Judge: Steven A. Ellis, Case: 23STCV17944, Date: 2024-06-12 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 23STCV17944    Hearing Date: June 12, 2024    Dept: 29

Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Defendant to Respond to Form Interrogatories (Set One)

Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Defendant to Respond to Special Interrogatories (Set One)

Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Defendant to Respond to Requests for Production (Set One)

Plaintiff’s Motion for an Order Deeming Defendant to Have Admitted the Truth of the Matters Specified in Requests for Admission (Set One)

 

Tentative

The motions are granted.

The requests for sanctions are denied in part and granted in part.

Background

On July 31, 2023, Sijia Chen (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Nailington Corp. (“Defendant”), Doe 1 Cosmetologist, and Does 2 through 20 for negligence arising out of chemical burns and abrasions sustained during a pedicure on November 2, 2022.

 

On November 20, 2023, (“Defendant”) filed an answer.

 

On December 12, 2023, Plaintiff served Defendant with discovery, including Form Interrogatories (Set One), Special Interrogatories (Set One), Requests for Production (Set One), and Requests for Admission (Set One).  (Rosenberg Decls., ¶ 2.)  Plaintiff granted three extensions to Defendant, but still Defendant did not respond to the discovery.  (Id., ¶¶ 3-7.)

 

On April 12, 2024, Plaintiff filed these four motions: three motions to compel responses and a fourth motion for a deemed-admitted order as to the Requests for Admission.

 

No opposition has been filed.

 

Legal Standard


A party must respond to interrogatories within 30 days after service. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.260, subd.(a).) If a party to whom interrogatories are directed does not provide a timely response, the propounding party may move for an order compelling response to the interrogatories. (Id., § 2030.290, subd. (b).) There is no time limit for a motion to compel initial responses, and no meet and confer efforts are required. (See id., § 2030.290; Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 390, 411.) Nor must a separate statement be filed. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(b)(1).)  In addition, a party who fails to provide a timely response generally waives all objections.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.290, subd. (a).)

When a party moves to compel initial responses to interrogatories, “the court shall impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes [the motion], unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2030.290, subd. (c).)

A party must respond to requests for production of documents within 30 days after service. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.260, subd.(a).) If a party to whom requests for production of documents are directed does not provide timely responses, the requesting party may move for an order compelling response to the demand. (Id., § 2031.300, subd. (b).) There is no time limit for a motion to compel initial responses, and no meet and confer efforts are required. (See id., § 2031.300; Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 390, 411.) Nor must a separate statement be filed. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(b)(1).)  In addition, a party who fails to provide a timely response generally waives all objections.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.300, subd. (a).)

When a party moves to compel initial responses to requests for production, “the court shall impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes [the motion], unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2031.300, subd. (c).) Requests for admission may be propounded on a party without leave of court 10 days after the service of the summons on, or appearance by that party, whichever occurs first. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.020(b).)

A party must respond to requests for admission within 30 days after service. (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.250, subd.(a).) If a party to whom requests for admission are directed does not provide a timely response, the propounding party “may move for an order that … the truth of [the] matters specified in the requests be deemed admitted.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.280, subd. (b).) There is no time limit for such a motion, and no meet and confer efforts are required. (See id., § 2033.280; Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 390, 411.) Nor must a separate statement be filed. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1345(b)(1).)  In addition, a party who fails to provide a timely response generally waives all objections.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.280, subd. (a).)

The court “shall” make the order that the truth of the matters specified in the request be deemed admitted unless the court “finds that the party to whom the requests for admission have been directed has served, before the hearing on the motion, a proposed response to the requests for admission that is in substantial compliance with Section 2033.220.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.280, subd. (c); see St. Mary v. Super. Ct. (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 762, 778-780.)

“It is mandatory that the court impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) on the party or attorney, or both, whose failure to serve a timely response to requests for admission necessitated this motion [to deem admitted the truth of the matters specified in the requests for admission].”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.280, subd. (c).)

In Chapter 7 of the Civil Discovery Act, Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.010, subdivision (d), defines “[m]isuses of the discovery process” to include “[f]ailing to respond to or to submit to an authorized method of discovery.”  Where a party or attorney has engaged in misuse of the discovery process, the court may impose a monetary sanction in the amount of “the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by anyone as a result of that conduct.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2023.030, subd. (a).)

Discussion

On December 12, 2023, Plaintiff served Defendant with Form Interrogatories (Set One), Special Interrogatories (Set One), Requesta for Production (Set One), and Requests for Admission (Set One).  (Rosenberg Decls., ¶ 2.)  Defendant did not respond to the discovery.  (Id., ¶¶ 3-7.)

 

Plaintiff need not show anything more.  The motions to compel are granted.  The motion for a deemed-admitted order is granted.

 

The requests for sanctions are denied in part and granted in part.

 

The Court denies the sanctions requests in the three motions to compel. 

 

Defendant seeks sanctions under Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.010, 2023.030, 2030.290, 2031.300.

Section 2023.010 defines “misuses of the discovery process” but does not authorize sanctions.

Section 2023.030 authorizes sanctions only “[t]o the extent authorized by the chapter governing any particular discovery method or any other provision of this title.”  The Court of Appeal, in an opinion by Justice Moor, made this very point in City of Los Angeles v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLC (2022) 84 Cal.App.5th 466, 504.  (The Court is aware that the California Supreme Court has granted review of the City of Los Angeles case.  The order granting review, filed on January 25, 2023, states that pending review, the appellate opinion “may be cited,” including “for its persuasive value.”  The Court finds the reasoning of Justice Moor, which is based on the plain language of the applicable statutes, to be persuasive.)

Section 2030.290, subdivision (c), and section 2031.300, subdivision (c), authorize sanctions against a party or attorney “who unsuccessfully makes or opposes” a motion to compel.  Here, no opposition was filed. 

The Court recognizes that other provisions of the Civil Discovery Act authorize sanctions under different circumstances, without an unsuccessful opposition to a motion to compel.  (E.g., Code Civ. Proc., §§ 2025.450, subd. (g)(1) & 2033.280, subd. (c).)  Here, however, the Legislature provided that sanctions may be awarded only upon an unsuccessful motion or opposition.

 

The Court grants the request for sanctions in connection with the motion for a deemed-admitted order as to the Requests for Admission.  In that statute, the Legislature has provided that sanctions are “mandatory” and there is no requirement of an unsuccessful opposition.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.280, subd. (c).)

 

After considering the relatively straightforward nature of this motion, and the economies of scale associated with preparing several parallel discovery motions, the Court sets sanctions in the amount of $750, based on 1.5 hours of attorney work multiplied by counsel’s reasonable billing rate of $500 per hour.

Conclusion

 

The Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motions to compel Defendant to provide initial responses to the form interrogatories, special interrogatories, and requests for production.

 

The Court ORDERS Defendant to serve code compliant, verified, written responses, without objection to Defendant’s Form Interrogatories (Set One) within 15 days of notice.

 

The Court ORDERS Defendant to serve code compliant, verified, written responses, without objection to Defendant’s Special Interrogatories (Set One) within 15 days of notice.

 

The Court ORDERS Defendant to serve code compliant, verified, written responses, without objection to Defendant’s Requests for Production (Set One) within 15 days of notice.

 

The Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion for a deemed-admitted order.

 

The Court ORDERS that Defendant is DEEMED TO HAVE ADMITTED the matters specified in Plaintiff’s Requests for Admission (Set One).

 

The Court DENIES Plaintiff’s requests for sanctions on the three motions to compel.

 

The Court GRANTS in part Plaintiff’s request for sanction on the motion for a deemed-admitted order.

The Court ORDERS Defendant and its counsel of record Kevin a. Gordon to pay monetary sanctions under the Civil Discovery Act in the amount of $750 to Plaintiff within 30 days of notice.

 

Moving party is ORDERED to give notice.