On 04/11/2018 a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle case was filed by RAMI JOSHUA PERLMAN against HANNAH LYNN WHITE in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
PERLMAN RAMI JOSHUA
FORD MOTOR COMPANY
DOES 1 TO 100
WHITE HANNAH LYNN
5/3/2018: ORIGINAL PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT ON DEFENDANT FORD MOTOR COMPANY A DELAWARE CORPORATION
5/15/2018: FORT) MOTOR COMPANY ANI) HANIAH LYNN WHITE?S JOINT ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; 1)EMANI) FOR JURY TRIAL
1/23/2019: Motion for Order
7/2/2019: Stipulation and Order
4/12/2018: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR WRONGFUL DEATH
4/11/2018: COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)
Stipulation and Order ( [PROPOSED] ORDER AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC [AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES] PERSONAL INJURY COURTS ONLY); Filed by Rami Joshua Perlman (Plaintiff); Hannah Lynn White (Defendant); Ford Motor Company (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Motion for Order ([Proposed] Stipulated Protective Order); Filed by Ford Motor Company (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Answer; Filed by Hannah Lynn White (Defendant); Ford Motor Company (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
FORT) MOTOR COMPANY ANI) HANIAH LYNN WHITE S JOINT ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; 1)EMANI) FOR JURY TRIALRead MoreRead Less
ORIGINAL PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT ON DEFENDANT FORD MOTOR COMPANY A DELAWARE CORPORATIONRead MoreRead Less
Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Rami Joshua Perlman (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Rami Joshua Perlman (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)Read MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC701585 Hearing Date: January 30, 2020 Dept: 27
[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: DEEFENDANT FORD MOTOR COMPANY’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
On August 3, 2016, plaintiff Rami Joshua Perlman and Hannah Lynn White were involved in a motorcycle versus motor vehicle collision. (Defendant’s Undisputed Material Fact (“UMF”) Nos. 1, 2.) On April 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed this action against defendant Ford Motor Company (“Defendant”) and White. Plaintiff alleges White was negligent for improperly merging into his lane and caused the collision. (UMF No. 4.) Plaintiff also alleges White was acting within the course of her employment with Defendant at the time of the collision. (UMF No. 6.) White was employed by Ford, was driving a vehicle owned by Ford, and had just left her residence on her way to a Ford dealership. (UMF No. 3, 7.) Ford moves for summary judgment on the grounds that Ford is not vicarious liable under the “going and coming” rule.
II. LEGAL STANDARDS
In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, courts must apply a three-step analysis: “(1) identify the issues framed by the pleadings; (2) determine whether the moving party has negated the opponent’s claims; and (3) determine whether the opposition has demonstrated the existence of a triable, material factual issue.” (Hinesley v. Oakshade Town Center (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 289, 294.)
“[T]he initial burden is always on the moving party to make a prima facia showing that there are no triable issues of material fact.” (Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1519.) A defendant moving for summary judgment or summary adjudication “has met his or her burden of showing that a cause of action has no merit if the party has shown that one or more elements of the cause of action . . . cannot be established, or that there is a complete defense to the cause of action.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).) A moving defendant need not conclusively negate an element of plaintiff’s cause of action. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 854.)
To meet this burden of showing a cause of action cannot be established, a defendant must show not only “that the plaintiff does not possess needed evidence” but also that “the plaintiff cannot reasonably obtain needed evidence.” (Aguilar, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 854.) It is insufficient for the defendant to merely point out the absence of evidence. (Gaggero v. Yura (2003) 108 Cal.App.4th 884, 891.) The defendant “must also produce evidence that the plaintiff cannot reasonably obtain evidence to support his or her claim.” (Ibid.) The supporting evidence can be in the form of affidavits, declarations, admissions, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and matters of which judicial notice may be taken. (Aguilar, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 855.)
“Once the defendant . . . has met that burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff . . . to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action or a defense thereto.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).) The plaintiff may not merely rely on allegations or denials of its pleadings to show that a triable issue of material fact exists, but instead, “shall set forth the specific facts showing that a triable issue of material fact exists as to the cause of action.” (Ibid.) “If the plaintiff cannot do so, summary judgment should be granted.” (Avivi v. Centro Medico Urgente Medical Center (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 463, 467.)
III. EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS
Defendant objects to Plaintiff’s characterization of White’s deposition testimony submitted in opposition. The objections are overruled as they are not evidentiary objections but rather arguments about the proper inferences to be drawn from the testimony.
Ford argues that because White was commuting to work at the time of the collision, she was not acting within the scope of her employment, and therefore Ford is not vicariously liable. Generally an employee is not acting within the course and scope of employment when commuting to or from the workplace at the beginning or end of a work day. (Sumrall v. Modern Alloys, Inc. (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 961, 967-968.) This principle is based on the theory that the employment relationship is suspended from the time employees leave their jobs until they return and that during normal commutes, employees are not rendering services directly or indirectly to their employers. (Pierson v. Helmerich & Payne Int'l Drilling Co. (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 608, 618.)
An exception to this rule “occurs when an employee commits a negligent act while engaged in a ‘special errand’ or a ‘business errand’ for the benefit of his or her employer while commuting.” (Sumrall, supra, 10 Cal.App.5th at p. 968.) “‘If the employee is not simply on his way from his home to his normal place of work or returning from said place to his home for his own purpose, but is coming from his home or returning to it on a special errand either as part of his regular duties or at a specific order or request of his employer, the employee is considered to be in the scope of his employment from the time that he starts on the errand until he has returned or until he deviates therefrom for personal reasons.’ [Citation.]” (Ibid.) Thus, in Richards v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. (1941) 19 Cal.2d 236, the exception could apply where the employee left his home to “go into the field” to meet with customers, and the question should have gone to the jury. (Id. at pp. 241-242; see also Hinman, supra, 2 Cal.3d at p. 961 [in Richards “liability of the employer to an innocent third party was recognized from the time that an outside salesman left his home to see clients outside the office, and where his work involved both office work and field work”].)
Another exception to the going-and-coming rule may exist when the employer derives some incidental benefit from the employee’s trip. “The requisite benefit must be one that is ‘not common to commute trips by ordinary members of the work force.’ [Citation.]” (Pierson, supra, 4 Cal.App.5th at p. 630.) “An example of a sufficient benefit is where an employer enlarges the available labor market by providing travel expenses and paying for travel time.” (Ibid.) “[T]he employer, having found it desirable in the interests of his enterprise to pay for travel time and for travel expenses and to go beyond the normal labor market . . . should be required to pay for the risks inherent in his decision.” (Hinman v. Westinghouse Elec. Co. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 956, 962.) Other decisions have concluded that the payment of a nominal travel allowance is not sufficient to establish this exception. (See, e.g., Caldwell v. A.R.B., Inc. (1986) 176 Cal.App.3d 1028, 1042 [$10 to $12 daily travel allowance]; Anderson v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 254, 261 [$12.50 per diem payment].)
The material facts here are largely undisputed. (See Ford’s Response to Plaintiff’s Statement of Additional Facts.) White testified that her main job duty was to sell new car inventory to thirteen Ford dealerships. (Id., No. 5.) Each workday, she would drive to a different dealership. (Ibid.) As part of her employment, Ford provide her with a car owned by Ford. (Id., No. 6.) Ford paid the car insurance. (Id., No. 7.) When the collision occurred, White was driving the car provided by Ford and was leaving her residence to drive to a meeting at a Ford dealership. (Id., Nos. 10, 12.) White submitted a declaration in support Ford’s motion stating that Ford did not pay her for her travel time and she did not participate in any travel reimbursement program.
White testified at her deposition that she “was a home-based employee” with “access to the Irvine office,” but she “didn’t work there.” (Angarella Decl., Exh. 1 at p. 13.) She did not report to an office very day. She had “home office equipment and was mainly based out of [her] home, because [her] job duties required [her] to be in dealerships the majority of the week.” (Ibid.)
Although the facts are largely undisputed, the interferences to be drawn from them are not, as seen from Ford’s evidentiary objections. In determining whether summary judgment papers show no triable issue of material fact, the Court considers “all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c).) The Court cannot grant summary judgment if there are conflicting inferences that a reasonable fact finder could draw from the undisputed facts. (Sumrall, supra, 10 Cal.App.5th, 963.)
It is undisputed that White was driving to a business meeting and not on a personal errand. A reasonable fact finder could infer that her work place or office was at her home, when the accident occurred she was out in the field going to a meeting with a dealership who, in effect, was her customer, and therefore the business errand exception applies. (Richards, supra, 19 Cal.2d at pp. 241-242.) A reasonable fact finder could also infer that the car and car insurance provide by Ford gave Ford a sufficient enough benefit for the incidental benefit exception to apply. Because inferences can be drawn supporting the application of these exceptions, whether the exceptions apply here and whether White was acting within the scope of employment at the time of the collision are questions of fact for the jury. (Sumrall, supra, 10 Cal.App.5th at p. 968.)
In light of the foregoing, the Motion for summary judgment is DENIED.
Moving party to give notice.
Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT27@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative.