On 04/03/2018 RANDY DOMINGUEZ filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against LA QUINTA INN SUITES POMONA. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Pomona Courthouse South located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are CHRISTOPHER K. LUI, DANIEL M. CROWLEY and GLORIA WHITE-BROWN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Pomona Courthouse South
Los Angeles, California
CHRISTOPHER K. LUI
DANIEL M. CROWLEY
INVESTEL TWO LLC
LA QUINTA HOLDINGS INC
DOES 1 TO 20
LA QUINTA INN & SUITES POMONA
JANFAZA ILAN N. LAW OFFICES OF
JANFAZA ILAN N.
CHANG ERIN A
10/9/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10); STA...)
7/7/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 07/07/2020
4/13/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE
4/16/2020: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER) OF 04/16/2020
4/24/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF DEMURRER AND MOTION TO STRIKE
3/17/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER)
3/11/2020: Reply - REPLY TO OPPOSITION
3/11/2020: Reply - REPLY TO OPPOSITION
3/5/2020: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFF COMPLAINT FOR PERSONAL INJURIES
2/18/2020: Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10)
2/18/2020: Motion to Strike (not initial pleading)
2/20/2020: Substitution of Attorney
12/18/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: FAILURE TO FILE PROOF OF SERVICE ALTE...)
1/10/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF DEMURRING OR MOVING PARTY IN SUPPORT OF AUTOMATIC EXTENSION
9/17/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (FINAL STATUS CONFERENCE)
4/3/2018: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
4/3/2018: SUMMONS -
Hearing01/15/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department J at 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766; Status ConferenceRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 10:00 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - HeldRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 10:00 AM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Status Conference - Held - ContinuedRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 2:00 PM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Court's MotionRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 2:00 PM in Department J, Gloria White-Brown, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Not Held - Continued - Court's MotionRead MoreRead Less
DocketOrder (Tentative Ruling); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10); Sta...)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketNotice Re: Continuance of Hearing and Order; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 3:30 PM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service (alternatively, a Trial Setting Conference (if response filed)) - Not Held - Vacated by CourtRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 3:30 PM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Demurrer - with Motion to Strike (CCP 430.10) - Not Held - Continued - Court's MotionRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4A; Jury Trial - Not Held - Advanced and VacatedRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 10:00 AM in Department 4A; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by CourtRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Final Status Conference)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketRequest-Waive Court FeesRead MoreRead Less
DocketORDER ON COURT FEE WAIVERRead MoreRead Less
DocketRequest to Waive Court Fees; Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by Randy Dominguez (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
DocketRequest to Waive Court FeesRead MoreRead Less
DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGESRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC700220 Hearing Date: October 09, 2020 Dept: J
HEARING DATE: Friday, October 9, 2020
RE: Dominguez v. La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona (BC700220)
1. Defendant Investel Two LLC dba La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona’s DEMURRER TO THE FIRST, THIRD, FOURTH, AND FIFTH CAUSES OF ACTION IN THE COMPLAINT OF PLAINTIFF RANDY DOMINGUEZ
Responding Party: Plaintiff, Randy Dominguez
2. Defendant Investel Two LLC dba La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona’s MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF THE COMPLAINT OF PLAINTIFF RANDY DOMINGUEZ
Responding Party: Plaintiff, Randy Dominguez
1. Defendant Investel Two LLC dba La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona’s Demurrer is
SUSTAINED. The court will hear from counsel for Plaintiff as to whether leave to amend is requested, and as to which cause(s) of action, and will require an offer of proof if so.
2. Defendant Investel Two LLC dba La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona’s Motion to Strike is
DENIED as MOOT in part (i.e., as to Pp. 6-7, ¶35; P. 7, ¶36; P. 7, ¶37; P. 8, ¶40; P. 12, ¶59;
Pp. 12-13, ¶59; P. 13, ¶59; P. 13, ¶60; P. 13, ¶61; P. 14, ¶64; P. 14, ¶67; P. 15, ¶75; P. 16,
¶78 and P. 16, ¶81) and otherwise GRANTED (i.e., as to P. 4, ¶21; Pp. 4-5, ¶25; P. 5, ¶27; P. 5, ¶28; P. 5, ¶29; P. 6, ¶31; P. 6, ¶32; P. 11, ¶54; P. 12, ¶57 and P. 17, Prayer for Relief, ¶2.) The court will hear from counsel for Plaintiff as to whether leave to amend is requested and will require an offer of proof if so.
Plaintiff Randy Dominguez (“Plaintiff”) alleges that he sustained bed bug bites during his April 5, 2016 motel stay.
On April 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint, asserting causes of action against Defendants Investel Two LLC dba La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona (sued as La Quinta Inn & Suites and Investel Two LLC) (“Investel”), La Quinta Holdings Inc. and Does 1-20 for:
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
On July 7, 2020, this case was transferred from Department 28 (personal injury hub) to this instant department. A Status Conference is set for October 9, 2020.
A demurrer for sufficiency tests whether the complaint states a cause of action. (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747; Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10(e).)
A demurrer for uncertainty will be sustained only where the complaint is so bad that the defendant cannot reasonably respond. (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (f); see Khoury v. Maly’s of Calif., Inc. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 612, 616.)
When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context. In a demurrer proceeding, the defects must be apparent on the face of the pleading or via proper judicial notice. (Donabedian v. Mercury Ins. Co. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 968, 994.) “A demurrer tests the pleadings alone and not the evidence or other extrinsic matters. Therefore, it lies only where the defects appear on the face of the pleading or are judicially noticed. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 430.30, 430.70.) At the pleading stage, a plaintiff need only allege ultimate facts sufficient to apprise the defendant of the factual basis for the claim against him. (Semole v. Sansoucie (1972) 28 Cal. App. 3d 714, 721.) A “demurrer does not, however, admit contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law alleged in the pleading, or the construction of instruments pleaded, or facts impossible in law.” (S. Shore Land Co. v. Petersen (1964) 226 Cal.App.2d 725, 732.)
Investel demurs, per Code of Civil Procedure § 430.10, subdivisions (e)&(f), to the first and third through fifth causes of action in Plaintiffs’ complaint, on the basis that they each fail to state facts sufficient to constitute causes of action and are uncertain.
First Cause of Action (i.e., Battery)
“The essential elements of a cause of action for battery are: (1) defendant touched plaintiff, or caused plaintiff to be touched, with the intent to harm or offend plaintiff; (2) plaintiff did not consent to the touching; (3) plaintiff was harmed or offended by defendant's conduct; and (4) a reasonable person in plaintiff's position would have been offended by the touching. (So v. Shin (2013) 212 Cal.App.4th 652, 668-669.)
Plaintiff has alleged that Investel owns, operates and manages the La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona located at 3200 W. Temple Ave., Pomona, CA, 91768 (“motel”); that, on April 3, 2016, Plaintiff checked in at the motel; and that he sustained bedbug bites during his stay at the motel. (Complaint, ¶¶6 and 14-16.) Plaintiff has further alleged that defendants, including Investel, did not ensure Plaintiff’s room or bed was free of bedbugs, ignored knowledge of the presence of bedbugs in the past and did not rid the motel of them, did not notify Plaintiff of the bedbugs, did not ensure that guests were adequately protected against bedbugs, allowed housekeeping staff to “not change bed skirts regularly or to not properly inspect and ensure that such bed skirts are free from bedbugs,” did not properly train motel staff about bedbugs or otherwise implement proper policies and procedures, did not terminate employees involved in prior bedbug incidents, and did not terminate motel staff involved in Plaintiff’s bedbug incident. (Id., ¶¶21-29 and 31.) These allegations sound in ordinary negligence. The complaint is devoid of factual allegations about how Investel, or its employees or agents, intentionally touched or otherwise harmed Plaintiff.
In support of his battery claim, Plaintiff relies heavily on a federal case from the Seventh Circuit, Mathias v. Acor Econ Lodging, Inc. (7th Cir. 2003) 347 F.3d 672. Mathias, however, was governed by Illinois law and was not decided based on California legal principles. Additionally, although Mathias involved allegations related to bedbug exposure, the court there was not tasked with determining whether a battery claim could proceed; rather, in assessing on appeal whether a punitive damage award against a hotel was supportable based on rental of a room known to have been infested with bedbugs, the court suggested (without any substantive analysis) that a battery claim might, in theory, be appropriate.
Investel’s demurrer to the first cause of action is sustained.
Third Cause of Action (i.e., Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress)
“A cause of action for IIED requires proof of: (1) extreme and outrageous conduct by the defendant with the intention of causing, or reckless disregard of the probability of causing, emotional distress; (2) the plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress; and (3) the defendant’s extreme and outrageous conduct was the actual and proximate cause of the severe emotional distress.” (Crouch v. Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, Inc. (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 995, 1007.)
“Although ‘emotional distress may consist of any highly unpleasant mental reaction such as fright, grief, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, chagrin, disappointment or worry, to make out a claim, the plaintiff must provide that emotional distress was severe and not trivial or transient.” (Wong v. Jing (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 1354, 1376.)
Again, Plaintiff’s allegations sound in ordinary negligence. The complaint is devoid of factual allegations about how Investel, or its employees or agents, acted to intentionally cause emotional distress to
Investel’s demurrer to the third cause of action is sustained.
Fourth Cause of Action (i.e., Fraudulent Concealment)
“[T]he elements of an action for fraud and deceit based on concealment are: (1) the defendant must have concealed or suppressed a material fact, (2) the defendant must have been under a duty to disclose the fact to the plaintiff, (3) the defendant must have intentionally concealed or suppressed the fact with the intent to defraud the plaintiff, (4) the plaintiff must have been unaware of the fact and would not have acted as he did if he had known of the concealed or suppressed fact, and (5) as a result of the concealment or suppression of the fact, the plaintiff must have sustained damage.” (Marketing West, Inc. v. Sanyo Fisher (USA) Corp. (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 603, 612-613.)
“Fraud must be pleaded with specificity…[t]o withstand a demurrer, the facts constituting every element of the fraud must be alleged with particularity, and the claim cannot be salvaged by references to the general policy favoring the liberal construction of pleadings.” (Goldrich v. Natural Y Surgical Specialties, Inc. (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 772, 782 [emphasis in original].) “This particularity requirement necessitates pleading facts which ‘show how, when, where, to whom, and by what means the representations were tendered.’” (Stansfield v. Starkey (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 59, 73 (emphasis in original), quoting Hills Trans. Co. v. Southwest (1968) 266 Cal.App.2d 702, 707.)
“The requirement of specificity in a fraud action against a corporation requires the plaintiff to allege the names of the persons who made the allegedly fraudulent representations, their authority to speak, to whom they spoke, what they said or wrote, and when it was said or written.” (Tarmann v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. (1991) 2 Cal.App.4th 153, 157.)
Plaintiff’s fraudulent concealment allegations are conclusory and have not been pled with the requisite specificity. Plaintiff has not pled any facts indicating that Investel had actual knowledge of the presence of bedbugs in Plaintiff’s room at the time Plaintiff was renting the room.
Investel’s demurrer to the fourth cause of action is sustained.
Fifth Cause of Action (i.e., Public Nuisance)
A nuisance is statutorily defined as anything “injurious to health” or “indecent, or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction of the free use of property” that interferes “with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property . . .” (Civ. Code, § 3479.) “A public nuisance is one which affect at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal.” (Civ. Code, § 3480.) “A private person may maintain an action for a public nuisance, if it is specially injurious to himself, but not otherwise.” (Civ. Code, § 3493.)
Plaintiff, in order to state a cause of action for public nuisance, must plead the following: (1) that Investel, by acting or failing to act, created a condition or permitted a condition to exist that was harmful to health or indecent or offensive to the senses; (2) that the condition affected a substantial number of people at the same time; (3) that an ordinary person would be reasonably annoyed or disturbed by the condition; (4) that the seriousness of the harm outweighs the social utility of Investel’s conduct; (5) that Plaintiff did not consent to Investel’s conduct; (6) that Plaintiff suffered harm that was different from the type of harm suffered by the general public; and (7) that Investel’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff’s harm. (CACI 2020.)
Plaintiff has failed to allege that the bedbugs affected a substantial number of people at the same time, and because there are no facts showing a special injury to himself in person or property of a character that is different in kind from that suffered by the general public.
Investel’s demurrer to the fifth cause of action is sustained.
2. Motion to Strike
Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 436, “the court may, upon a motion made pursuant to Section 435, or at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper: (a) Strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading. (b) Strike out all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of this state, a court rule, or an order of the court.” The grounds for a motion to strike must “appear on the face of the challenged pleading or from any matter of which the court is required to take judicial notice.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437.)
Defendant moves the court for an order to strike out (1) any and all references to punitive or exemplary damages (i.e., as to P. 4, ¶21; Pp. 4-5, ¶25; P. 5, ¶27; P. 5, ¶28; P. 5, ¶29; P. 6, ¶31; P. 6, ¶32; Pp. 6-7, ¶35; P. 7, ¶36; P. 7, ¶37; P. 8, ¶40; P. 11, ¶54; P. 12, ¶57; P. 12, ¶59; Pp. 12-13, ¶59; P. 13, ¶59; P. 13, ¶60; P. 13, ¶61; P. 14, ¶64; P. 14, ¶67; P. 15, ¶75; P. 16, ¶78 and P. 16, ¶81) and (2) Plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees (i.e., P. 17, Prayer for Relief, ¶2.).
At the outset, the motion is denied as moot in part (i.e., as to Pp. 6-7, ¶35; P. 7, ¶36; P. 7, ¶37; P. 8, ¶40; P. 12, ¶59; Pp. 12-13, ¶59; P. 13, ¶59; P. 13, ¶60; P. 13, ¶61; P. 14, ¶64; P. 14, ¶67; P. 15, ¶75; P. 16, ¶78 and P. 16, ¶81), based upon the ruling made on the demurrer.
Plaintiff’s complaint also contains punitive damages language in both the section styled “Facts and Allegations Common to All Causes of Action” (i.e., P. 4, ¶21; Pp. 4-5, ¶25; P. 5, ¶27; P. 5, ¶28; P. 5, ¶29; P. 6, ¶31 and P. 6, ¶32) and in the Second Cause of Action for Negligence (i.e., P. 11, ¶54 and P. 12, ¶57.)
Civil Code § 3294, subdivision (a) authorizes an award of punitive damages in noncontract actions “where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression . . . or malice.” Malice is defined as “conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.” (Civ. Code § 3294, subd. (c)(1).) Oppression means “despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.” (Id., subd. (c)(2).)
Ordinary negligence (i.e., mere carelessness or simple failure to exercise due care for plaintiff’s safety) does not amount to “malice” ( or “oppression” or “fraud”) and thus does not support a punitive damages award. A finding of malice, moreover, may not necessarily rest on grossly negligence or even reckless conduct. (Lackner v. North (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1210-1211; Bell. v. Sharp Cabrillo Hosp. (1989) 212 Cal.App.3d 1034, 1044; Flyer’s Body Shop Profit Sharing Plan v. Ticor Title Ins. Co. (1986) 185 Cal.App.3d 1149, 1155.) In cases involving conduct performed without intent to harm, a finding of “malice” for punitives purposes requires proof by clear and convincing evidence that defendant’s tortious wrong amounted to “despicable conduct” and that such despicable conduct was carried on with a “willful and conscious disregard” of the rights or safety of others. (College Hospital, Inc. v. Sup. Ct. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 705.)
Plaintiff contends that he is entitled to punitive damages on the basis that his allegations show that Defendant’s actions were despicable and carried on with a willful and conscious disregard for the safety of Plaintiff and other hotel guests. Plaintiff’s allegations, however, are conclusory in this regard. The motion, then, is granted as to this language.
The motion is granted with respect to the request for attorney’s fees (i.e., P. 17, Prayer for Relief, ¶2.). Code of Civil Procedure § 1021 states that “[e]xcept as attorney’s fees are specifically provided for by statute, the measure and mode of compensation of attorneys and counselors at law is left to the agreement, express or implied, of the parties; but parties to actions of proceedings are entitled to their costs, as hereinafter provided.”
Plaintiff has not articulated a statutory or contractual basis for attorney’s fees and, in fact, has failed to address the issue of attorney’s fees whatsoever in his opposition.
 Motions #1 and #2 were filed (mail served on February 17, 2020) on February 18, 2020 and originally set for hearing on March 18, 2020. The hearing on the motions were subsequently continued, on the court’s own motion, to May 5, 2020. On April 16, 2020, the court, on its own motion, continued the May 5, 2020 hearing to July 16, 2020 and instructed moving party to give notice. On April 24, 2020, moving party filed and mail-served a “Notice of Continuance of Defendant Investel Two LLC dba La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona’s Demurrer and Motion to Strike, Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal, and Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service,” advising therein of the July 16, 2020 hearing date. On July 7, 2020, this case was transferred from Department 28 (personal injury hub) to this instant department. On July 14, 2020, moving party filed and mail-served a “Notice of Continuance of Defendant Investel Two LLC dba La Quinta Inn & Suites Pomona’s Demurrer and Motion to Strike,” advising therein of the October 9, 2020, 2:00 p.m. hearing date.