Judge: Daniel M. Crowley, Case: 19STCV09485, Date: 2023-03-08 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 19STCV09485    Hearing Date: March 8, 2023    Dept: 28

Defendant Ameron Pole Products LLC’s Motion for Protective Order

Having considered the moving and opposing papers, the Court rules as follows.



On March 19, 2019, Plaintiff Salvador Ocampos (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendants County of Los Angeles (“County”), City of Walnut Park (“Walnut Park”) and City of Huntington Park (“Huntington Park”) for premises liability.

On May 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed the FAC. Plaintiff later amended the complaint to include Defendants Southern California Edison Company (“SCE”), Ameron Pole Products LLC (“APP”) and Foddrill Construction Corporation (“FCC”).

On July 24, 2019, the Court dismissed Huntington Park, with prejudice, pursuant to Plaintiff’s request. On June 23, 2022, the Court dismissed FCC, with prejudice.

On June 17, 2020, the County filed an answer. On June 11, 2020, the County filed a Cross-Complaint against Cross-Defendant SCE for indemnity, express indemnity, breach of contract, apportionment of fault and declaratory relief. The County later amended the complaint to include APP, FCC, Roberto Sanchez Gomez (“Gomez”), Julio Cesar Anzadula (“Anzadula”) and The Diamond Bus Company, LLC (“DBC”). On August 26, 2020, SCE filed an answer. On December 28, 2020, APP filed an answer. On May 2, 2022, the Court dismissed the County and the County’s cross-complaint, without prejudice.

On August 7, 2020, SCE field an answer and a Cross-Complaint against Cross-Defendant APP for total equitable indemnity, apportionment of fault, declaratory relief and express contractual indemnity. SCE later amended the Cross-Complaint to include Cross-Defendant Gomez, Anzadula, FCC and DBC. On October 14, 2020, APP filed an answer. On July 6, 2022, FCC filed an answer.

On August 26, 2022, APP filed a Motion for Protective Order to be heard on January 6, 2023. The Court continued the hearing on the motion to March 8, 2023. On February 23, 2023, Plaintiff filed an opposition.

Trial is currently scheduled for June 12, 2023.



APP requests the Court grant a protective order prohibiting Plaintiff from asking APP’s PMK questions about APP’s responses to discovery items when said responses were actually comprised solely of objections by counsel without any substantive input. APP also requests the Court impose sanctions of $2,860.00 on Plaintiff.

Plaintiff requests the Court deny the motion. Plaintiff also requests the Court impose sanctions of $3,614.15 on APP.



Misuse of the discovery process includes (c) Employing a discovery method in a manner or to an extent that causes unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense; (d) Failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery; and (h) Making or opposing, unsuccessfully and without substantial justification, a motion to compel or to limit discovery. CCP § 2023.010.

The court may grant a protective order to prevent certain behavior at a deposition if justice so requires or to protect a party from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden and expense. CCP § 2025.420. This includes excluding designated persons other than parties, officers, and counsel. The court shall impose sanctions against anyone who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion for a protective order, unless it finds that the party acted with substantial justification.

Code of Civil Procedure §1987.1: (a) If a subpoena requires the attendance of a witness or the production of books, documents, or other things before a court, or at the trial of an issue therein, or at the taking of a deposition, the court, upon motion reasonably made by any person described in subdivision (b), or upon the court’s own motion after giving counsel notice and an opportunity to be heard, 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 order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person. (b) The following persons may make a motion pursuant to subdivision (a): (1) A party. (2) A witness. (3) A consumer described in Section 1985.3. (4) An employee described in Section 1985.6. (5) A person whose personally identifying information, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1798.79.8 of the Civil Code, is sought in connection with an underlying action involving that person’s exercise of free speech rights.



Protective Order

APP requests the Court preclude Plaintiff from asking APP’s PMK questions about discovery responses that consisted of only objections.  APP alleges that this is only done to elicit responses that would make APP look bad or deceptive. APP states that because they comprise solely of objections, these are unverified responses.

Plaintiff is entitled to ask questions about discovery responses containing any response other than solely a legal objection.  For example, if APP claimed that it was unable to respond to the discovery request on account of the request “being premature,” Plaintiff is entitled to inquire as to the efforts made to discovery the information.  The answers to questions of this ilk may be relevant to an argument that APP should be equitably estopped from making certain assertions at trial.  The Court does not find any of the questions anticipated by counsel for APP to be so unduly prejudicial, harassing or burdensome to warrant a protective order. Counsel’s objections during a deposition should be sufficient to navigate the proposed questions. The Court denies the motion.

The Court will impose sanctions on APP for lack of substantial justification in bringing the motion. The Court awards sanctions of $614.15, based on 3 hours of attorney’s work at a reasonable rate of $200.00 per hour, and one $14.15 opposition fee.



Defendant Ameron Pole Products LLC’s Motion for Protective Order is DENIED.

Plaintiff Salvador Ocampo’s Request for Sanctions is GRANTED. APP is ordered to pay Plaintiff $614.15 in sanctions within 30 days of the hearing on the motion.

            Moving party is ordered to give notice of this ruling.

Moving Party is ordered to file the proof of service of this ruling with the Court within five days.

The parties are directed to the header of this tentative ruling for further instructions.