Judge: Theresa M. Traber, Case: 19STCV31055, Date: 2023-03-01 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 19STCV31055    Hearing Date: March 1, 2023    Dept: 47

Tentative Ruling


Judge Theresa M. Traber, Department 47



HEARING DATE:     March 1, 2023                        TRIAL DATE: July 25, 2023


CASE:                         Olanna Taskey v. Benjamin Boston, et al.


CASE NO.:                 19STCV31055           




MOVING PARTY:               Plaintiff Olanna Taskey


RESPONDING PARTY(S): Defendants Benjamin Boston, Lexington Plaza, LLC, Roxbury Lane, L.P., Kathy Small d/b/a LA Residence, and Elliot Hyland




            This is a tort action for battery, trespass, and negligence, filed on September 3, 2019. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hyland was employed by the other Defendants as a property manager, and, while so employed, sexually harassed and physically attacked Plaintiff, who was a tenant at a property owned by Defendants.


Plaintiff moves for issue sanctions and for monetary sanctions for failure to comply with the Court’s October 3, 2022 order requiring Defendants to supplement their responses to Plaintiff’s requests for production.




Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions is DENIED.




            Plaintiff seeks issue and monetary sanctions for Defendants’ failure to comply with the Court’s October 3, 2022 order requiring Defendants to provide supplemental responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for Production.





Legal Standard for Nonmonetary Sanctions


The Court has the authority to impose sanctions against a party that engages in any misuse of the discovery process (Code Civ. Proc. § 2023.030), including “[f]ailing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery.” (Code Civ. Proc. §§ 2023.010(d).) A party engaging in this conduct may be subject to sanctions including monetary sanctions (Code Civ Proc. § 2023.030(a)), evidence sanctions (Code Civ. Proc. § 2023.030(c)) or terminating sanctions. (Code Civ. Proc. § 2023.030(d).)  “[T]rial courts should select sanctions tailored to the harm caused by the misuse of the discovery process and should not exceed what is required to protect the party harmed by the misuse of the discovery process.” (Dept. of Forestry & Fire Protection v. Howell (2017) 18 Cal.App.5th 154, 191, disapproved of on other grounds in Presbyterian Camp & Conference Centers, Inc. v. Superior Court (2021) 12 Cal.5th 493.) Sanctions are generally imposed in an incremental approach. (Id.) Generally, the appropriate sanctions when a party repeatedly and willfully fails to provide evidence to the opposing party as required by the discovery rules is preclusion of that evidence from the trial. (Juarez v. Boy Scouts of America, Inc. (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 377, 390, disapproved of on other grounds by Brown v. USA Taekwondo (2021) 11 Cal.5th 204.)


In considering a motion for nonmonetary sanctions, the Court is to attempt to “tailor the sanction to the harm caused by the withheld discovery.” (Collisson & Kaplan v. Hartunian (1994) 21 Cal.App.4th 1611, 1618-1619.) 


[T]he question before this court is not whether the trial court should have imposed a lesser sanction; rather, the question is whether the trial court abused its discretion by imposing the sanction it chose. [Citation.] Moreover, imposition of a lesser sanction would have permitted [defendants] to benefit from their stalling tactics. [Citation.] The trial court did not abuse its discretion by tailoring the sanction to the particular abuse.


(Id. at 1620.)




            Plaintiff requests an order from the Court deeming, essentially, all of the claims alleged in the Complaint as decided in Plaintiff’s favor, and precluding Defendants from contesting these issues. Plaintiff argues that this order is justified because Defendants have failed to comply with the Court’s October 3, 2022 Order requiring Defendants to produce supplemental responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for Production. Plaintiff provides no evidence of this contention other than her meet and confer correspondence. Plaintiff has not provided the discovery requests nor responses at issue in her moving papers such that the Court could determine whether the Defendants have, in fact, complied with the Court’s order. Further, Plaintiff’s assertions about Defendants’ failure to comply are belied by the evidence submitted by Defendants with their opposition.  Plaintiff has therefore failed to offer adequate evidence to justify the extraordinary remedy of issue sanctions.


Monetary Sanctions


            Plaintiff requests monetary sanctions against Defendants in the amount of $5,000 in attorney’s fees. As Plaintiff has not adequately demonstrated a failure to comply with the Court’s order, Plaintiff likewise does not have sufficient evidence to establish that Defendants have engaged in a misuse of the discovery process such that sanctions are warranted under Code of Civil Procedure section 2023.030(a). Further, even if she had done so, Plaintiff has not demonstrated why she, a self-represented litigant, has incurred attorney’s fees, let alone why Plaintiff would be entitled to reimbursement of those fees as monetary sanctions. 




            Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions is DENIED.


            Moving Party to give notice.




Dated:  March 1, 2023                                    ___________________________________

                                                                                    Theresa M. Traber

                                                                                    Judge of the Superior Court


            Any party may submit on the tentative ruling by contacting the courtroom via email at Smcdept47@lacourt.org by no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the hearing. All interested parties must be copied on the email. It should be noted that if you submit on a tentative ruling the court will still conduct a hearing if any party appears. By submitting on the tentative you have, in essence, waived your right to be present at the hearing, and you should be aware that the court may not adopt the tentative, and may issue an order which modifies the tentative ruling in whole or in part.