This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/14/2019 at 08:31:27 (UTC).

SANDRA BUTCHER VS THE CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS AND SCIENCE

Case Summary

On 11/21/2017 SANDRA BUTCHER filed a Labor - Wrongful Termination lawsuit against THE CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS AND SCIENCE. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4186

  • Filing Date:

    11/21/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Wrongful Termination

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

BUTCHER SANDRA

Defendants and Respondents

DOES 1 TO 100

CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS AND SCIENCES

Not Classified By Court

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PERMANENTE MEDICAL GROUP

KAISER FOUNDATION HOSPITALS INC.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

YUN EDWARD ESQ.

YUN EDWARD H ESQ.

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

LIEBERT CASSIDY WHITMORE

WHITMORE LIEBERT CASSIDY

 

Court Documents

Minute Order

7/19/2019: Minute Order

DECLARATION OF VICTORIA MCDERMOTT IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF?S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO SPECIAL INTERRXATORIES, SET ONE

9/4/2017: DECLARATION OF VICTORIA MCDERMOTT IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF?S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO SPECIAL INTERRXATORIES, SET ONE

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1) DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION IN VIOLATION OF THE FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING ACT; ETC.

2/9/2018: FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1) DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION IN VIOLATION OF THE FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING ACT; ETC.

[PROPOSED] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF SANDRA BUTCHER S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOH PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS TO DEFENDANT CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS AND SCIENCES, SET: ONE (I) NO.46 AND REQUE

8/31/2018: [PROPOSED] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF SANDRA BUTCHER S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOH PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS TO DEFENDANT CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS AND SCIENCES, SET: ONE (I) NO.46 AND REQUE

NOTICE RE: CONTINUANCE OF HEARING

8/31/2018: NOTICE RE: CONTINUANCE OF HEARING

Proof of Service

9/10/2018: Proof of Service

Opposition

10/9/2018: Opposition

Minute Order

10/23/2018: Minute Order

Separate Statement

12/7/2018: Separate Statement

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

12/31/2018: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Separate Statement

1/14/2019: Separate Statement

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

1/14/2019: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Minute Order

1/31/2019: Minute Order

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

3/8/2019: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

Declaration

4/5/2019: Declaration

Proof of Service by Mail

4/24/2019: Proof of Service by Mail

Proof of Personal Service

4/29/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Notice

5/7/2019: Notice

104 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/07/2020
  • Hearingat 09:00 AM in Department 61 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 03/30/2020
  • Hearingat 09:00 AM in Department 61 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 01/30/2020
  • Hearingat 09:00 AM in Department 61 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Post-Mediation Status Conference

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  • 01/30/2020
  • Hearingat 09:00 AM in Department 61 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment

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  • 07/19/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 61; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (to Continue MSJ, Trial, and related dates) - Held

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  • 07/19/2019
  • DocketNotice (of Continuance of Hearing on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment); Filed by Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, (Defendant)

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  • 07/19/2019
  • DocketNotice (of Errata Re Declaration of Suzanne Mathews Filed in Support of MSJ); Filed by Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, (Defendant)

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  • 07/19/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Ex Parte Application to Continue MSJ, Trial, and r...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/19/2019
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, (Defendant)

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  • 07/18/2019
  • DocketOpposition (to Plaintiff's Ex Parte Application for Trial Continuance); Filed by Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, (Defendant)

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163 More Docket Entries
  • 12/04/2017
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/04/2017
  • DocketNOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 12/04/2017
  • DocketORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING

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  • 12/04/2017
  • DocketOSC-Failure to File Proof of Serv; Filed by Clerk

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  • 11/21/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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  • 11/21/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1) DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION IN VIOLATION OF THE FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING ACT; ETC

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  • 11/21/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Sandra Butcher (Plaintiff)

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  • 09/04/2017
  • DocketDEFENDANT CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS ANI) SCIENCES OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO SPICIAL INTENROGATORIES, SET ONE (1) NOS. 46- 51, AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS

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  • 09/04/2017
  • DocketDECLARATION OF VICTORIA MCDERMOTT IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO SPECIAL INTERRXATORIES, SET ONE

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  • 09/04/2017
  • DocketDEFENDANT CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS AND SCIENCES SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO SPECIAL ENTERROGATORTES, SET ONE (1) NOS. 46- 51

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC684186    Hearing Date: December 11, 2019    Dept: 61

Defendant The Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences’s Motion to Quash Deposition Subpoenas is GRANTED in part, and the subpoenaed parties are not to produce tax returns. The motion is otherwise DENIED. No sanctions are awarded.

I. MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA

“If a subpoena requires the attendance of a witness or the production of books, documents, electronically stored information, or other things before a court, or at the trial of an issue therein, or at the taking of a deposition, the court, upon motion reasonably made by any person described in subdivision (b), or upon the court's own motion after giving counsel notice and an opportunity to be heard, may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders. In addition, the court may make any other order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 1987.1, subd. (a).) A party may bring a motion under this section. (Code Civ. Proc. § 1987.1, subd. (b)(1).)

Crossroads moves to quash four subpoenas served upon four nonparties to this case: Marts & Lundy, the schools outside fundraising consultant; Stanislawski & Harrison, Inc., the school’s tax auditors for the 2014–2015 tax audit; Clifton, Larson, Allen, which acquired Stanislawski; and Armanino LLP, the school’s current tax auditor. (Motion at pp. 7–8.)

The subpoenas each contain 23 requests for documents which may be categorized as follows: (1) all documents or communications relating to Crossroads, without limitation (Nos. 1–2); (2) all documents and communications relating to audits from the years 2014 through 2017 (Nos. 3–10); (3) documents and communications relating to Butcher (Nos. 11–18); (4) documents reflecting the laws applicable to the aforementioned audits of Crossroads (Nos. 19–22); and (5) communications with the IRS regarding Crossroads. (Kim Decl. Exhs. A–D.)

Crossroads argues that the subpoenas seek privileged tax-related material, that they impinge on its privacy rights and the rights of third-parties, and that the documents cannot be authenticated. (Motion at pp. 11–14.)

Crossroads’s privilege argument may be addressed first. By requesting all documents related to Crossroads from its financial auditors, and for communications to the IRS from the same, the requests facially call for the production of tax returns of same lie in the possession of the subpoenaed entities.[1] Tax returns have been held privileged against discovery in order to encourage that returns be filed and the information contained therein be truthful. (See Sav-On Drugs, Inc. v. Superior Court (1975) 15 Cal.3d 1, 5–6.) Although Butcher argues that the privilege does not apply when “a public policy greater than that of confidentiality of tax returns is involved,” Butcher neglects to mention that “this exception has been narrowly construed,” and cannot be invoked by a mere showing that the tax returns contain relevant information. (Schnabel v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 704, 721; see also Weingarten v. Superior Court (2002) 102 Cal.App.4th 268, 274–75.)

Butcher also argues that Crossroads waived the privilege by giving the returns to these auditors. (Opposition at p. 6.) But the disclosure of returns to a third party who is helping the privilege holder to prepare those returns does not waive the privilege. (See Fortunato v. Superior Court (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 475, 480–81 [holding that tax return privilege was not waived when returns were submitted to a bank for a loan application].)

However, the court has no basis to conclude that the privilege extends beyond the returns themselves and the information that Crossroads entered on the returns. (See Sav-On Drugs, Inc., supra, 15 Cal.3d at p. 7 [holding that tax returns were privileged, and party could not get around privilege by “seek[ing] information concerning specific entries in the return”].) Crossroads has presented no evidence or argument as to why the privilege should extend to documents merely “related” to the privileged returns which may be in the possession of the subpoenaed parties. (Motion at p. 12; see Deary v. Superior Court (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 1072, 1082 [declining to hold that tax return privilege applied to “related” documents when party made “no effort to identify the allegedly protected documents, or explain with legal argument and pertinent authority why the tax return privilege should be extended to those materials”].) Since a party asserting a privilege bears “the burden of establishing the preliminary facts necessary to support its exercise,” Crossroads has failed to establish that the privilege applies to all documents “related” to its returns, and the motion will not be quashed or modified for that reason. (Citizens for Ceres v. Superior Court (2013) 217 Cal.app.4th 889, 911.)

Crossroads next argues that the documents implicate privacy concerns, both for itself and for third-party donors and their financial information. (Motion at pp. 13–14.) In determining whether privacy interests warrant restricting discovery, the court must perform a balancing of interests: “If there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and the invasion of privacy is serious, then the court must balance the privacy interest at stake against other competing or countervailing interests, which include the interest of the requesting party, fairness to the litigants in conducting the litigation, and the consequences of granting or restricting access to the information.” (Puerto v. Superior Court (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 1242, 1251.) Individuals possess a right of privacy in their financial information. (See Hecht, Solberg, Robinson & Bagley LLP v. Superior Court (2006) 137 Cal.app.4th 579, 593–94 [“The right to privacy in disclosure of financial information affects the scope of discovery.”].)

Crossroads and its third-party donors do possess a limited privacy interest in their financial information, which these subpoenas substantially impinge. But countervailing factors militate against quashing the subpoenas here. First, Butcher sues in part to prove that Crossroads retaliated against her for complaints that “CROSSROADS was engaging in activities that violated California and Federal [laws] . . . stating that any person or organization will not attempt to evade assessment or payment of taxes, or to provide false, erroneous, or misrepresented information regarding the monetary value or deductibility of contributions to charitable organizations by Donor-Advised Funds or other entities.” (FAC ¶ 166.) The information in the audits for the years sought will produce discoverable information regarding the truth or falsity of this allegation. Thus good cause supports these document requests. Moreover, Butcher was already privy by her employment to Crossroads’s donation information, if not to the precise documents at issue in these subpoenas, and the stipulated protective order already in place ensures that private financial information will not be disseminated to the wider public. Accordingly, privacy concerns do not warrant quashing the subpoenas here.

Crossroads also argues that the records sought cannot be authenticated by the subpoenaed parties under Evidence Code § 1561, which requires the custodian of the records to affirm that the records were prepared by personnel of the business. (Motion at p. 14.) Evidence Code § 1561 requires that the custodian of the records sought produce an affidavit stating that the records were prepared in the ordinary course of business at or near the time of the event described. (Evid. Code § 1561, subd. (3).) It has been held that a party who cannot make that attestation need not comply with the subpoena because they are “not a custodian of the records sought.” (Cooley v. Superior Court (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1046.) However, that case involved a circumstance in which the nonparty subject to the subpoena presented an uncontradicted declaration that it “did not prepare or generate any of the documents covered by the [subpoena].” (Id. at p. 1045.) Here, Crossroads presents no such declaration, but relies upon the supposition that certain of the documents requested were not prepared by the subpoenaed parties. (Opposition at p. 13.) The court cannot determine by reference to the subpoenas and their categories that the documents sought were not prepared by the subpoenaed parties. Accordingly, this argument provides no basis to quash the subpoena.

Accordingly, Crossroads’s Motion to Quash is GRANTED in part, and the subpoenaed parties are not to produce tax returns. The Motion is otherwise DENIED.

II. SANCTIONS

The court has discretion to award reasonable attorneys’ fees in favor of a party who prevails on a motion to quash or compel compliance with a subpoena under Code of Civil Procedure § 1987.1. (Code Civ. Proc. § 1987.2, subd. (a).)

Both parties here seek sanctions against the other. Sanctions on such motions to quash are discretionary. Because the motion has been granted and denied in part, no sanctions are awarded.


[1] Butcher is unclear as to whether she wishes tax returns to be produced with these subpoenas. In prior meet-and-confer correspondence she stated that she was not seeking tax returns (Opposition at p. 3), but in her opposition she states that the subpoenas ask third-party auditors to produce Crossroads’s tax returns. (Opposition at pp. 6–7.)