Judge: Ralph C. Hofer, Case: 22GDCV00552, Date: 2023-02-24 Tentative Ruling
Case Number: 22GDCV00552 Hearing Date: February 24, 2023 Dept: D
Case No: 22 GDCV00552 Trial Date: April 15, 2023
Case Name: Ramirez v. General Motors, LLC
MOTIONS TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO DISCOVERY
Moving Party: Plaintiff Eduardo Aguilar Ramirez
Responding Party: Defendant General Motors, LLC
Further Responses to Special Interrogatories, Set One, Nos. 14, 20, 25, 26, 39 and 43
Further Responses to Request for Production of Documents, Set One, Nos. 5-7, 10, 11, 15, 16-17, 20, 23-26, 28-29, 33, 37-39, 40, 41-80, and 82
CRC separate statement, etc.: Yes
DECLARATION SUPPORTING MOTION:
Reasonable and good faith attempt to resolve informally: Yes, Exhibit K
Plaintiff Eduardo Aguilar Ramirez alleges that in January of 2022 plaintiff acquired a new 2022 GMC Sierra Limited and received multiple express warranties directly from defendant General Motors LLC, pursuant to which defendant undertook to preserve or maintain the utility or performance of the vehicle or provide compensation if there was a failure in such utility or performance.
Plaintiff alleges that the vehicle was delivered to plaintiff with serious defects and nonconformities to warranty, including the vehicle’s HVAC and its related systems, and electrical and its related systems.
Plaintiff alleges that the defects and nonconformities to warranty manifested themselves within the express warranty period, and substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. Plaintiff delivered the vehicle to manufacturer’s authorized repair facilities for repair of the nonconformities, defendant wrongfully denied warranty coverage for certain nonconformities, and defendant has been unable to conform plaintiff’s vehicle to the applicable express warranties after a reasonable number of attempts.
The complaint alleges three causes of action under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, for Breach of Express Warranty, Breach of Implied Warranty, and Civil Code section 1793.2 (b).
The parties are evidently unaware that this matter is subject to the Addendum to Case Management Conference Order (Song-Beverly Litigation) (Order) applicable to Song-Beverly Litigation, now posted and available on the Los Angeles Superior Court website in connection with this Department, Glendale Courthouse, Department D. The Order was signed by the court on January 24, 2023.
Pursuant to that Order, “any formal discovery propounded and currently pending or outstanding by a party in this matter prior to the date of this CMC Order is stayed pending further order of the Court.”
[Order section (1)(a)].
The order sets forth the following provisions concerning discovery in Song-Beverly matters which appear to address the discovery disputes raised by the current motions and oppositions.
With respect to Interrogatories, the Order provides:
“Interrogatories: Within the time limits allowed by law, both plaintiff and defendant may propound one set of Judicial Council Form Interrogatories and one set of a maximum of 35 special interrogatories. Any additional special interrogatories may only be propounded by stipulation and/or court order (via motion upon showing of good cause).”
[Order section (3)].
With respect to Requests for Production of Documents, the Order provides:
“Production of Documents: Within 60 days of service of this Order both plaintiff and defendant shall provide copies of the following documents, which are in their respective possession, custody and/or control, to the opposing side(s):
a. Purchase or lease contracts concerning the subject vehicle, including any associated documents reflecting OEM or aftermarket equipment installed at the dealership, ELWs or service contracts, and any other writings signed by the plaintiff at the point of sale.
b. Work orders, repair orders, and invoices (including accounting and warranty versions) for any maintenance, service and repair activity concerning the subject vehicles.
c. Rental car or loaner agreements regarding alternative transportation provided during service or repair visits concerning the subject vehicle.
d. Records of communications with dealer personnel, and/or factory representatives and defendant’s call center or customer assistance personnel concerning the subject vehicle.
e. Warrant claims submitted to and/or approved by defendant concerning the subject vehicle.
f. Warranty Policy and Procedure Manual or similar policies or claim-handling procedures published by Defendant from the date the subject vehicle was purchased or leased to the date the lawsuit was filed.
g. Defendant’s written statements of policy and/or procedures used to evaluate customer requests for repurchase or replacement pursuant to “Lemon Law”
claims, including ones brought under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, from the date the subject vehicle was purchased or leased to the date the lawsuit was filed.
h. A list of or compilation of customer complaints in defendant’s electronically stored information database that are substantially similar to the alleged defects claimed by plaintiff, in vehicles purchased in California for the same year, make and model of the subject vehicle. A substantially similar customer complaint would be the same nature of reported symptom, malfunction, dashboard indicator light, or other manifestation of a repair problem as the description listed in any work order or repair order for the subject vehicle, other than routine or scheduled maintenance items. The list provided by defendant may be in the chart or spreadsheet format, and shall include the VIN, date of repair visit, dealership or other reporting location, and text of the other customers’ reported complaint, but shall not include the other customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or other personal identifying information.
i. Technical Service Bulletins and Recall Notices for vehicle purchased or leased in California for the same year, make and model of the subject vehicle.
j. Copies of any repair instruction, bulletin, or other diagnostic/repair procedure identified in any of the repair order/invoice records for the subject vehicle.
k. Receipts or other written evidence supporting any incidental or consequential damages claimed by plaintiff.
If a party believes any of this information should be subject to a protective order, that party shall serve and file a proposed protective order within 5 days of this Order and the parties shall meet and confer as to agreeable language for the same. The default will be the standard Protective Order provided by the LASC in its website.
The information may be provided to the opposing party in electronic form as a PDF at the option of the producing party.
Plaintiff and defendant shall serve verification with the documents they produce.
Any additional requests for documents may only be propounded by stipulation and/or court order (via motion upon showing of good cause).
[Order section (1)(a)].
The motions concerning further responses to interrogatories and further responses to requests for production of documents accordingly are stayed until the parties have had the opportunity to comply with the Order. The parties are ordered to engage in good faith meet and confer concerning the outstanding discovery in light of the Order, and, if necessary, reschedule the motions and file new papers and separate statements reflecting the then current status of the discovery disputes.
The court notes with respect to this particular dispute that the Court will expect Code compliant responses, and unnecessary objections will be overruled. For example, if appropriate statements of compliance or inability to comply are served which fully comply with CCP sections 2031.220 and 2031.230, there would be no need to object to a Request for Production of Documents on the ground it seeks documents beyond the responding party’s possession, custody, or control.
Specifically, with respect to a statement of compliance, CCP section 2031.220 requires:
“A statement that a party to whom an inspection demand has been directed will comply with the particular demand shall state that the production, inspection, and related activity demanded will be allowed either in whole or in part, and that all documents or things in the demanded category that are in the possession, custody, or control of that party and to which no objection is being make will be included in the production.”
With respect to a statement of inability to comply, CCP section 2031.230 requires:
“A representation of inability to comply with the particular demand for inspection shall affirm that a diligent search and a reasonably inquiry has been made in an effort to comply with that demand. This statement shall also specify whether the inability to comply is because the particular item or category has never existed, has been destroyed, has been lost, misplaced, or stolen, or has never been, or is no longer, in the possession, custody, or control of the responding party. The statement shall set forth the name and address of any natural person or organization known or believed by that party to have possession, custody, or control of that item or category of item.”
To the extent the oppositions appear to argue that material containing trade secrets and proprietary information is at issue, defendant appears to concede that this objection can be addressed by the parties entering into a protective order, which is addressed in the Order, at section 3, subdivision (k), above.
Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Defendant’s Further Responses to Special Interrogatories (Set One) is STAYED pursuant to this Court’s Addendum to Case Management Conference Order (Song-Beverly Litigation), signed and entered by the Court on January 24, 2023.
Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Request for Production of Documents, Set One, is STAYED pursuant to this Court’s Addendum to Case Management Conference Order (Song-Beverly Litigation), signed and entered by the Court on January 24, 2023.
The parties are ordered to meet and confer in good faith concerning compliance with the Order, and to serve any further discovery, and engage in any further discovery proceedings or motions in compliance with the Order.
GIVEN THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, AND TO ADHERE TO HEALTH GUIDANCE THAT DICTATES SAFETY MEASURES, DEPARTMENT D IS ENCOURAGING AUDIO OR VIDEO APPEARANCES
Please make arrangement in advance if you wish to appear via LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams by visiting www.lacourt.org to schedule a remote appearance. Please note that LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams offers free audio and video appearance. Counsel and parties (including self-represented litigants) are encouraged not to personally appear. With respect to the wearing of face masks, Department D recognizes that currently, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health strongly recommends masks indoors, especially when interacting with individuals whose vaccination status is unknown; for individuals who have a health condition that puts them at higher risk for severe illness; individuals who live with someone who is at higher risk; and for individuals who are around children who are not yet eligible for vaccines. In accordance with this guidance, it is strongly recommended that anyone personally appearing in Department D wear a face mask. The Department D Judge and court staff will continue to wear face masks. If no appearance is set up through LACourtConnect/Microsoft Teams, or otherwise, then the Court will assume the parties are submitting on the tentative.