Judge: Michael E. Whitaker, Case: 19STCV20201, Date: 2023-03-01 Tentative Ruling



Case Number: 19STCV20201    Hearing Date: March 1, 2023    Dept: 32

PLEASE NOTE:   Parties are encouraged to meet and confer concerning this tentative ruling to determine if a resolution may be reached.  If the parties are unable to reach a resolution and a party intends to submit on this tentative ruling, the party must send an email to the Court at sscdept32@lacourt.org indicating that party’s intention to submit.  The email shall include the case number, date and time of the hearing, counsel’s contact information (if applicable), and the identity of the party submitting on this tentative ruling.  If the Court does not receive an email indicating the parties are submitting on this tentative ruling and there are no appearances at the hearing, the Court may place the motion off calendar or adopt the tentative ruling as the order of the Court.  If all parties do not submit on this tentative ruling, they should arrange to appear in-person or remotely (which is highly encouraged).  Further, after the Court has posted/issued a tentative ruling, the Court has the inherent authority to prohibit the withdrawal of the subject motion and adopt the tentative ruling as the order of the Court. 

 

TENTATIVE RULING

 

DEPARTMENT

32

HEARING DATE

March 1, 2023

CASE NUMBER

19STCV20201

MOTION

Motion to Reopen Discovery and/or for Protective Order, or Alternatively to Exclude Evidence at Trial

MOVING PARTY

Defendant La Luna Lavanderia, Inc.

OPPOSING PARTY

Plaintiff Reyna Ventura

 

MOTION

 

Plaintiff Reyna Ventura (Plaintiff) sued Defendant La Luna Lavanderia, Inc. (Defendant) based on injuries Plaintiff sustained in a slip-and-fall incident at a laundromat.  Defendant moves to re-open discovery for the purpose of completing discovery related to Plaintiff’s August 2022 back surgery, or for a protective order related to Plaintiff’s withholding of information and documents in discovery.  Alternatively, Defendant moves to exclude evidence at trial.  Plaintiff opposes the motion.  Defendant replies.

 

ANALYSIS

 

Trial is currently set for April 24, 2023, which the Court set pursuant to the stipulation submitted by Plaintiff and Defendant.  However, the Court did not re-open non-expert discovery when it set the trial date of April 24, 2023.  Based on the former trial date of December 5, 2022, the non-expert discovery cutoff was November 7, 2022.  (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 2024.020, subd. (a).)

 

In determining whether to re-open discovery, the court must consider the necessity of and reasons for the additional discovery, the diligence or lack thereof by the party seeking to reopen discovery in attempting to complete discovery prior to the cutoff, whether permitting the discovery will prevent the case from going forward on the trial date or will otherwise prejudice any party, and any past continuances of the trial date.  (See Code Civ. Proc., § 2024.050, subd. (b).)

 

Defendant contends there is substantial justification to reopen non-expert discovery.  Defendant states Plaintiff strategically and unjustifiably withheld pertinent medical bills and records regarding her August 2022 back surgery until the imminent close of discovery, October 14, 2022.  (See Declaration of Kelsey A. O’Brien, ¶¶ 9, 10, Exhibits 5, 6.)  Based on Plaintiff’s medical records produced in October 2022, Plaintiff was aware of her likely need for back surgery at least as early as June 2022.  (See Declaration of Kelsey A. O’Brien, ¶ 13, Exhibit 9.)  Defendant argues Plaintiff’s tactics unfairly prejudiced Defendant, as Plaintiff calculatedly gave Defendant no time to review Plaintiff’s medical records produced in October 2022 and conduct any further discovery.

 

In opposition, Plaintiff argues Defendant has failed to establish good cause to reopen non-expert discovery because Defendant was not diligent in propounding discovery at the time discovery was open and instead served untimely subpoenas after discovery had closed.  Plaintiff further contends that Plaintiff has voluntarily produced further medical records and bills when she had no duty to do so as there had been no further discovery sought by Defendant.  Finally, Plaintiff attests that there is no need to reopen discovery in light of Plaintiff’s recent voluntary production of her updated medical records.  (See Declaration of Kelsey A. O’Brien, ¶ 14, Exhibit 10; see also Declaration of Avetis Nalbandyan, ¶ 10, Exhibit I.)

 

In reply, Defendant concludes that justice and fairness support reopening discovery. Defendant states that reopening discovery is necessary and appropriate given Plaintiff’s delay and withholding of information and documents.  Further Defendant argues it is necessary for it to gain access to pertinent information regarding Plaintiff’s recent back surgery to have a better understanding of overall calculation of damages related to the accident.

 

As Defendant was not made aware of Plaintiff’s back surgery until right before the initial non-expert discovery cutoff date, and information about such surgery is likely necessary to assess Plaintiff’s claimed damages, the Court finds that Defendant has shown good cause to reopen non-expert discovery.

 

Because Defendant successfully made the instant motion to reopen discovery, the Court denies Plaintiff’s request for monetary sanctions under Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.030.

 

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

 

Therefore, the Court grants Defendant’s motion to reopen non-expert discovery and orders that the non-expert discovery cut off shall be April 3, 2023. 

 

Defendant shall give notice of the Court’s ruling and file a proof of service of such.