Judge: Helen Zukin, Case: SC127112, Date: 2023-03-13 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: SC127112    Hearing Date: March 13, 2023    Dept: 207



Plaintiff Billy Ray Gallion ("Plaintiff") alleges that he was subjected to uninhabitable living conditions while residing in Unit 11 at 1508 12th St., Santa Monica, California 90401. Plaintiff alleges his unit was delivered with and/or subsequently developed dangerous and hazardous conditions, including mold growth, which caused him injuries. Plaintiff’s unit represents one of eleven units at the Property. The remaining ten units at the Property together form a common interest development subject to the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (Civ. Code, § 4000 et seq.). The development is governed by the Fifteen Zero Eight Twelfth Street Homeowners Association (“HOA”) and is subject to recorded covenants, conditions, and restrictions. The daily operations of the HOA were conducted by BLN Property Management, Inc., (“BLN”) a management company.


The HOA, BLN, and Defendants Constantinos Georgiadis (“Georgiadis”), Izumi Shitoma (“Shitoma”), Dan Brodhead (“Brodhead”), Cheryl Barnett (“Barnett”), and Cheri Krus (“Kraus” and collectively “Defendants”) have reached settlements with Plaintiff and now move the Court for a determination that those settlements were entered into in good faith pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6. Defendants’ motion is unopposed.


Legal Standard


The Court must approve any settlement entered into by less than all joint tortfeasors or co-obligors. (C.C.P. § 877.6.) This requirement furthers two sometimes-competing policies: (1) the equitable sharing of costs among the parties at fault, and (2) the encouragement of settlements. (Erreca’s v. Superior Court (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 1475, 1487.)


If the settlement is made in good faith, the Court “shall bar any other joint tortfeasor or co-obligor from any further claims against the settling tortfeasor . . . for equitable comparative contribution, or partial or comparative indemnity, based on comparative negligence or comparative fault.” (C.C.P. § 877.6(c).) The non-settling tortfeasors or obligors bear the burden of demonstrating the absence of good faith in the settlement. (C.C.P. § 877.6(d).)


In order to demonstrate a lack of good faith, the non-settling party must show the settlement is so far “out of the ballpark” as to be inconsistent with the equitable objectives of section 877.6. (Nutrition Now, Inc. v. Superior Court (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 209, 213.) The Court will typically consider: (1) the plaintiff’s (roughly) approximated total recovery; (2) the settlor’s share of liability; (3) the size of the settlement at issue; (4) the distribution of settlement proceeds among plaintiffs; (5) the usual discount value when plaintiffs settle before trial; (6) the settlor’s financial condition and insurance policy limits; and (7) whether there is evidence of “collusion, fraud, or tortious conduct aimed to injure the interests of nonsettling defendants.” (Tech-Bilt, Inc. v. Woodward-Clyde & Associates (1985) 38 Cal.3d 488, 499 (Tech-Bilt).) “Another key factor is the settling tortfeasor's potential liability for indemnity to joint tortfeasors.” (Long Beach Memorial Medical Center v. Superior Court (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 865, 873 [as modified (Apr. 1, 2009].)


These factors will be evaluated accordingly to what information is available at the time of settlement. (Ibid.)




Mr. Brodhead and Plaintiff have agreed to settle Plaintiff’s claims against him in exchange for a payment of $150,000. The other moving Defendants collectively and separately reached a settlement with Plaintiff in the amount of $1,200,000 allocated as follows: $725,000 jointly by the HOA and BLN, $125,000 each by Georgiadis, Shitoma, and Krus; and $100,000 by Barnett.


Defendants have provided an analysis of Plaintiff’s claims and assert there is little to no evidence that they directly caused or contributed to Plaintiff’s damages and Plaintiff faces the possibility of a finding of contributory negligence if his claims against them were to proceed at trial. The Court is satisfied the $150,000 Brodhead settlement and cumulative $1,200,000 settlement reached by the remaining moving Defendants are within the “ballpark” of Defendants’ proportionate share of liability, particularly when considering the discount afforded to settlement figures where, as here, a claim is resolved before trial. The Court notes the amount of these settlements are in range with the settlements reached between Plaintiff and other parties, which the Court has previously determined to be entered into in good faith pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6.


The Court finds the remaining Tech-Bilt factors are satisfied as well. There is only one Plaintiff in this action, so there are no concerns regarding the allocation of settlement funds between multiple plaintiffs. The Court also finds no evidence of collusion, fraud, or other tortious conduct on behalf of Plaintiff or Defendants, and the Court notes no other party has opposed this motion or otherwise suggested any such fraud or collusion is present here.


On such facts, the Court finds the settlements between Plaintiff and Defendants was entered into in good faith under Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6 and accordingly Defendants’ motion is GRANTED.


Counsel for the moving parties has separately filed a declaration attesting to an error made in the Court’s February 16, 2023, minute order. (See March 1, 2023, Landers Decl.) Counsel correctly points out the separate motion for determination of good faith settlement brought by Defendant Julie Barash (“Barash”) came on for hearing on February 16, 2023, before the Court. The Barash motion was unopposed and was granted by the Court. At the time of the February 16 hearing, the instant motion for determination of good faith settlement was scheduled for hearing on March 2, 2023. Because the Court was going to be dark on March 2, the Court continued the hearing on the instant motion to March 13. The February 16, 2023, minute order issued by the Court inadvertently conflated the Barash motion with the instant motion, and states only that the Barash motion was being continued. The Barash motion was granted on February 16.



Defendants Fifteen Zero Eight Twelfth Street Homeowners Association, BLN Property Management, Inc., Constantinos Georgiadis, Izumi Shitoma, Dan Brodhead, Cheryl Barnett, and Cheri Krus’ motion for determination of good faith settlement is GRANTED. Pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 877.6(c) all claims by any other party, or any other joint tortfeasor or co-obligor against Defendants based upon equitable or comparative contribution, partial or comparative indemnity, implied indemnity, equitable indemnity, or otherwise based in any way on comparative negligence or comparative fault, are dismissed.