This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 09/15/2020 at 22:15:22 (UTC).

SHANE A. LACHTMAN, AN INDIVIDUAL VS OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, AN UNINCORPORATED HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 04/24/2019 SHANE A LACHTMAN, AN INDIVIDUAL filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, AN UNINCORPORATED HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street 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:

    *******4215

  • Filing Date:

    04/24/2019

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Spring Street Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

CHRISTOPHER K. LUI

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs

LACHTMAN AN INDIVIDUAL SHANE A.

LACHTMAN SHANE A.

Defendants and Cross Defendants

OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION AN UNINCORPORATED HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION

BACHELDER AN INDIVIDUAL ERIK LANSING

HORIZON MANAGEMENT COMPANY A CORPORATION

PLANT AN INDIVIDUAL TIMOTHY WILLIAM

M. ROY NELSON INC. DBA HORIZON MANAGEMENT A CORPORATION

ANDERSEN JENNIFER MARIA

BACHELDER ERIK LANSING

PLANT TIMOTHY WILLIAM

OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION

M. ROY NELSON INC. DBA HORIZON MANAGEMENT

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff

ANDERSEN JENNIFER MARIA

Not Classified By Court

KONSTAD ANDREA L.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

TREYZON BORIS ESQ.

Defendant and Cross Defendant Attorneys

HENSEL DONALD

ROCHLIN MATTHEW A

ST. ROMAIN SAMUEL

PHILLIPS THOMAS

 

Court Documents

Motion for Summary Judgment

9/1/2020: Motion for Summary Judgment

Separate Statement

9/1/2020: Separate Statement

Answer - ANSWER TO CROSS-COMPLAINT

5/4/2020: Answer - ANSWER TO CROSS-COMPLAINT

Answer - ANSWER TO SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

3/10/2020: Answer - ANSWER TO SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Answer

2/27/2020: Answer

Answer - ANSWER TO SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

1/21/2020: Answer - ANSWER TO SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

1/29/2020: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

1/6/2020: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

12/18/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

12/19/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

12/16/2019: Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Summons - SUMMONS ON SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

12/6/2019: Summons - SUMMONS ON SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT (2ND)

12/6/2019: Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT (2ND)

Proof of Service by Mail

10/15/2019: Proof of Service by Mail

Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT FIRST

9/19/2019: Amended Complaint - AMENDED COMPLAINT FIRST

Proof of Service by Mail

7/10/2019: Proof of Service by Mail

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

5/22/2019: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

Notice of Deposit - Jury

4/30/2019: Notice of Deposit - Jury

37 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 04/20/2022
  • Hearing04/20/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/19/2021
  • Hearing02/19/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/05/2021
  • Hearing02/05/2021 at 10:00 AM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/20/2020
  • Hearing11/20/2020 at 14:30 PM in Department 28 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/01/2020
  • DocketRequest for Judicial Notice; Filed by HORIZON MANAGEMENT COMPANY, a corporation (Defendant); OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/01/2020
  • DocketSeparate Statement; Filed by HORIZON MANAGEMENT COMPANY, a corporation (Defendant); OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/01/2020
  • DocketExhibit List; Filed by HORIZON MANAGEMENT COMPANY, a corporation (Defendant); OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/01/2020
  • DocketMotion for Summary Judgment; Filed by HORIZON MANAGEMENT COMPANY, a corporation (Defendant); OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/29/2020
  • DocketNotice (of Entry of Order); Filed by OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/24/2020
  • DocketStipulation and Order (Stipulation And Order To Continue Trial Date); Filed by HORIZON MANAGEMENT COMPANY, a corporation (Defendant); OCEAN TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
35 More Docket Entries
  • 06/27/2019
  • DocketNotice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information; Filed by Boris Treyzon, Esq. (Attorney)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/22/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by SHANE A. LACHTMAN, an individual (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/15/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by SHANE A. LACHTMAN, an individual (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/03/2019
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by SHANE A. LACHTMAN, an individual (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/30/2019
  • DocketNotice of Deposit - Jury; Filed by SHANE A. LACHTMAN, an individual (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/25/2019
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ([PI General Order] and Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Dates); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/25/2019
  • DocketPI General Order; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by SHANE A. LACHTMAN, an individual (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/24/2019
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by SHANE A. LACHTMAN, an individual (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 19STCV14215    Hearing Date: November 18, 2019    Dept: 4A

Motion to Strike without Demurrer

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

BACKGROUND

On April 24, 2019, Plaintiff Shane A. Lachtman (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendants Ocean Terrace Condominium Association, Horizon Management Company, Timothy William Plant, and Erik Lansing Bachelder (“Defendants”) alleging battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and premises liability arising from an altercation that took place on August 20, 2017.

On September 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint (“FAC”).

On October 18, 2019, Defendant filed a motion to strike pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 435.

Trial is set for October 21, 2020.

PARTIES REQUEST

Defendants Ocean Terrace Condominium Association (“Ocean”) and M. Roy Nelson Inc. d.b.a. Horizon Management (“Horizon”) ask the Court to strike punitive damages from the FAC pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure sections 435 and 436 and Civil Code section 3294.

LEGAL STANDARD

Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading may serve and file a notice of motion to strike the whole complaint 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”].)  Conclusory allegations may be subject to motions to strike.  (Covenant Care, Inc. v. Superior Court (2001) 107 Cal.Rptr.2d 291, 303 (superseded on other grounds by Covenant Care, Inc. v. Superior Court (2004) 32 Cal.4th 771).)

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).)  

“‘Oppression’ means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.”  (Civ. Code § 3294, subd. (c)(2).)  “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).)

“[T]he imposition of punitive damages upon a corporation is based upon its own fault. It is not imposed vicariously by virtue of the fault of others.” (City Products Corp. v. Globe Indemnity Co. (1979) 88 Cal.App.3d 31, 36.) “Corporations are legal entities which do not have minds capable of recklessness, wickedness, or intent to injure or deceive. An award of punitive damages against a corporation therefore must rest on the malice of the corporation’s employees. But the law does not impute every employee’s malice to the corporation. Instead, the punitive damages statute requires proof of malice among corporate leaders: the ‘officer[s], director[s], or managing agent[s].’” (Cruz v. Home Base (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 160, 167 (citation omitted).) As to ratification, “[a] corporation cannot confirm and accept that which it does not actually know about.’” (Ibid.) (citing College Hospital, supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 726 (for ratification sufficient to justify punitive damages against corporation, there must be proof that officers, directors, or managing agents had actual knowledge of the malicious conduct and its outrageous character).)

DISCUSSION

The Court finds Moving Defendants have filed a sufficient meet and confer declaration.  (Rochlin Decl., ¶ 3.)

The FAC alleges the following.  On August 20, 2017, Defendant Plaint punched Plaintiff in the head.  (FAC, ¶ 28.)  Also on that date, Defendant Bachelder and Does 1-10 grabbed Plaintiff from behind by the neck, choked in, and slit him from ear to ear across his neck with an unknown object.  (FAC, ¶ 29.)  This incident occurred on property for which Ocean is the home owners association and which is managed by Horizon.  (FAC, ¶¶ 2, 3, 14.)

The FAC also alleges the following.  Ocean impliedly warranted and affirmatively held out the property where the incident occurred to be safe and secure.  (FAC, ¶ 14.)  Defendant Plant manifested violent, dangerous, and disorderly behaviors in the common areas on the subject property throughout Defendant Plant’s tenancy.  (FAC, ¶ 18.)  Ocean and Horizon knew of these violations and failed to sanction Defendant Plaint to prevent further violations.  (FAC, ¶ 21.)  Ocean authorized, ratified, and condoned Defendant Plant’s and Defendant Bachelder’s actions on the time of the incident by failing to enforce compliance with regulations in the area where the incident occurred.  (FAC, ¶ 23.)  Ocean and Horizon had video surveillance of the area where the incident occurred, but failed to stop Defendant Plant and Defendant Bachelder from joining Plaintiff in a hot tub despite being visibly intoxicated.  (FAC, ¶ 30.)  Ocean and Horizon authorized and ratified the editing and/or modification of surveillance video showing the heinous conduct of Defendants Plant and Bachelder against Plaintiff to cover up the incident.  (FAC, ¶ 31.)

As a general matter, the complaint includes broad allegations that might support a prayer for punitive damages based on Ocean’s and Horizon’s oppressive conduct.  It is alleged, for example, that Ocean and Horizon had prior knowledge of violent conduct by Defendants Plant and Bachelder.  Standing alone, these general allegations are insufficient to give rise to punitive damages because they are lacking in more specific factual allegations that underlie the broad assertions.  The FAC fails to allege, for example, what sorts of violent behavior Defendants Plant and Bachelder displayed prior to the incident such that Ocean and Horizon would be put on notice of an attempted murder by slitting someone’s throat.

On the other hand, the allegations that Ocean and Horizon had video evidence of the incident where Plaintiff’s neck was slit from ear to ear and decided to edit and/or modify this evidence to cover up the incident provide strong support for a punitive damages prayer.  This after-the-fact coverup is plainly despicable in that it is so vile, base, contemptible, miserable, wretched or loathsome that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary decent people.  This conduct certainly rises to the level of criminal conduct. Further, the alleged editing and/or modification of surveillance video was done intentionally.  There is no indication in the complaint that there was an accidental erasure.  It is alleged that, in the hope of protecting themselves, Ocean and Horizon tampered with centrally relevant and potentially damning evidence. These allegations, if proven, could support an award of punitive damages if there were allegations that officers, directors, and/or managing agents were involved in or ratified the alleged misconduct.

But the complaint lacks allegations implicating Ocean’s and Horizon’s officers, directors, and/or managing agents in tampering with the video surveillance recordings or engaging in any other despicable conduct.  Paragraph 30 generally that states Ocean’s and Horizon’s agents/officers/directors failed to stop Defendants Plant and Bachelder from taking their raucous carousing to the hot tub where Plaintiff was later attacked.  While this conduct may have been negligent, the Court concludes that the behavior of Ocean and Horizon conduct did not descend to despicable misconduct until they authorized and ratified the editing and/or modification of the surveillance video showing Plaintiff’s neck being slit open, and there are no allegations tying this misconduct to the defendants’ officers, directors or managing agents

Accordingly, based on the current allegations, the motion must be GRANTED, with 20 days’ leave to amend.

The Court STRIKES paragraph 56 on page 8 from lines 12-16, which states “Defendants’ acts also constitute conduct intended by him to cause injury to Plaintiff and despicable, malicious, and/or oppressive conduct that is carried on with willful and conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others in direct violation of Civil Code section 3294, subdivision (a).  Plaintiff is, therefore, entitled to punitive damages against Defendants in an amount to be determined by proof at trial.”

The Court also STRIKES paragraph 63 on page 10 from lines 12-16, which states “Defendants’ acts also constitute conduct intended by him to cause injury to Plaintiff and despicable, malicious, and/or oppressive conduct that is carried on with willful and conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others in direct violation of Civil Code section 3294, subdivision (a).  Plaintiff is, therefore, entitled to punitive damages against Defendants in an amount to be determined by proof at trial.”

The Court further STRIKES paragraph 3 from the Prayer for Relief on page 10 at line 21, which states “For punitive damages according to proof.”

Ocean and Horizon are ordered to give notice of this ruling.