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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/10/2019 at 07:28:37 (UTC).

THUY TRANG THI NGUYEN ET AL VS MICHELLE D TAYLOR ET AL

Case Summary

On 01/10/2017 THUY TRANG THI NGUYEN filed a Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle lawsuit against MICHELLE D TAYLOR. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are LAURA A. SEIGLE and AMY D. HOGUE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****6362

  • Filing Date:

    01/10/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

LAURA A. SEIGLE

AMY D. HOGUE

 

Party Details

Defendants and Respondents

CITY OF LOS ANGELES TRANSIT SERVICES

TAYLOR MICHELLE D

DOES 1 TO 10

LOS ANGELES COUNTY METROPOLITAN

MV TRANSPORTATION INC. DOE 1

Minors

NGUYEN KAITLIN

NGUYEN TYLER

Guardian Ad Litem

NGUIYEN THY TANG THI

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorneys

HERZOG VANESSA K.

FEUER MICHAEL N. CITY ATTORNEY

Minor Attorney

NGUYEN ANH DUY ESQ.

 

Court Documents

Minute Order

9/4/2018: Minute Order

Minute Order

11/13/2018: Minute Order

Order

11/13/2018: Order

Ex Parte Application

11/13/2018: Ex Parte Application

Notice of Ruling

11/21/2018: Notice of Ruling

Notice of Ruling

3/7/2019: Notice of Ruling

Minute Order

3/7/2019: Minute Order

Ex Parte Application

3/7/2019: Ex Parte Application

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/07/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application (for Order to Continue Trial) - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Court

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  • 03/07/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Ex Parte Application ( for an Order to Continue trial) - Held - Motion Granted

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/07/2019
  • Notice of Ruling; Filed by Michelle D Taylor (Defendant); City of Los Angeles Transit Services (Defendant); MV Transportation, Inc. (Doe 1) (Defendant)

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  • 03/07/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Ex Parte Application for an Order to Continue tri...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/07/2019
  • Ex Parte Application ( for an Order to Continue trial); Filed by Michelle D Taylor (Defendant); Los Angeles County Metropolitan (Defendant); MV Transportation, Inc. (Doe 1) (Defendant)

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  • 01/11/2019
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 7, Amy D. Hogue, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Party's Motion

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  • 01/03/2019
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 7, Amy D. Hogue, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Party's Motion

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  • 11/21/2018
  • Notice of Ruling; Filed by Michelle D Taylor (Defendant); MV Transportation, Inc. (Doe 1) (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 11/13/2018
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 7, Amy D. Hogue, Presiding; Ex-Parte Proceedings (to continue trial) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 11/13/2018
  • Order (Re: Ex Parte Order Granting Trial Continuance); Filed by Michelle D Taylor (Defendant); City of Los Angeles Transit Services (Defendant); Los Angeles County Metropolitan (Defendant) et al.

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51 More Docket Entries
  • 02/02/2017
  • Application ; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

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  • 02/02/2017
  • APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM - CIVIL EX PARTE

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  • 01/19/2017
  • NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/19/2017
  • NOTICE OF REJECTION - APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/11/2017
  • Application ; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/11/2017
  • APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM CIVIL

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/11/2017
  • APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM CIVIL

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/11/2017
  • Application ; Filed by Plaintiff/Petitioner

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/10/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by null

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  • 01/10/2017
  • COMPLAINT FOR PERSONAL INJURIES AND DAMAGES

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC646362    Hearing Date: March 02, 2021    Dept: 27

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA 

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

THUY TRANG THI NGUYEN, et al.,

Plaintiff(s),

vs.

MICHELLE D. TAYLOR, et al.,

Defendant(s).

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.: BC646362

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR ORDER ADVANCING HEARING DATES  AND FOR TRIAL CONTINUANCE

Dept. 27

1:30 p.m.

March 2, 2021

Introduction and Procedural Background

On January 10, 2017, plaintiffs Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen (“Plaintiff”), Kaitlin¿Nguyen, by and through her guardian ad litem Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen, and Tyler Nguyen (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against defendants Michelle D. Taylor, City of Los Angeles Transit Services, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.¿ Plaintiff Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen was involved in an automobile collision with a bus operated by MV Transportation, Inc. (named as Doe 1), driven by MV employee, Michelle Taylor.¿¿¿¿

Trial is currently set for March 30, 2021.  Defendants have two upcoming motions on calendar: a Motion to Compel Plaintiff to Submit to Additional Medical Examinations (set for hearing on June 30, 2021) and a Motion to Compel Plaintiff’s Deposition (set for hearing on August 2, 2021) (collectively, the “Motions”).  Defendants seek a request to have these Motions heard earlier on March 8, 2021 and for an order continuing the trial to May 11, 2021.  

Alternatively, Defendants request the Court continue trial to September 21, 2021 in order to allow the Motions to be heard on the dates as currently set.  

Legal Standard

A party seeking a continuance of the date set for trial must make the request for a continuance by a noticed motion or an ex parte application as soon as reasonably practical once the necessity for the continuance is discovered.  (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1332(b).)  The request for continuance may be granted on an affirmative showing of good cause.  (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1332.)

Discussion

Defendants claim that upon learning of Plaintiff’s neurological and neuropsychological injury claims in November 2019, Defendants requested that Plaintiff stipulate to attend multiple medical examinations.  However, Plaintiffs’ counsel objected each time and according to Defendant, “never provided a definitive response.”  (Motion, 2:16-23.)  Therefore, Defendants filed a motion to compel Plaintiff’s attendance at additional medical examinations on December 4, 2020.  

Defendants also claim that they were only recently informed on December 3, 2020 that Plaintiff underwent additional surgery (a permanent spinal cord stimulator implant) on November 23, 2020.  Defendants also claim that treatment records from Dr. Harris Fisk and Dr. Falke, who are previously unidentified medical providers, were produced on December 29, 2020, which changed Defendants’ understanding of Plaintiff’s claimed injuries Also, Defendants state Plaintiff had previously not made any claim of a head injury but was now diagnosed with “close head trauma with post concussive syndrome” and undergone a brain MRIThese discoveries, Defendants contend, require a second deposition of Plaintiff.  While Defendants noticed the second deposition of Plaintiff on December 4, 2020, Plaintiff objected.  Thus, Defendants filed a motion to compel on January 4, 2020.  

In opposition, Plaintiffs remind the Court that Defendants are asking for a seventh trial continuance.  Plaintiffs argue that Defendants were not diligent in seeking the additional medical examinations.  Plaintiffs also argue that Defendants had knowledge of the spinal cord stimulator implant as early in June 2020 because: (1) Dr. Loder, Plaintiff’s pain management specialist, noted that this treatment was being considered; (2) Dr. Mobin also recommended this treatment and (3) Plaintiff had made efforts to get this treatment.  Furthermore, Plaintiff argues she will be continually undergoing medical procedures and surgeries, and that the spinal cord stimulator implant procedure is not so remarkable as to allow additional discovery.  Plaintiffs also argue that the hearing dates for the Motions should not be advanced because the parties are currently in the middle of expert discovery.  

The Court recognizes that trial in this matter has been repeatedly delayed. However, Defendants’ request for a continuance has merit.  Plaintiff does not address when it was first disclosed that she was claiming a head injury.  Plaintiff also does not address why her medical providers, Dr. Fisk and Dr. Falke, were not previously identified.  Therefore, Defendants’ Motion for a continuance is granted and the hearing dates for the Motion to Compel Additional Medical Examinations and Motion to Compel Deposition are advanced to March 19, 2021 at 1:30 p.m.  The trial date is continued from March 31, 2021 to May 11, 2021 at 8:00 a.m.  All witnesses and experts are to be informed of the new trial date.  No further continuances should be expected.  

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.  

Dated this 2nd day of March 2021

Hon. Edward B. Moreton, Jr.

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC646362    Hearing Date: December 15, 2020    Dept: 27

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA 

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

THUY TRANG THI NGUYEN, KAITLIN NGUYEN, AND TYLER NGUYEN,¿¿

Plaintiffs,¿

vs.¿

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MICHELLE D. TAYLOR, et al.,¿

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Defendants.¿

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¿¿¿¿¿ CASE NO.:¿BC646362¿

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[TENTATIVE] ORDER¿RE:¿MOTIONS TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES

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Dept.¿27¿

10:00 a.m.¿

December 15, 2020

On January 10, 2017, plaintiffs Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen (“Plaintiff”), Kaitlin¿Nguyen, by and through her guardian ad litem Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen, and Tyler Nguyen (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against defendants Michelle D. Taylor (“Taylor”), City of Los Angeles Transit Services, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.¿ Plaintiff Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen was involved in an automobile collision with a bus operated by MV Transportation, Inc. (named as Doe 1) and driven by Taylor, MV’s employee.¿¿¿

Plaintiff moves for an order compelling further responses from Taylor to Demands for Production, Set Two.  Counsel’s declaration does not state whether an informal discovery conference (“IDC”) has been held to address the issues raised in this Motion.  Accordingly, Plaintiff’s¿Motion to Compel is premature and will be continued to a new date as set forth below.¿ The parties are ordered to participate in an IDC as required by the¿Court’s First Amended Standing Order Re: PI Court Procedures (2/24/20), which is available on the LA Superior Court’s website, under the Personal Injury section.¿¿¿

The hearing on the MTFC is continued to¿February 5, 2020¿at 10:00 a.m. in Department¿27¿of the Spring Street Courthouse.¿ Moving Party is ordered to use the online reservation management system to schedule an IDC, which must go forward per the terms set forth in the¿2/24/20¿Standing Order.¿ The IDC must be scheduled at least two weeks prior to the continued hearing date on the MTCFs.¿¿¿

If the above date is not convenient for the parties and/or an IDC cannot be scheduled, for whatever reason, within the necessary time period, Moving Party must use the online reservation system to promptly continue the hearing on the motion to a date at least two weeks after the IDC.¿¿¿

The Court also notes that there are currently 12 motions to compel further discovery responses on calendar and only one informal discovery conference (“IDC”) scheduled for January 7, 2021.  The Court orders the moving party to submit a tabbed binder containing the moving, opposing, and reply papers for each motion to be heard.  Each binder must contain 

a table of contents along with a column identifying the date each motion was filed, the discovery at issue in the motion, and the date the IDC addressing those issues was conducted.  The binders for each motion must be lodged with the Court no later than 3 days before the hearing date.  Failure to provide a binder will result in the hearing being continued.  

Moving party to give notice.

15th day of December 2020

Hon. Edward B. Moreton, Jr.

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC646362    Hearing Date: October 29, 2020    Dept: 27

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA 

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

THUY TRANG THI NGUYEN, KAITLIN NGUYEN, AND TYLER NGUYEN,¿¿

Plaintiffs,¿

vs.¿

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MICHELLE D. TAYLOR, et al.,¿

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Defendants.¿

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¿¿¿¿¿ CASE NO.:¿BC646362¿

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[TENTATIVE] ORDER¿RE:¿DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO COMPEL DEPOSITION OF PERSON MOST QUALIFIED AT FARDAD MOBIN, M.D.’S OFFICE

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Dept.¿27¿

1:30 p.m.¿

October 29, 2020

On January 10, 2017, plaintiffs Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen (“Plaintiff”), Kaitlin¿Nguyen, by and through her guardian ad litem Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen, and Tyler Nguyen (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against defendants Michelle D. Taylor, City of Los Angeles Transit Services, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.¿ Plaintiff Thuy Trang¿Thi¿Nguyen was involved in an automobile collision with a bus operated by MV Transportation, Inc. (named as Doe 1), driven by MV employee, Michelle Taylor.¿¿¿

On November 8, 2019, the Honorable Laura A. Seigle issued a minute order permitting the deposition of the person most qualified (“PMQ”) at Fardad Mobin, M.D.’s (“Dr. Mobin”) office on the topics of policies and procedures concerning medical code billing, negotiating charges, collection of payments, charges and practices, .  Dr. Mobin is Plaintiff’s treating physician as well as a retained expert. Mobin has also been identified by Plaintiff’s as the PMQ.

However, the deposition has not occurred because Plaintiff’s counsel insists on having Defendants pay a witness fee of $1,500 per hour and an additional $750 for a videotaped deposition.  No individual on behalf Dr. Mobin’s office (let alone Dr. Mobin, as the identified PMQ) has appeared for deposition even though Defendants have served three notices of deposition and deposition subpoenas.  Defendants now move to compel the deposition of the PMQ for Dr. Mobin’s office on the policies and procedures for medical billing and negotiating medical bills, negotiating medical treatment charges, collection of payment, medical-legal billing and negotiation of medical-legal billing, and lien reductions.  (Defs.’ Ex. E.)

A party seeking discovery from a person who is not a party to the action may obtain discovery by oral deposition, written deposition, or deposition subpoena for production of business records.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2020.010.)  A deposition subpoena may command: (1) only the attendance and testimony of the deponent, (2) only the production of business records for copying, or (3) the attendance and testimony of the deponent, as well as the production of business records, other documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2020.020.)

Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.230, a deponent is entitled to witness fees and mileage required by Government Code section 68070, et seq.  (Code Civ. Proc. § 2020.230.)  This payment shall be made either at the time of service of the deposition subpoena or at the time the deponent attends for the taking of testimony.  (Ibid.)  This fee is $35 a day with mileage actually traveled, both ways, $0.20 a mile.  (Gov’t Code § 68093.)  

However, Plaintiff argues in opposition that Code of Civil Procedure section 2034.430 should apply when setting Dr. Mobin’s witness fee.  Section 2034.430 requires the deposing counsel to pay the expert’s reasonable and customary hourly or daily feeif the witness is a “treating physician and surgeon or other treating health care practitioner who is to be asked during the deposition to express opinion testimony, including opinion or factual testimony regarding the past or present diagnosis or prognosis made by the practitioner or the reasons for a particular treatment decision made by the practitioner, but not including testimony requiring only the reading of words and symbols contained in the relevant medical record or, if those words and symbols are not legible to the deponent, the approximation by the deponent of what those words or symbols are. (Code Civ. Proc. § 2034.430.)  

Plaintiff contends that Dr. Mobin’s deposition testimony regarding his office’s billing practices necessarily involves testimony about the treatment decisions he made, which renders him an expert witness entitled to an expert witness fee.  (Opp. 1:21-27.)  This is not persuasiveSection 2034.430 requires expert fees to be paid for testimony about the reasoning behind treatment decisions, not reasoning for medical coding/billing.  Medical billing practices do not require Dr. Mobin (if he is indeed the PMQ for his office’s billing practices) to testify about the reasoning behind his treatment decisions, but his office’s decision to bill or code that after the treatment has been providedSimilarly, the other remaining topics on collections and negotiating charges do not inquire about a physician’s medical reasons for treating a patient a particular way.  They are issues regarding the financial operations of a physician’s office.  

Accordingly, Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED.  The PMQ of Dr. Mobin’s office on Topics 1-9 identified in the Third Amended Notice of Deposition and Deposition Subpoena is ordered to appear for deposition within 20 days of the date of this Order.   The PMQ will be paid a witness fee of $35 a day with mileage actually traveled, both ways, $0.20 a mile, as provided by Government Code section 68093.

As the Motion is granted, Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is DENIED. 

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.  

Dated this 29th day of October 2020

Hon. Edward B. Moreton, Jr.

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC646362    Hearing Date: October 09, 2020    Dept: 27

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

THUY TRANG THI NGUYEN, KAITLIN NGUYEN, AND TYLER NGUYEN,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

MICHELLE D. TAYLOR, et al.,

Defendants.

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CASE NO.: BC646362

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO FARDAD MOBIN, M.D.

Dept. 4B

1:30 p.m.

November 8, 2019

On January 10, 2017, plaintiffs Thuy Trang Thi Nguyen (“Plaintiff”), Kaitlin Nguyen, by and through her guardian ad litem Thuy Trang Thi Nguyen, and Tyler Nguyen (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against defendants Michelle D. Taylor, City of Los Angeles Transit Services, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Plaintiff Thuy Trang Thi Nguyen was involved in an automobile collision with a bus operated by MV Transportation, Inc. (named as Doe 1) (“MV”), driven by MV employee, Michelle Taylor.

Defendants served a notice of deposition of the person most qualified (“PMQ”) at Fardad Mobin, M.D.’s office on July 10, 2019, with a deposition subpoena for the production of documents. The notice of deposition for the PMQ identifies 24 categories of testimony including medical billing policies and procedures, negotiating charges, collection of payments, rates accepted for treatment, and agreements with insurance providers for billing rates. The deposition subpoena sought 193 categories of documents reflecting the same for the last three years.

After meeting and conferring, Defendants served a second notice of deposition for the PMQ for Dr. Mobin’s office identifying 24 categories of testimony and including 49 requests for production. Plaintiff seeks to quash this subpoena.

A deposition subpoena may request (1) only the attendance and testimony of a deponent, (2) only the production of business records for copying, or (3) the attendance and testimony, as well as the production of business records. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2020.020.) The court, upon motion or the court’s own motion, “may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders. In addition, the court may make any other orders as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.1, subd. (a).) “A deposition subpoena that commands only the production of business records for copying shall designate the business records to be produced either by specifically describing each individual item or by reasonably particularizing each category of item . . .” (Code Civ. Proc., §2020.410, subd. (a).)

A plaintiff cannot recover more than the amount of medical expenses paid or incurred, even if the reasonable value of those services might be a greater amount. (Katiuzhinsky v. Perry (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 1288, 1290.) Defendant requests records demonstrating Dr. Mobin’s billing practices in order to determine the reasonable value of Plaintiff’s medical costs. This information is relevant to ascertaining damages.

Plaintiff argues the subpoena is improper because Dr. Mobin is a retained expert. However, this objection is meritless because the subpoena is directed towards the PMQ of Dr. Mobin’s office who is knowledgeable about Dr. Mobin’s billing practices. It does not seek expert opinion, only facts about Dr. Mobin’s billing and collections practices.

Information and testimony about Dr. Mobin’s rates, billing practices, and collections practices are relevant. Plaintiff’s concern for third-party privacy rights may be addressed by redacting the names and personal information of patients on documents produced. Plaintiff’s argument that the requests for document are too sweeping exaggerates the scope of the subpoena. Defendants are not asking for documents for every patient Dr. Mobin provided care to, but only to those patients which received the same medical procedures as Plaintiff. These procedures are clearly identified in the document requests and constitute medical expenses for which Plaintiff is claiming damages. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to quash the deposition subpoena to Dr. Mobin’s office is DENIED.

The court may in its discretion award the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred in making or opposing the motion, including reasonable attorney’s fees, if the court finds the motion was made or opposed in bad faith or without substantial justification or that one or more of the requirements of the subpoena was oppressive. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.2, subd. (a).)

Plaintiff’s request for monetary sanctions is DENIED. Defendants’ request for sanctions is GRANTED. The Court finds the motion was brought without substantial justification and imposes sanctions against Plaintiff and counsel, jointly and severally, in the amount of $1,285 consisting of 7 hours at defense counsel’s hourly rate of $175 and a $60 filing fee.

Moving party to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT4B@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org.

Dated this 9th day of October 2020

Hon. Edward B. Moreton, Jr.

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC646362    Hearing Date: September 03, 2020    Dept: 27

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA 

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

THUY TRANG THI NGUYEN, et al.,

Plaintiff(s),

vs.

MICHELLE D. TAYLOR, et al.,

Defendant(s).

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.: BC64632

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR ADMISSION 

Dept. 27

10:00 a.m.

September 3, 2020

Plaintiff Thuy Trang Thi Nguyen (“Plaintiff”) seeks an order compelling a further response from defendants City of Los Angeles (“City”) and MV Transportation (collectively, “Defendants”).  

At issue are identical requests for admission (“RFA”) propounded by Plaintiff to Defendants; specifically, RFA Nos. 18-19, 21-22, 27-28, and 30-31 to City and RFA Nos. 51-52, 54-55, 60-61, and 63-64 to MV TransportationDefendants share the same counsel and the responses at issue are substantively identical as well.  Defendants did not file an opposition.

California Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.290 allows a party to move for an order compelling a further response to requests for admission if that party deems that an answer is evasive or incomplete, or an objection is without merit or too general.  Plaintiff argues further responses to these RFAs are necessary because Defendants’ responses are not unqualified admissions. argues Defendants answer “leaves open the door for them to argue that Plaintiffs, who are not third parties, were at fault for the collision.”  However, responses to RFAs need only be an admission, a denial, or a statement claiming inability to admit or deny.  (Code Civ. Proc. § 2033.220, subd. (b).)  If an admission, each answer shall “[a]dmit so much of the matter involved in the request as is true, either as expressed in the request itself or as reasonably and clearly qualified by the responding party.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 20333.220, subd. (b)(1).) DENIED

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.  

Dated this 3rd day of September 2020

Hon. Edward B. Moreton, Jr. 

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC646362    Hearing Date: August 18, 2020    Dept: 27

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA 

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

THUY TRANG THI NGUYEN, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

MICHELLE D. TAYLOR, et al.,

Defendants.

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.: BC646362

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENA FOR EMPLOYMENT RECORDS; MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA FOR PMK FROM USC CENTER FOR SPINAL SURGERY

Dept. 27

1:30 p.m.

August 11, 2020

  1. Introduction

On January 10, 2017,  plaintiffs Thuy Trang Thi Nguyen (“Nguyen”)mand minors Kaitlin Nguyen and Tyler Nguyen (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against defendant Michelle D. Taylor (“Taylor”), City of Los Angeles Transit Services, and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  On September 27, 2019, MV Transportation, Inc. (“MV”) was named as a Doe defendantThe action arises from a motor vehicle collision that occurred on July 19, 2016 between a vehicle driven by Nguyen and a bus driven by Taylor.  Plaintiffs allege that Taylor made an unsafe left turn onto on-coming traffic, striking Nguyen’s vehicle.  At the time of the collision, Taylor was employed by MV.  

Taylor moves for an order quashing Plaintiffs’ subpoena to her former employer, Transportation Concepts for her employment records.  

Defendants Taylor, City, and MV also move for an order quashing Plaintiffs’ deposition subpoena to USC Center for Spinal Surgery. 

  1. Legal Standard

A deposition subpoena may request (1) only the attendance and testimony of a deponent, (2) only the production of business records for copying, or (3) the attendance and testimony, as well as the production of business records.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2020.020.)  The court, upon motion or the court’s own motion, “may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders.  In addition, the court may make any other orders as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.1, subd. (a).)  “A deposition subpoena that commands only the production of business records for copying shall designate the business records to be produced either by specifically describing each individual item or by reasonably particularizing each category of item . . .”  (Code Civ. Proc., §2020.410, subd. (a).)

“‘[F]or discovery purposes, information is relevant if it might reasonably assist a party in evaluating the case, preparing for trial, or facilitating settlement’ and ‘[a]dmissibility is not the test and information, unless privileged, is discoverable if it might reasonably lead to admissible evidence.’  These rules are applied liberally in favor of discovery . . . and (contrary to popular belief) fishing expeditions are permissible in some cases.”  (Cruz v. Superior Court (2004) 121 Cal.App.4th 646, 653, citations omitted.)  The Court must “balance the public need against the weight of the privacy right” and only serious invasions of privacy will bar discovery.  (Crab Addison, Inc. v. Superior Court (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 958, 966.)  There is not an egregious invasion of privacy every time there is a request for private information and courts must “place the burden on the party asserting a privacy interest to establish its extent and seriousness of the prospective invasion.”  (Williams v. Superior Court (2017) 3 Cal.5th 531, 557.)  

  1. Discussion

Subpoena to Transportation Concepts

Personnel documents and information, communicated to an employer in confidence

are covered by the employee’s constitutional right of privacy. Board of Trustees v. Superior

Court (1981) 119 Cal. App. 3d 516, 524-26; see also Harding Lawson Assocs. v. Superior

Court (1992) 10 Cal. App. 4th 7, 10 [holding that personnel files are protected by the right

of privacy unless the requesting party shows a compelling need for the particular documents

and that the information cannot reasonably be obtained through depositions or from

nonconfidential sources].) 

Taylor worked at Transportation Concepts one year before being hired by MV and six years before the collision.  Plaintiff alleges Taylor’s employment records should be produced because she received 20 hours of classroom training by Transportation Concepts to become licensed to drive a bus.  According to Plaintiffs, Taylor’s driving record is relevant to outstanding issues involving the “force of impact” for the collision and her records may establish a repeated pattern of inattentive driving.  Plaintiffs also contend the records are relevant to whether Taylor was trained to operate passenger buses or whether City and MV entrusted the bus to Taylor knowing she was unfit.  

First, plaintiff does not sufficiently explain how employment records could be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence regarding the force of impact for any collision.  

Second, a broad request for employment records is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence regarding MV’s knowledge of Taylor’s fitness as a bus driver, especially when MV has already admitted vicarious liability.

Third, the only documents from Transportation Concepts that could be relevant to this action would be documents relating to classroom and behind-the-wheel training Taylor mentioned in deposition.  However, Plaintiffs do not show why additional evidence beyond her deposition testimony is necessary.  

Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the Motion and the subpoena to Transportation Concepts is QUASHED.  

Subpoena to USC Center for Spinal Surgery

Dr. Mark Spoonamore is an expert retained by Defendants to testify at trial.  Dr. Spoonamore also conducted the defense medical examination of plaintiff Nguyen on June 25, 2019.  On March 18, 2020, Plaintiff served a deposition subpoena on Defendants’ retained expert’s office, USC Center for Spinal Surgery.  Defendant moves to quash the subpoena on the grounds that it is a premature request for expert discovery and seeks impermissible discoveryDefendant also states the subpoena is harassing and seeks monetary sanctions. 

The deposition subpoena seeks to take the deposition of the person most knowledgeable/qualified from USC Center for Spinal Surgery.  The PMK topics relate to medical billing practices, expert retention practices, and the defense medical examination of Plaintiff.  The subpoena also lists 9 categories of documents for production.  

Categories of Testimony

Plaintiff seeks to depose the PMK for USC Center Spinal Surgery on the following topics: (1) policies and procedures for medical billing, (2) policies and procedures for negotiating medical treatment charges, (3) policies and procedures for collection of payment for medical treatment, (4) policies and procedures for medical-legal billing, (5) policies and procedures for negotiating medical-legal bills, (6) policies and procedures for reduction in lien amounts, (7) policies and procedures for negotiating medical bills, (8) policies and procedures for acceptance of full and final payment figures of medical treatment, (9) policies and procedures regarding the retention of Mark Spoonamore, M.D. as an expert witness, and (10) the defense medical examination performed by Dr. Spoonamore of Nguyen

Dr. Spoonamore is a retained expert and also the doctor who conducted the defense medical examination of NguyenCode of Civil Procedure section 2032.610 directs the production of the report made by the medical examiner for the defense medical examination.  It also waives the work product protection only for “the examiner’s writings and reports and to the taking of the examiner’s testimony.”  Defendants do not contest that Dr. Spoonamore’s report and Dr. Spoonamore’s testimony regarding the exam are discoverable, but challenge whether Dr. Spoonamore’s office should be compelled to testify on topics outside of the medical examination.  

The Court agrees with Defendants.  Dr. Spoonamore did not treat Plaintiff or bill Plaintiff.  Dr. Spoonamore has no percipient knowledge of Plaintiff.  To the extent Plaintiffs seek to depose Dr. Spoonamore and his office for information outside of the defense medical examination, such as billing practices or expert retention, that constitutes expert discovery that is only permitted “following receipt of an expert witness list from a party.”  (Code Civ. Proc. § 2034.410.)  If Plaintiff seeks to depose Dr. Spoonamore about the defense medical examination, Plaintiff should serve Dr. Spoonamore with a deposition subpoena, not his office.  

Requests for Production

Defendants submitted a separate statement explaining why each request for production in the Subpoena is improper.  Plaintiffs did not submit an opposing separate statement responding to Defendants’ arguments and did not explain how their requests for production to Dr. Spoonamore’s office (who neither treated nor billed Nguyen) were proper or was not expert discoveryPlaintiffs’ references to the Court’s November 8, 2019 are unpersuasive and disingenuous.  

Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ Motion and the subpoena is quashed. 

Monetary Sanctions

The court may in its discretion award the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred in making or opposing the motion, including reasonable attorney’s fees, if the court finds the motion was made or opposed in bad faith or without substantial justification or that one or more of the requirements of the subpoena was oppressive.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.2, subd. (a).)  

The Court finds the Motions were opposed in bad faith and without substantial justification.  Thus, the Court imposes monetary sanctions on Plaintiffs and counsel of record, jointly and severally, in the amount of $1,520.00, consisting of 8 hours of defense counsel’s hourly rate of $175.00 and $120.00 in filing fees, to be paid within twenty (20) days of the date of this Order. 

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.  

Dated this 11th day of August 2020

Hon. Edward B. Moreton, Jr.

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC646362    Hearing Date: November 08, 2019    Dept: 4B

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITION SUBPOENA TO FARDAD MOBIN, M.D.

On January 10, 2017, plaintiffs Thuy Trang Thi Nguyen (“Plaintiff”), Kaitlin Nguyen, by and through her guardian ad litem Thuy Trang Thi Nguyen, and Tyler Nguyen filed this action against defendants Michelle D. Taylor, City of Los Angeles Transit Services, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Plaintiff was involved in an automobile collision with a bus operated by MV Transportation, Inc. (named as Doe 1), driven by MV employee, Michelle Taylor.

Defendants served a notice of deposition of the person most qualified (“PMQ”) at Fardad Mobin, M.D.’s office on July 10, 2019, with a deposition subpoena for the production of documents. The notice of deposition identifies 24 categories of testimony regarding various policies and practices, including for medical billing, negotiating charges, and collection of payments; rates accepted for various treatment over the last five years; and assorted agreements with insurance providers for billing rates. The deposition subpoena sought 193 categories of documents.

After meeting and conferring, Defendants served a second notice of deposition for the PMQ for Dr. Mobin’s office identifying 24 categories of testimony and 49 requests for production. Plaintiff seeks to quash this subpoena.

The court “may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders. In addition, the court may make any other orders as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 1987.1, subd. (a).) “A deposition subpoena that commands only the production of business records for copying shall designate the business records to be produced either by specifically describing each individual item or by reasonably particularizing each category of item . . .” (Code Civ. Proc., §2020.410, subd. (a).)

Plaintiff argues the subpoena is improper because Dr. Mobin is a retained expert. However, he also treated Plaintiff after the accident and therefore has percipient knowledge about his injuries and the amounts his office charged to treat those injuries.

Deposition Topics On Policies And Procedures

Plaintiff objected that the deposition topics concerning the office’s policies and procedures related to billing, rates, and collections are overbroad, are not relevant or reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and violate the privacy rights of other patients. Defendants contend the information goes to the reasonableness of the rates Dr. Mobin charged Plaintiff.

The information on the doctor’s policies and procedures potentially could be relevant the reasonableness of the rates he charged Plaintiff. Because these topics ask only about policies and procedures, and not about specific other patients, the topics do not violate the privacy rights of other patients and are not overly broad and burdensome. Accordingly, the motion to quash is DENIED regarding the deposition topics on policies and procedures (Topic Nos. 1-3, 19-22, 24).

Deposition Topics and Documents On Rates And Agreements

Plaintiff objected that the deposition topics and document requests concerning rates charged for other patients for particular procedures in the last five years and agreements with insurance companies and Medicare are overbroad, are not relevant or reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and violate the privacy rights of other patients. (Plaintiff made the exact same objection to each topic and request.) Plaintiff contends that the rates Dr. Mobin accepted are affected by multiple factors such as the patient’s insurance plan, the nature and complexity of the injury and surgery, and the patient’s economic situation.

Case law is clear that billed amounts and charged rates are not evidence alone of the reasonable value or cost of the services provided. (Bermudez v. Ciolek (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 1311, 1337.) The measures of the reasonable value or cost of a treatment are different for insured and uninsured patients (as Plaintiff is considered here because she treated on a lien). The case law does “not suggest uninsured plaintiffs are limited in their measure of recovery to the typical amount incurred by an insured plaintiff, or, for that matter, the typical amount incurred by any other category of plaintiff.” (Id. at p. 1329.) Indeed, different cases involving the same injury may result in different medical expenses. “There is, to be sure, an element of fortuity to the compensatory damages the defendant pays . . . . A tortfeasor who injuries a member of a managed care organization may pay less in compensation for medical expenses than one who inflicts the same injury on an uninsured person treated at a hospital . . . .” (Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. (2011) 52 Cal.4th 541, 566.)

In light of this case law, Defendant does not explain how the requested information about amounts charged to other patients, who may or may not have paid those amounts and may or may not be insured, bears on the reasonableness of Plaintiff’s charges. Nor does Defendant cite any authority that what a different patient was charged or paid can be evidence of the reasonableness of another person’s bills.

The topics and documents seeking information on rates charged to particular patients for various procedures for the last three or five years are overly broad and burdensome given the tangential, if any relevance, to the issue of the reasonable rate for Plaintiff’s treatment. Obtaining the requested information for the last several years and redacting patient identifying information is likely to be time-consuming. Defendants do not explain how the rate charged to or paid by third parties, in different circumstances with different insurance plans or financial prospects, informs the reasonableness of the rate charged to Plaintiff. For example, a doctor may agree to accept less than the full amount billed because a particular patient has declared bankruptcy or will never work again and is unlikely ever to pay the full bill. Likewise, Defendants do not explain how the fact that a particular insurance company negotiated particular rates for various treatments bears on the reasonableness of the rate charged to Plaintiff. For example, an insurance company may negotiate a lower rate for certain treatments in exchange for a higher rate for other treatments.

The motion to quash is GRANTED as to Topic Nos. 4-18 and Request Nos. 2-46.

Deposition Topic On Medical Bill Coding

This topic is overbroad because it is vague. The request does not explain what aspect of the topic of “medical bill coding” is at issue and potentially relevant or calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Therefore the motion to quash this topic is GRANTED.

Other Requests

Request No. 1 asks for all documents reflecting billings, time slips, and work logs for Plaintiff’s treatment. These documents are directly relevant to Plaintiff’s treatment and the charges for the treatment. The motion to quash this topic is DENIED.

Request Nos. 47-49 ask for all documents reflecting agreements, communications, and correspondence between Plaintiff’s attorney and Dr. Mobin relating to Plaintiff. Plaintiff asserted the same objections as she did to all the other requests – that the requests are overbroad, not relevant or reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and violate the privacy rights of other patients. These objections are not well-taken. The requests are specific to Plaintiff and do not ask for information about any other patients. The documents are likely to be about the issues in dispute in this case. Plaintiff does not give any other reason why her attorney and the doctor would be communicating about her. The motion to quash these requests is DENIED.

The request for sanctions is DENIED.

Moving party to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT4B@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org.

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