This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/08/2019 at 02:19:04 (UTC).

SONJA FISHER VS CITY OF SANTA CLARITA

Case Summary

On 10/18/2017 SONJA FISHER filed an Other lawsuit against CITY OF SANTA CLARITA. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is GEORGINA T. RIZK. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****0261

  • Filing Date:

    10/18/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Other

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

GEORGINA T. RIZK

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

FISHER SONJA

Defendants and Respondents

DOES 1 TO 50

SANTA CLARITA CITY OF

CITY OF SANTA CLARITA

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

VAHDAT G. AMY ESQ.

VAHDAT GHAZAL AMY ESQ.

KLEIN CANDICE S ESQ.

Defendant Attorney

MONTES JOSEPH MICHAEL ESQ.

 

Court Documents

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

12/7/2018: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Unknown

12/12/2018: Unknown

Request for Judicial Notice

3/8/2019: Request for Judicial Notice

Opposition

3/8/2019: Opposition

Declaration

3/8/2019: Declaration

Declaration

3/8/2019: Declaration

Declaration

3/8/2019: Declaration

Notice

3/8/2019: Notice

Notice

3/11/2019: Notice

Reply

3/15/2019: Reply

Reply

3/15/2019: Reply

Reply

3/15/2019: Reply

Association of Attorney

4/16/2019: Association of Attorney

NOTICE OF CHANGE OF FIRM NAME

1/17/2018: NOTICE OF CHANGE OF FIRM NAME

PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES [CIV. CODE ? 3333] FOR PERSONAL INJURIES AGAINST PUBLIC ENTITIES AND EMPLOYEES; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

12/27/2017: PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES [CIV. CODE ? 3333] FOR PERSONAL INJURIES AGAINST PUBLIC ENTITIES AND EMPLOYEES; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

DECLARATION OF ULYSSES L. AGUAYO AND REQUEST FOR EXTENSION FOR CITY OF SANTA CLARITA PURSUANT TO CCP 430.4 1(A)(2)

11/27/2017: DECLARATION OF ULYSSES L. AGUAYO AND REQUEST FOR EXTENSION FOR CITY OF SANTA CLARITA PURSUANT TO CCP 430.4 1(A)(2)

SUMMONS

10/18/2017: SUMMONS

PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES; ETC.

10/18/2017: PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES; ETC.

16 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/20/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 2, Georgina T. Rizk, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 05/06/2019
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 2, Georgina T. Rizk, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 04/24/2019
  • Stipulation and Order (Proposed order and stipulation to continue trial); Filed by SONJA FISHER (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/18/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 2, Georgina T. Rizk, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 04/16/2019
  • Association of Attorney; Filed by SONJA FISHER (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/03/2019
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 2, Georgina T. Rizk, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 04/03/2019
  • at 1:30 PM in Department 2, Georgina T. Rizk, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment - Held - Motion Denied

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  • 04/03/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/22/2019
  • at 1:30 PM in Department 2, Georgina T. Rizk, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment - Not Held - Rescheduled by Court

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  • 03/15/2019
  • Defendant City of Santa Clarita's Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition to City's Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Summary Adjudication; Filed by City of Santa Clarita (Defendant)

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23 More Docket Entries
  • 02/02/2018
  • REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL

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  • 01/17/2018
  • NOTICE OF CHANGE OF FIRM NAME

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  • 01/17/2018
  • Notice of Change of Firm Name; Filed by SONJA FISHER (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/27/2017
  • PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES [CIV. CODE 3333] FOR PERSONAL INJURIES AGAINST PUBLIC ENTITIES AND EMPLOYEES; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

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  • 12/27/2017
  • First Amended Complaint; Filed by SONJA FISHER (Plaintiff)

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  • 11/27/2017
  • Declaration; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 11/27/2017
  • DECLARATION OF ULYSSES L. AGUAYO AND REQUEST FOR EXTENSION FOR CITY OF SANTA CLARITA PURSUANT TO CCP 430.4 1(A)(2)

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  • 10/18/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by SONJA FISHER (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/18/2017
  • SUMMONS

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  • 10/18/2017
  • PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES; ETC.

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC680261    Hearing Date: December 27, 2019    Dept: 2

Fisher v. City of Santa Clarita

Defendant's Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Independent Medical Examination with Orthopedic Surgeon is TAKEN OFF CALENDAR as MOOT.  The Court has granted summary judgment in favor of City of Santa Clarita. 

Case Number: BC680261    Hearing Date: December 20, 2019    Dept: 2

Fisher v. City of Santa Clarita

The Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant City of Santa Clarita on 8/23/2019 is GRANTED.

In this action, Plaintiff claims that she was injured when she tripped and fell because of a defect on a public sidewalk in the City of Santa Clarita. The alleged defect consists of a vertical offset of approximately 1-1/16 between two sidewalk slabs. Defendant City of Santa Clarita moves for summary judgment, contending that the defect is trivial as a matter of law.

I. WHETHER THIS MOTION IS PERMITTED BECAUSE OF A CHANGE IN THE LAW

The Court previously denied summary judgment, or in the alternative, summary adjudication on the issue presented in this motion. Section 437(f)(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure provides in relevant part: “[A] party shall not move for summary judgment based on issues asserted in a prior motion for summary adjudication and denied by the court unless that party establishes, to the satisfaction of the court, newly discovered facts or circumstances or a change of law supporting the issues reasserted in the summary judgment motion.” Section 1008(b) similarly allows a renewed motion upon a showing of “new or different facts, circumstances or law.” Such renewed motions can be made even after the 10-day-limit applicable to a motion for reconsideration. Graham v. Hansen (1982) 128 Cal. App. 3d 965, 970; Darling, Hall & Rae v. Kritt (1999) 75 Cal. App. 4th 1148, 1156.

For the reasons that will be discussed below, the Court concludes that Huckey v. City of Temecula (2019) 37 Cal. App. 5th 1092, 1104, decided after the Court’s summary judgment ruling, constitutes new law that justifies the renewal of the motion. Huckey is closely on point and is binding on this Court.

III. WHETHER SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHOULD BE GRANTED

Plaintiff asserts a claim under Government Code section 835. That section 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) 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.”

Here, Defendant argues that the undisputed evidence establishes that there was no “dangerous condition” on its property because the defect was trivial as a matter of law.

The term “dangerous condition” is defined in Government Code section 830, subdivision (a) as “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). “The existence of a dangerous condition is ordinarily a question of fact, but the issue may be resolved as a matter of law if reasonable minds can come to only one condition.” Peterson v. San Francisco Comm. College Dist. (1984) 36 Cal. 3d 799, 810.

“The condition of the property involved [must] create a ‘substantial risk’ or 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 may be.” Fredette v. City of Long Beach (1986) 187 Cal. App. 3d 122, 130 fn.5. Under the trivial defect doctrine, a condition does not constitute a “dangerous condition” under section 830 where the condition creates a risk “of such a minor, trivial or insignificant nature in view of the surrounding circumstances [that] no reasonable person would conclude that the condition created a substantial risk of injury when such property or adjacent property was used with due care in a manner in which it was reasonably foreseeable that it would be used.” Huckey v. City of Temecula (2019) 37 Cal. App. 5th 1092, 1104.

“In appropriate cases,” the Court may determine “whether a given walkway defect was trivial as a matter of law.” Id. at 1104-05. “Where reasonable minds can reach only one conclusion – that there was no substantial risk of injury – the issue is a question of law properly resolved by way of summary judgment.” Id. If, however, the court determines that sufficient evidence has been presented so that reasonable minds may differ as to whether the defect presents a substantial risk of injury, the court may not conclude that the defect is trivial as a matter of law.” Id.

“The court’s analysis of whether a walkway defect is trivial involves as a matter of law two essential steps. First, the court reviews evidence regarding type and size of the defect. If that preliminary analysis reveals a trivial defect, the court considers evidence of any additional factors bearing on whether the defect presented a substantial risk of injury. If these additional factors do not indicate the defect was sufficiently dangerous to a reasonably careful person, the court should deem the defect trivial as a matter of law.” Id. (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted).

The Court should decide whether a defect was dangerous “only after considering all of the circumstances surrounding the accident that might make the defect more dangerous than its size alone would suggest.” Id. Among the factors to be considered are the size of the defect and “whether there were any broken pieces or jagged edges in the area of the defect, whether any dirt, debris or other material obscured a pedestrian’s view of the defect, the plaintiff’s knowledge of the area, whether the accident occurred at night or in an unlighted area, the weather at the time of the accident and whether the defect has caused any other accidents.” Id.

In Huckey v. City of Temecula (2019) 37 Cal. App. 5th 1092, the plaintiff sued the City of Temecula for injuries he sustained from tripping and falling on a defective city sidewalk, alleging that the sidewalk defect constituted a dangerous condition of public property. “The sidewalk was vertically uneven between two concrete panels, and the height differential” ranged from 9/16 of an inch to 1-7/32 inches (1.21875 inches) at the right edge. “Only the very right two feet of the deviation was greater than 3/4 of an inch.” “There were no broken concrete pieces or jagged concrete edges in the area of the height differential where plaintiff fell, and plaintiff adduced no evidence that the City had ever been notified of any trip and fall accidents, other than plaintiff’s claim, on or near the area of the height differential.”

The Court considered photographs that showed that there was some dirt and leaves in and near the height differential. But the evidence did not show that any dirt or leaves “substantially obscured the height differential from a pedestrian’s view.”

Based on this record, the Court concluded that “the entire record, construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, shows that the height differential would have been in plain sight and therefore would have been avoidable to a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk and approaching the height differential with due care.

The Court recognized, based on expert testimony presented, that the height differential posed some risk of injury. “But to constitute a dangerous condition, the height differential, and the area surrounding it, must have posed a ‘substantial (as distinguished from a minor, trivial or insignificant risk of injury” when “used with due care in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be used.” The Court held that the substantial risk of injury standard had not been met. In reaching this conclusion, the Court assumed that the plaintiff was walking where the sidewalk differential was at its highest – 1.22 inches. Even with that assumption, the Court upheld the trial court’s order granting summary judgment, concluding the defect was trivial as a matter of law.

The record here is virtually identical to the record in Huckey, and to the extent that there are any differences, the differences favor Defendant. Here, the evidence establishes that the vertical displacement was at most 1-1/16 inches (1.0625”), which is substantially lower than the 1.22” inch differential in Huckey. As in Huckey, there is some dirt and debris (leaves) in and near the height differential, but the photographs do not show that the dirt or debris substantially obscured the height differential from a pedestrian’s view. As in Huckey, the photographs show that the sidewalk area surrounding the height differential was in good condition and was reasonably clean. Further, the incident happened in the morning, and there is no evidence in the record that any inclement weather affected the Plaintiff’s ability to see the defect. As in Huckey, Plaintiff’s expert here declared that height differentials of 1/2 inch or more cause a tripping hazard, but the Court found that such testimony did not suffice to render the defect substantial, as opposed to trivial. Photographs of the sidewalk show that the sidewalk here was an ordinary sidewalk; there is nothing about the coloration that would distinguish it from Huckey. Finally, as in Huckey, there were no reports of other accidents in the area or complaints about the sidewalk prior to this incident.

Applying Huckey’s two step analysis, the Court first considers the type and size of the defect, the vertical displacement of a sidewalk slab measuring at most 1-1/16 inch. This preliminary analysis reveals a trivial defect. The Court next considers evidence of any additional factors to determine whether the defect presented a substantial risk of injury. The only additional factor here is some minor dirt and debris in the area, but the degree of dirt and debris is entirely consistent with the description of the condition in Huckey. Following Huckey, the Court must deem the defect trivial as a matter of law.

Huckey is controlling on this Court. Had Huckey been decided prior to the hearing on the prior motion, the motion would have gone the other way. Thus, the Huckey decision represents a change in the law that is relevant to this motion.

In sum, the undisputed evidence establishes as a matter of law that the defect was trivial. The Court therefore grants the motion for summary judgment.

The moving party is ordered to give notice.

RULINGS ON DEFENDANT’S OBJECTIONS:

1. Overruled

2. Overruled

3. Overruled

4. Overruled

5. Overruled

6. Overruled

7. Overruled

8. Overruled

9. Overruled

10. Sustained

11. Sustained

12. Sustained

13. Overruled

14. Sustained

15. Sustained

16. Sustained

17. Overruled

18. Overruled

19. Overruled in light of Ms. Fisher’s declaration, which provides the necessary foundation.

20. Overruled in light of Ms. Fisher’s declaration, which provides the necessary foundation.

Case Number: BC680261    Hearing Date: December 03, 2019    Dept: 2

BC680261 Fisher v. City of Santa Clarita

On the court’s own motion, the hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment set for 12/3/19 is continued to 12/20/19 at 1:30 p.m. in Department SS-2. The due date for the opposition and reply is based on the original hearing date.