This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/06/2022 at 00:06:35 (UTC).

MONICA QUINTEROS-GONZALEZ VS JOHN FRANCIS SHARKEY III

Case Summary

On 12/04/2020 MONICA QUINTEROS-GONZALEZ filed a Personal Injury - Uninsured Motor Vehicle lawsuit against JOHN FRANCIS SHARKEY III. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are THOMAS D. LONG and AUDRA MORI. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******6484

  • Filing Date:

    12/04/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Uninsured Motor Vehicle

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

THOMAS D. LONG

AUDRA MORI

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

QUINTEROS-GONZALEZ MONICA

Defendant

SHARKEY III JOHN FRANCIS

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Defendant Attorneys

JACOBS KAREN

SANCHEZ BRIAN

LEWIS ROSEMARIE SUAZO

 

Court Documents

Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

6/29/2021: Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE ALL CLAIMS FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN PLAINTIFFS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THE

7/7/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE ALL CLAIMS FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN PLAINTIFFS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THE

Reply - REPLY REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

7/15/2021: Reply - REPLY REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) - WITHOUT DEMURRER)

7/22/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) - WITHOUT DEMURRER)

Answer - ANSWER TO SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

8/6/2021: Answer - ANSWER TO SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER STIPULATION OF THE PARTIES AND JOINT PETITION FOR TRIAL CONTINUANCE; [PROPOSED] ORDER ON STIPULATION

3/23/2022: Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER STIPULATION OF THE PARTIES AND JOINT PETITION FOR TRIAL CONTINUANCE; [PROPOSED] ORDER ON STIPULATION

Amended Complaint - 2ND AMENDED COMPLAINT

5/25/2021: Amended Complaint - 2ND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10))

5/7/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10))

Reply - REPLY REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

4/30/2021: Reply - REPLY REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Reply - REPLY REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S DEMURRER IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

4/30/2021: Reply - REPLY REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S DEMURRER IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

4/26/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS DEMURRER TO THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

4/26/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFFS MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS DEMURRER TO THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

4/2/2021: Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

Motion to Strike (not initial pleading)

4/2/2021: Motion to Strike (not initial pleading)

Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT (1ST)

3/4/2021: Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT (1ST)

Reply - REPLY REPLY & NON OPPOSITIONTO MOTION TO STRIKE

3/15/2021: Reply - REPLY REPLY & NON OPPOSITIONTO MOTION TO STRIKE

Reply - REPLY REPLY & NON OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER

3/15/2021: Reply - REPLY REPLY & NON OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER

Notice of Ruling

3/16/2021: Notice of Ruling

17 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 12/01/2023
  • Hearing12/01/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal

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  • 03/08/2023
  • Hearing03/08/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 31 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 02/22/2023
  • Hearing02/22/2023 at 10:00 AM in Department 31 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/03/2022
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 31, Audra Mori, Presiding; Non-Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/20/2022
  • Docketat 10:00 AM in Department 31, Audra Mori, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 03/23/2022
  • DocketStipulation and Order (STIPULATION OF THE PARTIES AND JOINT PETITION FOR TRIAL CONTINUANCE; [PROPOSED] ORDER ON STIPULATION); Filed by John Francis Sharkey III (Defendant)

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  • 08/06/2021
  • DocketAnswer (TO SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT); Filed by John Francis Sharkey III (Defendant)

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  • 07/22/2021
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 31, Audra Mori, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 07/22/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/15/2021
  • DocketReply (REPLY TO PLAINTIFF?S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT?S MOTION TO STRIKE PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT); Filed by John Francis Sharkey III (Defendant)

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18 More Docket Entries
  • 03/04/2021
  • DocketAmended Complaint ( (1st)); Filed by Monica Quinteros-Gonzalez (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/01/2021
  • DocketDemurrer - without Motion to Strike (To Plaintiff's Complaint;); Filed by John Francis Sharkey III (Defendant)

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  • 02/01/2021
  • DocketMotion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer (ALL CLAIMS FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN PLAINITFF'S COMPLAINT;); Filed by John Francis Sharkey III (Defendant)

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  • 01/11/2021
  • DocketPI General Order; Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/11/2021
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ([PI General Order], Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Date); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/21/2020
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Monica Quinteros-Gonzalez (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/04/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/04/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Monica Quinteros-Gonzalez (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/04/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Monica Quinteros-Gonzalez (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/04/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Monica Quinteros-Gonzalez (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******6484    Hearing Date: March 18, 2021    Dept: 31

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

MONICA QUINTEROS-GONZALEZ,

Plaintiff(s),

vs.

JOHN FRANCIS SHARKEY III, ET AL.,

Defendant(s).

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CASE NO: *******6484

[TENTATIVE] ORDER FINDING DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT MOOT

Dept. 31

3:30 p.m.

March 18, 2021

 

Defendant, John Francis Sharkey, III filed this demurrer and motion to strike on 2/01/21. The demurrer and motion to strike are directed at Plaintiff, Monica Quinteros-Gonzalez’s original complaint, which Plaintiff filed on 12/04/20. On 3/04/21, Plaintiff filed the operative First Amended Complaint rendering the demurrer and motion to strike moot.

Therefore, the demurrer and motion to strike are moot and taken off-calendar.

Defendant is ordered to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the court at sscdept31@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org.  If the department does not receive an email indicating the parties are submitting on the tentative and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion may be placed off calendar. If a party submits on the tentative, the party’s email must include the case number and must identify the party submitting on the tentative. If the parties do not submit on the tentative, they should arrange to appear remotely.

 

Dated this 18th day of March, 2021

Hon. Thomas D. Long

Judge of the Superior Court


Case Number: *******6484    Hearing Date: May 7, 2021    Dept: 31

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

MONICA QUINTEROS-GONZALEZ,

Plaintiff(s),

vs.

JOHN FRANCIS SHARKEY III, ET AL.,

Defendant(s).

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CASE NO: *******6484

[TENTATIVE] ORDER (1) OVERRULING DEMURRER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; (2) GRANTING MOTION TO STRIKE WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND

Dept. 31

3:30 p.m.

May 7, 2021

 

  1. Background

    Plaintiff, Monica Quinteros-Gonzalez (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendant, John Francis Sharkey, III (“Defendant”) for damages arising from a motor vehicle accident. The operative First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) alleges claims for (1) negligence-motor vehicle, (2) negligence per se, and (3) Violation of CA Vehicle Code ; 20001. The FAC includes a prayer for punitive damages.

    Defendant now demurs to the complaint arguing the third cause of action for Violation of CA Vehicle Code ; 20001 arguing it fails to state sufficient facts and is uncertain to constitute a cause of action against Defendant. Defendant contends there are no facts alleged to suggest Defendant was aware of the collision or that it was the type to cause injury. Further, Defendant contends the FAC does not allege that Defendant’s hit and run caused Plaintiff further injury.

    In opposition, Plaintiff asserts that a cause of action for violation of Vehicle Code ; 20001 is sufficiently pled because the FAC pleads Defendant was aware the collision occurred and that it caused injury.

    In reply, Defendant again asserts the FAC fails to allege that Defendant’s conduct in leaving the scene of the accident caused her further injury.

  2. Demurrer

    A demurrer is a pleading used to test the legal sufficiency of other pleadings. It raises issues of law, not fact, regarding the form or content of the opposing party's pleading (complaint, answer or cross-complaint). (CCP ;; 422.10, 589; see Donabedian v. Mercury Ins. Co. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 968, 994.) It is not the function of the demurrer to challenge the truthfulness of the complaint; and for purposes of the ruling on the demurrer, all facts pleaded in the complaint are assumed to be true. (Donabedian, 116 Cal.App.4th at 994.)

    A demurrer can be used only to challenge defects that appear on the face of the pleading under attack; or from matters outside the pleading that are judicially noticeable. (Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311, 318; Donabedian, supra, 116 Cal.App.4th at 994.) No other extrinsic evidence can be considered. (Ion Equip. Corp. v. Nelson (1980) 110 Cal.App.3d 868, 881 [error for court to consider facts asserted in memorandum supporting demurrer]; see also Afuso v. United States Fid. & Guar. Co. (1985) 169 Cal.App.3d 859, 862 [disapproved on other grounds in Moradi-Shalal v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Cos. (1988) 46 Cal.3d 287] [error to consider contents of release not part of court record].)

    A demurrer can be utilized where the “face of the complaint” itself is incomplete or discloses some defense that would bar recovery. (Guardian North Bay, Inc. v. Superior Court (2001) 94 Cal.App.4th 963, 971-72.) The “face of the complaint” includes material contained in attached exhibits that are incorporated by reference into the complaint; or in a superseded complaint in the same action. (Frantz v. Blackwell (1987) 189 Cal.App.3d 91, 94; see also Barnett v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co. (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 500, 505 [“[W]e rely on and accept as true the contents of the exhibits and treat as surplusage the pleader’s allegations as to the legal effect of the exhibits.”]).

    A demurrer can only be sustained when it disposes of an entire cause of action. (Poizner v. Fremont General Corp. (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 97,119; Kong v. City of Hawaiian Gardens Redev. Agency (2003) 108 Cal.App.4th 1028, 1046.)

  1. Analysis

Vehicle Code ; 20001(a) states: “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall fulfill the requirements of Sections 20003 and 20004.”

“One who negligently injures another and renders him helpless is bound to use reasonable care to prevent any further harm which the actor realizes or should realize threatens the injured person… Sections 4801 and 4822 of the Vehicle Code require an automobile driver who injures another to stop and render aid. This duty is imposed upon the driver whether or not he is responsible for the accident, and a violation gives rise to civil liability if it is a proximate cause of further injury or death. [Citations.] Failure to stop and render aid constitutes negligence as a matter of law, in the absence of a legally sufficient excuse or justification.” (Brooks v. E.J. Willing Truck Transp. Co. (1953) 40 Cal.2d 669, 678-79.)

Here, the FAC alleges in relevant part:

9. On August 30, 2019, Plaintiff was traveling north on Highland Avenue when Defendant Sharkey approached on her left, attempting to pass her. Defendant was speeding, as he cut her off, attempting to beat the light through the intersection. As Defendant attempted to bypass Plaintiff's vehicle Defendant violently struck and then sideswiped the left side of Plaintiff's vehicle. During the commission of violating California Vehicle Code Sections 21453 and 22350, Defendant caused his vehicle to crash into that of Plaintiff exhibiting a complete and reckless disregard for the safety of those around him.

13. The collision caused substantial property damage to Plaintiff’s vehicle and inflicted physical injury to Plaintiff’s body. The outrageous conduct of Defendant Sharkey in fleeing the scene of the subject incident caused further emotional injury to Plaintiff beyond the physical injuries suffered as a result of the collision itself.

33. Rather than stop his vehicle after the subject incident to exchange insurance and identification with Plaintiff, Defendant fled the scene. Defendant continued approximately ten blocks from the scene of the collision when he was finally apprehended by a Good Samaritan who witnessed the collision and thereafter began pursuing Defendant as he fled the scene. The police officer who reported to the scene recommended Defendant be charged criminally for hit and run, in violation of CVC 20002(a).

35. Defendant Sharkey knew that his conduct did pose an extreme threat of harm and danger to others, the public, and Plaintiff. In addition, Plaintiff is further informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Defendant Sharkey did so operate and control his vehicle in a reckless and dangerous manner as is hereinabove described, and this conduct of Defendant was intentional, reckless, malicious and despicable to the public, society, and Plaintiff. Immediately after the collision, Defendant Sharkey fled the scene without offering his insurance information, leaving Plaintiff abandoned and in a furthered traumatic and emotional state.

(FAC ¶¶ 9, 13, 33, 35.)

The FAC sufficiently alleges Defendant negligently collided with Plaintiff’s vehicle and then fled the scene of the accident, which caused additional emotional injuries to Plaintiff. (Brooks, 40 Cal.2d at 680 [“Negligence may be alleged in general terms, which means that it is sufficient to allege that an act was negligently done without stating the particular omission which rendered it negligent.”].) Defendant’s failure to stop and render aid constitutes negligence as a matter of law. (Id. at 679.)

Moreover, the third cause of action is essentially a negligence per se theory. Generally, “ ‘[t]he doctrine of negligence per se is not a separate cause of action, but creates an evidentiary presumption that affects the standard of care in a cause of action for negligence.’ [Citation.] The doctrine of negligence per se does not provide a private right of action for violation of a statute. [Citation.]” [Citations.] Under the doctrine, “the plaintiff ‘borrows' statutes to prove duty of care and standard of care.” (Das v. Bank of America, N.A.(2010) 186 Cal.App.4th 727, 737-38.) Negligence per se is an evidentiary doctrine whereby negligence may be presumed if the evidentiary requirements are met. (Id.)

Plaintiff is asserting allegations of Defendant’s Vehicle Code violation as an as additional bases for finding a breach of the duty of care in support of the negligence cause of action. To the extent that Plaintiff is alleging that Defendant is also liable for negligence based on violations of applicable statutes, the court finds that a cause of action has been stated. (See Best v. California Apprenticeship Council (1987) 193 Cal.App.3d 1448, 1463 (“[T]he labeling of a pleading is not determinative, but rather the subject matter of the action is to be determined from its allegations, regardless of what they may be called.”); cf. Turner v. Seterus, Inc. (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 516, 534 [finding that, although negligence per se is not a separate cause of action, the court, in ruling upon a demurrer considered a negligence cause of action and a negligence per se cause of action as together alleging a single cause of action for negligence].)

Furthermore, the FAC is merely formatted in such a way as to breakdown one cause of action for negligence into two separate theories of negligence – one for general negligence and one based on Defendant’s violation of Vehicle Code ; 20001. Sustaining Defendant’s demurrer to the third causes of action would simply force Plaintiff to amend the complaint by re-alleging the same facts all under the first heading for the negligence claim. However, “[t]he law neither does nor requires idle acts.” (Civil Code 3532.) Sustaining the demurrer here just to have the title of the third causes of action removed and the facts alleged therein subsumed within the first cause of action would be an idle act, as any confusion about the different theories will be clarified at trial by instructions as to each of the theories. (See Quiroz v. Seventh Avenue Center (2006) 140 Cal. App. 4th 1256, 1285-86.) The complaint properly states a claim for negligence.

Defendant’s demurrer to the third cause of action for Violation of Vehicle Code ; 20001 is overruled.

3. Motion to Strike

Defendant moves to strike all portions of the FAC seeking punitive damages. Defendant argues the FAC does not state facts with the required specificity needed to state a claim for punitive damages.

In opposition, Plaintiff avers the FAC adequately pleads a claim for punitive damages.

Civil Code ; 3294(a) states, “[i]n an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.”

Allegations that a defendant exhibited a conscious disregard for the safety of others are sufficient to show malice. (Taylor v. Superior Court (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890, 895-96; see also Dawes v. Superior Court (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 82, 90.) To properly allege punitive damages in a motor vehicle accident action, a plaintiff needs to "establish that the defendant was aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his conduct, and that he willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences." (Taylor, 24 Cal.3d at 896.) Moreover, conclusory allegations are not sufficient to support a claim for punitive damages. (Brousseau v. Jarrett (1977) 73 Cal.App.3d 864, 872.)

In Brooks v. E.J. Willig Truck Transp. Co. (1953) 40 Cal.2d 669, 679 the court found that a hit and run cannot give rise to damages unless the fact of the hit and run caused additional damages above and beyond the accident itself. Brooks did not consider the issue of whether punitive damages can be imposed based on a hit and run. It did, however, hold that such act only constitutes a tort if the act itself causes the plaintiff additional damages above and beyond the damages caused by the accident that precedes the hit and run. For example, if a plaintiff is struck and is seriously bleeding following the accident, the fact that the defendant hits and runs could cause additional damage due to loss of blood, death, etc. If, however, the accident causes immediate soft tissue damage, no amount of aid would reduce or minimize the future damages, and the act of hitting and running would not give rise to additional damages. If the act of hitting and running, in and of itself, does not give rise to a tort, then it logically follows that the act cannot give rise to a claim for punitive damages. (Id.)

Here, the FAC alleges:

36. Defendant Sharkey was attempting to cut Plaintiff’s vehicle off when he slammed into Plaintiff’s vehicle. Defendant knew or should have recognized that he was operating his vehicle while in an inappropriate state for being on a road frequented by many other vehicles. Defendant Sharkey further disregarded the probable consequences of his dangerous conduct by fleeing the scene.

37. The conduct as hereinabove described and incorporated herein on the part of Defendant demonstrates a willful and conscious disregard as to the rights of the public and the Plaintiff. The actions and conduct of Defendant were reckless and in total, callous disregard for the safety of others and Plaintiff due to the probable and extremely dangerous consequences of operating a vehicle in the manner so described and with further attempts to avoid responsibility for his conduct.

38. Thus, as a direct, proximate and legal result of Defendant Sharkey’s intentional act of fleeing the scene in violation of the California Civil Code which makes such behavior criminal, Plaintiff sustained physical and emotional injuries and other damages according to proof at trial. As a further direct, legal and proximate result of Defendant’s conduct, Plaintiff is entitled to punitive and exemplary damages against Defendant in accordance to the provisions of the California Civil Code Section 3294 et seq. in an amount according to proof at trial.

(FAC ¶¶ 36-38.)

The FAC thus merely alleges Defendant was driving the vehicle struck Plaintiff’s vehicle, fled the scene, and Plaintiff suffered emotional distress. There are no factual allegations showing Defendant was aware of probable dangerous consequences of any of their conduct. (Taylor, 24 Cal.3d at 896.)

Furthermore, while the FAC claims Plaintiff suffered emotional distress, the FAC does not specify the extent of any additional damages caused by the hit-and-run such as to warrant the imposition of punitive damages. (Brooks, 40 Cal.2d at 679.) Additionally, while Plaintiff avers feeling the scene of an accident is a crime and such conduct certainly supports a claim for punitive damages, Plaintiff fails to cite any authority for the proposition that allegedly committing a crime is sufficient by itself to state a claim for punitive damages. Especially where there are no allegations showing Defendants acted with the intentional, willful, or reckless disregard for the safety of others.

Defendants’ motion to strike punitive damages is granted.

The burden is on Plaintiff to show in what manner he or she can amend the complaint, and how that amendment will change the legal effect of the pleading. (Goodman v. Kennedy (1976) 18 Cal.3d 335, 349; Hendy v. Losse (1991) 54 Cal.3d 723, 742.) In this case, Plaintiff does not request leave to amend nor make any showing as to how the FAC can be amended to state a claim for punitive damages.

Defendants’ motion to strike, therefore, is granted without leave to amend.

Defendants are ordered to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the court at sscdept31@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.orgIf the department does not receive an email indicating the parties are submitting on the tentative and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion may be placed off calendar. If a party submits on the tentative, the party’s email must include the case number and must identify the party submitting on the tentative. If the parties do not submit on the tentative, they should arrange to appear remotely.

 

Dated this 7th day of May, 2021

Hon. Thomas D. Long

Judge of the Superior Court


Case Number: *******6484 Hearing Date: July 22, 2021 Dept: 31

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

MONICA QUINTEROS-GONZALEZ,

Plaintiff(s),

vs.

JOHN FRANCIS SHARKEY III, ET AL.,

Defendant(s).

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CASE NO: *******6484

[TENTATIVE] ORDER DENYING MOTION TO STRIKE WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND

Dept. 31

1:30 p.m.

July 22, 2021

1. Background

Plaintiff, Monica Quinteros-Gonzalez (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendant, John Francis Sharkey, III (“Defendant”) for damages arising from a motor vehicle accident. The operative Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) alleges claims for (1) negligence-motor vehicle, and (2) Violation of CA Vehicle Code ; 20001. The SAC includes a prayer for punitive damages.

2. Motion to Strike

Defendant moves to strike all portions of the SAC seeking punitive damages. Defendant argues the SAC does not state facts with the required specificity needed to state a claim for punitive damages.

In opposition, Plaintiff avers the FAC adequately pleads a claim for punitive damages because the SAC sufficiently pleads Defendant’s hit and run caused additional damages above and beyond the accident itself.

In reply, Defendant contends Plaintiff fails to state specific facts showing Defendant was aware of the probable consequences of his conduct, and that Defendant willfully failed to avoid such consequences.

Civil Code ; 3294(a) states, “[i]n an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.”

Allegations that a defendant exhibited a conscious disregard for the safety of others are sufficient to show malice. (Taylor v. Superior Court (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890, 895-96; see also Dawes v. Superior Court (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 82, 90.) To properly allege punitive damages in a motor vehicle accident action, a plaintiff needs to "establish that the defendant was aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his conduct, and that he wilfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences." (Taylor, 24 Cal.3d at 896.) Moreover, conclusory allegations are not sufficient to support a claim for punitive damages. (Brousseau v. Jarrett (1977) 73 Cal.App.3d 864, 872.)

In Brooks v. E.J. Willig Truck Transp. Co. (1953) 40 Cal.2d 669, 679 the court found that a hit and run cannot give rise to damages unless the fact of the hit and run caused additional damages above and beyond the accident itself. Brooks did not consider the issue of whether punitive damages can be imposed based on a hit and run. It did, however, hold that such act only constitutes a tort if the act itself causes the plaintiff additional damages above and beyond the damages caused by the accident that precedes the hit and run. For example, if a plaintiff is struck and is seriously bleeding following the accident, the fact that the defendant hits and runs could cause additional damage due to loss of blood, death, etc. If, however, the accident causes immediate soft tissue damage, no amount of aid would reduce or minimize the future damages, and the act of hitting and running would not give rise to additional damages. If the act of hitting and running, in and of itself, does not give rise to a tort, then it logically follows that the act cannot give rise to a claim for punitive damages. (Id.)

Here, the SAC alleges in pertinent part:

9. On August 30, 2019, Plaintiff was traveling north on Highland Avenue when Defendant Sharkey, whom was traveling directly behind her vehicle, attempted to cut Plaintiff off in order to make the light. Defendant was speeding when he purposely veered into the left-turn lane to the left of Plaintiff’s vehicle and then rather than turning left, abruptly veered to the right, entering the intersection from the left-turn lane as the light turned red. As Defendant intentionally swerved to the left of Plaintiff’s vehicle into the left-turn lane in a maneuver to get in front of her vehicle, Defendant violently struck the left side of Plaintiff\'s vehicle…

10. Given the amount of property damage to Plaintiff’s vehicle and intensity of the impact he caused, Defendant knew or should have known that he had injured Plaintiff. Rather than stop his vehicle after the subject incident to exchange insurance and identification with Plaintiff and tend to her injuries, Defendant fled the scene. Meanwhile, as Plaintiff was in the act of pulling her vehicle to the right of the road to exchange information with Defendant, she realized he was not stopping and instead continued northbound at full speed. Although Plaintiff felt a sharp pain to her left arm upon impact, when she realized Defendant was fleeing the scene she put her hands back on the wheel and began following Defendant’s vehicle to stop him. Plaintiff was forced to use her left arm to steer the vehicle with intensity while honking at the Defendant with her right hand for approximately ten blocks before he came to a stop.

11. Plaintiff, who was followed by a Good Samaritan who witnessed the collision and an officer who was nearby who was alerted to what had occurred, gave chase to Defendant for approximately ten blocks before he finally stopped his vehicle. The police officer who reported to the scene recommended Defendant be charged criminally for hit and run, in violation of CVC 20002(a).

12. By the time Defendant finally stopped his vehicle and Plaintiff was able to rest her body and arm, she had excruciating pain to her left arm. The pain to Plaintiff’s left arm following the approximately ten block high-intensity chase was more severe than it was immediately following the collision. As such, as a direct and proximate result of Defendant fleeing the scene and forcing Plaintiff to use her injured arm to steer her vehicle with high intensity and pressure for an additional ten blocks, the injury to her arm was exacerbated, eventually resulting in Plaintiff underdoing surgery to repair her arm.

13. Not only did Defendant fail to render aid, but by fleeing the scene, he caused additional pain and injury to Plaintiff, both emotionally and physically in exacerbating the injury to Plaintiff’s arm.

(SAC ¶¶ 9-13.)

The SAC, thus, alleges that Plaintiff’s injuries were exacerbated by Plaintiff having to use her injured arm to steer her vehicle for 10 blocks before Defendant stopped his vehicle, and Plaintiff suffered emotional only because of Defendant’s fleeing the scene of the accident. As Plaintiff argues, the SAC pleads Plaintiff was harmed by Defendant’s hit and run, as Plaintiff’s physical injuries to her left arm were exacerbated by the alleged hit and run such that Plaintiff required surgery to her left arm. (See Brooks, 40 Cal.2d at 679.)

Further, the SAC sufficiently pleads the details of the accident, including that Defendant was speeding and went into a left-turn lane before cutting off and crashing into Plaintiff’s vehicle, the allegations are sufficient to allege a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of Plaintiff.

Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s motion to strike punitive damages is denied.

Defendants are ordered to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the court at sscdept31@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. If the department does not receive an email indicating the parties are submitting on the tentative and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion may be placed off calendar. If a party submits on the tentative, the party’s email must include the case number and must identify the party submitting on the tentative. If the parties do not submit on the tentative, they should arrange to appear remotely.

Dated this 22nd day of July, 2021

Hon. Charles Lee

Judge of the Superior Court


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