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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/15/2019 at 09:37:23 (UTC).

SARA VARES AUGUSTO VS LA COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANS AUTHORITY

Case Summary

On 11/13/2017 SARA VARES AUGUSTO filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against LA COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANS AUTHORITY. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is CHRISTOPHER K. LUI. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****3243

  • Filing Date:

    11/13/2017

  • 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 Judge

CHRISTOPHER K. LUI

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

AUGUSTO SARA VARES

Defendants and Respondents

EL SEGUNDO CITY OF

WALSH/SHEA CORRIDOR CONSTRUCTORS

DOES 1 TO 20

LOS ANGELES COUNTY METROPOLITAN

CONSTRUCTORS WALSH/SHEA CORRIDOR

SIALIC CONTRACTORS CORPORATION DBA SHAWNAN

LOS ANGELES COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

CITY OF EL SEGUNDO

Cross Defendants

SHAWNAN CORPORATION

SIALIC CONTRACTORS CORP.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

KHORSANDI ARASH LAW OFFICES OF

BEECHER BRIAN GORDON

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

VEATCH CARLSON LLP

HENSLEY LAW GROUP

LEWIS BRISBOIS BISGAARD & SMITH LLP

KALUNIAN CAMERON M

STEIN MATTHEW

FRIEDENTHAL DANIEL RAY

Cross Defendant Attorney

O'DAY DALLAS JOHN

 

Court Documents

Minute Order

7/11/2019: Minute Order

NOTICE OF ORDER RE STIPULATION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

1/25/2018: NOTICE OF ORDER RE STIPULATION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

REQUEST FOR ADMISSIONS

2/1/2018: REQUEST FOR ADMISSIONS

WALSH/SHEA CORRIDOR CONSTRUCTORS? ANSWER TO PLAINTIFF?S UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT

2/2/2018: WALSH/SHEA CORRIDOR CONSTRUCTORS? ANSWER TO PLAINTIFF?S UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT

Summons on Cross Complaint

2/2/2018: Summons on Cross Complaint

ANSWER OF CROSS-DEFENDANTS, SIALIC CONTRACTORS CORPORATION AND SHAWNAN CORPORATION TO THE UNVERIFIED CROSS-COMPLAINT OF CITY OF EL SEGUNDO

2/23/2018: ANSWER OF CROSS-DEFENDANTS, SIALIC CONTRACTORS CORPORATION AND SHAWNAN CORPORATION TO THE UNVERIFIED CROSS-COMPLAINT OF CITY OF EL SEGUNDO

CROSS-COMPLAINT?PERSONAL INJURY, PROPERTY DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH

3/23/2018: CROSS-COMPLAINT?PERSONAL INJURY, PROPERTY DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH

Summons on Cross Complaint

4/3/2018: Summons on Cross Complaint

AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

4/30/2018: AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

4/30/2018: AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT

SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

5/7/2018: SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

5/30/2018: NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

Informal Discovery Conference Form for Personal Injury Courts

9/25/2018: Informal Discovery Conference Form for Personal Injury Courts

Stipulation and Order

1/28/2019: Stipulation and Order

Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

4/26/2019: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

1/29/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

12/12/2017: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

12/7/2017: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

29 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 11/13/2020
  • Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal

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

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  • 10/16/2019
  • Hearingat 10:00 AM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 07/11/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (to continue the trial date pursuant to stipulation of parties) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 07/11/2019
  • DocketEx Parte Application (to Continue the Trial Date Pursuant to Stipulation of Parties); Filed by City of El Segundo (Defendant)

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  • 07/11/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Defendant City of El Segundo's Ex Parte Application to Contin...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/02/2019
  • DocketNotice of Posting of Jury Fees; Filed by Sara Vares Augusto (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/13/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 04/29/2019
  • Docketat 10:00 AM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 04/26/2019
  • DocketNotice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information; Filed by Matthew Stein (Attorney)

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63 More Docket Entries
  • 01/11/2018
  • DocketStipulation and Order; Filed by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Defendant)

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  • 12/12/2017
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 12/12/2017
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Sara Vares Augusto (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/07/2017
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Sara Vares Augusto (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/07/2017
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 12/05/2017
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by Sara Vares Augusto (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/05/2017
  • DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 11/13/2017
  • DocketCOMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)

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  • 11/13/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Sara Vares Augusto (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/13/2017
  • DocketSUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC683243    Hearing Date: November 27, 2019    Dept: 4A

Motion for Sanctions

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

BACKGROUND

On November 13, 2017, Plaintiff Sara Vares Augusto (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendants Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, City of El Segundo, and Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors alleging premises liability for falling off a motorcycle due to uneven asphalt on April 11, 2017.

On January 12, 2018, Defendant/Cross-Complainant City of El Segundo filed a cross-complaint against Cross-Defendants Sialic Constructors Corporation d.b.a. Shawnan and Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. seeking equitable indemnity, indemnity, express contractual indemnity, and declaratory relief, as well as alleging a bad faith denial – additional insured.

On February 2, 2018, Defendant/Cross-Complainant Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors filed a cross-complaint against Roes 1-15 seeking implied indemnity, comparative contribution, total equitable indemnity, and declaratory relief.

On March 23, 2018, Defendant/Cross-Complainant Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority filed a cross-complaint against Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Cross-Defendant City of El Segundo and Cross-Defendants Sialic Constructors Corporation and Shawnan Corporation seeking indemnification, apportionment of fault, and declaratory relief.

On April 23, 2018, the Court dismissed the cross-complaint filed by Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Cross-Defendant City of El Segundo as to Cross-Defendant Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. without prejudice.

On April 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed an amendment to her complaint to name Cross-Defendant/Defendant Sialic Contractors Corporation as Doe 1 and Cross-Defendant/Defendant Shawnan Corporation as Doe 2.

On July 20, 2018, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s count two – failure to warn from the premises liability cause of action and punitive damages from Plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice.

On September 11, 2019, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint as to Defendant/Cross-Complainant Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors without prejudice.

On September 17, 2019, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint as to Defendant/Cross-Complainant Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority without prejudice.

On September 26, 2019, the Court dismissed Defendant/Cross-Complainant Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s cross-complaint and Defendant/Cross-Complainant Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors’ cross-complaint without prejudice.

On October 21, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for issue or evidentiary sanctions pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.030.

On October 25, 2019, the Court advanced the hearing on Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions to 10:00 a.m. on November 27, 2019.

Trial is set for December 12, 2019.

PARTYS REQUESTS

Plaintiff asks the Court to order either: (1) an issue sanction establishing that no delineators were present at or around the offset at the time of Plaintiff’s crash, (2) an evidentiary sanction precluding Cross-Defendant/Defendant Shawnan Corporation’s (“Shawnan”) Safety Officer John Smith from testifying about observations made or photographs taken of delineators on April 10, 2017, or (3) allow a jury instruction for intentional spoliation of evidence against Shawnan.

LEGAL STANDARD

California Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.030 provides that, “[t]o the extent authorized by the chapter governing any particular discovery method . . . , the court, after notice to any affected party, person, or attorney, and after opportunity for hearing, may impose . . . [monetary, issue, evidence, or terminating] sanctions against anyone engaging in conduct that is a misuse of the discovery process . . . .” California Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.010 provides that “[m]issues of the discovery process include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Persisting, over objection and without substantial justification, in an attempt to obtain information or materials that are outside the scope of permissible discovery.

  1. Using a discovery method in a manner that does not comply with its specified procedures.

  1. Employing a discovery method in a manner or to an extent that causes unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense.

  1. Failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery.

  1. Making, without substantial justification, an unmeritorious objection to discovery.

  1. Making an evasive response to discovery.

  1. Disobeying a court order to provide discovery.

  1. Making or opposing, unsuccessfully and without substantial justification, a motion to compel or to limit discovery.

  1. Failing to confer in person, by telephone, or by letter with an opposing party or attorney in a reasonable and good faith attempt to resolve informally any dispute concerning discovery, if the second governing a particular discovery motion requires the filing of a declaration stating facts showing that an attempt at informal resolution has been made.”

“Discovery sanctions must be tailored in order to remedy the offending party’s discovery abuse, should not give the aggrieved party more than what it is entitled to, and should not be used to punish the offending party.”  (Karlsson v. Ford Motor Co. (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th 1202, 1217.)  “Although the court has discretion in choosing a sanction, this discretion must be exercised in a manner consistent with the basic purposes of such sanctions, e.g., to compel disclosure of discoverable information.”  (Rutledge v. Hewlett-Packard Co. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 1164, 1193 (citation omitted).)  “Furthermore, the sanction chosen should not provide a windfall to the other party, by putting the prevailing party in a better position than if he or she had obtained the discovery sought and it had been favorable.”  (Ibid. (citations omitted).)

DISCUSSION

Shawnan was responsible for making sure that delineators were guarding an offset on the road.  (Motion, p. 5:9-5:11.)  Shawnan produced four photographs allegedly taken on April 10, 2017 showing delineators were in place in the area of the alleged incident.  (Motion, p. 6:2-6:9; Valenzuela Decl., ¶ 7, Exh. 4.)  Shawnan’s Safety Officer, John Smith, took these photographs.  (Ibid.)  Mr. Smith testified that he does not have a memory of the presence of delineators where the incident occurred.  (Motion, p. 6:18-6:23, Valenzuela Decl., 9, Exh. 6.)  Plaintiff, the responding officer, and Defendant/Cross-Complainant/Cross-Defendant City of El Segundo’s person most knowledgeable testified that delineators were not present in the vicinity where the incident occurred.  (Motion, pp. 5:13-6:1; Valenzuela Decl., ¶¶ 4-6, Exh. 1-3.)  Plaintiff demanded that Shawnan for inspection on September 24, 2019 any device Mr. Smith used to take the photos that Shawnan identified as taken on April 10, 2017 in the area where the incident occurred.  (Valenzuela Decl., 10, Exh. 7.)  On September 23, 2019 – the day before the scheduled inspection -- Shawnan’s counsel revealed that the photos were downloaded onto a computer and deleted from Mr. Smith’s phone.  (Valenzuela Decl., ¶ 11, Exh. 8.)

Plaintiff has been prejudiced by not being able to retrieve the device the photos Shawnan alleges were taken on April 10, 2017, one day before the collision.  Plaintiff argues that these photos were taken after the collision and not on the date when Shawnan asserts they were taken.  (Motion, p. 9:18-9:22.)  Plaintiff argues that, because the photos were deleted from the phone, he has been deprived of the opportunity to verify when the photos were taken by inspecting Mr. Smith’s phone.  (See Motion, p. 9:23-10:2.)  Based on this showing, the Court finds that

The Court finds the most appropriate relief here is to order an issue sanction precluding Shawnan from arguing delineators were present in the area of the incident.  This sanction is reasonable because it is tailored to address the precise prejudice suffered by Plaintiff because of the photos’ deletion.  The trial is imminent, and no party has requested a continuance.  Under these circumstances, a remedy that benefits Plaintiff at trial is appropriate.  It would be unjust at this juncture to require Plaintiff to conduct discovery in an effort to sought-after metadata that might reveal the timing of the subject photography, from the phone, the computer or otherwise, because such an exercise would necessarily dely the trial.  What is more, Shawnan does not oppose this motion, and no evidence has been presented to the Court showing that an issue sanction would be unjust or insufficent to remedy the injury to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff’s motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

The Court orders an issue sanction shall be imposed on Shawnan precluding Shawnan from arguing that any delineators were present at the area of the incident.

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of this ruling.

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