This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 08/20/2021 at 18:19:17 (UTC).

SKYLAR R., ET AL. VS MARUCHAN INC., ET AL.

Case Summary

On 01/27/2021 SKYLAR R filed a Personal Injury - Other Product Liability lawsuit against MARUCHAN INC . This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Norwalk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is MICHAEL E. WHITAKER. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******3297

  • Filing Date:

    01/27/2021

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Product Liability

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

MICHAEL E. WHITAKER

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

FARABAUGH TIFFANY

Defendants and Cross Plaintiffs

HANG SOMARA

JENNY'S DOUGHNUTS AND CROISSANTS

MARUCHAN INC.

JENNY'S DONUTS AND CROISSANTS

Defendant and Cross Defendant

MARUCHAN INC.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

EBALLAR JUSTIN JOSEPH

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff Attorneys

MARYANSKI DONNA M.

VOSS MATTHEW E.

 

Court Documents

Reply - REPLY DEFENDANT MARUCHAN, INC.S REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THEREOF

8/17/2021: Reply - REPLY DEFENDANT MARUCHAN, INC.S REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THEREOF

Reply - REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT SOMARA HANG'S MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS' SECOND AMENDED COPLAINT

8/18/2021: Reply - REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT SOMARA HANG'S MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS' SECOND AMENDED COPLAINT

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER SETTING CASE FOR CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND T...) OF 08/03/2021

8/3/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER SETTING CASE FOR CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND T...) OF 08/03/2021

Notice - NOTICE OF PLAINTIFF'S RE: CASE REASSIGNMENT

8/3/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF PLAINTIFF'S RE: CASE REASSIGNMENT

Opposition - OPPOSITION OF PLAINTIFF TO DEFENDANT MARUCHAN, INC'S MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

8/3/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION OF PLAINTIFF TO DEFENDANT MARUCHAN, INC'S MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Notice - NOTICE OF MARUCHAN, INC RE: RESCHEDULING OF MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

8/3/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF MARUCHAN, INC RE: RESCHEDULING OF MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Notice of Ruling

6/4/2021: Notice of Ruling

Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

6/14/2021: Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

7/12/2021: Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

Opposition - OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO WITHDRAW ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

5/27/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO WITHDRAW ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) - WITHOUT DEMURRER)

6/3/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE (NOT ANTI-SLAPP) - WITHOUT DEMURRER)

Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

5/5/2021: Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

Answer

4/21/2021: Answer

Proof of Service by Substituted Service

4/2/2021: Proof of Service by Substituted Service

PI General Order

2/24/2021: PI General Order

Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem

2/8/2021: Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem

Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem

2/8/2021: Application And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem

Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

2/10/2021: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

30 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 09/24/2021
  • Hearing09/24/2021 at 09:30 AM in Department F at 12720 Norwalk Blvd., Norwalk, CA 90650; Case Management Conference

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  • 09/24/2021
  • Hearing09/24/2021 at 09:30 AM in Department F at 12720 Norwalk Blvd., Norwalk, CA 90650; Trial Setting Conference

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  • 08/26/2021
  • Hearing08/26/2021 at 09:30 AM in Department C at 12720 Norwalk Blvd., Norwalk, CA 90650; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

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  • 08/26/2021
  • Hearing08/26/2021 at 09:30 AM in Department C at 12720 Norwalk Blvd., Norwalk, CA 90650; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer

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  • 08/18/2021
  • DocketReply (to Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant Somara Hang's Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiffs' Second Amended Coplaint); Filed by Somara Hang (Defendant)

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  • 08/17/2021
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 32, Michael E. Whitaker, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer - Not Held - Rescheduled by Party

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  • 08/17/2021
  • DocketReply (DEFENDANT MARUCHAN, INC.S REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THEREOF); Filed by Maruchan Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 08/16/2021
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 32, Michael E. Whitaker, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer - Not Held - Rescheduled by Party

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  • 08/13/2021
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 32, Michael E. Whitaker, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Strike (not anti-SLAPP) - without Demurrer - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Party

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  • 08/13/2021
  • DocketOpposition (to Defendant Somara Hang's Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint); Filed by Skylar R. (Plaintiff); Tiffany Farabaugh (Plaintiff); Aryanna R (Plaintiff)

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34 More Docket Entries
  • 03/26/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Skylar R. (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/22/2021
  • DocketAmended Complaint ( (1st)); Filed by Skylar R. (Plaintiff); Tiffany Farabaugh (Plaintiff); Aryanna R (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/24/2021
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ([PI General Order], Standing Order re PI Procedures and Hearing Date); Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/24/2021
  • DocketPI General Order; Filed by Clerk

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  • 02/10/2021
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Skylar R. (Plaintiff); Tiffany Farabaugh (Plaintiff); Aryanna R (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/08/2021
  • DocketApplication And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem; Filed by Skylar R. (Plaintiff); Tiffany Farabaugh (Plaintiff); Aryanna R (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/08/2021
  • DocketApplication And Order For Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem; Filed by Skylar R. (Plaintiff); Tiffany Farabaugh (Plaintiff); Aryanna R (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/27/2021
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Skylar R. (Plaintiff); Tiffany Farabaugh (Plaintiff); Aryanna R (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/27/2021
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Skylar R. (Plaintiff); Tiffany Farabaugh (Plaintiff); Aryanna R (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/27/2021
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

b'

Case Number: 21STCV03297 Hearing Date: August 26, 2021 Dept: C

SKYLAR R. v.\r\nMARUCHAN, INC.

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CASE NO.: 21STCV03297

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HEARING: 08/26/21

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#2

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TENTATIVE ORDER

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I. \r\nDefendant MARUCHAN, INC.’s Motion to Strike\r\nPortions of Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint is DENIED. Answer to be\r\nFILED by no later than 30 days from the date of the Court’s issuance of\r\nthis Order.

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II. \r\nDefendant SOMARA HANG’s Motion to Strike\r\nPortions of Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint is GRANTED with 15 days\r\nleave to amend.

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Plaintiffs to Give Notice.

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This product liability action was filed on January 27, 2021.\r\nOn June 14, 2021, the operative Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) was filed. The\r\nrelevant facts, as alleged, are as follows: “On April 26, 2019, Defendant\r\nSomara Hang, the owner and manager of Defendant Jenny’s Donuts, sold and handed\r\n5-year-old, Plaintiff Skylar a Maruchan Instant Lunch noodle soup cup that had\r\nbeen filled just been filed to its brim with boiling hot water. Plaintiff\r\nSkylar received the cup while standing inside of Jenny’s Donuts.” (SAC ¶19.)\r\n“While Plaintiff Skylar waited for her cup of noodles to finish cooking and\r\ncooling, her chair bumped the table and tipped the light, inadequately\r\nbalanced, and defectively designed Maruchan Styrofoam cup over, spilling\r\nscalding hot boiling water onto her lap, causing severe burns.” (SAC ¶24.)

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Defendants MARUCHAN, INC. (“Maruchan”) and SOMARA HANG\r\n(“Hang”) separately move to strike Plaintiffs’ claims for punitive damages.

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A motion to strike lies either when (1) there is “irrelevant, false or\r\nimproper matter inserted in any pleading”; or (2) to strike any pleading or\r\npart thereof “not drawn or filed in conformity with the laws of this state, a\r\ncourt rule or order of court.” (CCP §436.)

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Punitive damages must be pled\r\nwith specificity. Plaintiff must allege specific facts showing that a\r\ndefendant’s conduct was oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious. (Smith v.\r\nSuperior Court (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1033, 1041-1042.) For corporations,\r\nthe advance knowledge and conscious disregard, authorization, ratification, or\r\nact of oppression, fraud, or malice must be on the part of an officer,\r\ndirector, or managing agent of the corporation. (Cal. Civ. Code §3294(b.) Malice\r\nis defined as either conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury\r\nto the plaintiff, or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant\r\nwith a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. (Cal.\r\nCiv. Code §3294(c)(1).) Despicable conduct is conduct which is so vile, base,\r\ncontemptible, miserable, wretched, or loathsome that it would be looked down\r\nupon and despised by ordinary decent people. (Mock v. Michigan Millers\r\nMutual Ins. Co. (1992) 42 Cal.App.4th 306, 331.) Fraud means an intentional\r\nmisrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the\r\ndefendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving\r\na person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury. (Cal. Civ.\r\nCode §3294(c).

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As to Defendant Maruchan

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Plaintiffs allege: “More than a\r\ndecade after U.C. Davis’ expository analysis of the dangers of Maruchan’s\r\nInstant Lunch container design and more than six (6) years after its officers\r\nand directors, with the express and implied authority of Mr. Imamura, litigated\r\na factually analogous lawsuit relating to its product’s design, and three (3)\r\nyears after its litigation, including investigation, discovery, and research,\r\nconcluded in settling the Buffkin claim, Defendant Maruchan, with its\r\nextravagant annual research and development budget and Integrated Research\r\nFacility, has evaluated the dangers of its cup, learned of the 40° disparity in\r\ntipping point between its product and the safest instant noodle container on\r\nthe market, reviewed the 2006, 2008, 2011, 2018, and 2019 studies and\r\nwidespread media coverage of the dangers of its Instant Lunch soup container\r\ndesign, and while presented with the reasonable choice of at least two safer\r\ndesigns, one of which requires simply flipping its cup over, chose to keep its\r\nbrand-name cup design that it knew endangered children. After deciding against\r\na safer design, Maruchan, again, with the authority and ratification of Mr.\r\nImamura in his 2019 Annual Report for Maruchan operations in the United States,\r\nchose to market its product to the exact demographic that its product\r\ndisproportionately and preventably injures, repeating the profits and\r\nstockholder satisfaction from the campaigns ‘favorable sales’.” (SAC ¶41.)

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Plaintiffs have alleged\r\nsufficient facts to state a claim for punitive damages against Maruchan by\r\npleading facts that (taken as true at this stage in the litigation) show that\r\nMaruchan exhibited a conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others.\r\n(See Cal. Civ. Code §3294(c)(1).)

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Defendant Maruchan’s Motion to\r\nStrike Plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages is DENIED.

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As to Defendant Hang

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Plaintiffs allege that “[a]t all\r\nrelevant times, Defendant Hang, knew and had reason to know that Plaintiff\r\nSkylar was a 5-year-old child incapable of safely handling a Styrofoam\r\ncontainer filled with boiling hot water. [¶] Defendant Hang, like all\r\nreasonable adults, knew that 5-year-old should not and cannot carry a cup of\r\nboiling hot water. Defendant Hang through her words and actions, expressed no\r\nconcern for Skylar’s safety knowing she is 5-years old and knowing that 5-year-old\r\ncannot appreciate or understand the risk of physical injury involved in\r\nhandling the Styrofoam container filled with boiling hot water. [¶] Defendant\r\nHang did not refuse to serve the young child with the age-inappropriate soup\r\ncup. Defendant Hang did not suggest age-appropriate food for the young child.\r\nShe did not serve the cooking, boiling cup of noodle soup behind the counter\r\nwhile the noodles cooked and cooled. She did not set the hypothetically cooled\r\nnoodles at a table where Plaintiff Skylar could sit and eat the noodles\r\nsomewhat safely. Defendant Hang did not ask where Skylar’s parents are.\r\nDefendant Hang did not suggest or insist that she hand the cup of boiling hot\r\nwater to Skylar’s mother or father. She simply took the order, took the money,\r\nand filled the Styrofoam cup to the brim with water exceeding 212° Fahrenheit\r\nand sent Skylar on her way.” (SAC ¶¶20-22.)

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Hang’s Motion to Strike\r\nPlaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages is GRANTED with 15 days leave to amend.\r\nThe punitive damages allegations against Hang do not rise to the level of\r\ndespicable conduct taken in willful and conscious disregard of the rights and\r\nsafety of others. (See Cal. Civ. Code §3294(c)(1). “The mere carelessness or\r\nignorance of the defendant does not justify the imposition of punitive\r\ndamages…. Punitive damages are proper only when the tortious conduct rises to\r\nlevels of extreme indifference to the plaintiff’s rights, a level which decent\r\ncitizens should not have to tolerate. [Cite.].” (Lackner v. North (2006)\r\n135 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1210.)

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Case Number: 21STCV03297    Hearing Date: June 3, 2021    Dept: 32

PLEASE NOTE: Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the court at sscdept32@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. If the department does not receive an email indicating the parties are submitting on the tentative and there are no appearances at the hearing, the motion may be placed off calendar. If a party submits on the tentative, the party’s email must include the case number and must identify the party submitting on the tentative. If the parties do not submit on the tentative, they should arrange to appear in-person or remotely.

TENTATIVE RULING

DEPARTMENT

32

HEARING DATE

June 3, 2021

CASE NUMBER

21STCV03297

MOTION

Motion to Strike

MOVING PARTY

Defendant Maruchan, Inc.

OPPOSING PARTIES

Plaintiffs Skylar R., Tiffany Farabaugh, and Aryanna R.

MOTION

Plaintiffs Skylar R. (“Skylar”), Tiffany Farabaugh, and Aryanna R. (“Plaintiffs”) sued Defendant Maruchan, Inc. (“Defendant”) based on injuries Skylar allegedly sustained when a package of instant noodle soup that Defendant produced spilled on Skylar’s lap. Defendant moves to strike the punitive damages allegations and prayer from Plaintiffs’ first amended complaint. Plaintiffs oppose the motion.

ANALYSIS

Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading, may serve and file a motion to strike the whole pleading or any part thereof. (Code Civ. Proc., § 435, subd. (b)(1); Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1322, subd. (b).) On a motion to strike, the court may: (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, subds. (a)-(b); Stafford v. Shultz (1954) 42 Cal.2d 767, 782.)

In ruling on a motion to strike punitive damages, “judges read allegations of a pleading subject to a motion to strike as a whole, all parts in their context, and assume their truth.” (Clauson v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 1253, 1255.) To state a prima facie claim for punitive damages, a plaintiff must allege the elements set forth in the punitive damages statute, Civil Code section 3294. (College Hosp., Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 721.) Per Civil Code section 3294, a plaintiff must allege 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.” (Coll. Hosp., Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 725.) “The mere allegation an intentional tort was committed is not sufficient to warrant an award of punitive damages. Not only must there be circumstances of oppression, fraud or malice, but facts must be alleged in the pleading to support such a claim.” (Grieves v. Superior Court. (1984) 157 Cal.App.3d 159, 166, internal citations & footnotes 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 officers, directors, or managing agents.” (Cruz v. Home Base (2000) 83 Cal. App. 4th 160, 167, internal quotations & citation omitted.)

Here, Plaintiffs allege Defendant was negligent in that Defendant should have “heeded advice and warnings from professionals and academics to use a safer alternative design that reduces the spill risk by widening the base, lowering the height, and getting rid of the top-heavy inverted pyramid design of the Styrofoam container.” (First Amended Complaint, ¶ 25.) Plaintiffs further allege, that Defendant was “aware of the dangers that [its] product design presented to child consumers for over a decade. . . . Nonetheless, [Defendant] either affirmatively chose or intentionally ignored the widely accepted scientific evidence of such dangers.” (First Amended Complaint, ¶ 37.) Plaintiffs further claim that the defendants acted with malice and oppression warranting a punitive damages award. (See, e.g., First Amended Complaint, ¶¶ 38, 56, 70, 79.)

Plaintiffs have not, however, alleged specific facts to show that Defendant or its officers, directors, or managing agents acted with malice and oppression. As such, Plaintiffs have not alleged a claim for punitive damages against Defendant.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Therefore, the Court grants Defendant’s motion to strike portions of the first amended complaint with leave to amend, and orders Plaintiffs to file an amended complaint within 10 days of notice of this order. Defendant is ordered to provide notice of this order and file a proof of service of such.

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