This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 05/27/2019 at 01:48:23 (UTC).

SUSAN RIVERS VS CITY OF MONTEREY PARK ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/05/2017 SUSAN RIVERS filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against CITY OF MONTEREY PARK. 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:

    ****6622

  • Filing Date:

    04/05/2017

  • 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

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

RIVERS SUSAN

Defendants and Respondents

LOS ANGELES COUNTY OF

DOES 1 TO 100

MONTEREY PARK CITY OF

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorney

KATZ RICHARD M. ESQ.

Defendant Attorneys

CHANG YUAN

ROTHANS STEVEN J

 

Court Documents

DEFENDANT CITY OF MONTEREY PARK'S ANSWER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

8/27/2018: DEFENDANT CITY OF MONTEREY PARK'S ANSWER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

NOTICE OF EX PARTE APPLICATION AND APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND ALL RELATED DATES; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF SCOTT J. CARPENTER

9/12/2018: NOTICE OF EX PARTE APPLICATION AND APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND ALL RELATED DATES; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF SCOTT J. CARPENTER

Answer

12/26/2018: Answer

Request for Dismissal

5/16/2019: Request for Dismissal

Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

8/8/2018: Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

8/8/2018: Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

SUMMONS

4/5/2017: SUMMONS

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES PERSONAL INJURIES

4/5/2017: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES PERSONAL INJURIES

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/16/2019
  • Request for Dismissal; Filed by Susan Rivers (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/26/2018
  • Answer; Filed by Los Angeles, County of (Defendant)

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  • 09/19/2018
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 5; Final Status Conference

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  • 09/19/2018
  • Minute order entered: 2018-09-19 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 09/12/2018
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 5; Ex-Parte Proceedings - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 09/12/2018
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 5; Jury Trial

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  • 09/12/2018
  • Minute order entered: 2018-09-12 00:00:00; Filed by Clerk

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  • 09/12/2018
  • NOTICE OF EX PARTE APPLICATION AND APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER TO CONTINUE TRIAL AND ALL RELATED DATES; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES; DECLARATION OF SCOTT J. CARPENTER

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  • 09/12/2018
  • Ex-Parte Application; Filed by Defendant/Respondent

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  • 08/27/2018
  • Answer; Filed by Monterey Park, City of (Defendant)

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  • 08/27/2018
  • DEFENDANT CITY OF MONTEREY PARK'S ANSWER TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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  • 08/08/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Susan Rivers (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/08/2018
  • Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

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  • 08/08/2018
  • Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

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  • 08/08/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Susan Rivers (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/05/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Susan Rivers (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/05/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES PERSONAL INJURIES

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  • 04/05/2017
  • SUMMONS

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC656622    Hearing Date: November 14, 2019    Dept: 5

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Spring Street Courthouse, Department 5

susan rivers ,

Plaintiff,

v.

city of monterey park, et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC656622

Hearing Date: November 14, 2019

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Background

Plaintiff Susan Rivers (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendant City of Monterey Park (“Defendant”) after she tripped and fell on a public sidewalk. Defendant now moves for summary judgment, which Plaintiff opposes. The motion is denied.

LEGAL STANDARD

“[T]he party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of persuasion that there is no triable issue of material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law[.]  There is a triable issue of material fact if, and only if, the evidence would allow a reasonable trier of fact to find the underlying fact in favor of the party opposing the motion in accordance with the applicable standard of proof.”  (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 850.)  “[T]he party moving for summary judgment bears an initial burden of production to make a prima facie showing of the nonexistence of any triable issue of material fact; if he carries his burden of production, he causes a shift, and the opposing party is then subjected to a burden of production of his own to make a prima facie showing of the existence of a triable issue of material fact.”  (Ibid.)  In ruling on the motion, “the court may not weigh the plaintiff's evidence or inferences against the defendant[’s] as though it were sitting as the trier of fact.”  (Id. at 856.)  However, the court “must . . . determine what any evidence or inference could show or imply to a reasonable trier of fact.”  (Ibid., emphasis original.)  

DISCUSSION

A. Applicable Law

California Government Code section 815 provides that “[a] public entity is not liable for an injury, whether such injury arises out of an act or omission of the public entity or a public employee or any other person” except as provided by statute. (Govt. Code, § 815(a); see Hoff v. Vacaville Unified School Dist. (1998) 19 Cal.4th 925, 932.) “[D]irect tort liability of public entities must be based on a specific statute declaring them to be liable, or at least creating some specific duty of care, and not on the general tort provisions of Civil Code section 1714. Otherwise, the general rule of immunity for public entities would be largely eroded by the routine application of general tort principles.” (Eastburn v. Regional Fire Protection Authority (2003) 31 Cal.4th 1175, 1183.)

Government Code section 835 sets out the exclusive conditions under which a public entity is liable for injuries caused by a dangerous condition of public property. (Metcalf v. County of San Joaquin (2008) 42 Cal.4th 1121, 1129, citing Brown v. Poway Unified School Dist. (1993) 4 Cal.4th 820, 829; see also Zelig v. County of Los Angeles (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1112.) Per Government Code section 835, “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 . . . a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.” (Gov. Code, § 835.) A public entity has actual notice of a dangerous condition “if it had actual knowledge of the existence of the condition and knew or should have known of its dangerous character.” (Gov. Code, § 835.2, subd. (a).) A public entity has constructive notice of a dangerous condition only if “the condition had existed for such a period of time and was of such an obvious nature that the public entity, in the exercise of due care, should have discovered the condition and its dangerous character. (Gov. Code, § 835.2, subd. (b).)

“‘Constructive notice,’ under section 835.2, subdivision (b), requires a plaintiff to establish that the dangerous condition existed for such a period of time and was of such an obvious nature that the public entity, in the exercise of due care, should have discovered the condition and its dangerous character. Admissible evidence for establishing constructive notice is defined by statute as including whether a reasonably adequate inspection system would have informed the public entity, and whether it maintained and operated such an inspection system with due care.” (Heskel v. City of San Diego (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 313, 317.) A public entity may create “a reasonable inference that the condition was not obvious” by, for example, “show[ing] that [its] workers had been in the area and did not see the condition within at least the one-year period leading up to [an] accident . . . .” (Id. at 318.)

B. There is a Triable Issue whether there was a Dangerous Condition

Defendant first argues that there is no evidence of dangerous condition. Even assuming Defendant satisfies its burden on summary judgment, Plaintiff proffers sufficient evidence of a dangerous condition. Her declaration identifies the location of the incident and authenticates photographs she took of the sidewalk which show it is uneven. (Declaration of Susan Rivers, ¶¶ 2-4 & Exhs. A-C.) During her deposition, Plaintiff testified that the sidewalk was uneven by three to six inches where she tripped. (Declaration of Harlan N. Petoyan, Exh. A, pp. 36, 61.) Therefore, the motion is denied on this ground.

C. There is a Triable Issue whether there was a Trivial Defect

Defendant also argues that there is no triable issue because any defect was trivial. Even assuming Defendant satisfies its burden on summary judgment, Plaintiff proffers sufficient evidence that the condition is not trivial. Her declaration identifies the location of the incident and authenticates photographs she took of the sidewalk which show it is uneven. (Declaration of Susan Rivers, ¶¶ 2-4 & Exhs. A-C.) During her deposition, Plaintiff testified that the sidewalk was uneven by three to six inches where she tripped. (Declaration of Harlan N. Petoyan, Exh. A, pp. 36, 61.) Therefore, the motion is denied on this ground.

D. There is a Triable Issue whether there was Notice

Defendant argues that Plaintiff cannot prevail because Defendant did not have actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition of the sidewalk. Defendant cites a declaration from Alfredo Banuelos (“Banuelos”), supervisor of street maintenance. Banuelos states that Defendant primarily repairs its sidewalks in response to requests from the public. Banuelos states that Defendant maintains records of the requests it receives from the public. Further, Banuelos states that Defendant’s employees “are instructed and trained to be observant for potential dangerous conditions on City property, including portions of sidewalks that pose a tripping hazard, and to report such dangerous conditions.” (Declaration of Alfredo Banuelos, ¶ 8.) Banuelos states that Defendant has no records of reports of a dangerous condition or requests for repair in the vicinity of the area where Plaintiff fell prior to her accident. (Declaration of Alfredo Banuelos, ¶ 12.) Plaintiff proffers no evidence to create a triable issue whether there was actual notice.

However, there is a triable issue whether there was constructive notice. As an initial matter, Defendant does not satisfy its burden on this issue because it proffers insufficient evidence foreclosing that it had constructive notice. For example, Defendant proffers no evidence concerning the last time the sidewalk at issue was inspected or even the last time Defendant’s workers were on the sidewalk at issue. To the contrary, Defendant’s evidence suggests that its employees never inspected the sidewalk at issue (because there were no complaints and Defendant responds only to complaints). This is not sufficient to prove that the uplift existed for such a limited period of time that Defendant would not have been placed on notice.

Putting that aside, even if Defendant satisfied its burden, Plaintiff’s evidence is sufficient to create a triable issue whether Defendant should have been on constructive notice. Plaintiff’s declaration identifies the location of the incident and authenticates photographs she took of the sidewalk which show it is uneven. (Declaration of Susan Rivers, ¶¶ 2-4 & Exhs. A-C.) During her deposition, Plaintiff testified that the sidewalk was uneven by three to six inches where she tripped. (Declaration of Harlan N. Petoyan, Exh. A, pp. 36, 61.) The declaration of Melissa Shields states that the relevant portion of Emerson Avenue had been in disrepair generally since November 2013. (Declaration of Melissa Shields, ¶¶ 5-6.) This is sufficient to establish that the condition was so prevalent that Defendant may have been on constructive notice. While Defendant characterizes this as a “wild[] claim[] . . . ,” Plaintiff’s testimony is under oath, and the Court cannot weigh it for purposes of ruling on this motion. (Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 6.) Even so, Defendant did not measure the uplift in the sidewalk and provide photos of the measurements with its motion. Indeed, Defendant proffers no evidence disproving Plaintiff’s measurements. Therefore, the motion is denied.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Defendant’s motion for summary judgment is denied. Defendant is ordered to provide notice of this order and file proof of service of such.

DATED: November 14, 2019 ___________________________

Stephen I. Goorvitch

Judge of the Superior Court