Judge: Lee W. Tsao, Case: 22NWCV00771, Date: 2023-03-23 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 22NWCV00771    Hearing Date: March 23, 2023    Dept: C

ROCHA v. GENERAL MOTORS, LLC

CASE NO.:  22NWCV00771

HEARING:  03/23/23

 

#6

TENTATIVE ORDER

 

     I.        Defendant GENERAL MOTORS, LLC’s Demurrer to Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint is OVERRULED.

 

    II.        Defendant GENERAL MOTORS, LLC’s Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint is DENIED.

 

Opposing Party to give notice.

 

This “lemon law” action was filed by Plaintiff GIOVANNI BLANCO ROCHA (“Plaintiff”) on August 29, 2022.  On December 28, 2022, the operative First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) was filed. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant GENERAL MOTORS, LLC (“Defendant” or “GM”) did not disclose and actively concealed a transmission defect affecting Plaintiff’s Chevy Silverado vehicle. (See Complaint ¶¶69-76.)

 

Plaintiff’s FAC asserts the following causes of action: (1) Violation of Song-Beverly Act (Breach of Express Warranty); (2) Violation of Song-Beverly Act (Breach of Implied Warranty); (3) Violation of the Song-Beverly Act §1793.2; and (4) Fraudulent Inducement – Concealment.

 

Defendant generally demurs to the fourth cause of action.

 

Fourth Cause of Action – Fraudulent Inducement (Concealment)

The elements of a cause of action for intentional fraud are 1) misrepresentation (false representation, concealment, or nondisclosure); 2) knowledge of falsity (scienter); 3) intent to defraud or induce reliance; 4) justifiable reliance; and 5) damages. (See Cal. Civ. Code §1709.) “[T]he elements of a cause of action for fraud and deceit based on concealment are: (1) the defendant must have concealed or suppressed a material fact, (2) the defendant must have been under a duty to disclose the fact to the plaintiff, (3) the defendant must have intentionally concealed or suppressed the fact with the intent to defraud the plaintiff, (f) the plaintiff must have been unaware of the fact and would not have acted as he did if he had known of the concealed or suppressed fact, and (5) as a result of the concealment or suppression of the fact, the plaintiff must have sustained damage.” (Marketing West, Inc. v. Sanyo Fisher (USA) Corp. (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 603, 612-613.)

 

Fraudulent inducement is a viable tort claim under California law. ‘The elements of fraud are (a) a misrepresentation (false representation, concealment, or nondisclosure); (b) scienter or knowledge of its falsity; (c) intent to induce reliance; (d) justifiable reliance; and (e) resulting damage.  Fraud in the inducement is a subset of the tort of fraud. It ‘occurs when ‘the promisor knows what he is signing but his consent is induced by fraud, mutual assent is present and a contract is formed, which, by reason of the fraud, is voidable.’”  (Dhital v. Nissan North America, Inc. (2022) 84 Cal.App.5th 828, 838-839.)

 

Here, Plaintiff alleges at ¶¶ 120-124 allege that Defendant concealed and failed to disclose facts relating to the defects.  ¶125 alleges scienter and intent to induce reliance based on concealment.  ¶¶ 136-137 allege Plaintiff’s resulting damages.

 

The court finds that the FAC alleges sufficient prior knowledge at this pleading stage.  Less specificity is required if it appears from the nature of allegations that defendant must necessarily possess full information, or if the facts lie more in the knowledge of opposing parties.  (Alfaro v. Community Housing Improvement System & Planning Assn., Inc. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1356, 1384-1385.)

 

The Demurrer to the fourth cause of action is OVERRULED.

 

Motion to Strike

Defendant’s accompanying motion to strike punitive damages is DENIED.  The court finds that the FAC sufficiently pleads malicious conduct by concealment.  Corporate ratification is alleged at ¶ 16.  Less specificity is required if it appears from the nature of allegations that defendant must necessarily possess full information, or if the facts lie more in the knowledge of opposing parties.  (Alfaro v. Community Housing Improvement System & Planning Assn., Inc. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1356, 1384-1385; Bushell v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 915, 931 - “plaintiffs did not have to specify the … personnel who prepared these documents because that information is uniquely within … [defendant’s] knowledge”.)