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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/06/2019 at 04:24:59 (UTC).

WILD CHANG ET AL VS FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 02/16/2017 WILD CHANG filed a Contract - Insurance lawsuit against FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY INC. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is MARC MARMARO. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****0876

  • Filing Date:

    02/16/2017

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Insurance

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

MARC MARMARO

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

CHANG WILD

FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY INC

LO KENNETH

Defendants and Respondents

STACY CHEN INSURANCE AGENCY

CHERN STACY

DOES 1 TO 100

FIRE INSURANCE EXCHANGE

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

FITZGERALD PAUL D. ESQ.

SAFAIE MAJID

Defendant and Respondent Attorney

SCHER GREGORY B. ESQ.

 

Court Documents

Minute Order

10/15/2018: Minute Order

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

1/22/2019: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL

1/26/2018: REQUEST FOR DISMISSAL

DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINT

1/26/2018: DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINT

COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANTS FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1. TORTIOUS BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING; ETC

2/16/2017: COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANTS FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1. TORTIOUS BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING; ETC

SUMMONS

2/16/2017: SUMMONS

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANTS FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1. TORTIOUS BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING, ETCX

4/14/2017: FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANTS FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1. TORTIOUS BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING, ETCX

NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

4/18/2017: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING

4/18/2017: ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING

SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

5/17/2017: SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

FIRST AMENDED SUMMONS

5/17/2017: FIRST AMENDED SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/24/2017: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

Minute Order

5/24/2017: Minute Order

PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

5/25/2017: PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

5/25/2017: PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

Minute Order

7/19/2017: Minute Order

CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

7/19/2017: CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. TORTIOUS BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH ANDFAIR DEALING; 2. BREACH OF CONTRACT; 3. UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES (CALIFORNIA BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE,

8/21/2017: SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. TORTIOUS BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH ANDFAIR DEALING; 2. BREACH OF CONTRACT; 3. UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES (CALIFORNIA BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE,

18 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 02/05/2019
  • at 10:00 AM in Department 37; Jury Trial - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 01/31/2019
  • Notice (of Case Reassignment); Filed by Wild Chang (Plaintiff); Kenneth Lo (Plaintiff)

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  • 01/28/2019
  • at 08:34 AM in Department 37; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Advanced and Continued - by Court

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  • 01/22/2019
  • Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/31/2018
  • Substitution of Attorney; Filed by Wild Chang (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/31/2018
  • Substitution of Attorney; Filed by Kenneth Lo (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/15/2018
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 37; Ex-Parte Proceedings

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  • 10/15/2018
  • Ex Parte Application (and Application for an Order); Filed by Wild Chang (Plaintiff); Kenneth Lo (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/15/2018
  • Minute Order ((Ex-Parte Proceedings)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 03/27/2018
  • at 08:30 AM in Department 37; Unknown Event Type

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36 More Docket Entries
  • 04/18/2017
  • ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING

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  • 04/18/2017
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 04/18/2017
  • NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

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  • 04/18/2017
  • ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING

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  • 04/18/2017
  • OSC-RE Other (Miscellaneous); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/14/2017
  • First Amended Complaint; Filed by Wild Chang (Plaintiff); Kenneth Lo (Plaintiff)

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  • 04/14/2017
  • FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANTS FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1. TORTIOUS BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING, ETCX

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  • 02/16/2017
  • Complaint; Filed by Wild Chang (Plaintiff); Kenneth Lo (Plaintiff); Farmers Insurance Company, Inc (Plaintiff)

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  • 02/16/2017
  • SUMMONS

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  • 02/16/2017
  • COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANTS FOR DAMAGES FOR: 1. TORTIOUS BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING; ETC

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC650876    Hearing Date: March 04, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: March 4, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC650876

CASE NAME: Wild Chang, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Company Inc., et al.

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTIES: Plaintiffs, Wild Chang and Kenneth Lo

TRIAL DATE: April 27, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two from Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: February 19, 2021

REPLY: February 25, 2021

TENTATIVE: FIE’s motion is granted. Chang is ordered to serve verified, supplemental responses within 30 days. FIE’s request for sanctions is granted in the amount of $650.65. Further failures to provide code compliant responses may result in further sanctions, including exclusion orders. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production, Set Two from Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: February 19, 2021

REPLY: February 25, 2021

TENTATIVE: FIE’s motion is granted as to the request to compel further responses to requests for production, set two and request for monetary sanctions, in the amount of $650.65. The motion is otherwise denied. Chang is ordered to serve verified, supplemental responses within 30 days and to produce documents. Further failures to provide code compliant responses and document production may result in further sanctions, including exclusion orders. FIE is to give notice.

Background

This is an insurance coverage dispute arising in connection with property located at 2798 Native Avenue, Rowland Heights, California, 91748. (the “Property”). Plaintiff Wild Chang (“Chang”) alleges that in or about 1994, he had the property insured through Defendant, Farmer’s Insurance Exchange Company, Inc. (“Farmers”) According to the Complaint, the Property suffered fire damage in 2014, after which Farmers allegedly failed to properly investigate the damage and failed to properly assess the fair value of repairs required to the Property. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that although Chang made repeated requests for accommodation while the Property was being repaired so that he and his 13-year-old son could have a place to live and that in response Farmers allegedly failed to comply with these reasonable requests. Finally, Farmers allegedly concluded investigation into the Property’s fire damage by sending a check for $19,925.91 in compensation, which was allegedly far under the estimated restoration costs of $128,202.99 to $145,881.84. The Complaint also names as a defendant moving party, Fire Insurance Exchange. (“FIE”)

Plaintiffs Chang and Kenneth Lo’s (“Lo”) Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (5) breach of fiduciary duty, (6) professional negligence. Defendants Fire Insurance Exchange Corporation (“FIE”) and Stacy Chern (“Chern”) are also named in the Complaint. The Complaint alleges that Chern is liable for acting in bad faith by threatening to terminate Plaintiffs’ insurance in the course of investigation into the fire damage rather than properly investigate the damage.

On April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging the same causes of action.

On August 31, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). The SAC only alleges the following four causes of action: (1) tortious breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) professional negligence.

FIE now moves to compel further responses to Special Interrogatories and Requests for Production, Sets Two from Chang. Plaintiffs oppose the motions.

Procedural History

FIE served Chang with Requests for Production and Special Interrogatories, Sets Two on May 8, 2019. (Declaration of Caitlin Zapf in Support of Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories (“Zapf SROG Decl.”), ¶ 3, Exh. A; Declaration of Caitlin Zapf in Support of Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production (“Zapf RFP Decl.”), ¶ 3, Exh. A.)

Chang served amended responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two on August 7, 2019. (Zapf SROG Decl. ¶ 5, Exh. B.) Chang also served amended responses to Requests for Production, Set Two on August 7, 2019. (Zapf RFP Decl. ¶ 4, Exh. C.)

On August 28, 2020, the court granted FIE’s motions to compel responses to various discovery from Plaintiffs. Specifically, the court ordered Chang to provide further responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two and pay sanctions. (see October 28, 2020 Minute Order) The court also ordered Chang to provide further responses to Requests for Production, Set Two and pay sanctions. (Id.)

On December 24, 2020, the court granted Plaintiffs’ Ex Parte Application Allowing Moratorium and Installments for Discovery Sanctions. Plaintiffs’ deadline to pay sanctions was extended to March 31, 2021.

On January 10, 2021, Chang served further responses to Special Interrogatories and Requests for Production, Sets Two. (Zapf SROG Decl., ¶ 9, Exh. E; Zapf RFP Decl. ¶ 10, Exh. E.)

Meet and Confer Efforts

A motion to compel further responses “shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.”  (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 2030.300, subd. (b)(1), 2031.310, subd. (b)(2).)  The declaration must state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented in the motion.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.040.)  “[A] reasonable and good faith attempt at informal resolution entails something more than bickering with [opposing] counsel….  Rather, the law requires that counsel attempt to talk the matter over, compare their views, consult, and deliberate.”  (Clement v. Alegre (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1277, 1294 (Clement).)  

On December 21, 2019, FIE’s counsel called and emailed Chang to remind him of his outstanding discovery responses that the court ordered due by November 27, 2019. (see Zapf SROG Decl. ¶ 9.)

After receiving Chang’s further responses on January 10, 2021, FIE’s counsel Caitlin Zapf attests that she made multiple attempts to meet and confer with Plaintiffs but that they have not responded. (see Zapf SROG Decl. ¶ 11.) Specifically, Zapf attests that she sent a meet and confer letter on January 11, 2021 and followed up on January 14, 2021, requesting Plaintiffs’ availability for an Informal Discovery Conference. (“IDC”) (see Zapf SROG Decl. ¶ 11.) Zapf attestse that she also followed up on January 19, 2021 but did not receive a response. (see Zapf SROG Decl. ¶ 11.)

The Zapf Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure, sections 2030.300 and 2031.310.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

On receipt of responses to interrogatories, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that an objection is without merit or too general or an answer is evasive or incomplete. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.300, subd. (a)(1)-(3).) Similarly, on receipt of responses to requests for production, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that a statement of compliance is incomplete, a representation of inability to comply is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive, or an objection is without merit. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.310, subd. (a)(1)-(3).) The moving party must also include reasons why further answers should be ordered: legal or factual arguments why the answers given were incomplete or nonresponsive, or the objections invalid. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(c).) The responding party has the burden to justify objections in response to a motion filed to compel further responses. (Fairmont Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 245, 255.)

  1. Timeliness

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure sections 2030.300, subdivision (c) and section 2031.310, subdivision (c), a motion to compel further responses to interrogatories or requests for production must be filed within 45 days of service of the verified response, or on or before any specific later date to which the demanding party and the responding party have agreed in writing, with additional time allowed for the manner of service. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1013, subd. (a); 2030.300, subd. (c), 2031.310, subd. (c).) The 45-day requirement of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2030.300, subdivision (c) is mandatory and jurisdictional in the sense that it renders the court without authority to rule on a motion to compel further responses to discovery other than to deny the motion. (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410.)

FIE’s motions are based on Chang’s further responses to Requests for Production and Special Interrogatories, Sets Two, both served on January 10, 2021. As such, FIE’s motion to compel deadline was February 24, 2021. FIE’s motions were filed on January 27, 2021 and are thus timely.

  1. Analysis

FIE contends that Chang must be ordered to provide further responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two, numbers 11, 12, 13, 15, 20, and 21. Additionally, FIE moves for evidentiary sanctions against Chang in connection with Requests for Production, Set Two or, in the alternative, for an order compelling further responses. The court will address each interrogatory or request individually.

  1. Special Interrogatories: numbers 11, 12, 13, 15, 20, 21

No. 11: DESCRIBE all work Gang Rao completed at the PROPERTY. (The term "DESCRIBE" means to state what type of work was completed, identify every room and/or area of the PROPERTY work was performed, what was item(s) were fixed and/or repaired and the date(s) said work was completed.)

Chang’s August 7, 2019 response stated that Gang Rao was “able to do limited restoration work” given the “grossly deficient funds” tendered by Defendants. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 2.) However, Chang’s January 10, 2021 response stated that this is just “another example of false advertisement” by Defendants and that Defendants should stop “such unfair, dishonest and unreasonable practices.” (Id.) Chang’s response also now stated that Gang Rao was “unable to complete the work needed to repair the fire damages.” (Id.)

FIE contends that a further response to this interrogatory is required because the January 10, 2021 further responses only consist of improper objections and arguments. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 3.) In opposition, Chang contends that FIE’s motion must be denied because he produced documents and responses on November 30, 2020. (Opposition, 2.) Chang also contends that FIE’s motion is moot pending the court’s ruling on Plaintiffs’ motion to consolidate. (Opposition, 7.) However, Chang does not demonstrate that he served supplemental responses and produced documents on November 30, 2020.

The court agrees with FIE that a further response is required. Chang’s January 10, 2021 further response is nonresponsive and contains improper argument and objections. Further, the January 10, 2021 response is contradictory to Chang’s prior responses, as the response now states that restoration work was unable to done after stating that “limited” restoration work was done.

For these reasons, FIE’s motion is granted as to this interrogatory.

No. 12: DESCRIBE all work Connie completed at the PROPERTY

Chang’s August 7, 2019 response stated that Connie was “only able to clean the kitchen, the laundry room and the bath rooms, but not other living areas.” (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 3.) Chang’s January 10, 2021 response stated similar arguments as interrogatory 11 about FIE’s interrogatories being “false advertisement.” (Id.) The January 10, 2021 response also stated that the interrogatory was “already answered, as re-inspected by Defendants’ agents.”

FIE contends that a further response to this interrogatory is required because the January 10, 2021 further responses only consist of improper objections and arguments. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 4.) The court agrees with FIE that a further response is required. Chang’s January 10, 2021 further response is nonresponsive and contains improper argument and objections. It is additionally unintelligible, as the court is unable to determine what Chang’s statement that this interrogatory was “already answered” refers to.

For these reasons, FIE’s motion is granted as to this interrogatory.

No. 13: DESCRIBE all work Home Carpet Company completed at the PROPERTY

Chang’s August 7, 2019 response stated that Home Carpet “was only able to do limited areas on the first floor, but not other living areas.” (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 4.) Chang’s January 10, 2021 response stated similar arguments as interrogatory 11 about FIE’s interrogatories being “false advertisement.” (Id.) The January 10, 2021 response also stated that the interrogatory was “already answered, as re-inspected by Defendants’ agents.”

FIE contends that a further response to this interrogatory is required because the January 10, 2021 further responses only consist of improper objections and arguments. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 5.) The court agrees with FIE that a further response is required. Chang’s January 10, 2021 further response is nonresponsive and contains improper argument and objections. It is additionally unintelligible, as the court is unable to determine what Chang’s statement that this interrogatory was “already answered” refers to.

For these reasons, FIE’s motion is granted as to this interrogatory.

No. 15: DESCRIBE all work Base Flow Plumbing completed at the PROPERTY.

Chang’s August 7, 2019 response stated that Plaintiffs “had to advance the repair cost to Base Flow Plumbing to repair the pipe damages caused by the fire incident in order to prevent flooding.” (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 5.) Chang’s January 10, 2021 response stated similar arguments as interrogatory 11 about FIE’s interrogatories being “false advertisement.” (Id., 6) The January 10, 2021 response also stated that the interrogatory was “already answered, as re-inspected by Defendants’ agents.”

FIE contends that a further response to this interrogatory is required because the January 10, 2021 further responses only consist of improper objections and arguments. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 6.) The court agrees with FIE that a further response is required. Chang’s January 10, 2021 further response is nonresponsive and contains improper argument and objections. It is additionally unintelligible, as the court is unable to determine what Chang’s statement that this interrogatory was “already answered” refers to.

No. 20: If the response to Interrogatory no. 19 is in the affirmative, state what additional work is needed to repair the damages caused by the FIRE.

Chang’s August 7, 2019 states that documents in Exhibit 1 support his claims for injuries. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 7.) Chang’s January 10, 2021 response stated similar arguments as interrogatory 11 about FIE’s interrogatories being “false advertisement.” (Id.) The January 10, 2021 response also stated that the interrogatory was “already answered, as re-inspected by Defendants’ agents.”

FIE contends that a further response to this interrogatory is required because the January 10, 2021 further responses only consist of improper objections and arguments. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 7-8.) Additionally, FIE contends that the documents identified in Exhibit 1 are nonresponsive, as they do not distinguish between the work proposed and completed. (Id.)

The court agrees with FIE that a further response is required. Chang’s January 10, 2021 further response is nonresponsive and contains improper argument and objections. It is additionally unintelligible, as the court is unable to determine what Chang’s statement that this interrogatory was “already answered” refers to.

For these reasons, FIE’s motion is granted as to this interrogatory.

No. 21: If the response to Interrogatory no. 19 is in the affirmative, IDENTIFY all WRITINGS you have obtained that evidence the repairs still needed at the PROPERTY. (The term "IDENTIFY" when used in reference to WRITINGS means to describe the nature of the document, the date, the author and any recipients(s).

Chang’s response to interrogatory 21 is identical to his response to interrogatory 20. Thus, FIE’s motion is granted as to interrogatory 21 for the same reasons stated with respect to interrogatory 20.

  1. Request for Production No. 3

FIE’s request number 3 asks Chang for the following: “All WRITINGS you identified in your Response to Fire Insurance Exchange’s Special Interrogatories, Set Two.” (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 2.) FIE contends that evidentiary sanctions are appropriate against Chang for his willful failure to serve substantive responses or, alternatively, that Chang should be ordered to serve substantive responses. (Motion, 3-4.) Specifically, FIE requests an evidentiary sanction that “Plaintiffs cannot introduce as evidence any WRITINGS in support of additional repairs needed at the PROPERTY that have not already been produced to FIE.” (Motion, 5.)

On August 7, 2019, Chang’s response stated: “Plaintiff has compiled a list of damages and injuries with supporting estimates and receipts numbering some 148 pages, as Exhibit 1 hereto produced.” (Id.) Chang’s further responses on January 10, 2021 contended that this request was “just another example of false advertisement” and stated that “therefore, any and all responses and WRITINGS produced” are “amended to mean for all Defendants.” (Id., 2-3.)

FIE contends that a further response is required because Chang’s January 10, 2021 response provides no substantive information but instead provides unintelligible argument and objections. (Id., 3.) In opposition, Chang contends that FIE’s motion must be denied because he produced documents and responses on November 30, 2020. (Opposition, 2.) Chang also contends that FIE’s motion is moot pending the court’s ruling on Plaintiffs’ motion to consolidate. (Opposition, 7.) However, Chang does not demonstrate that he served supplemental responses and produced documents on November 30, 2020.

The court agrees with FIE that a further response to this request is warranted. Chang’s January 10, 2021 response contains unintelligible argument and objections and is nonresponsive. Chang was required to identify and produce any documents he identified in response to Special Interrogatories, Set Two.

However, the court does not award evidentiary sanctions against Chang. Generally, the discovery statutes evince an incremental approach to sanctions, starting with monetary sanctions and ending with the ultimate sanction of dismissal.  (Doppes v. Bentley Motors, Inc. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 967, 992.) “[W]hen the rule or order violated concerns discovery, the trial court may impose sanctions that ‘are suitable and necessary to enable the party seeking discovery to obtain the objects of the discovery he [or she] seeks but the court may not impose sanctions which are designed not to accomplish the objects of the discovery but to impose punishment.’  [Citations.]”  (Rail Servs. of Am. v. State Comp. Ins. Fund (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 323, 331-332, internal quotation marks omitted, quoting Midwife v. Bernal (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 57, 64, italics in Rail Services.) The court finds that monetary sanctions against Chang should be sufficient in this instance at this time.

For these reasons, FIE’s motion to compel further responses to Requests for Production, Set Two is granted.

Monetary Sanctions

The court may impose sanctions against any party for engaging in conduct constituting a “misuse of the discovery process.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030 (a).) Misuse of the discovery process includes “failing to respond or submit to an authorized method of discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.010 (d).)

FIE requests $650.65 in sanctions in connection with each motion. Zapf attests in support of each request that her billing rate is $190 per hour. (see Zapf SROG Decl., ¶ 12.) Zapf further attests that she billed 2.1 hours preparing each motion and expects to bill another hour to prepare the reply on each motion and attend the hearing. (Id.)

The court is inclined to award sanctions against Chang and finds the requested amounts reasonable. Thus, FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang in connection with each motion is granted.

Conclusion

FIE’s motion is granted. Chang is ordered to serve verified, supplemental responses within 30 days. FIE’s request for sanctions is granted in the amount of $650.65. Further failures to provide code compliant responses may result in further sanctions, including exclusion orders. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s motion is granted as to the request to compel further responses to requests for production, set two and request for monetary sanctions, in the amount of $650.65. The motion is otherwise denied. Chang is ordered to serve verified, supplemental responses within 30 days and to produce documents. Further failures to provide code compliant responses and document production may result in further sanctions, including exclusion orders. FIE is to give notice.

Case Number: BC650876    Hearing Date: March 01, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: March 1, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC650876

CASE NAME: Wild Chang, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Company Inc., et al.

TRIAL DATE: April 27, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production, Set Four from Wild Chang

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: Combined opposition February 16, 2021

REPLY: February 22, 2021

TENTATIVE: FIE’s motion is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is also granted in the amount of $517.65. Chang is to provide verified supplemental responses, without objection, and to produce documents within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production, Set Four from Kenneth Lo

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Kenneth Lo

OPPOSITION: Combined opposition February 16, 2021

REPLY: February 22, 2021

TENTATIVE: FIE’s motion is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted in the amount of $517.65. Lo is to provide verified supplemental responses, without objection, and to produce documents within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

Background

This is an insurance coverage dispute arising in connection with property located at 2798 Native Avenue, Rowland Heights, California, 91748. (the “Property”). Plaintiff Wild Chang (“Chang”) alleges that in or about 1994, he had the property insured through Defendant, Farmer’s Insurance Exchange Company, Inc. (“Farmers”) According to the Complaint, the Property suffered fire damage in 2014, after which Farmers allegedly failed to properly investigate the damage and failed to properly assess the fair value of repairs required to the Property. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that although Chang made repeated requests for accommodation while the Property was being repaired so that he and his 13-year-old son could have a place to live and that in response Farmers allegedly failed to comply with these reasonable requests. Finally, Farmers allegedly concluded investigation into the Property’s fire damage by sending a check for $19,925.91 in compensation, which was allegedly far under the estimated restoration costs of $128,202.99 to $145,881.84. The Complaint also names as a defendant moving party, Fire Insurance Exchange. (“FIE”)

Plaintiffs Chang and Kenneth Lo’s (“Lo”) Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (5) breach of fiduciary duty, (6) professional negligence. Defendants Fire Insurance Exchange Corporation (“FIE”) and Stacy Chern (“Chern”) are also named in the Complaint. The Complaint alleges that Chern is liable for acting in bad faith by threatening to terminate Plaintiffs’ insurance in the course of investigation into the fire damage rather than properly investigate the damage.

On April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging the same causes of action.

On August 31, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). The SAC only alleges the following four causes of action: (1) tortious breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) professional negligence.

FIE now moves to compel each Plaintiff to provide further responses to Requests for Production, Set Four without objection. Plaintiffs oppose the motions.

Procedural History

FIE served each Plaintiff with Requests For Production, Set Four on May 1, 2020. (see Declaration of Caitlin R. Zapf in Support of Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production from Wild Chang (“Zapf Chang Decl.”), ¶ 3, Ex. A.) Each Plaintiff served his responses on January 11, 2021. (see Zapf Chang Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. B.)

Meet and Confer Efforts

A motion to compel further responses “shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.”  (Code Civ. Proc., §; 2031.310, subd. (b)(2).)  The declaration must state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented in the motion.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.040.)  “[A] reasonable and good faith attempt at informal resolution entails something more than bickering with [opposing] counsel….  Rather, the law requires that counsel attempt to talk the matter over, compare their views, consult, and deliberate.”  (Clement v. Alegre (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1277, 1294 (Clement).)  

On January 11, 2021, FIE’s counsel Caitlin Zapf sent meet and confer letters to Plaintiffs stating that their objections were untimely and requesting Plaintiffs’ availability for an Informal Discovery Conference. (“IDC”) (see Zapf Chang Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. C.) Zapf sent follow-up meet and confer letters on January 14, 2021 and January 19, 2021. (Id.)

The Zapf Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2031.310.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

On receipt of responses to requests for production, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that a statement of compliance is incomplete, a representation of inability to comply is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive, or an objection is without merit. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.310, subd. (a)(1)-(3).) The moving party must also include reasons why further answers should be ordered: legal or factual arguments why the answers given were incomplete or nonresponsive, or the objections invalid. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(c).) The responding party has the burden to justify objections in response to a motion filed to compel further responses. (Fairmont Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 245, 255.)

  1. Timeliness

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.310, subdivision (c), a motion to compel further responses to requests for production must be filed within 45 days of service of the verified response, or on or before any specific later date to which the demanding party and the responding party have agreed in writing, with additional time allowed for the manner of service. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1013, subd. (a); 2031.310, subd. (c).) The 45-day requirement of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2031.310, subdivision (c) is mandatory and jurisdictional in the sense that it renders the court without authority to rule on a motion to compel further responses to discovery other than to deny the motion. (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410 (Sexton).)

Plaintiffs each served their responses to Requests for Production, Set Four on January 11, 2021. Thus, FIE’s motion to compel deadline was February 25, 2021. FIE’s motions were filed on January 27, 2021 and are thus timely.

  1. Analysis

FIE contends that each Plaintiff must be ordered to serve further responses to Requests for Production, Set Four without objection because each Plaintiff served his responses six months late and thus, waived all objections. (see FIE Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production from Chang (“FIE Chang Motion”), 3.)

Plaintiffs submit a combined opposition to both motions. Plaintiff’s opposition does not dispute that they were timely served with FIE’s discovery or that each of them served untimely responses on January 11, 2021. Instead, Plaintiff argues that FIE’s motions should be denied because “FIE’s Motions are extensions of frauds by Farmer’s,” and that additionally, Plaintiff’s pending motion to consolidate, if granted, would make FIE’s motions moot. (Opposition, 3-5.) However, Plaintiffs’ arguments fail, as Plaintiffs cite no authority for either argument and does not dispute that each of them served untimely responses.

FIE has demonstrated that each Plaintiff was properly served with Requests for Production, Set Four, and that each Plaintiff served untimely responses. Thus, the court agrees with FIE that each Plaintiff has waived his right to assert objections in his responses.

For these reasons, FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Chang is granted. FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Lo is granted.

Monetary Sanctions

The court may impose sanctions against any party for engaging in conduct constituting a “misuse of the discovery process.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030 (a).) Misuse of the discovery process includes “failing to respond or submit to an authorized method of discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.010 (d).)

FIE requests $517.65 in sanctions in connection with each motion. Zapf attests in support of this request that her billing rate is $190 per hour and that she billed 1.4 hours in preparing each motion. (see Zapf Chang Decl. ¶¶ 6-7.) Zapf further attests that she anticipates spending another hour preparing each reply and attending the hearing on these motions. (Id.)

The court is inclined to award sanctions against Plaintiffs and finds the requested amounts reasonable. Thus, FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted.

Conclusion

FIE’s motion is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is also granted in the amount of $517.65. Chang is to provide verified supplemental responses, without objection, and to produce documents within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s motion is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted in the amount of $517.65. Lo is to provide verified supplemental responses, without objection, and to produce documents within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

Case Number: BC650876    Hearing Date: February 26, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: February 26, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC650876

CASE NAME: Wild Chang, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Company Inc., et al.

TRIAL DATE: April 27, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Four from Wild Chang

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: Combined opposition February 16, 2021 late filed

REPLY: February 17, 2021

TENTATIVE: FIE’s motion is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is also granted in the amount of $479.65. Chang is to provide verified supplemental responses, without objection to FIE’s Special Interrogatories, Set Four within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Four from Kenneth Lo

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Kenneth Lo

OPPOSITION: Combined opposition February 16, 2021late filed

REPLY: February 17, 2021

TENTATIVE: FIE’s motion is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted in the amount of $479.65. Lo is to provide verified supplemental responses, without objection to FIE’s Special Interrogatories, Set Four within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

Background

This is an insurance coverage dispute arising in connection with property located at 2798 Native Avenue, Rowland Heights, California, 91748. (the “Property”). Plaintiff Wild Chang (“Chang”) alleges that in or about 1994, he had the property insured through Defendant, Farmer’s Insurance Exchange Company, Inc. (“Farmers”) According to the Complaint, the Property suffered fire damage in 2014, after which Farmers allegedly failed to properly investigate the damage and failed to properly assess the fair value of repairs required to the Property. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that although Chang made repeated requests for accommodation while the Property was being repaired so that he and his 13-year-old son could have a place to live and that in response Farmers allegedly failed to comply with these reasonable requests. Finally, Farmers allegedly concluded investigation into the Property’s fire damage by sending a check for $19,925.91 in compensation, which was allegedly far under the estimated restoration costs of $128,202.99 to $145,881.84. The Complaint also names as a defendant moving party, Fire Insurance Exchange. (“FIE”)

Plaintiffs Chang and Kenneth Lo’s (“Lo”) Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (5) breach of fiduciary duty, (6) professional negligence. Defendants Fire Insurance Exchange Corporation (“FIE”) and Stacy Chern (“Chern”) are also named in the Complaint. The Complaint alleges that Chern is liable for acting in bad faith by threatening to terminate Plaintiffs’ insurance in the course of investigation into the fire damage rather than properly investigate the damage.

On April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging the same causes of action.

On August 31, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). The SAC only alleges the following four causes of action: (1) tortious breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) professional negligence.

FIE now moves to compel each Plaintiff to provide further responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Four without objection. Plaintiffs oppose the motions.

Procedural History

FIE served each Plaintiff with Special Interrogatories, Set Four on May 1, 2020. (see Declaration of Caitlin R. Zapf in Support of Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories from Wild Chang (“Zapf Chang Decl.”), ¶ 3, Ex. A.) Each Plaintiff served his responses on January 11, 2021. (Zapf Chang Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. B.)

Meet and Confer Efforts

A motion to compel further responses “shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.”  (Code Civ. Proc., §; 2030.300, subd. (b)(1).)  The declaration must state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented in the motion.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.040.)  “[A] reasonable and good faith attempt at informal resolution entails something more than bickering with [opposing] counsel….  Rather, the law requires that counsel attempt to talk the matter over, compare their views, consult, and deliberate.”  (Clement v. Alegre (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1277, 1294 (Clement).)  

On January 11, 2021, FIE’s counsel Caitlin Zapf sent meet and confer letters to Plaintiffs stating that their objections were untimely and requesting Plaintiffs’ availability for an Informal Discovery Conference. (“IDC”) (Zapf Chang Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. C.) Zapf sent follow-up meet and confer letters on January 14, 2021 and January 19, 2021. (Id.)

The Zapf Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2030.300.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

On receipt of responses to interrogatories, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that an objection is without merit or too general or an answer is evasive or incomplete. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.300, subd. (a)(1)-(3).) The moving party must also include reasons why further answers should be ordered: legal or factual arguments why the answers given were incomplete or nonresponsive, or the objections invalid. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(c).) The responding party has the burden to justify objections in response to a motion filed to compel further responses. (Fairmont Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 245, 255.)

  1. Timeliness

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.300, subdivision (c), a motion to compel further responses to interrogatories must be filed within 45 days of service of the verified response, or on or before any specific later date to which the demanding party and the responding party have agreed in writing, with additional time allowed for the manner of service. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1013, subd. (a); 2030.300, subd. (c).) The 45-day requirement of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2030.300, subdivision (c) is mandatory and jurisdictional in the sense that it renders the court without authority to rule on a motion to compel further responses to discovery other than to deny the motion. (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410 (Sexton).)

Plaintiffs each served their responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Four on January 11, 2021. Thus, FIE’s motion to compel deadline was February 25, 2021. FIE’s motions were filed on January 27, 2021 and are thus timely.

  1. Analysis

FIE contends that each Plaintiff must be ordered to serve further responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Four without objection because each Plaintiff served his responses six months late and thus, waived all objections. (see FIE Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories from Chang (“FIE Chang Motion”), 3-4.)

Plaintiffs submit a combined opposition to both motions. Plaintiff’s opposition does not dispute that they were timely served with FIE’s discovery or that each of time served untimely responses on January 11, 2021. Instead, Plaintiff argues that FIE’s motions should be denied because “FIE’s Motions are extensions of frauds by Farmer’s,” and that additionally, Plaintiff’s pending motion to consolidate, if granted, would make FIE’s motions moot. (Opposition, 3-4.) However, Plaintiffs’ arguments fail, as Plaintiffs cite no authority for either argument and does not dispute that each of them served untimely responses.

FIE has demonstrated that each Plaintiff was properly served with Special Interrogatories, Set Four, and that each Plaintiff served untimely responses. Thus, the court agrees with FIE that each Plaintiff has waived his right to assert objections in his responses.

For these reasons, FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Chang is granted. FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Lo is granted.

Monetary Sanctions

The court may impose sanctions against any party for engaging in conduct constituting a “misuse of the discovery process.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030 (a).) Misuse of the discovery process includes “failing to respond or submit to an authorized method of discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.010 (d).)

FIE requests $479.65 in sanctions in connection with each motion. Zapf attests in support of this request that her billing rate is $190 per hour and that she billed 1.2 hours in preparing each motion. (see Zapf Chang Decl. ¶¶ 6-7.) Zapf further attests that she anticipates spending another hour preparing each reply and attending the hearing on these motions. (Id.)

The court is inclined to award sanctions against Plaintiffs and finds the requested amounts reasonable. Thus, FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted.

Conclusion

FIE’s motion is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is also granted in the amount of $479.65. Chang is to provide verified supplemental responses, without objection to FIE’s Special Interrogatories, Set Four within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s motion is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted in the amount of $479.65. Lo is to provide verified supplemental responses, without objection to FIE’s Special Interrogatories, Set Four within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

Case Number: BC650876    Hearing Date: February 25, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: February 25, 2021

CASE NUMBER: BC650876

CASE NAME: Wild Chang, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Company Inc., et al.

TRIAL DATE: April 27, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Responses to Form Interrogatories, Set One from Wild Chang

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: Combined opposition February 10, 2021; Supplemental Opposition February 24, 2021

REPLY: February 17, 2021

TENTATIVE: FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Chang is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is also granted in the amount of $669.65. Chang is to provide verified supplemental responses without objection within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Responses to Form Interrogatories, Set One from Kenneth Lo

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: Combined opposition February 10, 2021; Supplemental Opposition by Kenneth Lo February 24, 2021

REPLY: February 17, 2021

TENTATIVE: FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Lo is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted in the amount of $669.65. Lo is to provide verified supplemental responses without objection within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

Background

This is an insurance coverage dispute arising in connection with property located at 2798 Native Avenue, Rowland Heights, California, 91748. (the “Property”). Plaintiff Wild Chang (“Chang”) alleges that in or about 1994, he had the property insured through Defendant, Farmer’s Insurance Exchange Company, Inc. (“Farmers”) According to the Complaint, the Property suffered fire damage in 2014, after which Farmers allegedly failed to properly investigate the damage and failed to properly assess the fair value of repairs required to the Property. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that although Chang made repeated requests for accommodation while the Property was being repaired so that he and his 13-year-old son could have a place to live and that in response Farmers allegedly failed to comply with these reasonable requests. Finally, Farmers allegedly concluded investigation into the Property’s fire damage by sending a check for $19,925.91 in compensation, which was allegedly far under the estimated restoration costs of $128,202.99 to $145,881.84. The Complaint also names as a defendant moving party, Fire Insurance Exchange. (“FIE”)

Plaintiffs Chang and Kenneth Lo’s (“Lo”) Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (5) breach of fiduciary duty, (6) professional negligence. Defendants Fire Insurance Exchange Corporation (“FIE”) and Stacy Chern (“Chern”) are also named in the Complaint. The Complaint alleges that Chern is liable for acting in bad faith by threatening to terminate Plaintiffs’ insurance in the course of investigation into the fire damage rather than properly investigate the damage.

On April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging the same causes of action.

On August 31, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). The SAC only alleges the following four causes of action: (1) tortious breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) professional negligence.

FIE now moves to compel each Plaintiff to provide further responses to Form Interrogatories, Set One without objection. Plaintiffs oppose the motions.

Procedural History

FIE served each Plaintiff with Form Interrogatories, Set One on May 1, 2020. (see Declaration of Caitlin R. Zapf in Support of Motion to Compel Further Responses to Form Interrogatories from Wild Chang (“Zapf Chang Decl.”), ¶ 3, Ex. A.) Each Plaintiff served his responses on January 11, 2021. (Zapf Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. B.)

Meet and Confer Efforts

A motion to compel further responses “shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.”  (Code Civ. Proc., §; 2030.300, subd. (b)(1).)  The declaration must state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented in the motion.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.040.)  “[A] reasonable and good faith attempt at informal resolution entails something more than bickering with [opposing] counsel….  Rather, the law requires that counsel attempt to talk the matter over, compare their views, consult, and deliberate.”  (Clement v. Alegre (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1277, 1294 (Clement).)  

On January 11, 2021, FIE’s counsel Caitlin Zapf sent meet and confer letters to Plaintiffs stating that their objections were untimely and requesting Plaintiffs’ availability for an Informal Discovery Conference. (“IDC”) (Zapf Chang Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. C.) Zapf sent follow-up meet and confer letters on January 14, 2021 and January 19, 2021. (Id.)

The Zapf Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2030.300.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

On receipt of responses to interrogatories, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that an objection is without merit or too general or an answer is evasive or incomplete. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.300, subd. (a)(1)-(3).) The moving party must also include reasons why further answers should be ordered: legal or factual arguments why the answers given were incomplete or nonresponsive, or the objections invalid. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(c).) The responding party has the burden to justify objections in response to a motion filed to compel further responses. (Fairmont Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 245, 255.)

  1. Timeliness

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.300, subdivision (c), a motion to compel further responses to interrogatories must be filed within 45 days of service of the verified response, or on or before any specific later date to which the demanding party and the responding party have agreed in writing, with additional time allowed for the manner of service. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 1013, subd. (a); 2030.300, subd. (c).) The 45-day requirement of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2030.300, subdivision (c) is mandatory and jurisdictional in the sense that it renders the court without authority to rule on a motion to compel further responses to discovery other than to deny the motion. (Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1410 (Sexton).)

Plaintiffs each served their responses to Form Interrogatories, Set One on January 11, 2021. Thus, FIE’s motion to compel deadline was February 25, 2021. FIE’s motions were filed on January 27, 2021 and are thus timely.

  1. Analysis

FIE contends that each Plaintiff must be ordered to serve further responses to Form Interrogatories, Set One without objection because each Plaintiff served his responses six months late and thus, waived all objections. (see FIE Motion to Compel Further Responses to Form Interrogatories from Chang (“FIE Chang Motion”), 3-4.)

Plaintiffs submit a combined opposition to both of FIE’s motions. In their opposition, Plaintiffs contend that they are “in the process of preparing full responses without objection” and “hope to have them completed before the hearing of this motion.” (Opposition, 1-2.) Plaintiffs do not dispute that their responses were untimely but instead contend that “in light of their personal circumstances,” any request for sanctions be denied. (Id.)

Well after the deadline for filing oppositions and even after the replies, on February 24, the day before the hearing, each Plaintiff filed a “SUPPLEMENTAL OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO COMPEL AND AMENDED RESPONSES TO FORM INTERROGATORIES, SET ONE.” Those documents are untimely and unauthorized briefings on the motion and will not be considered by the court.

FIE has demonstrated that each Plaintiff was properly served with Form Interrogatories, Set One, and that each Plaintiff served untimely responses. Thus, the court agrees with FIE that each Plaintiff has waived his right to assert objections in his responses.

For these reasons, FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Chang is granted. FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Lo is granted.

Monetary Sanctions

The court may impose sanctions against any party for engaging in conduct constituting a “misuse of the discovery process.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030 (a).) Misuse of the discovery process includes “failing to respond or submit to an authorized method of discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.010 (d).)

FIE requests $669.65 in sanctions in connection with each motion. Zapf attests in support of this request that her billing rate is $190 per hour and that she billed 2.2 hours in preparing each motion. (see Zapf Chang Decl. ¶ 6.) Zapf further attests that she anticipates spending another hour preparing each reply and attending the hearing on these motions. (Id.)

The court is inclined to award sanctions against Plaintiffs and finds the requested amounts reasonable. Thus, FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted.

Conclusion

FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Chang is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Chang is also granted in the amount of $669.65. Chang is to provide verified supplemental responses without objection within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s motion to compel further responses, without objection from Lo is granted. FIE’s request for sanctions against Lo is also granted in the amount of $669.65. Lo is to provide verified supplemental responses without objection within 30 days. FIE is to give notice.

Case Number: BC650876    Hearing Date: October 28, 2020    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: October 28, 2020

CASE NUMBER: BC650876

CASE NAME: Wild Chang, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Company Inc., et al.

TRIAL DATE: April 27, 2021

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Three from Plaintiff Kenneth Lo

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Kenneth Lo

OPPOSITION: October 14, 2020

REPLY: October 21, 2020

TENTATIVE: FIE’s Motion to Compel Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Three from Lo is granted. Lo is to serve verified responses 30 days. Sanctions are awarded against Plaintiff in the amount of $458, payable within 60 days of this date. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Deem Requests for Admissions, Set One Admitted as to Plaintiff Kenneth Lo

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Kenneth Lo

OPPOSITION: October 14, 2020 [

REPLY: October 21, 2020

TENTATIVE: FIE’s Motion to Deem Requests for Admission, Set One admitted as to Lo is granted. Requests for Admission, Set One is deemed admitted as to Lo. Sanctions are awarded against Plaintiff in the amount of $458, payable within 60 days of this date. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two from Plaintiff Wild Chang

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: October 14, 2020

REPLY: October 21, 2020

TENTATIVE: FIE’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two from Chang is granted. Chang is to serve verified, supplemental responses within 30 days. FIE’s request for sanctions is denied. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Three from Plaintiff Wild Chang

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: October 14, 2020

REPLY: October 21, 2020

TENTATIVE: FIE’s Motion to Compel Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Three from Chang is granted. Chang is to serve verified responses 30 days. Sanctions are awarded against Plaintiff in the amount of $458, payable within 60 days of this date. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Responses to Requests for Production, Set Three from Plaintiff Wild Chang

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: October 14, 2020

REPLY: October 21, 2020

TENTATIVE: FIE’s Motion to Compel Responses to Requests for Production, Set Three from Chang is granted. Chang is to serve verified responses within 30 days and produce responsive documents. Sanctions are awarded against Plaintiff in the amount of $458, payable within 60 days of this date. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Deem Requests for Admissions, Set One Admitted as to Plaintiff Wild Chang

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: October 14, 2020

REPLY: October 21, 2020

TENTATIVE: FIE’s Motion to Deem Requests for Admission, Set One admitted as to Chang is granted. Requests for Admission, Set One is deemed admitted as to Chang. Sanctions are awarded against Plaintiff in the amount of $458, payable within 60 days of this date. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production, Set Two from Plaintiff Wild Chang

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Wild Chang

OPPOSITION: October 14, 2020

REPLY: October 21, 2020

TENTATIVE: FIE’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production, Set Two from Chang is granted. Chang is to serve verified, supplemental responses within 30 days and produce responsive documents. FIE’s request for sanctions is denied. FIE is to give notice.

MOTION: Defendant’s Motion to Compel Responses to Requests for Production, Set Three from Plaintiff Kenneth Lo

MOVING PARTY: Defendant, Fire Insurance Exchange

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, Kenneth Lo

OPPOSITION: October 14, 2020

REPLY: October 21, 2020

TENTATIVE: FIE’s Motion to Compel Responses to Requests for Production, Set Three from Lo is granted. Lo is to serve verified responses within 30 days and produce responsive documents. Sanctions are awarded against Plaintiff in the amount of $458, payable within 60 days of this date. FIE is to give notice.

Background

This is an insurance coverage dispute arising in connection with property located at 2798 Native Avenue, Rowland Heights, California, 91748. (the “Property”). Plaintiff Wild Chang (“Chang”) alleges that in or about 1994, he had the property insured through Defendant, Farmer’s Insurance Exchange Company, Inc. (“Farmers”) According to the Complaint, the Property suffered fire damage in 2014, after which Farmers allegedly failed to properly investigate the damage and failed to properly assess the fair value of repairs required to the Property. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that although Chang made repeated requests for accommodation while the Property was being repaired so that he and his 13 year old son could have a place to live and that in response, Farmers allegedly failed to comply with these reasonable requests. Finally, Farmers allegedly concluded investigation into the Property’s fire damage by sending a check for $19,925.91 in compensation, which was allegedly far under the estimated restoration costs of $128,202.99 to $145,881.84.

Plaintiffs Chang and Kenneth Lo’s (“Lo”) Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (5) breach of fiduciary duty, (6) professional negligence. Defendants Fire Insurance Exchange Corporation (“FIE”) and Stacy Chern (“Chern”) are also named in the Complaint. The Complaint alleges that Chern is liable for acting in bad faith by threatening to terminate Plaintiffs’ insurance in the course of investigation into the fire damage rather than properly investigate the damage.

On April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), alleging the same causes of action.

On August 31, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). The SAC only alleges the following four causes of action: (1) tortious breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of contract, (3) unfair business practices (Business and Professions Code § 17200), (4) professional negligence.

On October 31, 2018, both Plaintiffs filed substitutions of attorney appointing Majid Safie as their attorney to replace Paul Fitzgerald. On June 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Association of Attorney indicating that their current counsel, Robert Moest, has been associated into the action on behalf of both Plaintiffs. On July 2, 2019, Plaintiff Chang filed a substitution of attorney for Mr. Moest to replace Ms. Safaie as counsel of record. On October 2, 2020, Plaintiff Lo filed a substitution of attorney for Mr. Moest to replace Ms. Safaie as counsel of record. For some period in 2019, the files reflect Mr. Chang as being self-represented and Mr. Lo continuing to be represented by Mr. Moest, but the court file does not show a substitution filed by Plaintiff Chang after the July 2, 2019 substitution.

On September 11, 2019, all parties stipulated to continue the trial in this action from October 22, 2019 to May 4, 2020 due to Plaintiff Chang’s medical condition and subsequent need for extensive rehabilitation.

FIE now moves to deem Requests for Admissions, Set One admitted as to Plaintiffs Lo and Chang. Additionally, FIE moves to compel further responses to Requests for Production and Special Interrogatories, Sets Two from Chang. FIE also moves to compel responses to Special Interrogatories, Sets Three from Lo and Chang, as well as responses to Requests for Production Set Threes from Lo and Chang.

Plaintiffs oppose all motions and have filed a combined opposition as to all motions. FIE has filed a combined reply in support of all motions.

Because the parties have filed a combined opposition and combined reply, the court’s ruling will discuss all motions together.

Procedural History

FIE served Chang with Requests for Production, Set Two and Special Interrogatories, Set Two on May 8, 2019. (Declaration of Caitlin R. Zapf (“Zapf”) in support of Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production, Set Two (“Zapf RFP.2 Decl.”) from Chang, ¶ 3, Zapf Declaration in Support of Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two (“Zapf SROG.2 Decl”) from Chang, ¶ 3.) FIE served Chang and Lo with ach of the remaining sets of discovery on August 19, 2019. (see generally Zapf Declaration in support of motions, ¶ 3.)

Chang served responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two on June 11, 2019 which consisted only of objections. (Zapf SROG.2 Decl., ¶ 4, Exhibit B.) Chang also served responses to Requests for Production, Set Two on June 11, 2019, which also contained only objections. (Zapf RFP.2 Decl., ¶ 4, Exhibit B.) On June 24, 2019, Chang served additional responses to both Special Interrogatories, Set Two and Requests for Production, Set Two. (Zapf SROG.2 Decl. ¶ 5, Zapf RFP.2 Decl. ¶ 5.) Chang served second amended responses to both Requests for Production, Set Two and Special Interrogatories, Set Two on August 7, 2019. (Zapf SROG.2 Decl. ¶ 7, Exhibit E; Zapf RFP.2 Decl., ¶ 7.)

Chang and Lo have not responded to the remaining sets of discovery to date. (see, e.g. Zapf Declaration in Support of Motion to Compel Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Three from Lo, ¶ 10.)

 

The Parties’ Meet and Confer Efforts

As to the two motions to compel further responses from Chang, Zapf attests that on July 11, 2019, she sent a meet and confer letter addressing the deficiencies in Chang’s June 24, 2019 responses. (Zapf SROG.2 Decl., ¶ 6, Exhibit D.) Zapf sent another meet and confer letter on August 19, 2019 addressing the deficiencies in Chang’s amended responses served August 7, 2019. (Zapf SROG Decl. ¶ 8, Exhibit F.) On August 26, 2019, Chang, who was self-represented at the time, sent a meet and confer letter contesting the issues raised in Zapf’s meet and confer letter. (Zapf SROG Decl. ¶ 9.) Zapf responded to Chang’s letter on the same day. (Zapf Decl. ¶ 10, Exhibit H.)

Additionally, Zapf attests that she sent a final meet and confer letter on May 1, 2020 advising Plaintiffs that FIE would bring motions to compel further responses as to Requests for Production, Set Two and Special Interrogatories, Set Two, and that FIE would also move to compel initial responses as to all discovery served on August 19, 2019. (Zapf Decl. ¶ 15.) Zapf attests that Plaintiffs have not responded to her August 26, 2019 or May 1, 2020 meet and confer letters. (Zapf Decl. ¶¶ 10, 15.)

Zapf filed a declaration in support of the motions to compel further responses by Mr. Lo, and that motion described similar efforts to meet and confer respecting those motions.

The court finds that the Zapf Declarations are sufficient to demonstrate FIE’s compliance with its statutory meet and confer obligations with regard to its Motions to Compel Further Responses..

Discussion

FIE contends that further responses to Requests for Production, Set Two and Special Interrogatories, Set Two are warranted because each set of discovery was properly served and seek basic information regarding Plaintiffs’ damages. FIE similarly contends that an order compelling initial responses to each of the above discussed sets of discovery is warranted because each of these sets of discovery seek basic information about Plaintiffs’ claims and Plaintiffs have repeatedly failed to provide this information since the commencement of this action.

Plaintiffs have filed one combined opposition to all motions to compel further responses, motions to compel responses, and motions to deem requests for admission admitted. Plaintiffs contend that each of the eight discovery motions before the court are “not necessary” because Plaintiffs planned to provide responses to all outstanding discovery “before the hearing of this motion.” (Opposition, 1-3.) Additionally, Plaintiffs contend that any delay in providing responses is entirely attributable to Chang’s medical condition and that as such, the timing of FIE’s discovery motions constitute bad faith because Chang started additional treatments shortly before these discovery motions were filed and thus could not have provided responses. (Opposition, 2-3.)

Chang attests in support of this opposition that in late 2019, he developed new symptoms following his previous heart surgery and was diagnosed with prostate cancer. (Chang Decl. ¶ 2.) Chang attests that he did not start radiation treatments due to additional testing required and complications from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chang Decl. ¶ 4.) Further, Chang attests that his son had to withdraw from college to care for him through his treatment, but that because his son has since returned to college, he will not be able to conclude treatment until October 23, 2020. (Chang Decl. ¶ 5.) Finally, Chang attests that although he is “expected to recover many functions over time,” he has been told to expect impairments such as weakness and inability to concentrate for at least “six to eight weeks after treatment stops.” (Id.)

In reply, FIE contends that all discovery motions must be granted because Plaintiffs have not served further or initial responses to any of the sets of discovery as of the filing of FIE’s reply. (Reply, 2-3; Zapf Declaration in Support of Reply, ¶ 2.) Additionally, FIE contends that Chang’s illness is no excuse for Plaintiffs not to respond to discovery because the discovery has been pending since 2019, Lo does not attest that he is ill or otherwise unable to respond to discovery, and Plaintiffs are currently moving for leave to file a Third Amended Complaint, which is contradictory to Chang’s apparent contention that he is unable to engage in discovery. (Reply, 4-5.)

The court agrees with FIE that each of its discovery motions must be granted. FIE has demonstrated that its discovery was appropriately served on each of Chang and Lo. As to FIE’s motions to compel further responses, FIE has demonstrated that it met and conferred with Chang regarding his unsatisfactory responses and that Chang has not served supplemental responses. As to the motions to compel initial responses or to deem requests for admissions admitted, FIE has demonstrated that no responses have been received. Further, the court agrees with FIE that Chang’s illness, although unfortunate, does not absolve him of the need to respond to discovery which has been pending since May 2019 and August 2019. Additionally, Plaintiffs have submitted no evidence demonstrating that Lo is somehow unable to respond to discovery, so Lo must be ordered to respond.

Monetary Sanctions

FIE requests monetary sanctions in the following amounts as to each discovery motion before the court:

MTC Further Responses to RFP to Chang (Set Two): monetary sanctions in the amount of $705.00;

• MTC Further Responses to Special Interrogatories to Chang (Set Two): monetary sanctions in the amount of $819.00;

• MTC Chang’s Special Interrogatories (Set Three): monetary sanctions in the amount of $458.00;

• MTC Chang’s RFP (Set Three): monetary sanctions in the amount of $458.00;

• MTC Chang’s RFA (Set One): monetary sanctions in the amount of $458.00;

• MTC Lo’s Special Interrogatories (Set Three): monetary sanctions in the amount of $458.00;

• MTC Lo’s RFP (Set Three): monetary sanctions in the amount of $458.00;

• MTC Lo’s RFA (Set One): monetary sanctions in the amount of $458.00;

(Reply, 6.)

In light of the procedural history in this action and the circumstances attested to in Chang’s Declaration in support of Plaintiffs’ opposition, the court does not sanction Chang as to the motions to compel further responses, finding that doing so would be unjust. However, the court finds that some award of sanctions is warranted as to the instant discovery dispute at large. The court will award the remaining requests for sanctions against the Plaintiff in each motion as outlined above with regard to each of the motions to compel initial responses and motions to deem requests for admissions admitted. All sanctions are payable within 60 days from this date.

Conclusion

FIE’s Motion to Deem Requests for Admission, Set One admitted as to Lo is granted. Requests for Admission, Set One is deemed admitted as to Lo. Sanctions are awarded in the amount of $458. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s Motion to Deem Requests for Admission, Set One admitted as to Chang is granted. Requests for Admission, Set One is deemed admitted as to Chang. Sanctions are awarded in the amount of $458. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s Motion to Compel Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Three from Lo is granted. Lo is to serve verified responses 30 days. Sanctions are awarded in the amount of $458. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s Motion to Compel Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Three from Chang is granted. Chang is to serve verified responses 30 days. Sanctions are awarded in the amount of $458. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s Motion to Compel Responses to Requests for Production, Set Three from Chang is granted. Chang is to serve verified responses within 30 days and produce responsive documents. Sanctions are awarded in the amount of $458. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s Motion to Compel Responses to Requests for Production, Set Three from Lo is granted. Lo is to serve verified responses within 30 days and produce responsive documents. Sanctions are awarded in the amount of $458. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set Two from Chang is granted. Chang is to serve verified, supplemental responses within 30 days. FIE’s request for sanctions is denied. FIE is to give notice.

FIE’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production, Set Two from Chang is granted. Chang is to serve verified, supplemental responses within 30 days and produce responsive documents. FIE’s request for sanctions is denied. FIE is to give notice.

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