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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/15/2019 at 09:19:27 (UTC).

ROBERT AMES VS JOHNSON CONTROLS INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/20/2017 ROBERT AMES filed a Personal Injury - Other Product Liability lawsuit against JOHNSON CONTROLS INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is CHRISTOPHER K. LUI. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****8748

  • Filing Date:

    04/20/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Product Liability

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

CHRISTOPHER K. LUI

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

AMES ROBERT

Defendants and Respondents

MIDWEST LEGAL

INTERSTATE BATTERIES INC

JOHNSON CONTROLS INC

INTERSTATE ALL BATTERY CENTER OF

E-DATA SERVICES

DOES 1 TO 50

MIDWEST LEGAL AND E-DATA SERVICES

INTERSTATE ALL BATTERY CENTER OF LOS ANGELES

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorneys

SNYDER LORIN D

SPOONER GABRIEL SCOTT

 

Court Documents

Proof of Service by Mail

6/12/2019: Proof of Service by Mail

Certificate of Mailing for

6/14/2019: Certificate of Mailing for

Proof of Personal Service

7/17/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Certificate of Mailing for

7/22/2019: Certificate of Mailing for

Minute Order

7/22/2019: Minute Order

Notice of Motion

8/5/2019: Notice of Motion

Notice of Motion

8/5/2019: Notice of Motion

Minute Order

8/9/2019: Minute Order

Certificate of Mailing for

8/14/2019: Certificate of Mailing for

Minute Order

10/22/2018: Minute Order

Certificate of Mailing for

10/22/2018: Certificate of Mailing for

Certificate of Mailing for

10/25/2018: Certificate of Mailing for

Certificate of Mailing for

4/19/2019: Certificate of Mailing for

Order

4/19/2019: Order

Ex Parte Application

4/19/2019: Ex Parte Application

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [PRIOR TO SERVICE] 1 PRODUCTS LIABILITY (CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SEC 338.) 2 BREACH OF IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANT ABILITY (CALIFORNIA CODE SEC. 2775); ETC.

7/13/2018: FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [PRIOR TO SERVICE] 1 PRODUCTS LIABILITY (CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SEC 338.) 2 BREACH OF IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANT ABILITY (CALIFORNIA CODE SEC. 2775); ETC.

ORDER ON COURT FEE WAIVER

4/20/2017: ORDER ON COURT FEE WAIVER

1. NEGLIGENCE - PRODUCTS LIABILITY 2. STRICT PRODUCTS LIABILITY; ETC

4/20/2017: 1. NEGLIGENCE - PRODUCTS LIABILITY 2. STRICT PRODUCTS LIABILITY; ETC

31 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 10/31/2019
  • Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Trial Setting Conference

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  • 10/09/2019
  • Hearingat 13:30 PM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

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  • 09/03/2019
  • Hearingat 13:30 PM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery")

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  • 09/03/2019
  • Hearingat 13:30 PM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery")

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  • 09/03/2019
  • Hearingat 13:30 PM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery")

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  • 08/16/2019
  • Hearingat 13:30 PM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Demurrer - without Motion to Strike

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  • 08/14/2019
  • Docketat 4:30 PM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Court Order

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  • 08/14/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Court Order Re: Referral of Non-Personal Injury case to Depar...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 08/14/2019
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Court Order Re: Referral of Non-Personal Injury case to Depar...) of 08/14/2019); Filed by Clerk

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  • 08/09/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (To continue demurrer hearing 60 days from the currently scheduled hearing date 8/19/19) - Held - Motion Granted

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43 More Docket Entries
  • 10/04/2018
  • Docketat 10:00 AM in Department 4; Final Status Conference (Final Status Conference; Off Calendar) -

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  • 10/04/2018
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4; Ex-Parte Proceedings - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 10/04/2018
  • DocketEx-Parte Application

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  • 10/04/2018
  • DocketEx-Parte Application; Filed by Robert Ames (Plaintiff); Johnson Controls Inc (Defendant)

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  • 07/13/2018
  • DocketFirst Amended Complaint; Filed by Robert Ames (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/13/2018
  • DocketFIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [PRIOR TO SERVICE] 1 PRODUCTS LIABILITY (CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SEC 338.) 2 BREACH OF IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANT ABILITY (CALIFORNIA CODE SEC. 2775); ETC.

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  • 04/20/2017
  • Docket1. NEGLIGENCE - PRODUCTS LIABILITY 2. STRICT PRODUCTS LIABILITY; ETC

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  • 04/20/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 04/20/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Robert Ames (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/20/2017
  • DocketORDER ON COURT FEE WAIVER

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC658748    Hearing Date: January 21, 2021    Dept: 49

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Robert Ames,

Plaintiff,

Case No.

BC658748

v.

[Tentative] Ruling

Johnson Controls Inc., et al.

Defendants.

Hearing Date: January 21, 2021

Department 49, Judge Stuart M. Rice

1. Defendant’s Motion for Reclassification

2. Defendant’s Motion to Quash Service of Summons

3. Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions

Moving Party: Defendant H & M Hansen Enterprises/Plaintiff Robert Ames

Responding Party: Defendant H & M Hansen Enterprises/Plaintiff Robert Ames

Ruling: Defendant’s Motion for Reclassification and Motion to Quash Service of Summons are denied. Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions is denied.

Three motions are concurrently set for hearing on January 21, 2021: (1) Defendant H & M Hansen Enterprises’s (“Defendant”) Motion for Reclassification , (2) Defendant’s Motion to Quash Service of Summons, and (3) Plaintiff Robert Ames’s (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Sanctions. The court addresses all three below.

Motion to Quash Service of Summons

In this motion, “defendant R&M HANSEN ENTERPRISES (Erroneously sued and served as Interstate All Battery Center) and counsel Specially Appearing for Interstate All Battery Center of Los Angeles will and hereby does move the court for an order quashing service of process as to Interstate All Battery Center of Los Angeles.” (Motion 1:25-28.) R&M is not a named defendant in this action, nor has it appeared prior to bringing this motion. All prior appearances on behalf of Interstate All Battery Center (“Interstate”) have been made by H & M Hansen Enterprises (“H&M”) However, it appears now that counsel for R&M is seeking to move on behalf of third-party Interstate who was purportedly never served with service of summons. Notably, R&M is “specially appearing” to not submit to the personal jurisdiction of this court. However, H&M has now demurred to the complaint and filed several discovery motions in this matter. Therefore, no jurisdictional issues arise as to H&M which was both substituted as a doe defendant and voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of this court, nor as to R&M which is apparently a third entity which is appearing solely to represent the interests of an entity erroneously sued. However, in its reply papers, Defendant clarifies this issue in its caption: “Defendant, H & M HANSEN ENTERPRISES (ERRONEOUSLY SUED AND SERVED AS INTERSTATE ALL BATTERY CENTER) - a.k.a. R&M HANSEN ENTERPRISES, INC., submits the following Reply.” Thus, R&M and H&M are the same entity, merely using an a.k.a. Hereinafter, “Defendant” shall refer to the entity known alternatively as H&M and R&M..

Plaintiff filed an “Amendment to Complaint naming Doe No. 1 H&M Enterprises” on January 21, 2020, in which Plaintiff asserted that “INTERSTATE ALL BATTERY CENTER OF LOS ANGELES shall now proceed as defendant and doe no 1 H & M HANSENENTERPRISES [sic], and must file an answer with the court 30 days from ruling on 1/28/30 [sic].” Plaintiff further specified that “[t]he court informed plaintiff the Entry of default remains in full force and effect as to defendant INTERSTATE ALL BATTERY CENTER OF LOS ANGELES and plaintiff is free to proceed with a Default Judgment against this defendant.” Additionally, on March 2, 2020, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Ruling in which he asserts that “Defendant INTERSTATE ALL BATTERY CENTER OF LOS ANGELES, DOE Defendant H & M ENTERPRISES, demurrer is overruled in entity [sic] and defendant is ordered to answer complaint within 30 days, from the 1/28/2020 hearing date.” Nevertheless, pursuant to the filings of the parties, Interstate remains a named defendant but is defaulted. Defendant was substituted as a doe defendant in the complaint and is now properly before the court and is conducting itself as such.

Defendant now argues that “Interstate All Battery Center of Los Angeles was never served with the summons and thus the court lacks jurisdiction over it” or “[t]here is no corporation, LLC, LP nor fictitious business name “INTERSTATE ALL BATTERY CENTER OF LOS ANGELES” registered in the state of California.” It is not apparent why Defendant is raising this argument on behalf of an entity which it contends does not exist, and would have no relation with Defendant. Defendant argues that “IABCLA is not a legal entity and it has no registered agent for service of process. (Exhibits C & D) IABCLA was not personally served with the summons and complaint. There was also no valid service by substitute service. The summons and complaint were purportedly delivered to an address where the defendant R&M Hansen Enterprises conducts business. However, neither R&M Hansen Enterprises nor Carter Hansen are registered agents for service of process for IABCLA.” (Motion 6:1-5.) Defendant concludes by asserting that “[t]he alleged service of process of the summons and complaint on IABCLA, a non-entity, must be quashed.”

The court is not pleased that the settlement of this case has not been completed. Rather, defendant is now seeking to quash service of summons on Interstate (IABCLA). One must wonder why defendant is going to all this trouble to protect an entity which it also claims does not exist. If it does not exist, then the service of summons is indeed ineffective but there is no standing to move to quash service of summons. In the alternative, Defendant is the party in interest and seeks to quash service of summons against itself (erroneously sued as Interstate). These two alternatives are incompatible. Defendant provides no clarification in its motion whether any relation exists between Interstate, Defendant and Carter Hansen. Counsel should be prepared to provide the court with answers at the hearing on this motion.

Defendant “H & M Enterprises (erroneously sued and served as Interstate All Battery Center)” demurred to the Complaint on May 23, 2019, three days after entry of default against Interstate, filed motions to compel further discovery responses on August 1, 2019, and responded to the Complaint on February 19, 2020. Pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 418.10(e)(3), by its conduct, Defendant has waived any issues pertaining to lack of personal jurisdiction and service of process in this action.

The motion to quash service of summons is denied.

Motion for Reclassification

Defendant moves for an order reclassifying this action to limited civil jurisdiction.

In his untimely opposition, Plaintiff raises issues pertaining to the status of Defendant as a party in this action which the court shall address first. Plaintiff contends that as Defendant is in default since May 20, 2019, it cannot properly bring this motion. As discussed above, Defendant was substituted as a doe defendant, and is now under the personal jurisdiction of this court. Therefore, Defendant’s motion shall be heard on the merits.

Rather than rely on evidence before the court, Defendant attempts to rely on Plaintiff’s lack of evidence that the verdict in this matter will not exceed $25,000. Defendant argues that “[t]o date, plaintiff has not provided any documentation to support any of the aforementioned claims, beyond the purchase of the battery. Plaintiff has failed to produce the 2002 Jaguar for inspection. Plaintiff has offered no documentation related to his being “stranded” nor the purported payment to a repair shop. Most importantly, plaintiff has produced no documentation suggesting that he suffered any physical injuries.” (Motion 3:14-18.) Defendant’s reliance on an “[a]n internet search of the website Cars.Com done July 30, 2020,” and a reference to the “Kelley Blue Book” does not carry its burden of demonstrating that Plaintiff’s claim necessarily involves less than $25,000.00—that a greater recovery “could not be obtained” or is “virtually unobtainable.” (Walker v. Superior Court (1991) 53 Cal.3d 257, 269-270; Motion 5:15.)

Defendant’s motion for reclassification is denied.

Motion for Sanctions

Defendant’s “objection to the August 7, 2020 notice of ruling” filed by Plaintiff is sustained. Plaintiff’s notice of the court’s ruling included improper/imprecise statements as set forth in defendant’s objection. However, this issue is not pertinent to the ruling that follows.

This hearing on Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions was initially scheduled for July 23, 2020, which is the same day Plaintiff filed his reply brief. The court continued the hearing to this date and ordered to parties to meet and confer to fully resolve this case. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5, subdivision (a), a trial court may order a party or the party’s attorney to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney fees, incurred by another party as result of actions or tactics, made in bad faith, that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.

Plaintiff moves for sanctions against Defendant for filing a demurrer and discovery motions despite default having been entered against Interstate Battery Center of Los Angeles. The court noted the confusion given that default had been entered against an entity named “Interstate All Battery Center of Los Angeles” and that demurring defendant “H & M Hansen Enterprises,” was not named in the complaint and claimed to be erroneously sued as “Interstate All Battery Center.”

At the January 28, 2020 hearing on Defendant’s demurrer, the court overruled the demurrer and permitted Plaintiff to make a doe amendment to name H & M Enterprises as a Defendant, which Plaintiff claims he did to facilitate settlement with H & M’s insurer. According to Plaintiff, after the parties agreed in writing to a settlement agreement, H & M demanded that Plaintiff dismiss defaulted party Interstate All Battery Center of Los Angeles before payment would be made to Plaintiff under the agreement.

The state of confusion concerning the default and the proper names of Defendants is unfortunate and must be resolved forthwith. The responsibility to do so rests with the Defendant. Nonetheless, Plaintiff may not recover attorney’s fees under section 128.5 because he is a self-represented party and thus has not incurred attorney fees within the meaning of the statute. (Musaelian v. Adams (2009) 45 Cal.4th 512, 520.) Further, Plaintiff has not set forth any basis for the $1,000 in sanctions that he requests.

Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions is denied. Defendant is ordered to give notice of these rulings.

Date: January 21, 2021

Honorable Stuart M. Rice

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC658748    Hearing Date: August 26, 2020    Dept: 49

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Robert Ames,

Plaintiff,

Case No.

BC658748

v.

[Tentative] Ruling

Johnson Controls Inc., et al.

Defendants.

Hearing Date: August 26, 2020

Department 49, Judge Stuart M. Rice

(1) Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 128.5

Moving Party:  Plaintiff Robert Ames

Responding Party:      Defendant H & M Hansen Enterprises

Ruling: Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions is denied.  

Plaintiff moves for sanctions against defendant for filing a demurrer and discovery motions despite default having been entered against Interstate Battery Center of Los Angeles. The court noted the confusion given that default had been entered against an entity named “Interstate All Battery Center of Los Angeles” and that demurring defendant “H & M Hansen Enterprises,” was not named in the complaint and claimed to be erroneously sued as “Interstate All Battery Center.”

At the January 28, 2020 hearing on defendant’s demurrer, the court overruled the demurrer and permitted plaintiff to make a doe amendment to name H & M Enterprises as a defendant, which plaintiff claims he did to facilitate settlement with H & M’s insurer. According to plaintiff, after the parties agreed in writing to a settlement agreement, H & M demanded that plaintiff dismiss defaulted party Interstate All Battery Center of Los Angeles before payment would be made to plaintiff under the agreement.

The state of confusion concerning the default and name or names of defendant is unfortunate. But the court does not find defendant’s conduct of filing a demurrer and discovery motions frivolous, made in bad faith, or intended to cause unnecessary delay, especially given that the default was taken of an entity whose name defendant contends is not its own. The fact that defendant has attempted to settle with plaintiff supports the conclusion that defendant has not acted with the intention of causing unnecessary delay. Therefore, plaintiff’s motion for sanctions is denied.

As an alternative ground for denying this motion, plaintiff may not recover attorney fees under section 128.5 because he is in pro per and thus has not incurred attorney fees within the meaning of the statute. (See Musaelian v. Adams (2009) 45 Cal.4th 512, 520.) Further, plaintiff has not set forth any basis for the $1,000 in sanctions that he requests.

Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions is denied. Defendant is ordered to give notice of this ruling. 

Date: August 26, 2020

Honorable Stuart M. Rice

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC658748    Hearing Date: July 23, 2020    Dept: 49

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