This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/20/2019 at 02:23:22 (UTC).

THORNTON TOMASETTI, INC. VS CYNTHIA BURCH

Case Summary

On 04/12/2017 THORNTON TOMASETTI, INC filed a Contract - Other Contract lawsuit against CYNTHIA BURCH. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are MITCHELL L. BECKLOFF and MARC D. GROSS. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****7367

  • Filing Date:

    04/12/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Other Contract

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

MITCHELL L. BECKLOFF

MARC D. GROSS

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Cross Defendants

THORNTON TOMASETTI INC.

WEILDLINGER ASSOCIATES INC.

Defendant and Cross Plaintiff

BURCH CYNTHIA

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

SAKET LAUREN L.

ARMSTRONG MARK LEIGH

MURTAUGH DEVIN EMERSON

MURTAUGH TREGLIA STERN & DEILY LLP

Defendant Attorneys

ROVENS DOUGLAS J.

ROVENS DOUGLAS JOHN

 

Court Documents

Complaint

4/12/2017: Complaint

Civil Case Cover Sheet

4/12/2017: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Answer

5/24/2017: Answer

Case Management Statement

7/26/2017: Case Management Statement

Minute Order

8/10/2017: Minute Order

Notice of Ruling

8/11/2017: Notice of Ruling

Brief

8/15/2017: Brief

Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

10/25/2017: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information

Unknown

6/18/2018: Unknown

Unknown

6/28/2018: Unknown

Declaration

8/2/2018: Declaration

Notice of Lodging

8/2/2018: Notice of Lodging

Proof of Service by Mail

8/2/2018: Proof of Service by Mail

Motion for Leave to File a Cross-Complaint

8/2/2018: Motion for Leave to File a Cross-Complaint

Motion in Limine

8/15/2018: Motion in Limine

Opposition

8/15/2018: Opposition

Unknown

8/21/2018: Unknown

Motion for Leave to File a Cross-Complaint

8/21/2018: Motion for Leave to File a Cross-Complaint

34 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/01/2019
  • DocketAcknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment; Filed by THORNTON TOMASETTI, INC. (Plaintiff); WEILDLINGER ASSOCIATES, INC. (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/27/2019
  • DocketAbstract of Judgment - Civil and Small Claims; Filed by THORNTON TOMASETTI, INC. (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/20/2019
  • DocketJudgment; Filed by THORNTON TOMASETTI, INC. (Plaintiff)

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  • 03/06/2019
  • DocketObjection (DEFENDANTS OBJECTION TO FORM OF PROPOSED JUDGMENT); Filed by CYNTHIA BURCH (Defendant)

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  • 02/26/2019
  • DocketRequest for Dismissal (With prejudice as to DOES 1 -10); Filed by THORNTON TOMASETTI, INC. (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/17/2019
  • Docketat 09:49 AM in Department M; Ruling on Submitted Matter

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  • 01/17/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Ruling on Submitted Matter)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/17/2019
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for (Minute Order (Ruling on Submitted Matter) of 01/17/2019); Filed by Clerk

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  • 01/15/2019
  • Docketat 09:00 AM in Department M; Non-Jury Trial (with a 2 day estimate) - Held - Taken under Submission

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  • 01/15/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Non-Jury Trial with a 2 day estimate)); Filed by Clerk

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71 More Docket Entries
  • 07/28/2017
  • DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by THORNTON TOMASETTI, INC. (Plaintiff); WEILDLINGER ASSOCIATES, INC. (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/26/2017
  • DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by CYNTHIA BURCH (Defendant)

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  • 07/26/2017
  • DocketStatement-Case Management; Filed by Attorney for Defendant

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  • 05/24/2017
  • DocketAnswer to Complaint Filed (BEHALF OF: CYNTHIA BURCH ); Filed by Attorney for Defendant

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  • 05/24/2017
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by CYNTHIA BURCH (Defendant)

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  • 04/12/2017
  • DocketComplaint Filed

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  • 04/12/2017
  • DocketSummons Filed; Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff

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  • 04/12/2017
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by THORNTON TOMASETTI, INC. (Plaintiff); WEILDLINGER ASSOCIATES, INC. (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/12/2017
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet

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  • 04/12/2017
  • DocketSummons; Filed by Plaintiff

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: ****7367    Hearing Date: June 23, 2020    Dept: O

Case Name: 9450 Topanga Properties LLC, et al. v. Pierson, et al.

Case No.: SC127637

Complaint Filed: 6-5-17

Hearing Date: 6-23-20

Discovery C/O: 1-22-21

Calendar No.: 4

Discover Motion C/O: 2-8-21

POS: OK

Trial Date: 2-22-21

SUBJECT: MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO RFP Nos. 1-6

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Edson’s Investments, Inc.

RESP. PARTY: Defendant John K. Pierson

TENTATIVE RULING

Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to RFP Nos. 1-6 is GRANTED with the stipulated narrowing of their scope to matters or transactions relating to (1) any of the Nygard individuals and their affiliated companies; (2) the real properties located at 9450 Topanga Canyon and 13700 Saticoy; and (3) Borenstein and his companies. Defendant John K. Pierson is ordered to serve further responses, including a privilege log within 10 days.

I. Timeliness and Meet and Confer

The motion is timely. Parties stipulated to extend the motion to compel deadline in writing to 3-4-20. See Motion, Dec. of K. Morris, ¶8, Ex. 6.

The parties met and conferred by letter and phone. The parties were unable to resolve the dispute. Id. at ¶¶5-9.

II. Plaintiff establishes good cause for further production

Where a party moves to compel further responses to requests for production, the burden is on the moving party to demonstrate good cause, i.e. relevance to the subject matter and specific facts justifying discovery. See CCP ;2031.310(b)(1); see also Kirkland v. Sup.Ct. (Guess?, Inc.) (2002) 95 Cal.App.4th 92, 98. A “party may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action ... if the matter either is itself admissible in evidence or appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” CCP ;2017.010(a).

“In the context of discovery, evidence is ‘relevant’ if it might reasonably assist a party in evaluating its case, preparing for trial, or facilitating a settlement. Admissibility is not the test, and it is sufficient if the information sought might reasonably lead to other, admissible evidence. In the more specific context of a demand for production of a tangible thing, the party who asks the trial court to compel production must show ‘good cause’ for the request—but unless there is a legitimate privilege issue or claim of attorney work product, that burden is met simply by a fact-specific showing of relevance.” TBG Ins. Services Corp. v. Supr. Ct. (2002) 96 Cal.App.4th 443, 448.

Plaintiff makes a fact specific showing of relevance as to each of the six RFPs. Plaintiff explains that Pierson was hired to perform legal and management services in connection with the transactions alleged in the complaint, which included building out of the 9450 Topanga Canyon property, and that each of the six entities/individuals identified in the RFPs were directly involved in those same transactions, either as investors, general contractors, Plaintiffs’ partners or Plaintiffs’ employees. The correspondence and communications between Pierson and these six entities/individuals will certainly yield “relevant” evidence, i.e. evidence that might reasonably assist in preparation of the case and might lead to evidence admissible.

Based on the parties’ meet and confer correspondence, the only reason Pierson had to correspond with these six individuals/entities was to discuss the transactions at issue in Plaintiffs’ complaint. See Motion, Dec. of K. Morris, Ex. 5, Letter from K. Morris to J. Robinson dated 1-3-20. Pierson requested and Morris agreed to limit the scope of the RFPs to correspondence between Pierson and the six entities/individuals pertaining to any matters or transactions relating to (1) any of the Nygard individuals and their affiliated companies; (2) the real properties located at 9450 Topanga Canyon and 13700 Saticoy; and (3) Borenstein and his companies. Id. Limiting the RFPs in such a manner would guarantee production of relevant documents only.

Plaintiff makes a fact specific showing of the RFPs’ relevance to the allegations that Pierson committed fraud in connection with his formation and management of the Plaintiffs’ entities. Parties also agreed to narrow the scope of production to documents to correspondence, further reducing the possibility that the RFPs would require production of irrelevant information.

III. Work product doctrine inapplicable

Plaintiff’s RFPs do not seek production of Pierson’s personal work files or other documents that would likely contain information protected by work product doctrine. This is because the RFPs only request “communications” between Pierson and the six categories of entities/individuals.

Ordinarily, an attorney would not disclose work product protected information to third parties. However, contrary to Plaintiff’s position, not all disclosures to third parties necessarily waive work product protection. Whether disclosure to a third party results in waiver of work product protection requires examination of multiple factors surrounding the disclosure. “The purpose of the work product doctrine is to protect information against opposing parties, rather than against all others outside a particular confidential relationship, in order to encourage effective trial preparation. (Citations omitted). Thus, work product protection is not waived except by a disclosure wholly inconsistent with the purpose of the privilege, which is to safeguard the attorney's work product and trial preparation…[¶] Moreover, disclosure operates as a waiver only when otherwise protected information is divulged to a third party who has no interest in maintaining the confidentiality of a significant part of the work product.” Laguna Beach County Water Dist. v. Superior Court (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 1453, 1459.

Thus, disclosure to an adversary would clearly result in waiver of work product protection. Id. (work product doctrine intended to protect against information from “opposing parties”). However, if the information disclosed is clearly marked “ATTORNEY CLIENT/WORK PRODUCT PROTECTED” and the attorney disclosed the information in response to a public entity’s audit request, disclosure does not waive work product protection. Id. at 1459-1460.

The Court cannot assume that work product protection was waived merely because the information was disclosed to third parties. However, it is Pierson’s burden as the party asserting work product protection to establish that the doctrine applies. Thus, to the extent Pierson believes responsive documents are protected by the work product doctrine, he must produce a privilege log per CCP ;2031.240(c) with enough identifying and factual information about each document for Plaintiff to evaluate his claim of work product protection. Pierson must produce all other responsive documents in full.

IV. No privacy interest at stake that would warrant nondisclosure

“In Hill, we established a framework for evaluating potential invasions of privacy. The party asserting a privacy right must establish a legally protected privacy interest, an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the given circumstances, and a threatened intrusion that is serious. The party seeking information may raise in response whatever legitimate and important countervailing interests disclosure serves, while the party seeking protection may identify feasible alternatives that serve the same interests or protective measures that would diminish the loss of privacy. A court must then balance these competing considerations.” Williams v. Superior Court (2017) 3 Cal.5th 531, 552 (citing Hill v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1, 35).

“In general, the court should not proceed to balancing unless a satisfactory threshold showing is made. A defendant is entitled to prevail if it negates any of the three required elements. A defendant can also prevail at the balancing stage. An otherwise actionable invasion of privacy may be legally justified if it substantively furthers one or more legitimate competing interests. (Hill, at p. 40, 26 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 865 P.2d 633.) Conversely, the invasion may be unjustified if the claimant can point to “feasible and effective alternatives” with “a lesser impact on privacy interests.” County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Employee Relations Com. (2013) 56 Cal.4th 905, 926.

As the party asserting the privacy right, Pierson was responsible for establishing a legally protected privacy interest, an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy and a threatened intrusion that is serious. Pierson cannot demonstrate any of these three factors as to the documents requested by the subject RFPs. The communications sought were generated in connection with commercial transactions to which Plaintiffs were a party. Plaintiffs were the partners, employers and hirers of Pierson and the six categories of entities/individuals identified in the RFPs. There would be no reasonable expectation of privacy from Plaintiffs’ examination of these communications.

There is no serious invasion of privacy threatened either. The information sought is not highly sensitive, unlike medical information or private, personal information. Plaintiffs do not intend to use the information obtained for anything but this litigation. Any potential invasion of privacy would be easily remediable by protective order, although Pierson fails to establish the need for such an order given the nature of the information sought.

Pierson’s privacy objections are overruled.



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