Judge: Joel L. Lofton, Case: 21GDCV01155, Date: 2022-07-25 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 21GDCV01155    Hearing Date: July 25, 2022    Dept: X

   Tentative Ruling

 

Judge Joel L. Lofton, Department X

 

 

HEARING DATE:     July 25, 2022                          TRIAL DATE:  March 7, 2023

                                                          

CASE:                         MARTA S. CASTANEDA, an individual, v. FCA US LLC; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive.

 

CASE NO.:                 21GDCV01155

 

           

 

MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER

 

MOVING PARTY:              Plaintiff Marta S. Castaneda

 

RESPONDING PARTY:     Defendant FCA US LLC

 

SERVICE:                             Filed June 24, 2022

 

OPPOSITION:                      Filed July 13, 2022

 

REPLY:                                  Filed July 18, 2022

 

RELIEF REQUESTED

 

            Plaintiff requests an order compelling Defendant to provide further responses to its request for production of documents.

 

BACKGROUND

 

            This case arises out of Plaintiff Marta S. Castaneda’s (“Plaintiff”) lemon law claim. Plaintiff alleges that on or about June 23, 2019, she purchased a 2018 Jeep Wrangler with the Vehicle Identification Number 1C4HJXDG5HW227084 (“Subject Vehicle”). Plaintiff alleges that the Subject Vehicle suffered from numerous defects that Defendant FCA US LLC (“Defendant”) or its representative could not remedy.

 

Plaintiff filed this complaint on September 9 2021, alleging five causes of action for (1) violation of Civil Code section 1793.2, subdivision (d), (2) violation of Civil Code section 1793.2, subdivision (b), (3) violation of Civil Code section 1793.2, subdivision (a)(3), (4) breach of express written warranty, and (5) breach of implied warranty of merchantability.

 

 

TENTATIVE RULING

 

Plaintiff’s motion to compel is granted in part.

 

            Defendant is ordered to produce documents it agreed to produce, subject to an executed protective order, once Plaintiff provides an executed copy of the protective order.

 

Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is denied.

 

LEGAL STANDARD

 

On receipt of a response to discovery requests, the party requesting may move for an order compelling further responses for interrogatories (Code Civ. Proc. 2030.300), requests for admission (Cod. Civ. Proc. section 2033.290), and request for production (Code Civ. Proc. section 2031.310). “Unless notice of this motion is given within 45 days of the service of the verified response, or any supplemental verified response, or any specific later date to which the requesting party and the responding party have agreed in writing, the requesting party waives any right to compel further response to the requests for admission.” (Code Civ. Proc. section 2033.290, subd. (c).)

 

DISCUSSION

 

            Request for Production of Documents

 

            Plaintiff requests an order compelling Defendant to produce further responses to her request for production of documents numbers 16 through 21 and 58 through 63. Defendant asserts it has already provided supplemental responses and agreed to produce more documents if Plaintiff agrees to a protective order. Defendant also asserts that, for some inquiries, it has determined that no responsive documents exist.

 

            RFP No. 16: All DOCUMENTS, including but not limited to electronically stored information and electronic mails, concerning or relating to any internal analysis or investigation by YOU or on YOUR behalf regarding the ELECTRICAL DEFECT in vehicles of the same year, make, and model as the SUBJECT VEHICLE. [This request shall be interpreted to include, but not be limited to, any such investigation to determine the root cause of such ELECTRICAL DEFECT, any such investigation to design a permanent repair procedure for such ELECTRICAL DEFECT, any such investigation into the failure rates of parts associated with such ELECTRICAL DEFECT, any cost analysis for implementing a proposed repair procedures, any savings analysis not implementing a proposed repair procedures, etc.]

 

            RFP No. 17: All DOCUMENTS, including but not limited to electronically stored information and electronic mails, concerning or relating to any communications YOU have had regarding ELECTRICAL DEFECT(S) in vehicles of the same year, make, and model as the SUBJECT VEHICLE.

 

            RFP No. 18: All DOCUMENTS, including but not limited to electronically stored information and electronic mails, concerning or relating to any decision to issue any notices, letters, campaigns, warranty extensions, technical service bulletins and recalls concerning the ELECTRICAL DEFECT(S) in vehicles of the same year, make, and model as the SUBJECT VEHICLE. [This request shall be interpreted to include any such investigation to determine the root cause of the ELECTRICAL DEFECT(S), any such investigation to design a permanent repair procedure for the ELECTRICAL DEFECT(S), any such investigation into the failure rates of parts associated with the ELECTRICAL DEFECT(S), any cost analysis for implementing a proposed repair procedures, any savings analysis not implementing a proposed repair procedures, etc.]

 

            RFP No. 19: All DOCUMENTS, including but not limited to electronically stored information and electronic mails, concerning customer complaints, claims, reported failures, and warranty claims related to ELECTRICAL DEFECT, including but not limited to any databases in YOUR possession with information from dealers, service departments, parts departments, or warranty departments, and all documents concerning YOUR response to each complaint, claim or reported failure.

 

            RFP No. 20: All DOCUMENTS, including but not limited to electronically stored information and electronic mails, concerning failure rates of vehicles of the same year, make, and model as the SUBJECT VEHICLE as a result of ELECTRICAL DEFECT.

 

            RFP No. 21: All DOCUMENTS, including but not limited to electronically stored information and electronic mails, concerning or relating to any fixes for ELECTRICAL DEFECT in vehicles of the same year, make, and model as the SUBJECT VEHICLE.

 

            RFP No. 58: All DOCUMENTS related to YOUR Technical Service Bulletin 18-092-19, including but not limited to, all versions from the first published to the current, and all internal analysis reports that were incorporated into the Technical Service Bulletin

 

            RFP No. 59: All DOCUMENTS related to YOUR Technical Service Bulletin 08-040-19, including but not limited to, all versions from the first published to the current, and all internal analysis reports that were incorporated into the Technical Service Bulletin.

 

            RFP No. 60: All DOCUMENTS related to YOUR Technical Service Bulletin 21-026-18 Rev. A, including but not limited to, all versions from the first published to the current, and all internal analysis reports that were incorporated into the Technical Service Bulletin.

 

            RFP No. 61: All DOCUMENTS related to YOUR Technical Service Bulletin 08-042-18, including but not limited to, all versions from the first published to the current, and all internal analysis reports that were incorporated into the Technical Service Bulletin.

 

            RFP No. 62: All DOCUMENTS related to YOUR Technical Service Bulletin 24-006-19, including but not limited to, all versions from the first published to the current, and all internal analysis reports that were incorporated into the Technical Service Bulletin.

 

            RFP No. 63: All DOCUMENTS related to YOUR Technical Service Bulletin 08-017-021, including but not limited to, all versions from the first published to the current, and all internal analysis reports that were incorporated into the Technical Service Bulletin.

 

            Application

 

            As a preliminary note, Plaintiff cites a supplemental declaration that is absent from the Court’s record.

 

            For requests for production numbers 16 through 21, Defendant asserts that it has conducted a reasonable inquiry into several databases using terms identified by Plaintiff’s definition of an “electrical defect”. Defendant also provides that it (1) did not find any responsive documents, (2) will provide additional documents, (3) will provide additional documents subject to a protective order, or (4) some combination of numbers two and three.

 

            Plaintiff acknowledges Defendant served supplemental responses but argues that the motion is not mooted, citing Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 390, 408. However, Plaintiff’s citation dealt with a motion to compel rather than a motion to compel further. Additionally, Plaintiff does not identify how Defendant’s supplemental responses are deficient, especially in circumstances where Defendant provides it has found no responsive documents, other than claiming without supporting its position that “Defendant must search and produce everything in its custody, possession, and control.” (Reply at p. 6:28.)

 

            Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses to requests for production numbers 16 through 21 is granted in part. Defendant is ordered to produce documents it agreed to produce, subject to an executed protective order, once Plaintiff provides an executed copy of the protective order.

 

            For requests for production numbers 58 through 63, Defendant asserts that it will provide the documents sought subject to a protective order. In its response to requests for production number 61, Defendant asserts that the sought document is not applicable to the subject vehicle.

 

            Plaintiff counters that the protective order is not warranted here. However, Defendant has clearly attempted to find and produce responsive documents to Plaintiff’s inquiry, yet Plaintiff still insists that the present motion is necessary. Plaintiff does not establish why the protective order is not warranted or why the Court should order Defendant to produce potentially sensitive business information without safeguards.

 

            Plaintiff’s motion to compel further responses to request for production numbers58 through 63 is granted in part. Defendant is ordered to produce documents it agreed to produce, subject to an executed protective order, once Plaintiff provides an executed copy of the protective order.

 

 

 

            Sanctions

 

            Plaintiff requests sanctions in the amount of $3,157. The Court finds that Defendant acted with substantial justification in that it conducted a diligent search using Plaintiff’s definition, supplemented its responses, and is waiting for a protective order to provide the remaining documents.

 

            Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is denied.

 

CONCLUSION

 

            Plaintiff’s motion to compel is granted in part.

 

            Defendant is ordered to produce documents it agreed to produce, subject to an executed protective order, once Plaintiff provides an executed copy of the protective order.

 

Plaintiff’s request for sanctions is denied.

 

 

            Moving party to give notice. 

 

 

 

 

 

           

Dated:   July 25, 2022                                     ___________________________________

                                                                                    Joel L. Lofton

                                                                                    Judge of the Superior Court



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