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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 04/16/2021 at 01:54:21 (UTC).

PASADENA HASTINGS CENTER VS MARIE CELESTE CAMPBELL

Case Summary

On 10/06/2017 PASADENA HASTINGS CENTER filed a Property - Other Real Property lawsuit against MARIE CELESTE CAMPBELL. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Burbank Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is RALPH C. HOFER. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7192

  • Filing Date:

    10/06/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Property - Other Real Property

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Burbank Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

RALPH C. HOFER

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

PASADENA HASTINGS CENTER

Defendants, Cross Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants

CAMPBELL MARIE CELESTE

SAPPHOS NEST LLC

SAPPHOS ENVIRONMENTAL INC.

CALIFORNIA CREATIONS LLC A LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

WISHARD DAVID W. DBA CALIFORNIA CREATIONS

WISHARD DAVID W.

CALIFORNIA CREATTIONS LLC

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

AMSPOKER TODD A.

ZICK RYAN D.

AMSPOKER TODD ADAMS

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

RITT TAI THVEDT & HODGES

HODGES WARREN OLEN JR

JOHNSON KAREN MAYANN

BARATTA JAMES

FAJARDO MILTON VLADIMIR

Defendant and Cross Defendant Attorneys

JOHNSON KAREN MAYANN

BARATTA JAMES

 

Court Documents

Case Management Statement

12/28/2020: Case Management Statement

Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

4/6/2020: Notice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order

Order - ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT/CROSS-DEFENDANT AND CROSS-COMPLAINANT DANIEL W. WISHARD DBA CALIFORNIA CREATIONS' EX PARTE APPLICATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND ALL RELATED DATES

2/4/2020: Order - ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT/CROSS-DEFENDANT AND CROSS-COMPLAINANT DANIEL W. WISHARD DBA CALIFORNIA CREATIONS' EX PARTE APPLICATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND ALL RELATED DATES

Case Management Statement

1/28/2020: Case Management Statement

Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION APPLICATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND ALL RELATED DATES; DECLARATION OF MILTON V. FAJARDO; [PROPOSED] ORDER

2/3/2020: Ex Parte Application - EX PARTE APPLICATION APPLICATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND ALL RELATED DATES; DECLARATION OF MILTON V. FAJARDO; [PROPOSED] ORDER

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE RE MEDIATION AND DISCOVERY;)

7/30/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE RE MEDIATION AND DISCOVERY;)

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE; 2) T...)

4/29/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE; 2) T...)

Proof of Personal Service

2/21/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Summons - Summons on Complaint

2/7/2019: Summons - Summons on Complaint

Reply - Reply Reply

12/19/2018: Reply - Reply Reply

Civil Case Cover Sheet

10/6/2017: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

10/6/2017: Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

Notice of Case Management Conference

10/6/2017: Notice of Case Management Conference

Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Reply

1/11/2018: Legacy Document - LEGACY DOCUMENT TYPE: Reply

Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Ex Parte Application FOR AN ORDER SHORTENING TIME ...)

12/10/2018: Minute Order - Minute Order (Hearing on Ex Parte Application FOR AN ORDER SHORTENING TIME ...)

Minute Order - Minute Order (Status Conference re: Mediation and Discovery;)

11/15/2018: Minute Order - Minute Order (Status Conference re: Mediation and Discovery;)

94 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/15/2021
  • Hearing04/15/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Order to Show Cause Re: Mandatory Settlement Conference Date

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  • 04/15/2021
  • Hearing04/15/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Status Conference

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  • 04/15/2021
  • Hearing04/15/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Trial Setting Conference

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  • 04/15/2021
  • Hearing04/15/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department D at 600 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206; Order to Show Cause Re: Sanctions Against Defendant Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 177.5 for Failure to Appear on 04/05/2021

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  • 04/08/2021
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department D; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Advanced and Vacated

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  • 04/06/2021
  • DocketNotice (Notice of TSC, OSC re MSC; OSC re Discovery and Experts and OSC re Sanctions); Filed by PASADENA HASTINGS CENTER (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/05/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department D; Trial Setting Conference - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

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  • 04/05/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department D; Status Conference (re Mediation and Discovery) - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

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  • 04/05/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department D; Order to Show Cause Re: (Mandatory Settlement Conference Date) - Not Held - Continued - Court's Motion

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  • 04/05/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Order to Show Cause Re: Mandatory Settlement Conference Date;...)); Filed by Clerk

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155 More Docket Entries
  • 10/16/2017
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by PASADENA HASTINGS CENTER (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/16/2017
  • DocketProof-Service/Summons; Filed by PASADENA HASTINGS CENTER (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/06/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference

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  • 10/06/2017
  • DocketComplaint filed-Summons Issued; Filed by null

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  • 10/06/2017
  • DocketSummons Filed

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  • 10/06/2017
  • DocketComplaint filed-Summons Issued

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  • 10/06/2017
  • DocketNotice (of OSC)

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  • 10/06/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

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  • 10/06/2017
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet

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  • 10/06/2017
  • DocketSummons; Filed by null

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: EC067192    Hearing Date: February 26, 2021    Dept: D


Case Number: EC067612    Hearing Date: February 26, 2021    Dept: D

TENTATIVE RULING
Calendar:        19
Date: 2/26/2021
Case No: EC067612 Trial Date: None Set 
Case Name: Kothari v. Vaghashia, et al.
MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES
TO DOCUMENT DEMANDS
MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
Moving Party: Defendant Govind Vaghasia (Further Documents)  
Plaintiff Rakesh Kothari (Protective Order) 
  Responding Party: Plaintiff Rakesh Kothari (Further Documents) 
Defendant Govind Vaghasia (Protective Order)       
RELIEF REQUESTED:
Further Responses and Production to Request for Production of Documents, Set One and Set Two 
Protective Order pertaining to Request for Production of Documents, Set Two 
DECLARATION SUPPORTING MOTION:
Reasonable and good faith attempt to resolve informally: ok
FACTUAL BACKGROUND:
Plaintiff Rakesh Kothari alleges that in July of 2014 he entered a written agreement with defendants Govind Vaghashia dba Quality Inn and Suites, Sonal Vaghashia dba Travelodge Burbank, Prashant Vaghashia dba Quality Inn Burbank Airport, Mita Vaghashia and Vaghasia Family Partnership Limited, the owners of hotels/motels in Southern California, wherein it was agreed that plaintiff would be responsible for the management of defendants’ Quality Inn hotel/motel in Burbank, and their Quality Inn and Suites hotel/motel located in Camarillo.  Plaintiff alleges that under the agreement he was entitled to an hourly wage and a 10% commission of gross revenue for each hotel/motel, to be paid three years after entering the contract.   It is also alleged that plaintiff would be allowed to move with his family to defendants’ real property located close to the Quality Inn Burbank, with plaintiff to take possession of the rented property for the seven year duration of the contract without payment of rent and utilities.  The parties agreed that plaintiff could live at the rented property until he ceased to work under the contract or was terminated for any justifiable reason, and that if terminated, plaintiff would be entitled to twelve months’ notice to vacate the rented property.  
Plaintiff alleges that plaintiff performed under the contract, significantly increasing the gross revenues of the hotels/motels, and in January of 2015 entered into a separate agreement for plaintiff to take over and manage defendants’ Travelodge Burbank, which also included an agreement for paying a commission.  
Plaintiff alleges that defendants would pay plaintiff late or not pay the monthly agreed upon stipends, and did not pay plaintiff overtime, or the required minimum wage.
It is also alleged that defendant Govind ordered plaintiff to obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage in his own name, and when plaintiff declined began to harass plaintiff by threatening to terminate him and calling him names in the presence of other employees.   Plaintiff alleges that he was made to sign papers in blank at the beginning of his employment, as Govind had a practice of taking signatures of new employees and later using those signatures on agreements drafted by Govind.   Plaintiff alleges that defendant instructed plaintiff to commit acts that violated the law such as preparing false statements to be submitted in workers compensation claims, or forging documents in civil cases.   Plaintiff alleges that when he refused to commit the illegal acts, defendants decided to terminate his employment, and have otherwise breached the contract by failing to pay the commissions due.   
Plaintiff alleges that after he filed the initial complaint in this action he was inundated with numerous requests by defendants that plaintiff dismiss his lawsuit, and on March 8, 2018, plaintiff received a letter terminating his employment without justifiable reasons, but because plaintiff was about to testify regarding defendant Govind’s fraud in forging documents and signatures of employees who sued defendants for violation of various wage laws.  On the same day plaintiff’s employment was terminated, defendant Govind posted a thirty-day notice for plaintiff and his family to vacate and quit the rented property.   
Plaintiff also alleges that in a further effort to harass plaintiff, defendant Govind filed a request for restraining order seeking to restrain plaintiff from his place of residence, but the court denied the request for a temporary restraining order until the day of the hearing, and before the hearing Govind dismissed the case, because it was baseless.  
Defendants Prashant Vaghashia and Mita Vaghashia have filed a cross-complaint for equitable indemnity and declaratory relief against cross-defendants Govind Vaghashia and the Vaghashia Family Partnership Limited, alleging that cross-complainants were in no way connected with the termination of plaintiff’s employment or of any of the acts or conduct complained of in the complaint, but that any injuries or damages alleged will be founded on the fault of cross-defendants.  
Defendants Vaghashia Family Limited Partnership, Govind Vaghashia and Sonal Vaghasia  filed a special motion to strike the fifth and tenth causes of action of the first amended complaint (anti-SLAPP), which was heard on June 22, 2018.  The motion was granted as to the fifth cause of action for Injunction Relief, and denied as to the tenth cause of action for Harassment. The motion was also denied with respect to a request to strike specific allegations in the pleading in connection with the harassment claim.  The court’s order has been affirmed on appeal and remittitur was issued dated July 15, 2020.  
ANALYSIS:
Defendants’ Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production
Under CCP § 2017.010, “any party may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action..., if the matter either is itself admissible in evidence or appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”  The Section specifically provides that “[d]iscovery may relate to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or of any other party to the action,” and that discovery “may be obtained of the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter, as well as of the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any document, electronically stored information, tangible thing, or land or other property.”
CCP § 2031.310 provides that a party demanding a document inspection may move for an order compelling further responses to the demand if the demanding party deems that:
“(1)   A statement of compliance with the demand is incomplete.
  (2)   A representation of inability to comply is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive.
  (3)   An objection in the response is without merit or too general.”  
Under CCP § 2031.310 (b)(1), “The motion shall set forth specific facts showing good cause justifying the discovery sought by the inspection demand.”  
The burden is on the moving party to show both relevance to the subject matter and specific facts justifying discovery.   Glenfed Develop. Corp. v. Superior Court (1997, 2nd Dist.) 53 Cal.App.4th 1113, 1117.   Once good cause is established by the moving party, the burden then shifts to the responding party to justify any objections made to document disclosure.   See Hartbrodt v. Burke (1996, 2nd Dist.) 42 Cal.App.4th 168, 172-174.
The motion brought by defendant as to the Request for Production of Documents, Set One, and Requests for Production of Documents, Set Two appears to be moot, as the opposition attaches further verified responses which were served on January 18, 2021, by mail.  [See Usude Decl., paras. 7, 8; Ex. 1, 2].  The further verified responses are made without objections, which plaintiff evidently concedes have been waived.   
The moving papers do not acknowledge the service of these further responses, although the motion was served and filed on January 29, 2021.  The separate statement in support of the motion does not recite the text of the supplemental responses, as required under CRC Rule 3.1345(c) (providing that a separate statement “must include” for each discovery request to which a further response is requested, “(1) The text of the request, interrogatory, question or inspection demand” in addition to “(2) The text of each response, answer or objection, and any further responses or answers, ...”  (emphasis added)). 
The meet and confer declaration does not indicate that there was any meet and confer concerning these further responses, but the declaration states that counsel for plaintiff had requested an extension to respond to the earlier meet and confer to January 19, 2021, and that counsel “did not provide any documents or amended responses by January 19, 2021 and has to date not produced a single document.”   [Pham Decl., paras. 12, 16]. 
Evidently, the January 18, 2021 responses were not received prior to the preparation of the motion.   However, the responses render the motion moot, and require the parties to further meet and confer with respect to the further responses, and if any further motion is filed, defendant will be required to prepare an updated complete separate statement. 
For purposes of further meet and confer, the Court has briefly reviewed the further responses, and would expect that any further responses be made without objections, which have been waived, and without any general objection of preliminary statement.  The Court would also expect that any further responses would fully comply with CCP §§  2031.210, 2031.220 and 2031.230, including for each request either 1) a statement that plaintiff will comply with the particular demand, including a statement that the production, inspection, and related activity demanded will be allowed either in whole or in part, and that all documents or things in the demanded category that are in the possession, custody, or control of plaintiff and to which no objection is being make will be included in the production, or 2) a statement of inability to comply, which statement shall specify whether any inability to comply is because the particular item or category has never existed, has been destroyed, has been lost, misplaced, or stolen, or has never been, or is no longer, in the possession, custody, or control of the responding party, and which sets forth the name and address of any natural person or organization known or believed by that party to have possession, custody, or control of that item or category of item.  
The Court does not find acceptable a response to discovery which refers to documents produced in another action, or in response to other discovery in this action, or a response that investigation and discovery is ongoing or which reserves the right to amend or supplement a response. 
This leaves the issue of sanctions, which are sought by the moving party.  CCP § 2031.310 (h) provides that the court “shall impose a monetary sanction...against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel further response to a demand, 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.” 
The motion is in a posture where evidently further responses were served prior to the motion being filed, so that the motion should not have been necessary, and sanctions would not ordinarily be awarded.  However, it appears that the further responses were not in fact received by the time the motion was filed, over ten days after the further responses were served, and the court will hear argument concerning the circumstances surrounding the delay in the arrival of the responses, and with respect to which party could have acted so that the expense of preparation of the motion could have been avoided.  
If the Court is inclined to award sanctions to the moving party, the sanctions sought are $5,890, which is quite high for a motion of this nature, and will be adjusted accordingly, as follows:  4 hours attorney time at $382.50 per hour for a total of $1,530.00 in sanctions.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Protective Order
Plaintiff seeks a protective order with respect to defendant’s Request for Production of Documents, Set Two.  There are six requests for production, which seek all boxes containing documents provided to plaintiff by defendant Govind Vaghashia (“Govind”), documents obtained from defendant Govind, boxes of documents obtained from Govind referenced in plaintiff’s deposition, boxes of documents obtained from Govind related to a City of Burbank tax audit, and employee files and financial reports obtained from Govind.  [Ex. 1].  
Plaintiff indicates that plaintiff has also received a request for production from cross-complainants seeking the same documents, but does not appear in the notice or motion to seek a protective order as to that request.  This appears to be mentioned to support an argument that plaintiff has been told by counsel for the cross-complainant, the business partners of defendant and cross-defendant Govind, not to release original documents to defendant.   
Plaintiff indicates that that plaintiff is willing to provide copies of the responsive documents to defendant’s counsel, but that defendant’s counsel insists on receiving the original documents, and that cross-complainant’s counsel has agreed to accept copies of the subject documents, only on the condition that the original documents are not released to defendants.   Evidently, cross-complainants are concerned that if defendant is to be provided the original documents, defendant will destroy those original documents.   This also seems to be a concern of plaintiff, who concedes that the documents at issue are responsive to the discovery requests, but argues they are also required by plaintiff to prove his allegation of fraud against defendant. 
Plaintiff seeks an order that the defendant and cross-complainants accept copies of responsive documents in the possession of plaintiff instead of the originals, preventing production of the original documents to defendant as requested, and an order that the original documents be held by plaintiff’s counsel or an appointed discovery referee pending trial or under seal. 
Relief is sought under CCP section 2031.060, under which subdivision (a) provides that, “the party to whom the demand has been directed... may promptly move for a protective order,” and that: 
“(b) The court, for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party or other natural person or organization from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense. This protective order may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following directions:…
(2) That the time specified in Section 2030.260 to respond to the set of demands, or to a particular item or category in the set, be extended….
(4) That the inspection, copying, testing, or sampling be made only on specified terms and conditions….
(6) That the items produced be sealed and thereafter opened only on order of the court.”
With respect to protective orders generally, the burden of showing good cause is ordinarily on the party seeking the protective order. Beverly Hills Nat. Bank & Trust Co. v. Superior Court (1961, 2nd Dist.) 195 Cal.App. 2d 861, 866-867.   The granting of a protective order is within the discretion of the trial court.  Id.  The granting or denial of a protective order is reviewed for abuse of discretion.   See Meritplan Insurance Co. v. Superior Court (1981) 124 Cal.App.3d 237, 242.  When the record shows facts on which the trial court exercised its discretion, this exercise will not be disturbed on appeal.  Foster v. Gillette Co. (1979) 100 Cal.App.3d 569, 578.
The motion apparently seeks an order to protect the original documents from being destroyed by defendant during the process of inspection and copying.   It is not clear why this cannot be accomplished by simply following the Discovery Act and permitting the propounding party an opportunity to conduct an inspection and copying of the documents, which production, inspection and copying can be supervised by a representative of plaintiff to ensure that nothing is done to destroy or deface those documents being inspected and copied. 
Under CCP section 2031.030(c):
“Each demand in a set shall be separately set forth…and shall do all of the following…
(2) Specify a reasonable time for the inspection, copying, testing, or sampling that is at least 30 days after service of the demand…”
(3)  Specify a reasonable place for making the inspection, copying, testing, or sampling, and performing any related activity.”
Under CCP section 2031.280(a), “Any documents produced in response to an inspection demand shall either be produced as they are kept in the usual course of business, or be organized and labeled to correspond with the categories in the demand.”   
There is no requirement that original documents be turned over to the sole custody of the propounding party, so that the feared destruction of originals could occur.  The dispute seems to be with respect to whether the original documents will be released to defendant rather than produced for inspection and copying, and it does appear that counsel for defendant has taken the position that the originals must be “turned over,” and plaintiff can make a copy for his own records to preserve the documents for evidence.   [See Usude Decl., Ex. 3].   
It would appear that the proper resolution of this dispute will be to issue a protective order pursuant to which defendant may not demand that the original documents be “turned over” to defendant, but that the documents will be produced in their entirety for inspection and copying pursuant to Code, with a representative 
of responding party maintaining continuing custody of the original documents and permitted to supervise the inspection and copying. The costs of the copying will be borne by the propounding party.  
To the extent the moving party appears to seek the appointment of a discovery referee, the showing required for such an appointment has not been attempted to be made by the motion.  
The opposition argues that the motion should be denied as not promptly brought, or on the ground the moving party has failed to appropriately meet and confer.  The motion was brought on the date that the parties had agreed supplemental responses would be served, and, as discussed above, were in fact apparently served, November 18, 2020.   The motion includes a declaration establishing that defendant was taking the position that only turning over the original documents would be satisfactory.   [Usude Decl., Ex. 3].  The motion will accordingly not be denied on procedural grounds.  The opposition continues to insist that “original” documents be “served.”  While it is clear that defendant is entitled to inspect and copy original documents, defendant is not entitled to have those documents served without custodial protections of those original documents with respect to their production for inspection and copying.   The motion accordingly is granted, and the inspection will be conducted pursuant to this Court’s protective order concerning the custody of the original documents. 
The opposition seeks monetary sanctions for the expense of opposing the motion. Since the motion is granted, no sanctions are awarded. 
RULING:
Defendant Govind Vaghashia’s Motion to Compel Further Responses by Plaintiff Rakesh Kothari to Request for Production of Documents, Set One and Two is MOOT in light of the service of further responses on January 18, 2021. 
Monetary sanctions requested by the moving party:  Utilizing a lodestar approach, and in view of the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds that the total and reasonable amount of attorney’s fees and costs incurred for the work performed in connection with the pending motion is $1,530.00 (3.75 hours @ $612 /hour) (5.25 hours requested) plus 4 hours at $382.50/hour (7 hours requested) [Amount Requested $5,890], Amount Supported $3,000],  (4.25 hours @ $450/hour) plus $61.65 filing fee and $15 CourtConnect fee [Amount Requested $2,776.65], which sum is to be awarded in favor of defendant Govind Vaghshia, and against plaintiff Rakesh Kothari, payable within thirty days.  CCP section 2031.310(h).  
Plaintiff’s Motion for Protective Order to Defendant’s Request for Production of Documents, Set Two is GRANTED in part. 
Good cause appearing, the Court orders that plaintiff Rakesh Kothari produce documents responsive to Defendant Govind R. Vaghashia’s Request for Production of Documents to Plaintiff Rakesh Kothari, Set Two, without objection, and pursuant to the Further Responses served on January 18, 2021, at a mutually agreed to time and place within the next ten days.  The original documents must be produced, but plaintiff is to retain custody of those original documents, with plaintiff permitted to provide supervision of the inspection and copying, at plaintiff’s expense.  Any copying performed by defendant will be at defendant’s sole expense.  
Request for order concerning request for discovery by cross-complainants is DENIED as not clearly sought in the notice of motion. 
Request for appointment of discovery referee is DENIED without prejudice to bringing an appropriate motion, if accompanied by the appropriate showing, if warranted. 
Monetary sanctions requested in the opposition are DENIED. 
GIVEN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, AND TO PROMOTE APPROPRIATE SOCIAL DISTANCING, UNTIL FURTHER ORDERED, DEPARTMENT D IS ENCOURAGING AUDIO OR VIDEO APPEARANCES 
Please make arrangements in advance if you wish to appear via LACourtConnect by visiting www.lacourt.org, and scheduling a remote appearance.  Please note that LACourtConnect offers an audio-only appearance option at a current cost of $15.00 and a video appearance option at a cost of $23.00.   Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are encouraged not to personally appear, unless they have obtained advance permission of the Court.  Anyone who appears in person for the hearing will be required to comply with strict social distancing measures, including, but not limited to, assigned seating, capacity limitations in the courtroom, designated waiting areas, and strictly enforced spacing in line to communicate with court staff.  If no appearance is set up through LACourtConnect, or otherwise, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative. 

Case Number: EC067192    Hearing Date: February 19, 2021    Dept: D

TENTATIVE RULING
Calendar: 31
Date: 2/19/2021
Case No: EC067192 Trial Date:  April 19, 2021
Case Name: Pasadena Hastings Center v. Campbell, et al. 
MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT
[CCP §877.6]
Moving Party:  Defendant/Cross-Defendant and Cross-Complainant Daniel W. Wishard 
dba California Creations     
Responding Party:  No Opposition  
Relief Requested:
Determination that the settlement described below has been entered into in good faith
PROPOSED ORDER LODGED? 
Yes   
FACTS:
Plaintiff Pasadena Hasting Center alleges that  it owns property in Pasadena improved with a commercial retail center and accompanying parking lots and landscaping, which is adjacent to property owned by defendant Sapphos Environmental, Inc. of which defendant Marie Campbell is the Chief Executive Officer.  
Plaintiff alleges that in November 2016 defendants contacted the City of Pasadena requesting that the City inspect Podocarpus trees located on plaintiff’s property immediately adjacent to the Sapphos property.  The City conducted an inspection and found no violations.  Defendants did not inform plaintiff of its inquiry or in any way about their alleged concerns.  Plaintiff alleges that despite the City’s findings that the trees were perfectly legal, in April of 2017, defendant Marie Campbell, on behalf of herself and her Sapphos entities, intentionally and willfully and without plaintiff’s consent caused laborers under her direction and hire to enter upon plaintiff’s property and to grievously injure plaintiff’s Podocarpus trees by chopping off major branches and the top 15 feet of the trees.   
On December 21, 2018, the court granted a motion brought by defendants Campbell, Sapphos Environmental, Inc. and Sapphos Nest LLC for leave to file a cross complaint against moving party Daniel W. Wishard dba California Creations     
APPLICATION FOR GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT:
1. Settling parties: Plaintiff Pasadena Hastings Center and defendant/cross-defendant/cross-complainant Daniel W. Wishard dba California Creations     
2. Basis, Terms, and Amount of the Settlement: 
1. Defendant to pay $1,000
2. Dismissal of plaintiff’s claims with prejudice 
3. Contingent on finding that good faith settlement
SHOWING OF GOOD CAUSE (Tech-Built, 38 Cal.3d 488)
1. P's total recovery:       Not mentioned 
 
2. Settlor's proportionate liability:   Argument that case against moving party is problematic, as California Creations was hired by Sapphos Environmental to perform landscaping work, was led to believe that Sapphos owned the Podocarpus hedge, and that California Creations was fully authorized to trim it, and that the damages here are de minimus because it has been more than three years since the hedge was initially trimmed and recent photographic and other physical evidence show that the subject hedge is now regrown to nearly the same size and dimensions it held upon trimming.  
3. Amount paid in settlement: $1,000
4. Allocation of settlement proceeds among P's:   Not applicable    
5. D's financial condition:     Not mentioned 
6. Existence of collusion: Settlement reached after lengthy arms-length negotiations. [Amaro Decl.. para. 18].
OPPOSITION
No Opposition. 
ANALYSIS
Under CCP section 877.6, a court may approve a settlement by determining it was made in good faith, and such a determination shall bar any other joint tortfeasor from further claims against the settling torfeasor.  CCP section 877.6(d) provides that “The party asserting the lack of good faith shall have the burden of proof on that issue.”
Under Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde & Associates (1985) 38 Cal.3d 488, 499, the factors set forth above should be considered in determining the good faith of a settlement.   
The trial court enjoys broad discretion in determining whether a settlement was entered in good faith and in allocating potential liability and exposure among joint tortfeasors.   Norco Delivery Services v. Owens Corning Fiberglas (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 955, 962.   A reviewing court will “assess whether the trial court’s food faith determination is buttressed by any substantial evidence.”   Id.  
In this case, the moving papers do not clearly set forth the total expected recovery, and there is no showing as to financial condition of the parties. 
However, there is no opposition to the motion. 
In City of Grand Terrace v. Superior Court (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1251, the court of appeal upheld the trial court’s determination that an uncontested motion for good faith settlement was entered in good faith when the moving papers had not provided information concerning all of the Tech-Bilt factors, but only stated the amount of the settlement and the policy limits.   The court first noted that CCP section 877.6 had not been amended to add procedural requirements since the decision in Tech-Bilt, and approved the following procedure:
 
“This court notes that of the hundreds of motions for good faith determination presented for trial court approval each year, the overwhelming majority are unopposed and granted summarily by the trial court.  At the time of filing in many cases, the moving party does not know if a contest will develop.  If each motion required a full recital by declaration or affidavit setting forth a complete factual response to all of the Tech-Bilt factors, literally thousands of attorney hours would be consumed and inch-thick motions would have to be read and considered by trial courts in an exercise which would waste valuable judicial and legal time and clients' resources.  It must also be remembered that
Tech-Bilt was decided on a contested basis.  We are unaware of any reported decision which has reversed an uncontested good faith determination and we, therefore, conclude that only when the good faith nature of a settlement is disputed, it is incumbent upon the trial court to consider and weigh the Tech-Bilt factors.  That is to say, when no one objects, the barebones motion which sets forth the ground of good faith, accompanied by a declaration which sets forth a brief background of the case is sufficient.”
City of Grand Terrace, at 1261 (emphasis added). 
Here, the motion meets this standard, as the background of the case is provided, and the grounds of good faith are set forth, including that the settlement was reached after lengthy arms-length negotiations, presumably attended by both sets of counsel.  [Amaro Decl., para. 18].  There is also a discussion of the various reasons moving party disputes liability, and the likelihood that the level of recoverable damages would be modest.   
Again, there is no opposition to the motion.  Once evidence of the good faith of a settlement has been presented, the burden remains on any challenging party to establish a lack of good faith.    See City of Grand Terrace, at 1261; CCP section 877.6(d).  There is no opposition, so this burden has not been met.  The motion will accordingly be granted. 
The motion seeks to have the court dismiss the cross-complaint.  The court is authorized only to enter an order pertaining to claims falling within the statute, and will enter the order according to statute. 
RULING:   
[No Opposition].
Defendant/Cross-Defendant and Cross-Complainant Daniel W. Wishard dba California Creations’ Motion for Determination of Good Faith Settlement Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Section 877.6(a)(2) is GRANTED. The Court determines that the settlement entered by plaintiff Pasadena Hastings Center and Daniel W. Wishard dba California Creations was entered into in good faith;
Defendant/Cross-Defendant and Cross-Complainant Daniel W. Wishard dba California Creations is discharged from all liability on claims for equitable contribution and/or full or partial indemnity by other parties, joint tortfeasors, or co-obligors, in this or any other action arising from the same general set of facts. 
GIVEN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, AND TO PROMOTE APPROPRIATE SOCIAL DISTANCING, UNTIL FURTHER ORDERED, DEPARTMENT D IS ENCOURAGING AUDIO OR VIDEO APPEARANCES 
Please make arrangements in advance if you wish to appear via LACourtConnect by visiting www.lacourt.org, and scheduling a remote appearance.  Please note that LACourtConnect offers an audio-only appearance option at a current cost of $15.00 and a video appearance option at a cost of $23.00.   Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are encouraged not to personally appear, unless they have obtained advance permission of the Court.  Anyone who appears in person for the hearing will be required to comply with strict social distancing measures, including, but not limited to, assigned seating, capacity limitations in the courtroom, designated waiting areas, and strictly enforced spacing in line to communicate with court staff.  If no appearance is set up through LACourtConnect, or otherwise, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative. 
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