Judge: William A. Crowfoot, Case: 19STCV22078, Date: 2022-07-25 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 19STCV22078    Hearing Date: July 25, 2022    Dept: 27

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

 

Sarah M. Smith,

                   Plaintiff,

          vs.

 

Julia Kang, et al.,

 

                   Defendants,

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      CASE NO.: 19STCV22078

 

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

 

Dept. 27

1:30 p.m.

July 25, 2022

 

I.       INTRODUCTION

           On June 24, 2019, plaintiff Sarah M. Smith (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against defendants Julia Kang (“Kang”), Uber Technologies, Inc., Rasier, LLC, Rasier-CA, LLC, City of West Hollywood, Christopher Street West Association, LA Pride, California Department of Transportation, City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, and State of California. Plaintiff alleges that on June 10, 2018, while she was a pedestrian, she was struck by a vehicle driven by Kang. Plaintiff asserts causes of action for negligence, motor vehicle, negligent entrustment, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent training, as well as statutory liability for dangerous condition of public property and premises liability.

On May 25, 2021, Plaintiff filed the operative First Amended Complaint (“FAC”).

          On May 11, 2022, Plaintiff dismissed County of Los Angeles from the FAC.

          On June 8, 2022, City of Los Angeles filed a demurrer to the FAC. No opposition has been filed.

II.      LEGAL STANDARDS

A demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of the pleadings and will be sustained only where the pleading is defective on its face. (City of Atascadero v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 445, 459.)  “We treat the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded but not contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law.  We accept the factual allegations of the complaint as true and also consider matters which may be judicially noticed.  [Citation.]”  (Mitchell v. California Department of Public Health (2016) 1 Cal.App.5th 1000, 1007; Del E. Webb Corp. v. Structural Materials Co. (1981) 123 Cal.App.3d 593, 604 [“the facts alleged in the pleading are deemed to be true, however improbable they may be”].)  Allegations are to be liberally construed.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 452.)  A demurrer may be brought if insufficient facts are stated to support the cause of action asserted.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 430.10, subd. (e).) 

Any party, within the time allowed to respond to a pleading may serve and file a notice of motion to strike the whole or any part thereof.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 435, subd. (b)(1).)  The court may, upon a motion, or at any time in its discretion, and upon terms it deems proper, strike any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 436, subd. (a); Stafford v. Shultz (1954) 42 Cal.2d 767, 782 [“Matter in a pleading which is not essential to the claim is surplusage; probative facts are surplusage and may be stricken out or disregarded”].)  The court may also strike all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with California law, a court rule, or an order of the court.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 436, subd. (b).)  An immaterial or irrelevant allegation is one that is not essential to the statement of a claim or defense; is neither pertinent to nor supported by an otherwise sufficient claim or defense; or a demand for judgment requesting relief not supported by the allegations of the complaint.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 431.10, subd. (b).)  The grounds for moving to strike must appear on the face of the pleading or by way of judicial notice.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 437.)

Leave to amend must be allowed where there is a reasonable possibility of successful amendment.  (Goodman v. Kennedy (1976) 18 Cal.3d 335, 348.)  The burden is on the complainant to show the Court that a pleading can be amended successfully.  (Ibid.)

III.     JUDICIAL NOTICE

          City of Los Angeles requests the Court to take judicial notice of the following documents: (1) Claim for Damages No. C19-02922, filed on behalf of Sarah Smith on 12/17/18; (2) Map 592 of the Thomas Guide Los Angeles Street Guide, 55th Edition; (3) Excerpts from the West Hollywood, California Municipal Code; (4) Excerpts from the City of Los Angeles Charter; (5) Printouts from the City of West Hollywood official website (https://www.weho.org/), including “30 Years of Cityhood,” “Engineering,” and “Public Works”; (6) U.S. Census Bureau data of the City of West Hollywood and the City of Los Angeles; (7) City of Los Angeles Boundary Map; and (8) City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services Maintenance District Map. The Court grants City of Los Angeles request for judicial notice pursuant to Evidence Code § 452(b) and (h).

IV.     DISCUSSION

Before filing a demurrer or motion to strike, the demurring or moving party shall meet and confer with the party who has filed the pleading and shall file a declaration detailing their meet and confer efforts.  (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 430.41, subd. (a); 435.5, subd. (a).)  Based on the declaration filed concurrently with the instant demurrer, the Court finds that City of Los Angeles sufficiently met and conferred with Plaintiff in compliance with Code of Civil Procedure § 430.41. (Shikubu Decl. ¶¶ 3-13, Exhs. 1-3.)

Here, City of Los Angeles demurs to the FAC on the ground that it fails to allege sufficient facts to bring any cause of action against it. (See Notice of Demurrer.)

“[A] public entity is not liable for injuries except as provided by statute (§ 815) and … section 835 sets out the exclusive conditions under which a public entity is liable for injuries caused by a dangerous condition of public property. ‘[T]he intent of the [Government Claims Act] is not to expand the rights of plaintiffs in suits against governmental entities, but to confine potential governmental liability to rigidly delineated circumstances: immunity is waived only if the various requirements of the act are satisfied.’” (Metcalf v. County of San Joaquin (2008) 42 Cal. 4th 1121, 1129, citing Brown v. Poway Unified School Dist. (1993) 4 Cal.4th 820, 829.)

           City of Los Angeles first contends that the Seventh Cause of Action for Dangerous Condition fails because City of Los Angeles lacks control over the subject area where the accident occurred because the FAC alleges that the accident occurred in the City of West Hollywood. (Demurrer at pp. 5-6; FAC ¶¶ 17, 52-54.) Based on the judicially noticed documents submitted by City of Los Angeles, it clearly shows that (1) City of West Hollywood is beyond the boundaries and jurisdiction of the City of Los Angeles, (2) that the two entities are separate and distinct, and (3) City of Los Angeles lacks ownership over the premises where the incident occurred. (See RJN, Exhs. A-G.) “A public entity may not be held liable under section 835 for a dangerous condition of property that it does not own or control.” (Goddard v. Department of Fish & Wildlife (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 350, 359, citing Aaitui v. Grande Properties (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 1369, 1373–1377; see also Mamola v. State of California ex rel. Dept. of Transportation (1979) 94 Cal.App.3d 781, 788 [“For liability to be imposed on a public entity for a dangerous condition of property, the entity must be in a position to protect against or warn of the hazard. Therefore, the crucial element is not ownership, but rather control.”])

          Also, the remaining causes of action of negligence and premise liability asserted against City of Los Angeles are premised on the Seventh Cause of Action for Dangerous Condition. Thus, those causes of action fail as well. Moreover, liability against a public entity must be based on a statute, not common law tort liability. (de Villers v. County of San Diego (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 238, 247-248.) Other than Government Code § 835, Plaintiff has not identified a statute in which liability could be imposed against City of Los Angeles. Regardless, as stated above, the alleged incident did not occur within City of Los Angeles’s boundaries. Thus, the FAC has not sufficiently alleged a cause of against City of Los Angeles.

          Accordingly, City of Los Angeles’ demurrer to the FAC is SUSTAINED.

V.      CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, the Court SUSTAINS City of Los Angeles’s demurrer to the FAC without leave to amend. City of Los Angeles is directed to lodge and serve a proposed judgment of dismissal within 10 days of the date of this order.

 

Moving party to give notice.

 

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT27@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org.  Please be advised that if you submit on the tentative and elect not to appear at the hearing, the opposing party may nevertheless appear at the hearing and argue the matter.  Unless you receive a submission from all other parties in the matter, you should assume that others might appear at the hearing to argue.  If the Court does not receive emails from the parties indicating submission on this tentative ruling and there are no appearances at the hearing, the Court may, at its discretion, adopt the tentative as the final order or place the motion off calendar.