/25/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 26, Elaine Lu, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Terminating Sanctions - Not Held - Continued - Ex Parte Motion

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  • 11/14/2019
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by Michael Speziali (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/14/2019
  • DocketComplaint ( (1st)); Filed by Michael Speziali (Plaintiff)

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117 More Docket Entries
  • 06/01/2018
  • DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by Michael Speziali (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/11/2018
  • DocketStipulation; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 05/11/2018
  • DocketSTIPULATION TO EXTEND DEADLINE TO RESPOND TO COMPLAINT; ORDER

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  • 05/01/2018
  • DocketDeclaration; Filed by The Viper Room, LP (Defendant); Viper Room Management, LLC (Defendant); Viper Room Sunset, LLC (Defendant)

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  • 05/01/2018
  • DocketDECLARATION OF MORANI STELMACH PURSUANT TO C.C.P. 430.41

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  • 02/07/2018
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE & OSC RE PROOF OF SERVICE

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  • 02/07/2018
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/02/2018
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 02/02/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Michael Speziali (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/02/2018
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR: (1) SEXUAL HARASSMENT; ETC

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC692932    Hearing Date: February 24, 2020    Dept: 26

On December 13, 2019, Ronald Neil Richards (“Counsel”), filed the instant motions to be relieved as counsel for Viper Room Management, LLC, Viper Room Sunset, LLC, and The Viper Room, LP (collectively “Clients”).[1]

On January 14, 2020, a substitution of attorney was filed with regard to all three clients. Accordingly, Ronald Richards’s motion to be relieved is MOOT.

The Court notes that defaults were entered against all three defendants (Viper Room Management, LLC, Viper Room Sunset, LLC, and The Viper Room, LP) on December 17, 2019. None of the defendants have filed any motion to vacate the defaults. Nor has Plaintiff filed any default judgment package.


[1] The Court notes Plaintiff’s opposition, but as there does not appear to be any prejudice to Plaintiff, nor is prejudice claimed by Plaintiff, the Court overrules all of Plaintiff’s objections.

Case Number: BC692932    Hearing Date: January 13, 2020    Dept: 26

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

MICHAEL Speziali,

Plaintiff,

v.

Viper room lp, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.: BC692932

Hearing Date: 01/13/2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

motion to be relieved as counsel FOR DEFENDANTS vIPER ROOM MANAGEMENT, LLC, VIPER ROOM SUNSET, LLC, and the vIPER room, lp

On December 13, 2019, Ronald Neil Richards (“Counsel”), filed the instant motions to be relieved as counsel for Viper Room Management, LLC, Viper Room Sunset, LLC, and The Viper Room, LP (collectively “Clients”).[1]

Counsel has filed a form MC051 and MC-052 and has lodged with the Court a copy of the proposed order on form MC-053 pursuant to CRC Rule 3.1362 with regard to each client.

Counsel states that there has been a break down in the attorney-client relationship because all Clients have stopped providing information to Counsel.

The MC-052 form states that Counsel served all Clients via mail at Clients’ last known mailing address which Counsel states he has confirmed as current within 30 days of the motion by conversation with an individual identified as Peter Novak. (Richards Decl. ¶ 2.) Though Mr. Novak identifies himself as an “agent” of these entities, he does not state that he is an authorized agent for service of process himself. (Novak Decl. ¶ 1.) Nor does Mr. Novak identify the capacity in which he is an “agent” of these entities. Mr. Novak also fails to identify any other individual who is empowered to make decisions or act on Clients’ behalf with respect to the instant litigation. In fact, Mr. Novak does not provide either an email address or phone number for how each Client’s representative may be contacted. Instead, Mr. Novak indicates that he “will provide a contact number and email address to opposing counsel as soon as the motions to withdraw are granted.” (Novak Decl. ¶ 4.) Mr. Novak provides no explanation for why he does not at this time provide a contact number and email address for each Client’s authorized representative or why the Court should allow him to delay doing so until after these motions to withdraw are granted. These requirements are important to ensure that each Client will continue to receive proper notice of future proceedings and developments in the case.

Counsel’s supplemental declaration filed on January 13, 2020 does not cure the defects noted above. To the extent that Mr. Richards’s declaration states that Peter Novak himself is the authorized representative for all three Defendants, it appears to contradict Mr. Novak’s declaration filed with the reply on January 6, 2020, which states that Mr. Novak “will provide a contact number and email address to opposing counsel as soon as the motions to withdraw are granted.” If Mr. Novak were indeed the authorized representative for all three Defendants, it is not at all clear why he did not just identify his own phone number and email address as contact information for each of the three Defendants.

Therefore, the Court will continue the motions to be relieved to provide Moving Counsel an opportunity to supplement the record as to the missing information. Counsel should verify with an authorized representative of each Client the current mailing address, email address, and phone number of that Client’s authorized representative. No later than January 23, 2020, Counsel must file and serve supplemental, competent evidence identifying for each Client an individual authorized to make decisions or act on that Client’s behalf or with respect to the instant litigation, as well as the current mailing address, email address, and phone number of that Client’s authorized representative. If, as Mr. Richards indicates in his declaration filed on January 13, 2020, Peter Novak himself has been designated the authorized representative of each Client for purposes of the instant action, Mr. Novak should clearly state in a supplemental declaration that he, and not someone else, has been designated by each Defendant to receive notices of pleadings and orders in this action, and Mr. Novak should identify by name the officer, director, managing agent, or other individual with authority who has made this designation and the position that individual holds with Defendant such that the individual has the authority to make the designation.[2]

In addition, Counsel must submit a revised proposed order on Form MC-053 to reflect the change in the status of the case. On December 17, 2019 -- four days after Moving Counsel filed the instant motions to be relieved -- the Court entered the defaults of all three named defendants, Viper Room Management, LLC, Viper Room Sunset, LLC, and The Viper Room LP. In light of the entry of defaults against all named defendants, the Court hereby vacates all future hearing dates, as well as the final status conference and trial date. Plaintiff is directed to file a default judgment package. The Court hereby sets an OSC re entry of default judgment for February 24, 2020 at 8:30 am.

No later than January 23, 2020, Counsel must file and serve a revised proposed order for each Client on Form MC-053 with the following language added:

- In Item 6: Client’s authorized representative, as well as that representative’s current mailing address, email address, and telephone number as verified by the supplemental evidence to be concurrently submitted;

- In Item 7a (next scheduled hearing): “2/24/20, 8:30 am, 111 N. Hill Street, Dept. 26, L.A., CA 90012, OSC re entry of default judgment.”

- In Item 7b (explanation of next hearing): “Defendants Viper Room Management, LLC, Viper Room Sunset, LLC, and The Viper Room LP are all in default, and default judgment may be entered against each of them at any time. If default judgments are not entered against each of the named defendants prior to February 24, 2020, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed at that time for failure to obtain entry of default judgments.”

- Item 13: “Defendants Viper Room Management, LLC, Viper Room Sunset, LLC, and The Viper Room LP are all in default, and default judgment may be entered against each of them at any time. If default judgments are not entered against each of the named defendants prior to February 24, 2020, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed at that time for failure to obtain entry of default judgments.”

Counsel is ordered to serve copies of the instant order on all parties, including Viper Room Management, LLC, Viper Room Sunset, LLC, The Viper Room LP, Plaintiff’s Counsel, as well as Peter Novak, and file proof of service of such within 3 days.

DATED: 1/13/20 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court


[1] The Court notes Plaintiff’s opposition, but as there does not appear to be any prejudice to Plaintiff, nor is prejudice claimed by Plaintiff, the Court overrules all of Plaintiff’s objections.

[2] At the hearing, the Court was not inclined to require that Novak identify the individual by name. However, in reviewing the record further, the Court finds that identification of the individual by name is necessary given the apparent inconsistencies between the declaration that Mr. Novak provided in April 2019 and his January 2, 2020 declaration and also given the inconsistencies between Mr. Novak’s January 2, 2020 declaration and Mr. Richards’s January 12, 2020 declaration.

Case Number: BC692932    Hearing Date: January 09, 2020    Dept: 26

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

MICHAEL SPEZIALI,

Plaintiff,

v.

THE VIPER ROOM, LP, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC692932

Hearing Date: January 9, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

Plaintiff’s motion for Terminating Sanctions against viper room management llc

BACKGROUND

Introduction

On August 7, 2019, Plaintiff Michael Speziali filed a motion for terminating sanctions against Defendant Viper Room Management LLC (“Defendant”) for Defendant’s failure to obey Court orders compelling responses to Plaintiff’s written discovery demands and requiring payment of monetary sanctions by Defendant. Plaintiff also requests issue sanctions as an alternative remedy. Finally, Plaintiff requests monetary sanctions for his costs and attorneys’ fees incurred in bringing this motion. Plaintiff refiled his motion and reply on August 30, 2019 and September 18, 2019 respectively requesting the same relief. Defendant has not filed any opposition.

After the initial hearing on the present motion, the Court issued an order on September 25, 2019, continuing the motion to allow Plaintiff to file and serve an amended complaint identifying the specific amounts of monetary damages sought for the purposes of entering a default judgment.

The Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend on November 13, 2019, and Plaintiff subsequently filed a First Amended Complaint on November 14, 2019, to which Defendant has not responded.

On December 18, 2019, the Court again continued this motion to January 9, 2020.

Procedural History

On May 2, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel responses to (1) Employment Form Interrogatories (EFROG), (2) Form Interrogatories (FROG), (3) Special Interrogatories (SROG), and (4) Requests for Production of Documents (RPD). The Court ordered Defendant Viper Room Management LLC to serve verified responses to Plaintiff’s EFROG, FROG, SROG, and RPD without objections, within fifteen days of notice of the Court’s order. (Madison Decl., ¶ 5, Exh. B (May 2, 2019 Order.))

On May 7, 2019, Plaintiff served notice of the Court’s ruling on Defendant, through its attorney, by mail and electronic mail. (Id. at ¶ 6, Exh. B.)

Plaintiff never received compelled responses or payment of sanctions from Defendant. (Madison Decl., at ¶ 7.) On August 5, 2019, Plaintiff inquired with Defendant’s attorneys about the discovery. Defendant’s counsel responded that “[Defendant is] not cooperating and [is] not paying sanctions. You should proceed against [Defendant] in any manner you believe is appropriate.” (Madison Decl., at ¶ 7, Exh. C.)

On August 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for terminating sanctions against Defendant for Defendant’s failure to obey Court orders compelling responses to Plaintiff’s written discovery demands and requiring payment of monetary sanctions by Defendant. Plaintiff refiled his motion and reply on August 30, 2019 and September 18, 2019 respectively, requesting the same relief.

On September 25, 2019, the Court issued an order continuing the instant motion to allow Plaintiff time to file an amended complaint for the limited purpose of specifying the monetary damages and civil penalties sought against defendant, which is required if Plaintiff intends to seek a default judgment. (Minute Order 9/25/19, p. 4.)

Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint on October 21, 2019, and Defendant opposed and requested monetary sanctions against Plaintiff’s counsel on October 30, 2019.

On November 13, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff’s request for leave to file an amended complaint and denied Defendant’s request for monetary sanctions. (Minute Order, 11/13/19.)

Plaintiff timely filed and served a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on November 14, 2019. Defendant has not filed any opposition to Plaintiff’s motion for terminating sanctions. Nor has Defendant filed any responsive pleading to the First Amended Complaint.

Legal Standard

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.290, subdivision (c), “[i]f a party . . . fails to obey an order compelling answers [to interrogatories], the court may make those orders that are just, including the imposition of an issue sanction, an evidence sanction, or a terminating sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010). In lieu of or in addition to that sanction, the court may impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010 ).” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.290, subd. (c).) Likewise, “[i]f a party . . . fails to obey [an] order compelling a response [to a demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling], the court may make those orders that are just, including the imposition of an issue sanction, an evidence sanction, or a terminating sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010 ). In lieu of or in addition to this sanction, the court may impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010 ).” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.300, subd. (c).)

Thus, where a party willfully disobeys a discovery order, courts have discretion to impose terminating, issue, evidence or monetary sanctions. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 2023.010, subd. (g), 2030.290, subd. (c); R.S. Creative, Inc. v. Creative Cotton, Ltd. (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 486, 495.) Ultimate discovery sanctions are justified where there is a willful discovery order violation, a history of abuse, and evidence showing that less severe sanctions would not produce compliance with discovery rules. (Van Sickle v. Gilbert (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1495, 1516.) “[A] penalty as severe as dismissal or default is not authorized where noncompliance with discovery is caused by an inability to comply rather than willfulness or bad faith.” (Brown v. Superior Court (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d 701, 707.) Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.010, subdivision (g) defines misuse of the discovery process to include “[d]isobeying a court order to provide discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.010, subd. (g).)

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.030, subdivision (d):

The court may impose a terminating sanction by one of the following orders:

(1) An order striking out the pleadings or parts of the pleadings of any party engaging in the misuse of the discovery process.

(2) An order staying further proceedings by that party until an order for discovery is obeyed.

(3) An order dismissing the action, or any part of the action, of that party.

(4) An order rendering a judgment by default against that party.

Discussion

Terminating Sanctions

Striking Defendant’s answer is a harsh penalty. Terminating sanctions are only appropriate following the imposition of lesser, ineffective sanctions. However, Plaintiff has shown that Defendant has been given notice of the Court’s May 2, 2019 ruling, and Defendant has nonetheless failed to provide any of the responses ordered by the Court.

As noted in the September 25, 2019 order, the Court finds that Defendant’s failure to respond to discovery amounts to willful disobedience of the Court’s May 2, 2019 order. Defendant was properly notified of the May 2, 2019 order. Furthermore, although Defendant was properly served with the instant motion, it has failed to file any opposition, leading this court to conclude that Defendant has no meritorious arguments.  (Laguna Auto Body v. Farmers Ins. Exchange (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 481, 487; Deyo v. Kilbourne (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d 771, 796-797.) 

After the Court granted leave to amend, Plaintiff timely filed the FAC and served Defendant on November 14, 2019, which provided Defendant an opportunity until December 16, 2019 to demonstrate service of discovery responses and compliance with the May 2, 2019 order. The continuance of this motion from its original September 25, 2019 hearing has in effect allowed Defendant additional time to provide its compelled responses. Given the extensions and continuances of the hearing on the present motion, the Court finds that Defendant has had ample opportunity to either dispute Plaintiff’s request for terminating sanctions or demonstrate that it has complied with the discovery orders issued by the Court. Despite this additional opportunity to comply with the Court’s May 2, 2019 order, Defendant has failed to serve the compelled responses. Defendant has not filed any opposition, declarations, or other supporting documentation evidencing Defendant’s compliance with any aspect of the May 2, 2019 order compelling Defendant’s discovery responses. At the December 16, 2019 hearing, Plaintiff’s Counsel advised that Defendant has still not served any of the compelled responses. Defendant has been completely non-responsive, thereby thwarting Plaintiff’s ability to prepare for trial. Although terminating sanctions are a harsh penalty, Plaintiff has demonstrated that Defendant’s compliance with the court’s orders cannot be achieved through lesser sanctions and that terminating sanctions, including striking of Defendant’s answer, would ordinarily be appropriate under the circumstances.

With regard to the FAC, Plaintiff has satisfied the requirements set forth in the Court’s September 25, 2019 Minute Order regarding the specification of monetary damages that Plaintiff seeks to recover for purposes of obtaining a default judgment. Accordingly, the Court finds that terminating sanctions would be proper in the present case given Defendant’s pattern of misuse of the discovery process and willful failure to abide by the Court’s orders from May 2, 2019 and September 25, 2019.

However, the Court notes that the only answer on file for Defendant was to the original complaint. Defendant has not responded to the current, operative First Amended Complaint. Hence, there is no answer for the Court to strike. Indeed, Defendant’s default was entered on December 17, 2019. At this juncture, Plaintiff has already obtained the relief that he seeks in his motion for terminating sanctions -– Defendant’s default. Hence, to the extent that Plaintiff requests that the Court enter Defendant’s default as a terminating sanction, the Court deems the instant motion MOOT. Plaintiff may submit a default judgment package to seek a default judgment.

Monetary Sanctions

In addition to terminating sanctions, Plaintiff seeks monetary sanctions. Under CCP § 2023.030(a), the court may impose sanction covering the costs of “reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees”. (CCP § 2023.030(a).)

For the reasons discussed above, the Court finds that Defendant’s repeated failures to respond to discovery amount to willful disobedience of the Court’s May 2, 2019 order and an abuse of the discovery process. Further, at the time that Plaintiff brought the instant motion for terminating and/or monetary sanctions, the motion was necessary because Defendant had not yet been defaulted. Accordingly, the Court will grant Plaintiff’s alternative request for monetary sanctions. Monetary sanctions are granted against Defendant as follows: six hours for drafting the motion and appearing at the hearings, at $400/hour, in addition to the filing fees of $82.00, for a total of $2,482.00. Defendant Viper Room Management LLC is ordered to pay sanctions of $2,482.00 to Plaintiff, through Plaintiff’s counsel, within thirty days.

Conclusion and Order

Plaintiff’s motion for terminating sanctions is MOOT in light of Defendant Viper Room Management LLC’s current default status. Plaintiff’s motion for monetary sanctions is granted in the amount of $2,482.00. Defendant Viper Room Management LLC is ordered to pay sanctions of $2,482.00 to Plaintiff, through Plaintiff’s counsel, within thirty days.

Plaintiff is ordered to provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such within 3 court days.

DATED: January 9, 2020 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC692932    Hearing Date: December 16, 2019    Dept: 26

The proof of service attached to Plaintiff's First Amended appears defective in that it indicates service on Defendants by personal service and by email.  However, no individual has been identified on whom personal service was effected.  Nor has any email address been provided where electronic service was effected.  Plaintiff is ordered to appear at the hearing on his motion for terminating sanctions with a corrected proof of service.  Otherwise, Plaintiff's motion for terminating sanctions will have to be continued for Plaintiff to properly serve the First Amended Complaint on Defendants.

Assuming that Plaintiff provides a corrected proof of service, the Court makes a further observation: none of the defendants have filed a responsive pleading, and thus, it is unclear why Plaintiff has not sought the default of all defendants. The only answer on file for Defendant Viper Room Management LLC is its answer to the original complaint. As Defendant Viper Room Management LLC has failed to file any responsive pleading to the (operative) FAC, there is no answer to strike on behalf of this defendant. Plaintiff should instead file a request for entry of Defendant Viper Room Management LLC’s default. Indeed, it is unclear why Plaintiff may not file a request for default against all named defendants as none of the defendants have filed a responsive pleading to the FAC.

Case Number: BC692932    Hearing Date: November 13, 2019    Dept: 26

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

MICHAEL SPEZIALI,

Plaintiff,

v.

THE VIPER ROOM, L.P., et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC692932

Hearing Date: November 13, 2019

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

PLAINTIFF’S motion for leave to amend to file a first amended complaint

BACKGROUND

On February 2, 2018, Plaintiff Michael Speziali (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against defendants The Viper Room, L.P., Viper Room Management, LLC, Viper Room Sunset, LLC, and Mike Wilson a/k/a Maci Jane Wilson for (1) sexual harassment; (2) age and gender discrimination; (3) failure to prevent FEHA violations; (4) failure to correct FEHA violations; (5) wrongful termination for FEHA complaints; (5) wrongful termination for FEHA complaints; (6) negligent retention and supervision; (7) failure to provide meal breaks; (8) failure to pay minimum wage for all hours worked; (9) failure to pay overtime earned; (10) failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements; (11) failure to pay waiting time penalties; (12) unfair business practices wage and hour violations; and (13) defamation and slander per se. Defendants Viper Room Sunset, LLC, Viper Room Management, LLC, and The Viper Room, L.P. (collectively, “Defendants”) filed an answer on June 12, 2018. Defendant Mike Wilson a/k/a Maci Jane Wilson was dismissed from the action on December 10, 2018.

On October 21, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend to File a First Amended Complaint.

PROCEDURAL ISSUES

In their opposition, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to satisfy California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1324(b) because Plaintiff has failed to (1) state what allegations in the previous pleading are proposed to be deleted, if any, and where, by page, paragraph, and line number, the deleted allegations are located, and (2) state what allegations are proposed to be added to the previous pleading, if any, and where, by page, paragraph, and line number, the additional allegations are located. On November 4, 2019, after Defendants filed their opposition, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Errata in which Plaintiff attached an Appendix of [Proposed] Changes that Plaintiff’s counsel attests to having inadvertently failed to attach to Plaintiff’s motion.

Defendants argue that this court should disregard Plaintiff’s “disingenuous notice of errata” because the errata is not correcting minor errors, but presents substantive changes.

Plaintiff’s errata presents an eight-page appendix specifying each proposed change in the First Amended Complaint. While the court acknowledges that the appendix was late filed, contrary to Defendants’ assertions, the lately filed appendix does not present substantive changes to Plaintiff’s motion as it does not contain factual or legal contentions in dispute.

“A trial court has broad discretion under rule 3.1300(d) of the California Rules of Court to refuse to consider papers served and filed beyond the deadline without a prior court order finding good cause for late submission.” (Hobson v. Raychem Corp. (1999) 73 Cal.App.4th 614, 623, disapproved on other grounds in Colmenares v. Braemar Country Club, Inc. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 1019, 1031, fn. 6.) Ignoring Plaintiff’s appendix would place a premium on form over substance, which would result in the waste of judicial resources. Additionally, Defendants have shown no prejudice by Plaintiff’s late filed appendix because any arguments towards the substance of Plaintiff’s motion could have been stated in its opposition.

Accordingly, Defendants’ objection to the Notice of Errata is overruled.

Defendants also seek sanctions against Plaintiff’s counsel pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5. Section 128.5 states that a “trial court may order a party, the party’s attorney, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by another party as a result of actions or tactics, made in bad faith, that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.”

Defendants’ request is improperly presented. Adequate notice and opportunity to be heard on a motion for monetary sanctions is mandated by constitutional due process requirements. (O’Brien v. Cseh (1983) 148 Cal.App.3d 957, 960; In re Marriage of Reese & Guy (1999) 73 Cal.App.4th 1214, 1220.) No award of sanctions can be made under Code of Civil Procedure Section 128.5 unless a request for them is contained in a party’s moving or opposing papers, or if the award is made on the court’s own motion after notice and opportunity to be heard. (Code Civ. Proc. § 128.5, subd. (c); Lesser v. Huntington Harbor Corp. (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 922, 932.) Defendants’ request for sanctions which is neither presented on noticed motion or in its opposition papers is DENIED.

LEGAL STANDARD

“The court may . . . in its discretion, after notice to the adverse party, allow, upon any terms as may be just, an amendment to any pleading or proceeding in other particulars; and may upon like terms allow an answer to be made after the time limited by this code.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 473, subd. (a)(1).) “When it appears to the satisfaction of the court that the amendment renders it necessary, the court may postpone the trial, and may, when the postponement will by the amendment be rendered necessary, require, as a condition to the amendment, the payment to the adverse party of any costs as may be just.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 473, subd. (a)(2).)

A party requesting leave to amend must also comply with California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1324, by including a copy of the proposed amended pleading and attaching a declaration by counsel, as to (1) the effect of the amendment; (2) why the amendment is necessary and proper; (3) when the facts giving rise to the amended allegations were discovered; and (4) why the request was not made earlier. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1324(b).) The motion itself must state what allegations in the previous pleading are proposed to be deleted and what allegations are proposed to be added to the previous pleading, and where, by page, paragraph, and line number, the deleted or additional allegations are located. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1324(a).)

“Assuming proper notice, the trial court has wide discretion in determining whether to allow the amendment, but the appropriate exercise of that discretion requires the trial court to consider a number of facts: including the conduct of the moving party and the belated presentation of the amendment.” (Leader v. Health Ind. of America, Inc. (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 603, 613 (emphasis in original).) “The law is well settled that a long deferred presentation of the proposed amendment without a showing of excuse for the delay is itself a significant factor to uphold the trial court’s denial of the amendment.” (Id.)

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff requests leave to file a First Amended Complaint on grounds that Plaintiff erroneously did not specify the specific monetary damages and civil penalties sought against Defendants in the complaint. (Madison Decl., ¶ 3.) Plaintiff’s counsel attests to not discovering the error until September 25, 2019, at the hearing on Plaintiff’s motion for terminating sanctions. (Id.) The proposed amendments in the FAC fall into the following two categories: (1) additional allegations supporting and correcting Plaintiff’s prayer for relief to specify the monetary damages and civil penalties sought on the causes of action already pled; and (2) non-substantive clerical corrections in the Case Caption, Captions of the Causes of Action, and body of the FAC which (i) strike out any reference to Ms. Wilson, who has been dismissed from the action, and (ii) add allegations to clarify paragraphs that were unclear. (Id., ¶ 5.) Plaintiff has set forth the proposed amendments to the complaint and has attached a Proposed First Amended Complaint to the motion. (Id., Exh. A.)

Defendants have failed to show any prejudice by the Court’s granting Plaintiff leave to file a First Amended Complaint. In its opposition, Defendants argue that the motion should be denied because it would delay the case further. Specifically, Defendants contends that “Defendant will suffer prejudice” because “trial will need to be continued to permit Defendant to study its exposure for additional damages.” (Opp., 5:12-13.) The court does not find Defendants’ argument convincing as jury trial is scheduled for September 14, 2020 – more than 10 months away. Delay alone is not sufficient ground for denying a motion for leave to amend. (See Higgins v. Del Faro (1981) 123 Cal.App.3d 558, 563-65 (absent prejudice, delay alone is not grounds to deny a motion for leave to amend).)

Defendants also argue that there will be an increase in cost in litigating this case because now “each Defendants will have a right to file a new responsive pleading to the amended complaint” and will “create a new round of law and motion practice.” (Opp., 5:14-16.) Defendants also assert that costs will increase for preparation and participation in trial. (Opp., 5:17-19.) Defendants fail to show how costs will increase and how such costs outweigh the justification of granting Plaintiff leave to properly assert his claims against Defendants. The court does not find that Defendants will be prejudiced by the granting of leave for Plaintiff to file a First Amended Complaint. Nor does the Court find that a trial continuance is necessary at this time.

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CONCLUSIONS AND ORDER

Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File a First Amended Complaint is GRANTED. Plaintiff is to file his First Amended Complaint within five days.

Defendant’s request for 128.5 sanctions is DENIED.

Plaintiff shall provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: November 13, 2019 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 26

MICHAEL SPEZIALI,

Plaintiff,

v.

THE VIPER ROOM, L.P., et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC692932

Hearing Date: November 13, 2019

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

PLAINTIFF’S motion to compel FURTHER RESPONSES TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES; REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS

BACKGROUND

On July 17, 2019, Plaintiff Michael Speziali (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant motion to compel further responses to special interrogatories from defendant Viper Room Sunset, LLC (“Defendant”). Plaintiff also requests sanctions against Defendant and Defendant’s counsel in the amount of $4,882.00.

Plaintiff moves for an order compelling Defendant’s further responses to Special Interrogatory Nos. 2, 4-7, 11, 13-15, 23, 27, and 34-35 on the grounds that despite counsel’s best efforts to meet and confer on these discovery issues, Defendant’s responses are incomplete and evasive. Further, Plaintiff argues that Defendant waived objections to all of Plaintiff’s written discovery, including to the specially prepared interrogatories, when Defendant failed to serve timely responses. Defendant filed an opposition on October 30, 2019. Plaintiff filed a reply on November 5, 2019.

PROCEDURAL ISSUE

A moving party generally may not rely on additional evidence or arguments that are not responsive to the opposition filed with its reply papers. (See San Diego Watercrafts, Inc. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (2002) 102 Cal.App.4th 308, 316.) Thus, evidence and exhibits presented in support of a reply are not generally allowed. (See Nazir v. United Airlines, Inc. (2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 243, 249.) As such, the Court will not consider Plaintiff’s supplemental declaration and attachments filed in reply.

EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS

Plaintiff’s objections to Paragraph 2, lines 1:8-10, of the Stelmach Declaration are OVERRULED.

LEGAL STANDARD

Motions to compel further responses must be served within 45 days after service of the responses in question (extended if served by mail, overnight delivery, or fax). (Code Civ. Proc. §§ 2030.300, 1013.) Otherwise, the demanding party waives the right to compel any further responses. (Id., §§ 2030.300, subd. (c), 2016.050; see Sperber v. Robinson (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 736, 745.) The 45-day limit is mandatory and jurisdictional. (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410.) However, the parties can also agree in writing on a specific later date by which to file the motion to compel further. (Code Civ. Proc. § 2030.300, subd. (c).)

Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.300 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

(a) On receipt of a response to interrogatories, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that any of the following apply:

(1) An answer to a particular interrogatory is evasive or incomplete.

(2) An exercise of the option to produce documents under Section 2030.230 is unwarranted or the required specification of those documents is inadequate.

(3) An objection to an interrogatory is without merit or too general.

(b) A motion under subdivision (a) shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040.

Additionally, a party moving to compel further responses must file and serve with the motion a separate statement that includes the information required by California Rules of Court, rule 3.1345. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(a)(2).)

Finally, Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.300(d) provides that “[t]he court shall impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel a further response to interrogatories, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”

DISCUSSION

On November 26, 2018, Plaintiff served his first set of written discovery requests on Defendant, which included Special Interrogatories. (Madison Decl., ¶ 3.) Plaintiff afforded Defendant two extensions to provide responses. (Id., ¶¶ 6-7.) After two extensions, Defendant responded to Plaintiff’s discovery on February 8, 2019, which Plaintiff contends consisted of boilerplate objections, and incomplete, evasive, and unverified responses. (Id., ¶ 8.) Plaintiff did not actually receive the responses for several days after February 8, 2019. (Id.)

On April 24, 2019, the parties attended an informal discovery conference (“IDC”) where Defendant’s counsel stipulated to provide supplemental responses to all of the discovery that had been disputed. (Id., ¶ 12.) Plaintiff’s counsel agreed to give Defendant’s counsel until May 31, 2019 to provide supplemental responses. (Id.) On May 31, 2019, Defendant served supplemental responses. (Id., ¶ 13.)

Plaintiff argues that Defendant’s supplemental responses to Special Interrogatory Nos.

2, 4-7, 11, 13-15, 23, 27, and 34-35 are incomplete and evasive. Plaintiff further argues that Defendant waived objections to all of Plaintiff’s written discovery, including the specially prepared interrogatories, because Defendant failed to serve timely responses.

Meet and Confer

Plaintiff’s counsel has filed a declaration detailing his meet and confer efforts. Specifically, on July 10, 2019, Plaintiff’s counsel sent Defendant’s counsel a meet and confer letter setting forth the alleged deficiencies in Defendant’s supplemental responses and advised Defendant’s counsel that he was available to discuss the issues further. (Madison Decl., ¶ 15.) The parties exchanged several emails over the course of the following week, including a more detailed meet and confer letter sent by Plaintiff’s counsel on July 15, 2019. (Id., ¶ 16.)

The court finds the meet and confer efforts to be sufficient for purposes of this motion.

Special Interrogatory Nos. 2, 4, 11, 23, and 27

Through Special Interrogatory Nos. 2, 4, 11, 23, and 27, Plaintiff asks Defendant to “identify” by their name, last known address, and telephone number: persons who held any supervisory positions for the day-to-day operation of the Viper Room from January 1, 2013 to the present (SROG No. 2); persons in ownership/upper management to whom Mike Wilson reported while employed at the Viper Room (SROG No. 4); persons involved in the decision to terminate Mike Wilson’s employment at the Viper Room (SROG No. 11); all lawsuits filed against the Viper Room from January 1, 2013 to the present (SROG No. 23); persons involved with processing payroll for employees at the Viper Room from January 1, 2013 to the present (SROG No. 27).

In its supplemental responses, Defendant lists several names of persons it alleges to be responsive to each of the interrogatories. (See Plaintiff’s Separate Statement, pgs. 3-6.)

In his motion, Plaintiff argues that Defendant has failed to fully respond to these Special Interrogatories because Defendant has failed to properly “identify” the witnesses, as defined in the Interrogatory as requiring the name, last known address, and telephone number of the witnesses.

In its opposition, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden of demonstrating factual and legal reasons for compelling a further response to the interrogatories. However, Plaintiff, in its separate statement, states that the identity of the witnesses sought through the interrogatories above are crucial to issues clearly relevant to this case, and that Defendant’s current responses make it virtually impossible to track down the persons referenced for further discovery. Further, “any party may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action or to the determination of any motion made in that action, if the matter is itself admissible in evidence or appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2017.010.) This includes discovery “obtained of the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter[.]” (Id.)

Defendant further argues that it has responded fully and as completely as possible, with the information provided by the client and its in-house counsel. The court does not find Defendant’s assertion convincing as the information sought is reasonably expected to be in the possession of Defendant, and Defendant fails to provide any evidence, for example, in the form of a declaration of its custodian of records that, after a reasonable and diligent inquiry, the other information requested is unavailable to Defendant. If unable to provide the additional information requested, Defendant must at least set forth in its verified responses under penalty of perjury the steps that Defendant has taken in an attempt to respond. (CCP § 2030.220(a)-(c); Deyo v. Kilbourne, supra, 84 Cal. App. 3d at 782 [“If a person cannot furnish details, he should set forth the efforts made to secure the information. He cannot plead ignorance to information which can be obtained from sources under his control.”].)

Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED as to Special Interrogatory Nos. 2, 4, 11, 23, and 27.

Special Interrogatory Nos. 6 and 7

Special Interrogatory No. 6 asks Defendant to identify all persons involved in the decision to terminate Plaintiff’s employment at the Viper Room. Special Interrogatory asks Defendant to state facts concerning the reason Plaintiff’s employment at the Viper Room was terminated.

Defendant provides the following supplemental response to both interrogatories: “Responding party is unable to ascertain the precise reasons for the Employee’s alleged termination. Employee was supervised by defendant Maci Jane Wilson, as the general manager for the Viper Room. Defendant Maci Jane Wilson did not document or provide any other written notice of termination. At some point Employee was no longer included on the payroll submittals. Please note, the Viper Room has a mostly part-time staff between 5-6 employees working on a typical night and 17-22 mostly part time employees on each payroll cycle. Additionally, a number of the employees are active or touring musicians and it is not unusual for employees to be off the schedule for large chunks at a time. There is not a large staff or management that is charged with running operations at the club and most managerial decision are made by the acting general manager.”

The court finds that Defendant’s response fails to answer the question posed in Special Interrogatory No. 6. Defendant does not identify persons involved in the decision to terminate Plaintiff at the Viper Room by name, last known address, and telephone number. Nor does Defendant set forth the steps that Defendant has taken in an attempt to respond, for example, by speaking with its staff of 17-22 part-time employees. (CCP § 2030.220(a)-(c); Deyo v. Kilbourne, supra, 84 Cal. App. 3d at 782 [“If a person cannot furnish details, he should set forth the efforts made to secure the information. He cannot plead ignorance to information which can be obtained from sources under his control.”].)

The court further finds that Defendant’s response that it is “unable to ascertain the precise reason” (emphasis added) for Speziali’s termination is evasive as it implies that Defendant knows some reason, which has not been included. It is reasonable to assume that Defendant is the party most likely to have the information sought, and Plaintiff is entitled to ask a party to state his or her contentions as to relevant issues in the case, as well as the facts, witnesses or writing on which those contentions are based. (Code Civ. Proc. § 2030.01, subd. (b).) Further, Defendant has a duty to obtain the requested information in its possession, custody and control, as well as that from its agents, principles, and those under its employ. (See Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 390, 406 (“responding party may not respond to interrogatories just by asserting its ‘inability to respond’”). If Defendant does not know the reason for Plaintiff’s termination, then it should so state in its verified responses while setting forth the steps that Defendant has taken in an attempt to gather the information and respond. (CCP § 2030.220(a)-(c); Deyo v. Kilbourne, supra, 84 Cal. App. 3d at 782.)

Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion is GRANTED as to Special Interrogatory Nos. 6 and 7.

Special Interrogatory Nos. 5 and 13-15

Plaintiff asks Defendant to identify: all persons employed at the Viper Room from January 1, 2013 to present (SROG No. 5); all persons hired as an employee of Viper Room from the date that Mike Wilson became Manager of the Viper Room to the date that Mike Wilson’s Employment with the Viper Room ended (SROG No. 13); all persons that were terminated as an employee at Viper Room from the date that Mike Wilson became Manager of the Viper Room to the date that Mike Wilson’s employment with the Viper Room ended (SROG No. 14); and all persons that quit working as an employee at Viper Room from the date that Mike Wilson became Manager of the Viper Room to the date that Mike Wilson’s employment with the Viper Room ended (SROG No. 15).

Defendant responded to each of these interrogatories with only the following objections: “Objection. The request is unduly burdensome and overbroad, and intended for the improper purpose of harassing, annoying, and/or to vex the responding party. the Request calls for information and documentation that is not relevant to the subject matter at issue herein, and the Request is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”

Plaintiff contends that Defendant has waived objections because it failed to timely serve responses to Plaintiff’s Special Interrogatories, which were originally due on December 31, 2018. (Madison Decl., ¶ 4.) Plaintiff afforded Defendant two extensions to provide responses and requested that Defendant provide responses without objections. (Id., ¶¶ 6-7, Exhs. F-H.) A failure to timely respond to special interrogatories constitutes a waiver of objections to the interrogatories, including claims of privilege and “work product” protection. (Code Civ. Proc. § 2030.290, subd. (a).) The court has statutory power to grant relief from such waiver upon noticed motion for which Defendant has not moved here. (See Code Civ. Proc. § 2030.290, subd. (a).) Even if the court were to consider Defendant’s objections, Defendant has failed to set forth facts justifying its objections to the discovery sought by the interrogatories. (See Kirkland v. Superior Court (2002) 95 Cal.App.4th 92, 98.) The identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matter is, itself, relevant and subject to discovery. (Code Civ. Proc. § 2017.010.) Even from Defendant’s scant responses thus far, it is apparent that Mike Wilson played a pivotal role in supervising Plaintiff and in the decision to terminate Plaintiff. Given that Wilson is no longer employed with Defendant, Plaintiff must be permitted to identify witnesses who may have interacted with Wilson and who may have knowledge as to the reasons for Plaintiff’s termination. Finally, Defendant fails to show how the interrogatory is so overbroad as to make responding to the interrogatories burdensome and oppressive. (See West Pico Furniture Co. of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 407, 417-18.)

The motion is GRANTED as to Special Interrogatory Nos. 5, 13, 14, and 15.

Special Interrogatory Nos. 34 and 35

Special Interrogatory Nos. 34 and 35 ask Defendant to identify all persons that have had any ownership/financial interest in the Viper Room from January 1, 2013 to present, and to identify all persons involved with any management decisions of the Viper Room from January 1, 2013 to present, respectively.

Defendant has failed to properly “identify” the witnesses, as defined in the Interrogatory as requiring the name, last known address, and telephone number of the witnesses. If the information is unavailable to Defendant, as it contends in its opposition, Defendant should so state in its verified responses under penalty of perjury and also set forth the steps that Defendant has taken in an attempt to gather the information and respond. (CCP § 2030.220(a)-(c); Deyo v. Kilbourne, supra, 84 Cal. App. 3d at 782.)

Sanctions

Plaintiff requests sanctions against Defendant and its attorneys. The court finds Defendant’s evasive and incomplete answers and failures to respond fully a misuse of the discovery process. Further, sanctions are mandatory pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.300(d) because Defendant unsuccessfully opposed this motion to compel further and did not act with substantial justification. Nor does the Court find any other circumstances that would make the imposition of the sanction unjust.

Sanctions have been sufficiently noticed against Defendant. However, the court finds Plaintiff’s requested amount of $4,882.00 excessive. The court finds that the amount of $2,082.00 reasonably compensates Plaintiff for filing fees ($60), electronic filing service fees ($22), and attorney’s fees (5 hours at $400 per hour) incurred for preparation and filing of the instant motion and appearance. Defendant Viper Room Sunset LLC and Defendant’s counsel, The Law Offices of Ronald Richards & Associates, A.P.C., are ordered to pay monetary sanctions, jointly and severally, in the amount of $2,082.00 to Plaintiff, by and through counsel, within thirty (30) days of notice of this order.

CONCLUSIONS AND ORDER

Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses to special interrogatories is GRANTED. Defendant Viper Room Sunset LLC is ordered to serve verified, code-compliant further responses to Special Interrogatory Nos. 2, 4-7, 11, 13-15, 23, 27, and 34-35, without objection, within fifteen (15) days of notice of this order.

Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is granted as modified. Defendant Viper Room Sunset LLC and Defendant’s counsel, The Law Offices of Ronald Richards & Associates, A.P.C., are ordered to pay monetary sanctions, jointly and severally, in the amount of $2,082.00 to Plaintiff, by and through counsel, within thirty (30) days of notice of this order.

Plaintiff shall provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: November 13, 2019 ___________________________

Elaine Lu

Judge of the Superior Court