Judge: Michelle C. Kim, Case: 21STCV05058, Date: 2023-03-22 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 21STCV05058    Hearing Date: March 22, 2023    Dept: 31






















      CASE NO: 21STCV05058




Dept. 31

1:30 p.m.

March 22, 2023


1. Background

Plaintiff David Medina (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against defendants Rives Grogan, New Beginnings Christian Discipleship, GM Service & Management, and Does 1 to 25 for injuries Plaintiff sustained after falling from the second story of the premises located at 1165 W. 39th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90037.  Plaintiff alleges that his apartment windows were missing window screens and after asking the manager to fix the issue because bugs were regularly coming in, defendants failed to do so.  Plaintiff attempted to retrieve the missing window screen that had falling out, but as Plaintiff was climbing out the window, he lost his foot and fell from the second story. 


Plaintiff moves for terminating sanctions against Defendants Rives Grogan (“Grogan”) and New Beginnings Christian Discipleship (“New Beginnings”) (collectively, “Defendants”) striking Defendants’ answers and entering default against them because of Defendants’ misuse of the discovery process by failing to serve responses to discovery and failing to comply with the Court’s September 1, 2022 order.  The motion is unopposed.   


2. Motion for Terminating Sanctions

Code of Civil Procedure § 2023.030 gives the court the discretion to impose sanctions against anyone engaging in a misuse of the discovery process.  A court may impose terminating sanctions by striking pleadings of the party engaged in misuse of discovery or entering default judgment.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030(d).)  A violation of a discovery order is sufficient for the imposition of terminating sanctions.  (Collison & Kaplan v. Hartunian (1994) 21 Cal.App.4th 1611, 1620.)  Terminating sanctions are appropriate when a party persists in disobeying the court's orders.  (Deyo v. Kilbourne (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d 771, 795-796.) 


A terminating sanction is a "drastic measure which should be employed with caution."  (Deyo, 84 Cal.App.3d at 793.)  "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."  (Mileikowsky v. Tenet Healthsystem (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 262, 279-280.)  While the court has discretion to impose terminating sanctions, these sanctions "should be appropriate to the dereliction and should not exceed that which is required to protect the interests of the party entitled to but denied discovery."  (Deyo, 84 Cal.App.3d at 793.)  "[A] court is empowered to apply the ultimate sanction against a litigant who persists in the outright refusal to comply with his discovery obligations."  (Ibid.)  Discovery sanctions are not to be imposed for punishment, but instead are used to encourage fair disclosure of discovery to prevent unfairness resulting for the lack of information.  (See Midwife v. Bernal (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 57, 64 [superseded on other grounds as stated in Kohan v. Cohan (1991) 229 Cal.App.3d 967, 971].)


            a. Defendant Grogan

Concerning Grogan, on September 1, 2022, Plaintiff’s motions to compel responses to form interrogatories, special interrogatories, and request for production of documents (“RPDs”), all set one, against Grogan were granted.  Grogan was ordered to serve verified responses to the discovery requests within ten days and ordered to pay sanctions of $984.95 within twenty days.  Plaintiff asserts that to date, Grogan has not served the discovery responses or paid the monetary sanctions.  Plaintiff contends that Grogan’s failure to comply with September 1, 2022 order is deliberate and a lesser sanction will not suffice. 


Plaintiff’s evidence demonstrates Grogan failed to comply with the discovery requests and the September 1, 2022 order.  Consequently, lesser sanctions have been ineffective in getting Grogan to comply with his discovery obligations.  Moreover, a brief review of the prior motions reveals that the discovery at issue goes to the crux of Plaintiff’s claims and Grogan’s defenses, and therefore an issue or evidentiary sanction would be tantamount to a terminating sanction.  Further, Grogan does not oppose this motion and appears to have abandoned the case. 


Based on the foregoing, terminating sanctions are imposed at this time against Grogan.  Grogan’s answer filed in this action on April 22, 2021, is hereby stricken and Grogan’s default is ordered entered. 


Plaintiff does not seek imposition of monetary sanctions in connection with the motion, and none are imposed.


            b. Defendant New Beginnings

            As to New Beginnings, Plaintiff does not submit any evidence showing that terminating sanctions are warranted against New Beginnings at this time.   The evidence submitted by Plaintiff concerns only the discovery requests served on, and the motions to compel made against, Grogan.  While the Court notes that it granted Plaintiff’s motions to compel responses to special interrogatories, form interrogatories, and RPDs on September 2, 2022, Plaintiff does not state whether New Beginnings has complied with the September 2, 2022 order.  Rather, Plaintiff provides only that “Defendants have not complied with the Court’s September 1, 2022 Order to serve verified discovery responses …”  (Mot. Corday Decl. ¶ 12.)  However, the September 1, 2022 order did not contain any rulings pertaining to New Beginnings. 


            Because Plaintiff does not show that New Beginnings failed to comply with any Court orders, Plaintiff’s motion is denied as to New Beginnings. 


Plaintiff is ordered to give notice.




Dated this 22nd day of March 2023





Hon. Michelle C. Kim

Judge of the Superior Court