Judge: Jill Feeney, Case: 20STCV05684, Date: 2022-08-03 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 20STCV05684    Hearing Date: August 3, 2022    Dept: 30

Department 30, Spring Street Courthouse
August 3, 2022
Motion for Terminating Sanctions (unopposed)


The motion is granted.

The complaint filed by Plaintiff Raven Blackmon is dismissed with prejudice with respect to Defendant Teresa Avalos.

Moving party is ordered to provide notice and to file proof of service of such notice within five court days after the date of this order.


This is an action for negligence arising from a car accident which took place in 2018. Plaintiffs Ricky Darnell Blackmon, Raven Blackmon, and minors Jacob and Ryan Blackmon filed their complaint against Teresa Avalos on June 26, 2020. 

On July 6, 2021, the Court found this case was related to 20STCV24363 and consolidated the two cases, with 20STCV05684 as the lead case.

On June 9, 2022, the Court granted Defendant’s motions to compel discovery.

On July 7, 2022, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss complaint.


Moving Arguments

On June 9, 2022, this Court granted Defendant’s motion to compel and ordered Plaintiff to serve, without objections, verified responses to Defendant’s Form Interrogatories, Set One; Special Interrogatories, Set One; and Demand for Production of Documents, Set One within 15 days of the hearing. The Court further ordered Plaintiff to pay Defendant monetary sanctions in the sum of $550 that were due within 15 days of the hearing.

Defendant served Plaintiff with notice of the court’s order on June 10, 2022. (Zegel Decl., ¶3) Plaintiff’s responses were due on June 24, 2022. However, Plaintiff never served responses to Defendant’s discovery requests, nor did Plaintiff pay the sanctions. Defendant moves for an order dismissing Plaintiff’s Complaint due to Plaintiff’s failure to obey the Court’s June 9, 2022 order. 

Opposing Arguments

No opposition was filed.

Legal Standard

If a party engages in the misuse of the discovery process, the court may impose monetary, issue, evidence, or terminating sanctions. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030.) Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.010 provides, in relevant part, that “[m]isuses of the discovery process include, but are not limited to, the following: … (d) Failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery . . . (g) Disobeying a court order to provide discovery.” 

“The trial court may order a terminating sanction for discovery abuse ‘after considering the totality of the circumstances: [the] conduct of the party to determine if the actions were willful; the detriment to the propounding party; and the number of formal and informal attempts to obtain the discovery.’” (Los Defensores, Inc. v. Gomez (2014) 223 Cal. App. 4th 377, 390, quoting Lang v. Hochman (2000) 77 Cal. App. 4th 1225, 1246.)  

“Generally, ‘[a] decision to order terminating sanctions should not be made lightly.  But where a violation is willful, preceded by a history of abuse, and the evidence shows that less severe sanctions would not produce compliance with the discovery rules, the trial court is justified in imposing the ultimate sanction.’” (Los Defensores, supra, 223 Cal. App. 4th at p. 390 [citation omitted].)   

“Under this standard, trial courts have properly imposed terminating sanctions when parties have willfully disobeyed one or more discovery orders.” (Los Defensores, supra, 223 Cal.App.4th at p. 390 citing Lang, supra, 77 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1244-1246 [discussing cases]; see, e.g., Collisson & Kaplan v. Hartunian (1994) 21 Cal.App.4th 1611, 1617-1622 [terminating sanctions imposed (by striking the defendant’s Answer and subsequently granting default judgment) after defendants failed to comply with one court order to produce discovery]; Laguna Auto Body v. Farmers Ins. Exchange (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 481, 491, disapproved on other grounds in Garcia v. McCutchen (1997) 16 Cal.4th 469, 478, n. 4 [terminating sanctions imposed against the plaintiff for failing to comply with a discovery order and for violating various discovery statutes].) 


Defendant argues that the Court may dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint because Plaintiff failed to obey the Court’s order compelling discovery responses and to pay sanctions to Defendant. 

The Court is granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss because Plaintiff’s failure to obey the Court’s June 9, 2022 order is preceded by a history of abuse, and the evidence shows that less severe sanctions would not produce compliance with the discovery rules. As set forth in the June 9, 2022 minute order, Plaintiff repeatedly failed to respond to Defendant’s discovery requests, delaying responses by over a year between June 7, 2021 and June 9, 2022. Responses to Defendant’s Form Interrogatories, Set One; Special Interrogatories, Set One; and Requests for Production, Set One were due on July 7, 2021. Moreover, attempts to contact Plaintiff about these responses were unsuccessful. 

Plaintiff has never responded to Defendant’s discovery requests or paid sanctions despite the June 9, 2022 order. (Zegel, Decl., ¶4.) Therefore, the Court finds terminating sanctions proper.