This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 01/14/2021 at 21:11:42 (UTC).

RONALD GREEN VS LOS ANGELES WORLD AIRPORTS ET AL

Case Summary

On 08/01/2017 RONALD GREEN filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against LOS ANGELES WORLD AIRPORTS. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are DENNIS J. LANDIN, CHRISTOPHER K. LUI, STEPHEN M. MOLONEY, THERESA M. TRABER and DANIEL M. CROWLEY. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****9933

  • Filing Date:

    08/01/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

DENNIS J. LANDIN

CHRISTOPHER K. LUI

STEPHEN M. MOLONEY

THERESA M. TRABER

DANIEL M. CROWLEY

 

Party Details

Plaintiff, Petitioner and Appellant

GREEN RONALD

Defendants and Respondents

LOS ANGELES WORLD AIRPORTS

DOES 1-50

FLINT DEBORAH

YAKUBIK RYAN

MENGISTU SAMSON

GUIDRY CYNTHIA

CHRISTENSEN MICHAEL

BURTON SEAN O.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

KARNS MICHAEL ESQ.

KARNS WILLIAM M. ESQ.

MITCHELL TIMOTHY

KARNS WILLIAM MARTIN ESQ.

KARNS MICHAEL RAYMOND ESQ.

MITCHELL TIMOTHY PUAL

MITCHELL TIMOTHY P.

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

RUIZ RODOLFO F. ESQ.

KABANI ZEESHAN

RUIZ RODOLFO FLORENTINO ESQ.

 

Court Documents

Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF ZEESHAN KABANI IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS SEAN O. BURTON, CYNTHIA GUIDRY, DEBORAH FLINT, SAMSON MENGISTU, AND RYAN YAKUBIKS REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO D

12/14/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF ZEESHAN KABANI IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS SEAN O. BURTON, CYNTHIA GUIDRY, DEBORAH FLINT, SAMSON MENGISTU, AND RYAN YAKUBIKS REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO D

Notice of Filing of Notice of Appeal (Unlimited Civil) - NOTICE OF FILING OF NOTICE OF APPEAL (UNLIMITED CIVIL) NOA:8/10/20

8/17/2020: Notice of Filing of Notice of Appeal (Unlimited Civil) - NOTICE OF FILING OF NOTICE OF APPEAL (UNLIMITED CIVIL) NOA:8/10/20

[Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Person - [PROPOSED ORDER] AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC (AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES) PERSO

8/18/2020: [Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Person - [PROPOSED ORDER] AND STIPULATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL, FSC (AND RELATED MOTION/DISCOVERY DATES) PERSO

Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF DEFENDANTS' HEARINGS

4/23/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUANCE OF DEFENDANTS' HEARINGS

Opposition - OPPOSITION TO EX PARTRE APPLICATION OF DEFENDANTS TO ADVANCE THE HARING TO CONTINUE THE TRIAL DATE

2/11/2020: Opposition - OPPOSITION TO EX PARTRE APPLICATION OF DEFENDANTS TO ADVANCE THE HARING TO CONTINUE THE TRIAL DATE

Declaration in Support of Ex Parte Application

2/13/2020: Declaration in Support of Ex Parte Application

Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF ZEESHAN KABANI IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS SEAN O. BURTON, CYNTHIA GUIDRY, DEBORAH FLINT, SAMSON MENGISTU, AND RYAN YAKUBIK'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, OR, IN

2/14/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF ZEESHAN KABANI IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS SEAN O. BURTON, CYNTHIA GUIDRY, DEBORAH FLINT, SAMSON MENGISTU, AND RYAN YAKUBIK'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, OR, IN

Separate Statement

2/14/2020: Separate Statement

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF' RONALD GREEN'S SUPPLEMENTAL OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR UNDERAKING

1/10/2020: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF' RONALD GREEN'S SUPPLEMENTAL OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR UNDERAKING

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (MOTION OF DEFENDANTS LOS ANGELES WORLD AIRPORTS, SEAN BURTON,...)

12/17/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (MOTION OF DEFENDANTS LOS ANGELES WORLD AIRPORTS, SEAN BURTON,...)

Request for Judicial Notice

12/3/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Motion in Limine - MOTION IN LIMINE PLANTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE #4 TO EXCLUDE ANY MENTION OF POSSIBLE PRIOR INJURIES OR CLAIMS THAT PLAINTIFF MAY HAVE HAD

10/23/2019: Motion in Limine - MOTION IN LIMINE PLANTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE #4 TO EXCLUDE ANY MENTION OF POSSIBLE PRIOR INJURIES OR CLAIMS THAT PLAINTIFF MAY HAVE HAD

Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF TAKING DEMURER & MTS OFF CALENDAR

10/16/2019: Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF TAKING DEMURER & MTS OFF CALENDAR

Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF UNAVAILABILITY OF COUNSEL

9/6/2019: Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF UNAVAILABILITY OF COUNSEL

Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

7/30/2019: Opposition - OPPOSITION PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Request for Judicial Notice

7/10/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore - ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE LINDA LEE, CSR #13568

6/5/2019: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore - ORDER APPOINTING COURT APPROVED REPORTER AS OFFICIAL REPORTER PRO TEMPORE LINDA LEE, CSR #13568

Declaration - DECLARATION OF ZEESHAN KABANI IN SUPPORT

5/29/2019: Declaration - DECLARATION OF ZEESHAN KABANI IN SUPPORT

208 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/14/2021
  • Hearing06/14/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 05/28/2021
  • Hearing05/28/2021 at 10:00 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 12/21/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 28, Daniel M. Crowley, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Attorney Fees - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 12/21/2020
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by Ronald Green (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/21/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Defendants Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Deborah...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/14/2020
  • DocketReply (DEFENDANTS SEAN O. BURTON, CYNTHIA GUIDRY, DEBORAH FLINT, SAMSON MENGISTU, AND RYAN YAKUBIK?S REPLY TO PLAINTIFF?S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS? MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS? FEES AND COSTS); Filed by Los Angeles World Airports (Defendant); Sean O. Burton (Defendant); Cynthia Guidry (Defendant) et al.

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  • 12/14/2020
  • DocketDeclaration (DECLARATION OF ZEESHAN KABANI IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS SEAN O. BURTON, CYNTHIA GUIDRY, DEBORAH FLINT, SAMSON MENGISTU, AND RYAN YAKUBIK?S REPLY TO PLAINTIFF?S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS? MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS? FEES AND COSTS); Filed by Los Angeles World Airports (Defendant); Sean O. Burton (Defendant); Cynthia Guidry (Defendant) et al.

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  • 12/08/2020
  • DocketOpposition (Opposition to Motion for Attorney's Fees); Filed by Ronald Green (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/24/2020
  • DocketAppellate Order Dismissing Appeal (NOA: 08/10/20 B307159); Filed by Clerk

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  • 11/06/2020
  • DocketAppeal - Notice of Non-Compliance (NOA: 08/10/20 B307159); Filed by Clerk

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274 More Docket Entries
  • 02/14/2018
  • DocketMotion to Strike; Filed by Los Angeles World Airports (Defendant)

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  • 02/14/2018
  • DocketDEFENDANT LOS ANGELES WORLD AIRPORT'S MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF THE PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF ADAM J. SHERMAN

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  • 01/29/2018
  • DocketDefendant's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court (Small Claims) (First)

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  • 01/29/2018
  • DocketFirst Amended Complaint for Damages Alleging Claims Against a Public Entity; Filed by Ronald Green (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/29/2018
  • DocketFirst Amended Complaint; Filed by Ronald Green (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/10/2018
  • DocketProof of Personal Service

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  • 01/10/2018
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Ronald Green (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/01/2017
  • DocketComplaint

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  • 08/01/2017
  • DocketSummons; Filed by Ronald Green (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/01/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Ronald Green (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC669933    Hearing Date: December 21, 2020    Dept: 28

Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs

Having considered the moving, opposing, and reply papers, the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff (“Plaintiff”) Ronald Green filed this action against Defendant Los Angeles World Airports (“Defendant LAWA”) on August 1, 2017, alleging a single cause of action for negligence arising from a January 31, 2017, slip and fall on Defendant’s premises.

Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on January 29, 2018, against unnamed employees and/or independent contractors hired by Defendant LAWA for the purpose of performing the cleaning, maintenance, construction, and/or inspection of the restrooms in the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.

On June 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint to allege punitive damages and name Defendants, Michael Christensen, Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Deborah Flint, Samson Mengistu, Ryan Yakubik, and LAWA.

Plaintiff filed a third amended complaint on January 9, 2020 to allege additional facts and name Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Deborah Flint, Samson Mengistu, Ryan Yakubik (collectively “Individual Defendants”), and LAWA.

On July 10, 2020, the Court granted Individual Defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

On August 7, 2020, Individual Defendants filed a motion for attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure sections 1038, subdivision (a), and 128.5.

Trial is set for June 14, 2021.

PARTIES REQUESTS

Cross-Defendant Gilbert Maldonado asks the Court to impose $1,250.00 in sanctions against Defendant/Cross-Complainant Nabil Hanna Aziz and his counsel of record for refusing to dismiss Cross-Defendant Gilbert Maldonado.

Defendant/Cross-Complainant Nabil Hanna Aziz asks the Court to impose $720.00 in sanctions against Cross-Defendant Gilbert Maldonado and his counsel of record for bringing a frivolous motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

Code of Civil Procedure Section 1038

California Code of Civil Procedure section 1038, subdivision (a), provides, in relevant part:

In any civil proceeding under the Government Claims Act . . . in any civil action, the court, upon motion of the defendant[,] shall, at the time of the granting of any summary judgment, . . . determine wither or not the plaintiff . . . brought the proceeding with reasonable cause and in the good faith belief that there was a justifiable controversy under the facts and law which warranted the filing of the complaint . . . .  If the court should determine that the proceeding was not brought in good faith and with reasonable cause, an additional issue shall be decided as to the defense costs reasonably and necessarily incurred by the party or parties opposing the proceeding, and the court shall render judgment in favor of that party in the amount of all reasonable and necessary defense costs, in addition to those costs normally awarded to the prevailing party.  An award of defense costs under this section shall not be made except on notice contained in a party’s papers and an opportunity to be heard.

“In order to deny a motion for fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 1038, the court must find the plaintiff brought or maintained the action: (1) in the good faith belief of the action’s justifiability, and (2) with objective reasonable cause.”  (Laabs v. City of Victorville (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 1242, 1271.)  “The reasonable cause issue is determined as a matter of law.”  (Bosetti v. United States Life Ins. Co. in City of New York (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 1208, 1226.)  “The good faith determination, however, involves a factual inquiry into the plaintiff’s state of mind [and] is a factual issue . . . .”  (Ibid. Importantly, “a defendant may not recover [Code of Civil Procedure] section 1038 costs simply because it won a summary judgment or other dispositive motion; victory does not per se indicate lack of reasonable cause.”  (Labbs, supra, 163 Cal.App.4th at p. 1274 [citation omitted].)

A party entitled to costs under Code of Civil Procedure section 1038 may obtain a number of costs that are ordinarily not allowable under Code of Civil Procedure section 1033.5, including reasonable attorney’s fees and expert’s fees.  (See Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1033.5, subd. (b), 1038, subd. (b).)

Code of Civil Procedure Section 128.5

“A trial court may order a party, the party’s attorney, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by another party as a result of actions or tactics, made in bad faith, that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (a). An “action or tactic” includes filing a motion and “frivolous” is defined as “totally and completely without merit or for the sole purpose of harassing an opposing party.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (b).)

DISCUSSION

The Court finds defense costs cannot be awarded.  Individual Defendants provide no evidence showing Plaintiff did not have a good faith belief that this action was justified against Individual Defendants.  Moreover, Plaintiff’s action was founded in law.  Government Code section 840.2, subdivision (b) makes employees with authority and responsibility to protect against dangerous conditions of their public entity’s property liable for injuries that could have been avoided with the exercise of their authority.  Officers of a public entity are surely thought of as having authority and responsibility to protect against dangerous conditions, albeit at a removed position from the mop and bucket needed to dry slippery floors.  For these same reasons, the Court cannot find the naming of Individual Defendants was totally and completely without merit or for the sole purpose of harassing Individual Defendants.  Thus, the motion is properly denied.

CONCLUSION

The motion is DENIED.

Individual Defendants are ordered to give notice of this ruling.

Individual Defendants are ordered to file the proof of service of this ruling with the Court within five days.

The parties are directed to the header of this tentative ruling for further instructions.

Case Number: BC669933    Hearing Date: July 10, 2020    Dept: 28

Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication

Having considered the moving, opposing, and reply papers, the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff (“Plaintiff”) Ronald Green filed this action against Defendant Los Angeles World Airports (“Defendant LAWA”) on August 1, 2017, alleging a single cause of action for negligence arising from a January 31, 2017, slip and fall on Defendant’s premises.

Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on January 29, 2018, against unnamed  employees and/or independent contractors hired by Defendant LAWA for the purpose of performing the cleaning, maintenance, construction, and/or inspection of the restrooms in the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.

On June 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint to allege punitive damages and name Defendants, Michael Christensen, Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Deborah Flint, Samson Mengistu, Ryan Yakubik, and LAWA.

Plaintiff filed the a third amended complaint (“TAC”) on January 9, 2020 to allege additional facts and name Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Deborah Flint, Samson Mengistu, Ryan Yakubik (collectively “Individual Defendants”), and LAWA.

On February 14, 2020, Individual Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, summary adjudication pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 437c.

On April 15, 2020, the Court continued the hearings on the demurrer, motion to strike, and motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, summary adjudication to July 10, 2020.

Trial is set for September 1, 2020.

PARTIES REQUESTS

Individual Defendants request summary judgment, or in the alternative, summary adjudication in their favor and against Plaintiff because: (1) they did not have notice of the Triplett matter, any dangerous conditions, or determinations made regarding restroom tiles or safety mats; and (2) they did not cause the alleged dangerous condition.

LEGAL STANDARD

The purpose of a motion for summary judgment “is to provide courts with a mechanism to cut through the parties’ pleadings in order to determine whether, despite their allegations, trial is in fact necessary to resolve their dispute.”  (Aguilar v. Atl. Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843.)  “Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (c), requires the trial judge to grant summary judgment if all the evidence submitted, and ‘all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence’ and uncontradicted by other inferences or evidence, show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”  (Adler v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1110, 1119.)

“On a motion for summary judgment, the initial burden is always on the moving party to make a prima facie 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 “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.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).)  “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.”  (Ibid.)  “If the plaintiff cannot do so, summary judgment should be granted.”  (Avivi v. Centro Medico Urgente Med. Ctr. (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 463, 467.)

“When deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the court must consider all of the evidence set forth in the papers (except evidence to which the court has sustained an objection), as well as all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from that evidence, in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.”  (Avivi, supra, 159 Cal.App.4th at p. 467; see also Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c).)

JUDICIAL NOTICE

The Court takes judicial notice of the complaint, jury verdict, judgment, and notice of entry of judgment filed in BC518329 pursuant to California Evidence Code section 451, subdivision (a).

DISCUSSION

“Except as otherwise provided by statute, a public entity is not liable for an injury, whether such injury arises out of an act or omission of the public entity or public employee or any other person.” (Gov. Code, § 815.)

Government Code section 835 states:¿“Except as provided by statute, a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of its property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and either:

(a) A negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the scope of his employment created the dangerous condition; or¿

(b) The public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition under Section 835.2 a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.”¿

The term “dangerous condition” means a “condition of property that creates a substantial (as distinguished from a minor,¿trivial¿or insignificant) risk of injury when such property or adjacent property is used with due care in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it¿will be used.”¿ (Gov. Code, § 830, subd. (a).) “A condition is not dangerous within the meaning of the statute ‘unless it creates a hazard to those who foreseeably will use the property . . . with due care. Thus, even though it is foreseeable that persons may use public property without due care, a public entity may not be held liable for failing to take precautions to protect such persons.”¿¿(Matthews v. City of Cerritos¿(1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 1380, 1384.) “The condition of the property involved should create a ‘substantial risk’ of injury, for an undue burden would be placed upon public entities if they were responsible for the repair of all conditions creating any possibility of injury however remote that possibility might be.”¿¿(Fredette¿v. City of Long Beach¿(1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 122, 130, fn.5.) “The existence of a dangerous condition ordinarily is a question of fact, but the issue may be resolved as a matter of law if reasonable minds can come to only one conclusion.”¿¿(Peterson v. San Francisco Comm. College Dist.¿(1984) 36 Cal.3d 799, 810.)

Government Code section 835.2 states: “(a) A public entity had actual notice of a dangerous condition within the meaning of subdivision (b) of Section 835 if it had actual knowledge of the existence of the condition and knew or should have known of its dangerous character.

(b) A public entity had constructive notice of a dangerous condition within the meaning of subdivision (b) of Section 835 only if the plaintiff establishes the condition had existed for such a period of time and was of such an obvious nature that the public entity, in the exercise of due care, should have discovered the condition and its dangerous character.  On the issue of due care, admissible evidence includes but is not limited to evidence as to:

(1) Whether the existence of the condition and its dangerous character would have been discovered by an inspection system that was reasonably adequate (consideration the practicability and cost of inspection weighed against the likelihood and magnitude of the potential danger to which failure to inspect would give rise) to inform the public entity whether the property was safe for the use or uses for which the public entity used or intended others to use the public property and for uses that the public entity actually knew others were making of the public property or adjacent property.

(2) Whether the public entity maintained and operated such an inspection system with due care and did not discover the condition.”

Individual Defendants undisputed material facts establish the following.  Defendant Sean O. Burton was the president of the Board of Airport Commissioners at the time of Plaintiff’s January 31, 2017 slip-and-fall.  (UMF No. 1.) Defendant Cynthia Guidry was a deputy executive director for the planning and development group of LAWA at the time of Plaintiff’s January 31, 2017 slip-and-fall.  (UMF No. 16.) Plaintiff’s January 31, 2017 slip-and-fall.  (UMF No. 31.) Plaintiff’s January 31, 2017 slip-and-fall.  (UMF No. 46.)  Defendant Ryan Yakubik was the chief financial officer at the time of Plaintiff’s January 31, 2017 slip-and-fall.  (UMF No. 61.)

Individual Defendants’ undisputed material facts also establish the following.  Individual Defendants did not select any tiles or make any determinations about safety mats for any of the restrooms at LAX while serving in their respective positions.  (UMF Nos. 3, 18, 33, 48, 63.) were not responsible for and did not perform maintenance or cleaning of the floor in restroom number 330 at LAX.  (UMF Nos. 5, 20, 35, 50, 65.)  Individual Defendants did not create any dangerous condition in restroom number 330 on or around January 31, 2017.  (Ibid.)

Individual Defendants’ undisputed material facts further establish the following.  Individual Defendants did not know of or have reason to know of the Triplett v. LAWA matter at the time of Plaintiff’s January 31, 2017 slip-and-fall.  (UMF Nos. 2, 17, 32, 47, 62.)  Individual Defendants did not know of or have reason to know of any alleged dangerous condition in restroom number 330 at LAX at the time of Plaintiff’s January 31, 2017 slip-and-fall.  (UMF Nos. 4, 19, 34, 49, 64.)

The Court finds Individual Defendants have met their burden in showing no act or omission of theirs created the dangerous condition.  Namely, Individual Defendants did not choose the flooring that Plaintiff slipped on.  Nor did Individual Defendants cause the puddle to exist on the floor or fail to clean it up through implementing deficient policies.  As such, the burden shifts to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff submits no evidence that contradicts Individual Defendants’ evidence offered in support of their argument that no act or omission of theirs caused the dangerous condition.  Rather, Plaintiff argues Individual Defendants had a duty to know of the Triplett matter based on California Government Code section 54956.9.  (Opposition, p. 8:7-8:9.)  The Court disagrees. The Brown Act, Government Code sections 54950, et seq. Requires all meetings of a legislative body to be open and public.  Government Code section 54956.9, subdivision (a) merely provides an exception to this general rule and permits to hold closed sessions to confer and obtain legal advise regarding pending litigation in certain contexts.  Subdivision (b) abrogates the lawyer-client privilege for purposes of Chapter 9.  Subdivision (c) defines “litigation.”  Subdivision (d) defines “pending litigation.”  Subdivision (e) defines “existing facts and circumstances” as used within subdivisions (d)(2)-(3).  Subdivision (f) reserves the retention of privileged communications not subject to California Public Records Act.  Subdivision (g) states requirements of local agencies’ legislative bodies’ prior to holding a closed session.  Subdivision (h) defines when a local agency is a “party” or has “significant exposure to litigation.” 54956.9 does not mandate any such meetings, and certainly does not mandate that the LAWA Board of Directors inform themselves of all the details of all litigation pending against LAWA.  

Accordingly, Plaintiff has offered no evidence suggesting the Individual Defendants had either actual or constructive notice that the floor upon which Plaintiff fell could become slippery when wet.  Nor has Plaintiff offered any evidence that any of the individual Defendants were involved in selecting the floor tile.  Accordingly, summary judgment is properly granted.

CONCLUSION

Individual Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

Counsel for Individual Defendants is ordered to give notice of this ruling.

The parties are directed to the header of this tentative ruling for further instructions.

Demurrer and Motion to Strike

Having considered the moving, opposing, and reply papers,  the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff (“Plaintiff”) Ronald Green filed this action against Defendant Los Angeles World Airports (“Defendant LAWA”) on August 1, 2017, alleging a single cause of action for negligence arising from a January 31, 2017, slip and fall on Defendant’s premises.

Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on January 29, 2018, against unnamed  employees and/or independent contractors hired by Defendant LAWA for the purpose of performing the cleaning, maintenance, construction, and/or inspection of the restrooms in the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.

On June 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint to allege punitive damages and name Defendants, Michael Christensen, Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Deborah Flint, Samson Mengistu, Ryan Yakubik, and LAWA.

Plaintiff filed the a third amended complaint (“TAC”) on January 9, 2020 to allege additional facts and name Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Deborah Flint, Samson Mengistu, Ryan Yakubik (collectively “Individual Defendants”), and LAWA.

On March 4, 2020, Defendants LAWA and Individual Defendants (collectively “Defendants”) filed a filed a demurrer to the complaint pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10 and a motion to strike portions of the complaint pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 435.

On March 18, 2020, the Court continued the hearings on the demurrer and motion to strike to April 29, 2020.

On April 15, 2020, the Court continued the hearings on the demurrer and motion to strike to July 10, 2020.

Trial is set for September 1, 2020.

PARTIES REQUESTS

In the demurrer, Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s claim for dangerous condition/negligence is not pleaded with the particularity necessary to allege claims against a public entity.

In the motion to strike, Defendants move to strike the prayer for punitive damages from the TAC.

LEGAL STANDARD

A. Meet and Confer

Before filing a demurrer or motion to strike, the demurring and moving party is required to meet and confer with the party who filed the pleading sought to be stricken or demurred to, in person or telephonically, for the purposes of determining whether an agreement can be reached through a filing of an amended pleading that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer and motion to strike.  (Code of Civ. Proc., §§ 430.41, 435.5.)

B. Demurrer

A demurrer for sufficiency tests whether the complaint states a cause of action.  (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747.)  When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context.  (Taylor v. City of Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 1216, 1228.)  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.”  (SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 902, 905.)  “The only issue involved in a demurrer hearing is whether the complaint, as it stands, unconnected with extraneous matters, states a cause of action.”  (Hahn, supra, 147 Cal.App.4th at p. 747.)

C. Motion to Strike

Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading may serve and file a notice of motion to strike the whole or any part thereof. (Code Civ. Proc., § 435, subd. (b)(1); Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1322, subd. (b).)  The court may, upon a motion or at any time in its discretion and upon terms it deems proper: (1) strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading; or (2) strike out all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of California, a court rule, or an order of the court. (Code Civ. Proc., § 436, subd. (a)-(b); Stafford v. Shultz (1954) 42 Cal.2d 767, 782 [“[m]atter in a pleading which is not essential to the claim is surplusage; probative facts are surplusage and may be stricken out or disregarded”].)

DISCUSSION

The Court initially notes that reply papers had be filed and personally served on July 2, 2020, at the latest, to conform with the mandates of California Code of Civil Procedure section 1005.  No reply papers were timely filed and served.  The Court exercises its discretion in refusing to consider any late reply papers pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1300, subdivision (d).

  1. Meet and Confer

The Court finds Defendants have filed a code-compliant meet and confer declaration.  (Kabani Decl., ¶ 3.)

  1. Demurrer

Defendants demur to the Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) on the ground that it is not pled with sufficient particularity to be maintained against Defendant LAWA as a public entity, nor does it state facts sufficient to maintain a claim against Individual Defendants

As to LAWA, the court finds that the TAC states a cause of action against LAWA.

California Government Code section 835 provides,

“Except as provided by statute, a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of its property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and that either:

(a)

(b)

California Government Code section 835 provides,

“(a)

(b)

(1)

(2)

The TAC alleges these elements.  Paragraph 73 alleges that LAWA owns/is responsible for maintaining the premises on which the plaintiff alleges he fell.  Paragraph 74 alleges LAWA failed to properly maintain the premises.  Paragraph 75 alleges there was a dangerous condition on the premises presented by wet floor tiles and that LAWA knew or should have known of this dangerous condition sufficiently in advance of Plaintiff’s injury so as to correct it.  Paragraph 79 alleges LAWA knew or should have known that its inspection system for the premises was inadequate.  Paragraph 80 alleges that LAWA had no written inspection policy for the location.  Accordingly, as to LAWA, the demurrer to the TAC is OVERRULED.

The court finds that the demurrer to the TAC by the Individual Defendants is moot in light of the court’s granting summary judgment in their favor.  

  1. Motion to Strike

Defendants move to strike portions of Plaintiff’s TAC pertaining to Plaintiff’s request for punitive damages. 

In order to state a prima facie claim for punitive damages, a complaint must set forth the elements as stated in the general punitive damage statute, Civil Code section 3294.  (College Hospital, Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 721.) These statutory elements include allegations that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud or malice.  (Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (a).)

“Malice is defined in the statute as conduct 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.” (College Hospital, Inc., supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 725 [examining Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (c)(1)].) “A conscious disregard of the safety of others may constitute malice within the meaning of section 3294 of the Civil Code. In order to justify an award of punitive damages on this basis, the plaintiff must 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 v. Superior Court (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890, 895-896.)

“As amended to include [despicable], the statute plainly indicates that absent an intent to injure the plaintiff, ‘malice’ requires more than a ‘willful and conscious’ disregard of the plaintiffs’ interests.  The additional component of ‘despicable conduct’ must be found.” (College Hospital, Inc., supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 725.) The statute’s reference to despicable conduct represents a “new substantive limitation on punitive damage awards.” (Ibid.) Despicable conduct is “conduct which is so vile, base, contemptible, miserable, wretched or loathsome that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary decent people. Such conduct has been described as ‘having the character of outrage frequently associated with crime.’” (Tomaselli v. Transamerica Ins. Co. (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 1269, 1287.)

“In order to survive a motion to strike an allegation of punitive damages, the ultimate facts showing an entitlement to such relief must be pled by a plaintiff.  [Citations.]  In passing on the correctness of a ruling on a motion to strike, judges read allegations of a pleading subject to a motion to strike as a whole, all parts in their context, and assume their truth.  [Citations.]  In ruling on a motion to strike, courts do not read allegations in isolation.  [Citation.]”  (Clauson v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 1253, 1255.) “The mere allegation an intentional tort was committed is not sufficient to warrant an award of punitive damages. [Citation.] Not only must there be circumstances of oppression, fraud or malice, but facts must be alleged in the pleading to support such a claim.  [Citation.]”  (Grieves v. Superior Court (1984) 157 Cal.App.3d 159, 166 [footnote omitted].)

Public entities are not liable for punitive damages.  (Gov. Code, § 818.)  Accordingly, punitive damages are properly stricken as to Defendant LAWA.

As to the Individual Defendants, the court finds the motion to strike is moot in light of the court’s granting summary judgment in their favor.  

CONCLUSION

Defendant, LAWAs demurrer to the Third Amended Complaint is OVERRULED. 

Defendant, LAWAs motion to strike punitive damages from the Third Amended Complaint is GRANTED.

As to the Individual Defendants, the Demurrer and Motion to Strike are moot.

Defendants are ordered to give notice of this ruling.

The parties are directed to the header of this tentative ruling for further instructions.

Case Number: BC669933    Hearing Date: March 10, 2020    Dept: 28

Motion to Continue Trial and Related Dates

Having considered the moving papers, the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

This action was filed on August 1, 2017. (“TAC”) by Plaintiff Ronald Green (“Plaintiff”) was filed on January 9, 2020 against Defendants Los Angeles World Airports, Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Deborah Flint, Samson Mengistu, and Ryan Yakubiks (“Defendants”) for dangerous condition of public property (negligence).

On January 31, 2020, the Court denied Defendants’ ex parte application to continue trial. 

On February 7, 2020, Defendants filed the instant motion to continue trial.

On February 13, 2020, the Court denied Defendants’ ex parte application to shorten time and advance the hearing on their motion to continue trial.

Trial is set for June 1, 2020.

PARTYS REQUESTS

Defendants ask the Court to continue trial to September 1, 2020 and all related dates for good cause.

LEGAL STANDARD

Pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332, subdivision (a), “[t]o ensure the prompt disposition of civil cases, the dates assigned for a trial are firm.  All parties and their counsel must regard the date set for trial as certain.”  Under California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332, subdivision (b), “[a] party seeking a continuance of the date set for trial, whether contested or uncontested or stipulated to by the parties, must make the request for a continuance by a noticed motion or an ex parte application under the rules in chapter 4 of this division, with supporting declarations.  The party must make the motion or application as soon as reasonably practical once the necessity for the continuance is discovered.”

California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332, subdivision (c) states that “[a]lthough continuances of trials are disfavored, each request for a continuance must be considered on its own merits.  The court may grant a continuance only on an affirmative showing of good cause requiring the continuance.”  California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332, subdivision (d) sets forth factors that are relevant in determining whether to grant a continuance.

California Code of Civil Procedure section 2024.050 allows a court to grant leave to complete discovery proceedings.  In doing so, a court shall consider matters relevant to the leave requested, including, but not limited to: (1) the necessity of the discovery, (2) the diligence in seeking the discovery or discovery motion, (3) the likelihood of interference with the trial calendar or prejudice to a party, and (4) the length of time that has elapsed between previous trial dates.  (Code Civ. Proc. § 2024.050.)

DISCUSSION

Defendants argue there is good cause to continue trial because (1) the case is not at issue until after Defendants’ demurrer and motion to strike hearing, (2) individual Defendants are new parties to the litigation as they were only added in July 2019, (3) Plaintiff filed the TAC on January 9, 2020, (4) Defendants must file and serve a Motion for Summary Judgment by February 14, 2020 based on the current trial date and Defendants cannot competently prepare the motion without knowing what will be at issue.  

The Court finds that Defendants have not shown good cause to continue the trial date.  Continuances are disfavored, and Defendants have not presented sufficient evidence to this Court.  Defendants do not provide a declaration setting forth any evidence of good cause but provide arguments in their moving papers.  Significantly, the bulk of Defendants argument relies on the fact that there is insufficient time for the individual Defendants to adequately prepare their Motion for Summary Judgment.  However, the Court file reflects that such motion was timely filed and is calendared for hearing on April 30, 2020.  Thus, there does not appear to be any issue regarding necessity of discovery and Defendants do not offer any other justification for the request.

CONCLUSION

The motion is DENIED.

Defendants are ordered to give notice of this ruling.

Case Number: BC669933    Hearing Date: December 17, 2019    Dept: 4A

Motion for Undertaking in the amount of $12,696.50

Having considered the moving, opposing, and reply papers, the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff Ronald Green (“Plaintiff”) filed his initial complaint against Defendant Los Angeles World Airports alleging negligence for a slip-and-fall that occurred on January 31, 2017.

On January 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint to include allegations against unnamed employees and/or independent contractors hired by Defendant Los Angeles World Airports for the purpose of performing the cleaning, maintenance, construction, and/or inspection of the restrooms in the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.

On June 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint (“SAC”) to allege punitive damages and name individuals Michael Christensen (“Christensen”), Sean O. Burton (“Burton”), Cynthia Guidry (“Guidry”), Deborah Flint (“Flint”), Samson Mengistu (“Mengistu”), and Ryan Yakubik (“Yakubik”) as defendants.

On October 7, 2019, the Court dismissed claims against Defendant Christensen without prejudice.

Plaintiff’s operative pleading is the second amended complaint (“SAC”) and is against Defendants Los Angeles World Airports, Burton, Guidry, Flint, Mengistu, and Yakubik (collectively “Defendants”).

Plaintiff alleges that, on January 31, 2017, he slipped and fell on water after he washed his hands in a restroom at Los Angeles International Airport (“LAX”). (SAC ¶¶ 8, 23, 26.) Plaintiff further alleges that at the time of the incident, Burton was President of the Board of Commissioners of Los Angeles World Airports (“Board”), Guidry was the Deputy Executive Director of the Planning and Development Group on the Board, Flint was the Chief Executive Officer on the Board, Mengistu was the Chief Operating Officer on the Board, and Yakubik was the Deputy Executive Director on the Board. (SAC ¶¶ 13-17.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants had actual inquiry and/or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition in the LAX restrooms because the condition “existed for a sufficient period of time, and was of such an obvious nature that Defendants, in the exercise of due care, should have discovered the dangerous character of said condition and taken reasonable measures to make said condition safe.” (SAC ¶ 67.)

Trial is set for June 1, 2020.

PARTIES’ REQUESTS

Defendants ask the Court to set an undertaking in the amount of $12,696.50 to secure an award of costs because Plaintiff resides out of state and there is a reasonable possibility that Defendants will prevail.

Plaintiff opposes.

JUDICIAL NOTICE

Plaintiff requests the Court take judicial notice of (1) an unspecified document from Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC518329, Triplett v. Los Angeles World Airport, filed on August 14, 2013; (2) documents supporting Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend; and (3) all documents supporting Plaintiff’s opposition to the motion for summary judgment.

Defendants do not oppose this request.

The existence and legal effect of these documents are judicially noticeable; reasonably disputable assertions of fact contained therein are not. (Evid. Code, § 452, subd. (c).)

LEGAL STANDARD

Where a plaintiff in an action resides out of the state, the defendant may, at any time, apply to the court for an order requiring the plaintiff to file an undertaking to secure an award of costs and attorney’s fees which may be awarded in the action. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1030, subd. (a).) The motion shall be made on grounds that the plaintiff resides out of the state and there is a reasonable possibility that the moving defendant will obtain judgment in their favor. (Id., subd. (b).) The motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit in support of the grounds for the motion and setting forth the nature and amount of costs and attorney’s fees the defendant has incurred and expects to incur. (Id., subd. (b).) “The purpose of [Code of Civil Procedure section 1030] is to enable a California resident sued by an out-of-state resident to secure costs in light of the difficulty of enforcing a judgment for costs against a person who is not within the court’s jurisdiction.” (Alshafie v. Lallande (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 421, 428.)

The moving party is not required to show there is no possibility that an out-of-state plaintiff could win at trial. Rather, the moving party is required to show only that it was reasonably possible that they would win. (Baltayan v. Estate of Getemyan (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 1427, 1432.)

If the motion is granted, the plaintiff shall file the undertaking no later than 30 days after service of the court’s order requiring it, and if plaintiff fails to file the undertaking within the time allowed, the plaintiff’s action shall be dismissed as to the moving defendant. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1030, subd. (d).)

DISCUSSION

Whether Plaintiff resides in California

Defendant argues that the Plaintiff does not reside in California. Plaintiff concedes this issue, claiming he resides in Georgia. (Mitchell Decl. ¶ 1.) Therefore, the Court concludes Plaintiff is an out-of-state resident for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure section 1030.

Whether Defendants have shown they have a reasonable possibility of prevailing

Defendants argue that they have a reasonable possibility of prevailing.

As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that its denial of Defendants’ summary judgment motion does not show that Defendants could not prevail in this action. That motion involved a different standard inapplicable here.

First, Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s operative SAC is based upon false assumptions. Specifically, Defendants argue that Plaintiff improperly compares his own fall with a separate accident by Lori Triplett, who slipped and fell in a different restroom in a different terminal that uses different tiles. (Brault Decl. ¶¶ 4-6.) Therefore, Defendants argue that the jury verdict in the Triplett case could not put Defendants on notice that every restroom in the airport was unreasonably slippery. Additionally, the Triplett verdict could not serve as collateral estoppel because it was vacated and thus is not a final judgment.

In response, Plaintiff argues that Defendants do not submit persuasive evidence that the two bathrooms are different because the submitted declaration does not include a statement that Defendants’ expert actually saw the bathroom tile in the Triplett case to compare it to the tile in this case.

The Court disagrees with Plaintiff. There is no requirement that Defendants’ expert inspect the bathroom tiles in the Triplett case to state an opinion that they are different from the ones involved in Plaintiff’s fall. Defendants’ expert is permitted to make such declaration based on his review of expert reports, specifications, and pictures.

It is further unclear how Plaintiff can demonstrate actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition using the Triplett case. The airport is a large facility and the bathrooms were different and in different locations. Therefore, Defendants have a reasonable possibility of prevailing on the issue of whether they had notice that the floor tiles where Plaintiff fell were unreasonably slippery. While a jury could conclude that defendant did have notice, the Court cannot say that there is no reasonable possibility that Defendants will prevail, and that is the standard to use here.

Additionally, the Court further notes that Plaintiff does not explain how the Triplett case would implicate the individual defendants in this action, so at a minimum, Plaintiff should post an undertaking as to the individual defendants.

While Defendants make additional arguments in support of their motion, the Court does not find them persuasive, as explained below.

Defendants argue that Plaintiff failed to comply with the Government Claims Act in naming the individual defendants to the claim.

The Court has already rejected this argument in this case. Plaintiff’s claim substantially complied with the statutory requirement, identifying the date of injury (January 31, 2017), location (men’s restroom at Terminal 3, Gate 30), and general circumstances (slipped and fell). Plaintiff’s claim did have some errors, but the Court will not revisit its previous findings involving substantial compliance. Given that the purpose of the statute is to provide the public entity with sufficient information to adequately investigate claims and settle them, Plaintiff’s Government Code claim is liberally construed and its inconsistency does not preclude Plaintiff from bringing more specific allegations claiming civil liability for Defendants’ omissions that arose at the same time and involved the agents of the same entity defendant described in Plaintiff’s government claim.

Next, Defendants argue that the individual defendants are immune from suit and punitive damages. The Court struck Plaintiff’s prayer for punitive damages with leave to amend. However, it is unclear why Plaintiff’s stricken prayer should undercut the force of Plaintiff’s entire case, since she has other claims that survived this ruling.

Finally, Defendants argue that Restroom 330 was not negligently maintained. However, the Court does not find that Defendants have submitted sufficient evidence to show a reasonable possibility of prevailing on that issue. The photograph of the scene of the incident was taken at least 25 minutes after the incident and the conditions changed enough (i.e., water dried) that the Court cannot find that Defendants have shown a reasonable possibility of prevailing on that point.

Amount of undertaking

Defendants request an undertaking in the amount of $12,696.50.

Defendants provide proof that they anticipate the costs to total $27,696.50 (Kabani Decl. ¶ 5.) The Court notes that this projection includes the amount of expenses incurred thus far as well as those anticipated in the future. Therefore, Defendants’ estimate might be too high. Nevertheless, Plaintiff does not oppose the requested amount and it otherwise appears reasonable.

According, the Court finds the amount of $12,696.50 to be reasonable.

CONCLUSION

The Court GRANTS Defendants’ motion and sets an undertaking in the amount of $12,696.50.

Plaintiff is ordered to post this undertaking within 30 days of service of this order.

Defendants are ordered to give notice of this ruling.

Case Number: BC669933    Hearing Date: December 13, 2019    Dept: 4A

Demurrer with a Motion to Strike (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 430.10; 435, et seq.)

Having considered the demurring, moving, opposing, and reply papers, the Court rules as follows.

Defendants’ demurrer is OVERRULED as to Plaintiff’s sole cause of action for negligence for damages [Civ. Code § 3333] for personal injuries against a public entity and employees based on tortious acts of employees within scope of employment [Gov. Code § 815.2].

Defendants’ motion to strike punitive damages from the second amended complaint is GRANTED with leave to amend.

BACKGROUND

On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff Ronald Green (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant Los Angeles World Airports alleging negligence for a slip-and-fall that occurred on January 31, 2017.

On January 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint to include allegations against unnamed employees and/or independent contractors hired by defendant Los Angeles World Airports for the purpose of performing the cleaning, maintenance, construction, and/or inspection of the restrooms in the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.

On June 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint (“SAC”) to allege punitive damages and name individuals Michael Christensen (“Christensen”), Sean O. Burton (“Burton”), Cynthia Guidry (“Guidry”), Deborah Flint (“Flint”), Samson Mengistu (“Mengistu”), and Ryan Yakubik (“Yakubik”) as defendants.

On October 7, 2019, the Court dismissed defendant Christensen without prejudice.

On October 7, 2019, Defendants Burton, Guidry, Flint, Mengistu, and Yakubik (collectively, “Defendants”) filed a demurrer to the SAC pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10 and a motion to strike punitive damages from the SAC pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 435, et seq.

Trial is set for June 1, 2020.

PARTIES’ REQUESTS

Defendants ask the Court to sustain their demurrer to the SAC arguing that it does not allege compliance with the Government Claims Act.

Defendants also ask the Court to grant their motion to strike because there is no basis for punitive damages alleged in the SAC.

Plaintiff opposes the demurrer on the grounds that the Government Claim filed in this case gave Defendants sufficient notice and that Defendants waived their defense as to the sufficiency of the claim. Moreover, Plaintiff’s premises liability claim against a public entity includes claims against employees of the agent under Section 835 of the Government Claims Act. Although Plaintiff incorrectly stated that the location of the incident was “sidewalk,” his claim substantially complied with the Government Claims Act because he notified the correct entity and elsewhere in his Government Claim he stated that he slipped in the men’s restroom.

Plaintiff also opposes the motion to strike because employees of government entities are not immune from punitive damages because they did not exercise discretion when their acts or omissions led to the airport bathrooms to maintain inappropriate polished ceramic floor tiles. Plaintiff also argues that Defendants’ omissions after they knew the polished ceramic floor tiles were unsafe evince oppression, fraud, or malice and warrant punitive damages.

ANALYSIS

  1. REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

  1. Defendants’ Requests

The court “may take judicial notice of the fact of a document’s recordation, the date the document was recorded and executed, the parties to the transaction reflected in a recorded document, and the document’s legally operative language…. From this, the court may deduce and rely upon the legal effect of the recorded document, when that effect is clear from its face.” (Fontenot v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 256, 265, disapproved on other grounds by Yvanova v. New Century Mortg. Corp. (2016) 62 Cal.4th 919, 939.)

Defendants request judicial notice of the following documents attached as exhibits A through C to Zeeshan Kabani’s Declaration in support of Defendants’ request for judicial notice:

  1. Plaintiff Ronald Green’s government claim for damages;

  2. The complaint from Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC518329, Triplett v. Los Angeles World Airport, filed on August 14, 2013; and

  3. The jury verdict from Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC518329, Triplett v. Los Angeles World Airport, filed on August 14, 2013.

The existence and legal effect of these documents are judicially noticeable; reasonably disputable assertions of fact contained therein are not. (Evid. Code, § 452, subd. (c).)

  1. LEGAL STANDARD

  1. Meet and Confer

Before filing a demurrer or motion to strike, the demurring and moving party is required to meet and confer with the party who filed the pleading sought to be stricken or demurred to, in person or telephonically, for the purposes of determining whether an agreement can be reached through a filing of an amended pleading that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer and motion to strike. (See Code of Civ. Proc. §§ 430.41, 435.5.)

  1. Demurrer

A demurrer for sufficiency tests whether the complaint states a cause of action. (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747.) When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context. (Taylor v. City of Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 1216, 1228.) 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.” (SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 902, 905.) “The only issue involved in a demurrer hearing is whether the complaint, as it stands, unconnected with extraneous matters, states a cause of action.” (Hahn, supra, 147 Cal.App.4th at p. 747.)

  1. Motion to Strike

    Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading may serve and file a notice of motion to strike the whole or any part thereof. (Code of Civ. Proc. § 435, subd. (b)(1); Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1322, subd. (b).) The court may, upon a motion or at any time in its discretion and upon terms it deems proper: (1) strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading; or (2) strike out all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of California, a court rule, or an order of the court. (Code Civ. Proc. § 436, subd. (a)-(b); Stafford v. Shultz (1954) 42 Cal.2d 767, 782 [“Matter in a pleading which is not essential to the claim is surplusage; probative facts are surplusage and may be stricken out or disregarded”].)

  2. Leave to Amend

“Plaintiff must show in what manner he can amend his complaint and how that amendment will change the legal effect of his pleading.” (Goodman v. Kennedy (1976) 18 Cal.3d 335, 349.)

  1. DISCUSSION

  1. Meet and Confer

As the Court noted in its ruling on Defendants’ demurrer and motion to strike on November 15, 2019, Defendants initially failed to file sufficient meet and confer declarations. Defendants’ attorney attests that he attempted to meet and confer with Plaintiff’s counsel by sending a meet and confer letter and emailing Plaintiff’s counsel. (Both Declarations of Zeeshan Kabani, ¶¶ 2-3, Exh. A-B.) The Court ordered Defendants to file a code-complaint meet and confer letter prior to December 7, 2019.

On December 4, 2019, Defendants filed a supplemental meet and confer declaration. Defendants’ counsel attests that she met and conferred with Plaintiff’s counsel telephonically on November 25, 2019. (Kabani Decl., ¶ 4.) Although Defendants’ counsel does not state that the parties were unable to reach an agreement, it can be inferred from the email memorializing the conversation that Plaintiff’s counsel continues to stand by the points raised in the opposition and the parties did not reach an informal resolution of any of the objections raised by Defendants’ demurrer. Thus, the Court proceeds to the merits of Defendants’ demurrer and motion to strike.

  1. Demurrer

  1. First Cause of Action: Negligence for Damages [Civ. Code § 3333] for Personal Injuries Against A Public Entity And Employees Based on Tortious Acts of Employees Within Scope of Employment [Gov. Code § 815.2]

Government Code section 945.4 provides that a written claim must be presented to the public entity and acted upon by the board before any lawsuit for money or damages may be brought against the public entity. (Govt. Code, § 945.4.) The claim must state the “‘date, place, and other circumstances of the occurrence or transaction which gave rise to the claim asserted’ and provide ‘[a] general description of the . . . injury, damage or loss incurred so far as it may be known at the time of presentation of the claim.’ ” (Stockett v. Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority (2004) 34 Cal.4th 441, 445 (Stockett); see Govt. Code, § 910.)

“[A] claim need not contain the detail and specificity required of a pleading, but need only ‘fairly describe what [the] entity is alleged to have done.’” (Stockett, supra, 34 Cal.4th at 446 (quoting Shoemaker v. Myers (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 1407, 1426).) Courts have found a complaint to be barred “[o]nly where there has been a ‘complete shift in allegations, usually involving an effort to premise civil liability on acts or omissions committed at different times or by different persons than those described in the claim.’” (Id. at 447.) “Where the complaint merely elaborates or adds further detail to a claim, but is predicated on the same fundamental actions or failures to act by the defendants, court have generally found the claim fairly reflects the facts pled in the complaint.” (Ibid.) “The purpose of these statutes is ‘to provide the public entity sufficient information to enable it to adequately investigate claims and to settle them, if appropriate, without the expense of litigation.’ ” (Id. at p. 446 (quoting City of San Jose v. Superior Court (1974) 12 Cal.3d 447, 455).)

Plaintiff alleges that, on January 31, 2017, he slipped and fell on water after he washed his hands in a restroom at Los Angeles International Airport (“LAX”). (SAC ¶¶ 8, 23, 26.) Plaintiff further alleges that at the time of the incident, Burton was President of the Board of Commissioners of Los Angeles World Airports (“Board”), Guidry was the Deputy Executive Director of the Planning and Development Group on the Board, Flint was the Chief Executive Officer on the Board, Mengistu was the Chief Operating Officer on the Board, and Yakubik was the Deputy Executive Director on the Board. (SAC ¶¶ 13-17.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants had actual inquiry and/or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition in the LAX restrooms because the condition “existed for a sufficient period of time, and was of such an obvious nature that Defendants, in the exercise of due care, should have discovered the dangerous character of said condition and taken reasonable measures to make said condition safe.” (SAC ¶ 67.) Plaintiff also alleges that he exhausted his administrative remedies by timely presenting a valid claim for damages to Defendant Los Angeles World Airports on March 7, 2017. (SAC ¶ 20.)

Defendant argues that this matter is governed by the Government Claims Act because it is brought against a public entity, Los Angeles World Airports. Defendants contend that Plaintiff’s claim was not compliant with Government Code section 910, et seq., because the claim states that the “particular ACT or OMISSION” claimed to have caused Plaintiff’s injury was that “Unknown City employees failed to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition.” (Kabani Decl. in Support of RJN, ¶ 2, Exh. A, “Plaintiff’s Government Claim for Damages,” p.2.)

Here, Plaintiff’s claim filed on March 1, 2017 states that the “DAMAGE or INJURY occur[ed]” when “client was walking in the men’s restroom, slipped and fell.” (Kabani Decl. in Support of RJN, ¶ 2, Exh. A, “Plaintiff’s Government Claim for Damages,” p.2.) The claim further specifies that the entity is the City of Los Angeles and that the date the injury was on January 31, 2017. (Ibid.) Although the claim itself is inconsistent in the description of the location of the fall (that is, the restroom versus the sidewalk), the claim is directed at the proper entity defendant (the City of Los Angeles) and fairly describes what the entity is alleged to have done because in the “where” portion of the form, Plaintiff specifies the location as “1 World Way, Los Angeles, CA 90045, Terminal 3 Gate 30, men’s restroom.” (Ibid.)

Moreover, the SAC is predicated on the same fundamental actions or failures to act as those alleged in the claim. Specifically, both the SAC and claim assert Defendants’ failure to maintain the men’s restroom located at LAX in a safe condition on January 31, 2017. (SAC ¶¶ 8, 23, 26, 66-70.) Given that the purpose of the statute is to provide the public entity with sufficient information to adequately investigate claims and settle them, Plaintiff’s government claim is liberally construed and its inconsistency does not preclude Plaintiff from bringing more specific allegations claiming civil liability for Defendants’ omissions that arose at the same time and involved the agents of the same entity defendant, the City of Los Angeles, described in Plaintiff’s government claim.

Thus, the Court overrules Defendants’ demurrer to Plaintiff’s sole cause of action for negligence for damages [Civ. Code § 3333] for personal injuries against a public entity and employees based on tortious acts of employees within scope of employment [Gov. Code § 815.2].

  1. Motion to Strike

  1. Punitive Damages

Defendants move to strike Plaintiff’s prayer for punitive damages on the grounds that (1) they are representatives of a public entity which is immune from punitive damages; (2) the Triplett case did not place them on notice.

  1. Public Entity Immunity from Punitive Damages

Public entities are not liable for punitive damages. (Gov. Code, § 818.) There is no such restriction, however, against seeking punitive damages from individual public employees. (Austin v. Regents of University of California (1979) 89 Cal.App.3d 354, 359.)

Contrary to Defendants’ contention, Plaintiff’s allegations do not only allege conscious wrongdoing on behalf of the Board, but rather each of the “Defendants,” defined in the SAC, which includes the individual Defendants Burton, Guidry, Flint, Mengistu, and Yakubik. (SAC ¶¶ 63-65.)

Therefore, Defendants’ motion to strike is denied on these grounds.

  1. The Triplett Case

Defendants request judicial notice of the complaint and jury verdict in Case No. BC518329, Triplett v. Los Angeles World Airport, in support of their argument that Defendants were not on notice of dangerous conditions in all LAX restrooms because the slip and fall incident in Triplett occurred in a different restroom with different tiling and did not place them on notice of any potential danger to Plaintiff and others at other LAX restrooms.

To the extent Defendants raise factual arguments beyond the pleadings, the Court declines to grant a motion to strike on the basis that another case could not have possibly placed Defendants on notice that their restrooms might pose risks to patrons.

Therefore, Defendants’ motion to strike may not be granted on these grounds.

  1. Pleading Standard – Specificity

Punitive damages may only be recovered in non-contract cases where “the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice.” (Civ. Code § 3294(a).) A prayer for punitive damages, thus, requires more than the mere commission of a tort. (Taylor v. Superior Court (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890, 894–895.) Specific facts must be pled in support of punitive damages. (Hillard v. A.H. Robins Co. (1983) 148 Cal.App.3d 374, 391-92.) Moreover, “[p]leading made on information and belief is insufficient if it ‘merely assert[s] the facts so alleged without alleging such information that “lead[s] [the plaintiff] to believe that the allegations are true.” ’ ” (Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 1149, 1158–1159 [affirming a trial court’s decision to sustain without leave to amend when Plaintiff conceded that “he would not be able to plead on information and belief, based on facts leading him to believe they were true.”])

Here, Plaintiff pleads, on information and belief, that Defendants discussed the litigation in which a different plaintiff successfully sued Los Angeles World Airports for a slip-and-fall that occurred in a restroom at LAX. (SAC ¶¶ 63-64.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants were reckless in failing to take action to maintain restrooms in a safe condition given their knowledge that these restroom floors were dangerously slippery. (SAC ¶ 65.) However, Plaintiff’s pleading on information and belief does not set forth facts leading him to believe that Defendants were advised of a dangerous condition in the restroom in which Plaintiff was allegedly injured. Plaintiff’s allegations that Defendants were reckless is conclusory and does not support allegations beyond the commission of a tort. Although Plaintiff’s sole cause of action for negligence is properly pled against Defendants, his additional allegations that Defendants were on actual notice of the dangerous conditions at all restrooms at LAX because of a meeting in which they were advised of a judgment against them does not meet the specificity requirements to plead a punitive damages claim. However, since the Court permits Plaintiff to go forward with his sole cause of action for negligence, he should be permitted, if he so desires, to amend those allegations by pleading such factual matter as he can properly plead to amplify the present inadequate pleading.

Therefore, Defendants’ motion to strike Plaintiff’s prayer for punitive damages is GRANTED on these grounds with 20 days’ leave to amend.

  1. CONCLUSION

Defendants’ demurrer is OVERRULED as to Plaintiff’s sole cause of action for negligence for damages [Civ. Code § 3333] for personal injuries against a public entity and employees based on tortious acts of employees within scope of employment [Gov. Code § 815.2].

Defendants’ motion to strike punitive damages from the second amended complaint is GRANTED with leave to amend.

Defendants are ordered to give notice of this ruling.

Case Number: BC669933    Hearing Date: November 15, 2019    Dept: 4A

Demurrer with Motion to Strike

Having considered the demurring, moving, opposing, and reply papers, the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff Ronald Green (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant Los Angeles World Airports alleging negligence for a slip-and-fall that occurred on January 31, 2017.

On June 16, 2019, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint, that was labelled as a second amended complaint, to allege punitive damages and name Defendants Michael Christensen, Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Debroah Flint, Samson Mengistu, and Ryan Yakubik as Defendants.

On June 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint (“SAC”).

On October 7, 2019, the Court dismissed Defendant Michael Christenson without prejudice.

On October 17, 2019, Defendants Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Debroah Flint, Samson Mengistu, and Ryan Yakubik filed a demurrer to the SAC pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10 and a motion to strike portions of the SAC pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 435.

Trial is set for January 4, 2021.

PARTIES’ REQUESTS

Defendants Sean O. Burton, Cynthia Guidry, Debroah Flint, Samson Mengistu, and Ryan Yakubik (“Demurring Defendants”) ask the Court to sustain their demurrer to the SAC arguing that it does not allege compliance with the Government Claims Act.

Demurring Defendants also ask the Court grant their motion to strike because there is no  basis for punitive damages alleged in the SAC.

LEGAL STANDARD

Meet and Confer

Before filing a demurrer or motion to strike, the demurring and moving party is required to meet and confer with the party who filed the pleading sought to be stricken or demurred to, in person or telephonically, for the purposes of determining whether an agreement can be reached through a filing of an amended pleading that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer and motion to strike. (See Code of Civ. Proc. §§ 430.41, 435.5.)

Demurrer

A demurrer for sufficiency tests whether the complaint states a cause of action. (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747.) When considering demurrers, courts read the allegations liberally and in context. (Taylor v. City of Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 1216, 1228.) 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.” (SKF Farms v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 902, 905.) “The only issue involved in a demurrer hearing is whether the complaint, as it stands, unconnected with extraneous matters, states a cause of action.” (Hahn, supra, 147 Cal.App.4th at p. 747.)

Motion to Strike

Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading may serve and file a notice of motion to strike the whole or any part thereof.  (Code of Civ. Proc. § 435, subd. (b)(1); Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1322, subd. (b).)  The court may, upon a motion or at any time in its discretion and upon terms it deems proper: (1) strike out any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading; or (2) strike out all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of California, a court rule, or an order of the court. 436, subd. (a)-(b); Stafford v. Shultz (1954) 42 Cal.2d 767, 782.)

DISCUSSION

Meet and Confer

The Court finds Demurring Defendants have failed to file sufficient meet and confer declarations.  Zeeshan Kabani attempted to meet and confer with Plaintiff’s counsel by sending a meet and confer letter and emailing Plaintiff’s counsel.  (Both Declarations of Zeeshan Kabani, ¶¶ 2-3, Exh. A-B.)  These are impermissible methods to meet and confer prior to filing a demurrer and a motion to strike.  The Code of Civil Procedure is clear that Demurring Defendants must meet and confer in person or telephonically, which has not been done.

The hearings on the demurrer and motion to strike are CONTINUED to December 13, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. in Department 4A of Spring Street Courthouse located at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California 90012.

Demurring Defendants are ordered to file a code-compliant meet and confer letter prior to 11:59 p.m. on December 6, 2019.

Demurring Defendants are ordered to give notice of this ruling.