Judge: Kerry Bensinger, Case: 19STCV29102, Date: 2023-03-06 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 19STCV29102    Hearing Date: March 6, 2023    Dept: 27

























     CASE NO.: 19STCV29102 




Dept. 27 

1:30 p.m. 

March 6, 2023 



On August 9, 2019, Plaintiff Terry Webb filed this action against Defendant City of Los Angeles arising from a November 6, 2018 trip and fall.  

On December 13 and December 15, 2022, Defendant’s counsel met and conferred with Plaintiff’s counsel on the need to complete additional discovery, including Plaintiff’s medical examinations with an orthopedic specialist, neurologist, and neuropsychologist.   

Plaintiff agreed to the medical examinations on January 9, 2023.  Plaintiff’s orthopedic examination was completed on January 24, 2023.  Plaintiff’s neuropsychological exam was noticed for February 23, 2023.  Plaintiff’s exam with a neurologist was noticed for March 1, 2023.  However, despite agreeing to the examinations, Plaintiff refused to stipulate to a trial continuance or to reopen discovery.   

On January 13, 2023, the Court granted in part Defendant’s Ex Parte Application for an Order Continuing Trial and Related Dates, Alternatively, to Advance Hearing on Motion to Continue Trial.  The Final Status Conference scheduled for January 24, 2023 was continued to March 3, 2023 and the Non-Jury Trial scheduled for February 6, 2023 was continued to April 6, 2023 to permit Defendant’s motion to continue trial to be heard on March 6, 2023. Discovery and motions deadlines were not continued and remain related to the February 6, 2023 date. 

Defendant now moves for an order continuing the trial date to the first available trial date on or after September 27, 2023 and for an order to reopen all discovery.  Plaintiff opposes.  


  1. Continue Trial 

California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332, subdivision (b) outlines that a party seeking a continuance of the date set for trial, whether contested or uncontested or stipulated to by the parties, must make the request for a continuance by a noticed motion or an ex parte application under the rules in chapter 4 of this division, with supporting declarations.  The party must make the motion or application as soon as reasonably practical once the necessity for the continuance is discovered. 

Under California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332, subd. (c), the Court may grant a continuance only on an affirmative showing of good cause requiring the continuance.  Circumstances that may indicate good cause include a party's excused inability to obtain essential testimony, documents, or other material evidence despite diligent efforts.”  The Court should consider all facts and circumstances relevant to the determination, such as proximity of the trial date, prior continuances, prejudice suffered, whether all parties have stipulated to a continuance, and whether the interests of justice are served.  (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332, subd. (d).) 

  1. Reopen Discovery 

Except as otherwise provided, any party shall be entitled as a matter of right to complete discovery proceedings on or before the 30th day, and to have motions concerning discovery heard on or before the 15th day, before the date initially set for trial of the action.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2024.020, subd. (a).)  On motion of any party, the court may grant leave to complete discovery proceedings, or to have a motion concerning discovery heard, closer to the initial trial date, or to reopen discovery after a new trial date has been set.  This motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration demonstrating a good faith effort at informal resolution.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2024.050, subd. (a).)    

The court shall take into consideration any matter relevant to the leave requested, including, but not limited to: (1) the necessity and the reasons for the discovery, (2) the diligence or lack of diligence of the party seeking the discovery or the hearing of a discovery motion, and the reasons that the discovery was not completed or that the discovery motion was not heard earlier, (3) any likelihood that permitting the discovery or hearing the discovery motion will prevent the case from going to trial on the date set, or otherwise interfere with the trial calendar, or result in prejudice to any other party, and (4) the length of time that has elapsed between any date previously set, and the date presently set, for the trial of the action.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2024.050, subd. (b).) 


Defendant claims it acted diligently to complete discovery.  Defendant blames Plaintiff for the delays and cites the problems with scheduling the January 9, 2023 examinations as an exampleDefendant further argues good cause exists to grant this motion because (1) Deputy City Attorney Vanessa Ticas took over this matter in September of 2022 and needs time to familiarize herself with the case and prepare for trial, and (2) a trial continuance is necessary to complete discovery in preparation for private mediation with Michael Moorhead, Esq., in June 2023, and/or trial.  (Ticas Decl., ¶¶ 2-5.) 

Plaintiff does not dispute the need for additional time to complete expert discovery and mediation.  Rather, Plaintiff opposes any new trial date set beyond July 2023.  In support, Plaintiff argues that (1) Plaintiff has already stipulated to Defendant’s three prior requests to continue the trial; (2) Defendant has not been diligent in conducting discovery and fails to demonstrate why Plaintiff’s medical examinations could not have been scheduled sooner; and (3) six months is ample time for Deputy City Attorney Ticas to familiarize herself with the case and prepare for trial.  (Ticas Decl., ¶¶ 

The Court need not address fault for the delays at this time.  The parties agree additional time is needed to complete expert discovery and to prepare for mediation.  Given this accord, good cause exists to continue the trial and to reopen expert discovery.  In light of the Court’s calendar, the first available date for a trial continuance is October 19, 2023.  Based upon the foregoing, discovery will be reopened for the limited purpose of completing expert discovery.  No other discovery will be allowed. 


Defendant City of Los Angeles’s motion to continue the trial date is GRANTEDThe motion to reopen discovery for the limited purposes of completing expert discovery is GRANTED.  The request to reopen other forms of discovery is DENIED.    

The Final Status Conference scheduled for March 3, 2023, is CONTINUED to October 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM in Department 27 at Spring Street Courthouse, and the Non-Jury Trial scheduled for April 6, 2023 is CONTINUED to October 19, 2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 27 at Spring Street Courthouse.  

Moving party to give notice.   

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT27@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org.  Please be advised that if you submit on the tentative and elect not to appear at the hearing, the opposing party may nevertheless appear at the hearing and argue the matter.  Unless you receive a submission from all other parties in the matter, you should assume that others might appear at the hearing to argue.  If the Court does not receive emails from the parties indicating submission on this tentative ruling and there are no appearances at the hearing, the Court may, at its discretion, adopt the tentative as the final order or place the motion off calendar. 

        Dated this 6th day of March 2023 





Hon. Kerry Bensinger  

Judge of the Superior Court