Judge: Gary Y. Tanaka, Case: 22TRCV00667, Date: 2023-05-18 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 22TRCV00667    Hearing Date: May 18, 2023    Dept: B




Honorable Gary Y. Tanaka                                                                                           Thursday, May 18, 2023
Department B                                                                                                                              Calendar No. 6





Christian De Vaney Vaughan v. Tesla, Inc., et al.


1.      Tesla Motors, Inc.’s Motion to Set Aside Default



Tesla Motors, Inc.’s Motion to Set Aside Default is denied without prejudice.




            Plaintiff filed the Complaint on August 5, 2022. Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint was filed on September 9, 2022. Plaintiff alleges the following facts. Plaintiffs allege that her 2022 Tesla Model Y, which was manufactured and distributed by Defendant, was advertised, represented, and leased to Plaintiff as a new vehicle with a clean repair history with no prior damage.  However, in fact, the vehicle was not new and not safe. The vehicle was previously damaged and had prior body damage and repairs of $8,677.40 that were not disclosed to Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges the following causes of action: 1. Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability Under the Song-Beverly Warranty Act; 2. Breach of Express Warranty of Merchantability Under the Song-Beverly Warranty Act; 3. Violation of Consumer Legal Remedies Act (Civ. Code 1750 et seq.); 4. Violation of Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professions Code 17200 et seq.; 5. Concealment.


            Tesla Motors, Inc.’s default was entered on December 21, 2022.


            Motion to Set Aside Default


            CCP § 473(b) states, in relevant part: “The court may, upon any terms as may be just, relieve a party or his or her legal representative from a judgment, dismissal, order, or other proceeding taken against him or her through his or her mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. Application for this relief shall be accompanied by a copy of the answer or other pleading proposed to be filed therein, otherwise the application shall not be granted, and shall be made within a reasonable time, in no case exceeding six months, after the judgment, dismissal, order, or proceeding was taken.  . . .  Notwithstanding any other requirements of this section, the court shall, whenever an application for relief is made no more than six months after entry of judgment, is in proper form, and is accompanied by an attorney's sworn affidavit attesting to his or her mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect, vacate any (1) resulting default entered by the clerk against his or her client, and which will result in entry of a default judgment, or (2) resulting default judgment or dismissal entered against his or her client, unless the court finds that the default or dismissal was not in fact caused by the attorney's mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect. The court shall, whenever relief is granted based on an attorney's affidavit of fault, direct the attorney to pay reasonable compensatory legal fees and costs to opposing counsel or parties. . . .”


            “Under the statute and in addition to the necessity of excusing the original default by a sufficient showing of “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect,” the application must also be made within a “reasonable time” within six months after the party becomes aware that a default has been entered against it. This court has held that what a “reasonable time” is in any case depends primarily on the facts and circumstances of each individual case, but definitively requires a showing of diligence in making the motion after the discovery of the default.  In other words, the moving party must not only make a sufficient showing of “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect” in order to excuse the original default but must also show diligence in filing its application under section 473 after learning about the default. If there is a delay in filing for relief under section 473, the reason for the delay must be substantial and must justify or excuse the delay.” Stafford v. Mach (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 1174, 1181(internal citations and quotations omitted).


            Defendant moves to set aside the default on the ground that the default was the result of Tesla Motors Inc.’s mistake, inadvertence, or excusable neglect. CCP § 473(b). However, Defendant fails to submit any competent evidence to demonstrate that the default was the result of Tesla Motors, Inc.’s mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. Statements and arguments were set forth in the memorandum of points and authorities, but the two declarations submitted with the motion are completely silent as to these factors. The declaration of Defendant’s counsel simply demonstrates authentication of the attached proposed Answer. The declaration of Kevin Jay simply reiterates his purported understanding of the corporate structure of Tesla Inc. and Tesla Motors, Inc. However, there are no facts stated to show that somehow this understanding caused the default. In addition, while the motion was made within six months of the entry of default, Defendant is absolutely silent as to why the motion was not made earlier and provides no facts to justify or excuse the delay. Defendant does not establish the required diligence to obtain relief from the entry of default.


            Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, Tesla Motors, Inc.’s Motion to Set Aside Default is denied without prejudice. However, the Court urges the parties to reach an agreement to resolve this issue without the need for court intervention.


            Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of this ruling.