Judge: Upinder S. Kalra, Case: 19STCV27449, Date: 2022-07-28 Tentative Ruling

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Case Number: 19STCV27449    Hearing Date: July 28, 2022    Dept: 51

Tentative Ruling


Judge Upinder S. Kalra, Department 51


HEARING DATE:   July 28, 2022
CASE NAME:          Raphael L. Samuel v. Masterlink U.S. & International, LLC

CASE NO.:                19STCV27449           



Special Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and Requests for Admissions


MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Raphael L. Samuel


RESPONDING PARTY(S): Defendant Vince Dushawn Williams




1.      Further responses to Special Interrogatories Nos. 2, 3, and 10

2.      Further responses to Requests for Admissions Nos. 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 12-17, 19-29

3.      Further Requests to Requests for Production Nos. 1-29

4.      Request for Monetary Sanctions



      Motion to Compel Further Responses as to the Special Interrogatories is DENIED.

      Motion to Compel Further Responses as to the Requests for Admissions is CONTINUED.

      Motion to Compel Further Responses as to the Requests for Production of Documents is CONTINUED.

      Request for Sanctions is DENIED.



Plaintiff Raphael L. Samuel (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendants Masterlink U.S. & International, LLC, a.k.a. Masterlink USI, LLC, Trhosia Ingram, Vince Dushwan Williams, and Does 2 through 30 (“Defendants”) on August 5, 2019. The First Amended Complaint was filed on January 8, 2021, and the Second Amended Complaint was filed on June 9, 2021. The complaint alleges that Plaintiff became the owner of the Subject Property. Plaintiff then entered into an oral agreement with Defendant Williams, where Plaintiff agreed to convey the Property to Defendant Masterlink in exchange for immediate pay-off of a certain promissory note. In 2017, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Williams advised Plaintiff to execute a First Quitclaim Deed, but concealed disclosure required by law. Defendants have not performed, and the Promissory Note is in default.


On May 23, 2020, Defendants Masterlink U.S. & International, LLC, Trhosia Ingram filed an Answer. On October 18, 2021, Defendants Masterlink U.S. & International, LLC, Trhosia Ingram filed an Answer. On October 19, 2021, Defendant Vince Dushawn Williams filed an Answer


On May 19, 2022, Plaintiff filed these current three Motions to Compel Further Responses. Defendant’s opposition was filed on July 14, 2022. Plaintiff’s reply was filed on July 21, 2022/ Defendant filed a sur-reply on July 22, 2022.




Code of Civil Procedure §2030.300, §2031.310, and §2033.290 provide for a party to bring a motion to compel further responses to Interrogatories, Requests for Production, or Requests for Admission where the responding party provides inadequate, incomplete, or evasive responses, or the objections are too general or without merit. The propounding party must submit a declaration under Code of Civil Procedure §2016.040 stating facts demonstrating a good faith and reasonable effort to informally resolve all issues raised by the motion. Code of Civil Procedure §2030.300(b); §2031.310(b)(2); §2033.290(b). The motion must be accompanied by a separate statement or, with the court’s permission, a concise outline of the discovery request. Code of Civil Procedure §2030.300(b)(2); 2031.310(b)(3); 2033.290(b)(2). The motion must be brought within 45 days of service of the responses or supplemental responses, unless the parties have agreed to a specific date in writing. Code of Civil Procedure §2030.300(c); §2031.310(c); §2033.290(c). Sanctions are mandatory against the party or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel further unless the party acted with substantial justification or the circumstances make imposition of sanctions unjust.  Code of Civil Procedure §2030.300(d); §2031.310(h); §2033.290(d).




The court notes that the single motion submitted should have been submitted as separate motions, one for the Requests for Production, one for the Interrogatories, and one for the Requests for Admission.  While there is no specific provision of law that, in so many words, that requires separate motions for each, motions under Code of Civil Procedure §2030.300, §2031.310, and §2033.290 each require separate statements under California Rule of Court, Rule 3.1345.  Code of Civil Procedure 1003 provides: “Every direction of a court or judge, made or entered in writing, and not included in a judgment, is denominated an order. An application for an order is a motion.” Since the granting of the current “motion” would necessarily require one order for each discovery device, it is seeking to combine several motions into one.


The practice of this court is to require that each request for further response requires a separate motion as a matter of course, as moving party is requesting relief as to specific and distinct discovery devices.  Failing to do so places additional administrative burden on the court in reviewing a unified motion and does damage to the purpose of requiring a separate statement in the first instance, as it muddies the presentation of the issues to the court, when separate statements were intended to clarify such presentation of issues.  




Under CCP § 2030.300, a party has 45 days after receipt of the verified responses to file a motion to compel further. The Plaintiff served discovery requests on March 5, 2022, and the Defendant served responses on April 11, 2022.


Meet and Confer:


The Declaration of Dalenis Medel, who is an employee of the Law Offices of Andre L. Clark, indicates an email was sent to Defendant on May 15, 2022, to set up an appointment with Defendant regarding the discovery responses. The Declaration also indicates that other attempts on May 16, 17, and 18, were made but Mr. Williams did not respond to any communication. (Dec. Medel ¶ 3-9). However, Mr. Williams’ Declaration indicates that he received the email on May 15, 2022, and on May 18th, provided a response. (Dec. Williams ¶ 2, 3). The response was to both the email used to initiate the meet and confer as well as the email provided by Plaintiff. (Dec. Williams, Ex. A, B). In response to the Defendant’s email, the Plaintiff sent a message that a Motion to Compel would be filed shortly. (Dec. Williams Ex. C). Defendant reminded Plaintiff that service was to be done through mail, not email. In response, the email of Andre Clark stated “Sure.” (Dec. Williams, Ex. D).


Additionally, the Declaration of Andre Clark states that “counsel for Plaintiff has attempted to schedule a phone conference with Defendant to meet and confer over Defendant’s inadequate responses and Defendant refused. See Declaration of Dalenis Medel in Support.” (Dec. ¶ 11).


In Opposition and Sur-reply, Defendant contends that declarations provide are misleading and contain false statements, which is violative of California State Bar Rule 3.3(a)(3).



Separate Statement


Under Rule 3.1345, a Separate Statement must include the request, the response, and why a further response is provided. The separate statement fails to include why a further response is provided, as explained further below.




Initially, the Court addresses the fact that Plaintiff has filed a single discovery motion to compel further responses with respect to three separate sets of discovery. Filing the motions as a single motion negatively impacts the Court’s calendar by placing more motions on the calendar than slots have been provided by the online reservation system. Furthermore, it allows the moving party to avoid paying the requisite filing fees. Statutorily required filing fees are jurisdictional and “it is mandatory for the court clerks to demand and receive statutorily required filing fees.” (See Duran v. St. Luke’s Hospital (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 457, 460.) Accordingly, the court will only address the first motion to compel further responses to special interrogatories.  Plaintiff’s additional two motions—RFAs, and RPD—are continued until filing fees are paid.


Special Interrogatories:


Plaintiff moves to compel Defendant to respond further to Special Interrogatories Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 10. 


Defendant objected on various grounds: assumes facts not in evidence as it relates to “advise;” requested is overly broad and indefinite; attorney-client privilege; work product; seeks disclosure of trial witnesses; and seeks facts or data intended for trial. (Sep. Stmt. 5: 22 – 7: 3). As for No. 10, the above objections were raised and Defendant also responded with the following: “Without waiving said objections, Vince Dushawn Williams, has directly paid the promissory note each month from the time Raphael Samuel refinanced the property for Vince Dushawn Williams’ benefit.” (Sep. Stmt. 7: 23-26). Defendant argues that these objections are valid, and Plaintiff’s separate statement did not provide sufficient reason why these objections were evasive or incomplete.


Plaintiff argues that these objections are boilerplate. The court agrees. The court reminds Defendant that the party resisting responding to interrogatories bears the burden of justifying any objections. (Williams v. Superior Court (2017) 3 Cal.5th 531, 541-542.) Moreover, Defendant Williams is self-represented. Accordingly, there is no attorney client or work product privilege. Nonetheless, the court finds that the Plaintiff’s Separate Statement is deficient. It does not provide the factual and legal reasons as to why the responses require a further response, as required under California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1345. Here, the only reasons included in the Separate Statement as to why a further response is required is a reference to the CCP §§ 2030.230 and 2030.300. As such, the Plaintiff has failed to comply with CRC Rule 3.1345(c).


Therefore, the Motion to Compel Further Responses as to the Special Interrogatories is DENIED.




            For the foregoing reasons, the Court decides the pending motion as follows:


1.      Motion to Compel Further Responses as to the Special Interrogatories is DENIED without prejudice.

2.      Motion to Compel Further Responses as to the Requests for Admissions is CONTINUED.

3.      Motion to Compel Further Responses as to the Requests for Production of Documents is CONTINUED.

4.      Request for Sanctions is DENIED.

Moving party is to give notice.




Dated:             July 28, 2022                          __________________________________                                                                                                                Upinder S. Kalra

                                                                                    Judge of the Superior Court