This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 04/04/2022 at 17:25:12 (UTC).

TERESA HIRANO VS THE KROGER CO., ET AL.

Case Summary

On 10/25/2021 TERESA HIRANO filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against THE KROGER CO . This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******9292

  • Filing Date:

    10/25/2021

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

HIRANO TERESA

Defendants

AMERICAN GUARD SERVICES INC.

RALPHS GROCERY COMPANY

THE KROGER CO.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

SHAPIRO LARA RUTH

Defendant Attorney

KIM HEEJOONG

 

Court Documents

Complaint

10/25/2021: Complaint

Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

10/25/2021: Notice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case

Civil Case Cover Sheet

10/25/2021: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

10/25/2021: Summons - SUMMONS ON COMPLAINT

Proof of Personal Service

2/9/2022: Proof of Personal Service

Proof of Personal Service

2/9/2022: Proof of Personal Service

Proof of Personal Service

2/9/2022: Proof of Personal Service

Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

3/15/2022: Notice of Posting of Jury Fees

Answer

3/15/2022: Answer

 

Docket Entries

  • 10/21/2024
  • Hearing10/21/2024 at 08:30 AM in Department 27 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal

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  • 04/24/2023
  • Hearing04/24/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 27 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury Trial

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  • 04/10/2023
  • Hearing04/10/2023 at 10:00 AM in Department 27 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 03/15/2022
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by American Guard Services, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 03/15/2022
  • DocketNotice of Posting of Jury Fees; Filed by American Guard Services, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 02/09/2022
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Teresa Hirano (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/09/2022
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Teresa Hirano (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/09/2022
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Teresa Hirano (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/25/2021
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Teresa Hirano (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/25/2021
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Teresa Hirano (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/25/2021
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/25/2021
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Teresa Hirano (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******9292 Hearing Date: May 19, 2022 Dept: 27

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

TERESA HIRANO,

Plaintiff(s),

vs.

THE KROGER CO., et al.,

Defendant(s).

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CASE NO.: *******9292

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: DEFENDANT ALPHA BETA COMPANY dba RALPH’S MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

Dept. 27

1:30 p.m.

May 19, 2022

On October 25, 2021, plaintiff Teresa Hirano (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against defendants Alpha Beta Company dba Ralph’s (“Defendant”) (erroneously sued as “Ralphs Grocery Company”) and American Guard Services, Inc. (“AGS”). Plaintiff alleges that on October 1, 2020, guards from AGS verbally bullied her and ordered her to leave her canvas bag at the front of the store. (Compl., GN-1.) Plaintiff alleges a guard had a holstered gun and stood two feet away from her with his hand on his gun in a threatening manner. (Ibid.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant hired AGS and asserts causes of action for general negligence and intentional tort.

On April 20, 2022, Defendant filed this motion to strike Plaintiff’s request for punitive damages.

Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading may serve and file a notice of motion to strike the whole or any part thereof. (Code Civ. Proc., 435 subd., (b)(1).) The court may, upon a motion, or at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper, strike any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading. (Code Civ. Proc, 436, subd. (a); 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”].) An immaterial or irrelevant allegation is one that is not essential to the statement of a claim or defense; is neither pertinent to nor supported by an otherwise sufficient claim or defense; or a demand for judgment requesting relief not supported by the allegations of the complaint. (Code Civ Proc, 431.10, subd. (b).) The grounds for moving to strike must appear on the face of the pleading or by way of judicial notice. (Code Civ. Proc., 437.)

“Before filing a motion to strike . . . the moving party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to the motion to strike for the purpose of determining if an agreement can be reached that resolves the objections to be raised in the motion to strike.” (Code Civ Proc., 435.5, subd. (a).) If no agreement is reached, the moving party shall file and serve with the motion to strike a declaration stating either: (1) the means by which the parties met and conferred and that the parties did not reach an agreement, or (2) that the party who filed the pleading failed to respond to the meet and confer request or otherwise failed to meet and confer in good faith. (Code Civ. Proc., 435.5, subd. (a)(3).)

No meet and confer declaration is attached to the motion to strike. Nevertheless, the Court proceeds to evaluate the motion on its merits.

Punitive damages may be imposed where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. (Civ. Code, 3294, subd. (a).) “Malice” is conduct intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. (Civ. Code, 3294, subd. (c)(1).) “‘Punitive damages are proper only when the tortious conduct rises to levels of extreme indifference to the plaintiff’s rights, a level which decent citizens should not have to tolerate.’ [Citation.]” (Lackner v. North (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1210.) “As amended to include [despicable], the [Civil Code section 3294] 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. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 725.) The statute’s reference to despicable conduct represents a “new substantive limitation on punitive damage awards.” (Id.) 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.)

Further, “[t]here must be evidence that defendant acted with knowledge of the probable dangerous consequences to plaintiff’s interests and deliberately failed to avoid these consequences.” (Flyer’s Body Shop Profit Sharing Plan v. Ticor Title Ins. Co. (1986) 185 Cal.App.3d 1149, 1155; see also Angie M. v. Superior Court (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 1217, 1228 [“Conscious disregard for the safety of another may be sufficient where the defendant is aware of the probably dangerous consequences of his or her conduct and he or she willfully fails to avoid such consequences”].)

An employer shall not be liable for punitive damages based on the acts of an employee, unless the employer had advance knowledge of the unfitness of the employee and employed him or her with a conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others or authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct for which damages are awarded, or was personally guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. With respect to a corporate employer, the advance knowledge and conscious disregard, authorization, ratification or act of oppression, fraud, or malice must be on the part of an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation. (Civ. Code, 3294, subd. (b).)

A motion to strike punitive damages is properly granted where a plaintiff does not state a prima facie claim for punitive damages, including allegations that defendant is guilty of oppression, fraud or malice. (Turman v. Turning Point of Cent. California, Inc. (2010) 191 Cal.App.4th 53, 63.) “Mere negligence, even gross negligence, is not sufficient to justify such an award” for punitive damages. (Kendall Yacht Corp. v. United California Bank (1975) 50 Cal. App. 3d 949, 958.) The allegations supporting a request for punitive damages must be alleged with specificity; conclusory allegations without sufficient facts are not enough. (Smith v. Superior Court (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1033, 1041-1042.)

Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state sufficient facts with the required specificity to support a claim for punitive damages. Plaintiff fails to identify an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation and fails to state any facts showing that the officer, director, or managing agent approved, authorized, or ratified AGS’s conduct. Nor does Plaintiff allege any actions taken by Defendant which rise to the level of oppression, fraud, or malice, other than its mere employment of AGS.

Accordingly, Defendant’s unopposed motion to strike is GRANTED.

Leave to amend at this time is not granted but if Plaintiff later determines in discovery that there are factual grounds for punitive damages, Plaintiff may file a motion for leave to amend.

Moving party to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT27@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org. Please be advised that if you submit on the tentative and elect not to appear at the hearing, the opposing party may nevertheless appear at the hearing and argue the matter. Unless you receive a submission from all other parties in the matter, you should assume that others might appear at the hearing to argue. If the Court does not receive emails from the parties indicating submission on this tentative ruling and there are no appearances at the hearing, the Court may, at its discretion, adopt the tentative as the final order or place the motion off calendar.


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