Judge: Daniel M. Crowley, Case: 20STCV46901, Date: 2022-08-12 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 20STCV46901    Hearing Date: August 12, 2022    Dept: 28

Plaintiffs Chona A. Chua and Fernando Y. Chua’s Motion for Protective Order

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

 

BACKGROUND

On December 8, 2020, Plaintiffs Chona A. Chua (“Chona”) and Fernando Y. Chua (“Fernando”) filed this complaint against Defendant Chan Vinh Nguyen (“Defendant”) for motor vehicle negligence.

Defendant filed his answer on August 5, 2021. 

On March 4, 2022, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Protective Order to be heard on August 12, 2022. On August 1, 2020, Defendant filed an opposition. On August 5, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a reply.

Trial is currently scheduled for February 3, 2023

 

PARTY’S REQUESTS

Plaintiffs request the Court grant Plaintiff a Protective Order to Preclude Defendant’s Adjuster from Attending Depositions. Additionally, Plaintiff requests the Court impose sanctions totaling $1,435.00 on Defendant, Defendant’s attorney and Defendant’s adjuster.

Defendants request the Court deny the motion.

 

LEGAL STANDARD

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.

 

DISCUSSION

Defendant failed to designate the appearance of the adjuster at Plaintiffs’ depositions, only being put on notice when Defendant informed Plaintiff that the scheduling of Fernando’s deposition was inconvenient to the adjuster. The adjuster, who was identified as “ZengerR” on the Zoom deposition screen was never identified, and Plaintiffs’ attorney assumed she was a staff member of the reporter’s agency. (Declaration of Raymond Feldman ¶ 4.)

Plaintiff argues that, “Although CCP Section 2025.420(b)(12) permits a deponent, after engaging in meet and confer under CCP Section 2016.040(b), to bring a motion for a protective order to exclude a designated non-party, non-officer, or non-counsel on a showing of causing unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment or oppression, or undue burden and expense, where such appearance was without even being designated, as was the case here, there should be no need to show unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, etc. (it should be presumed and the appearance should be declared unlawful..[one-sided paren in the original]”  Yet, Plaintiff offers no support for the proposition, and the Court finds none. 

The Court finds that Plaintiff has made no showing as to any prejudice caused by Defendant’s adjuster’s attending depositions in the case.  Plaintiff makes no showing of the adjuster causing unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment or oppression, or undue burden and expense.  The Court agrees that it was bad form for the adjuster to have attended the deposition without having been announced but finds no showing of injury to Plaintiff for her having done so.  Accordingly, the Court will not issue a protective order addressing either the past attendance or future attendances of Defendant’s adjuster at depositions in this matter. Nonetheless, the Court admonishes all counsel that all attendees to a deposition should be introduced and their presence noted on the record. 

 

CONCLUSION

            Plaintiffs Chona A. Chua and Fernando Y. Chua’s Motion for Protective Order is DENIED.

            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.