Judge: William A. Crowfoot, Case: 22STCV04284, Date: 2022-08-17 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 22STCV04284    Hearing Date: August 17, 2022    Dept: 27






















      CASE NO.: 22STCV04284




Dept. 27

1:30 p.m.

August 17, 2022


I.            INTRODUCTION

On February 3, 2022, plaintiff Limor Hazan filed this action against defendants Abhinav Agarwal (“Agarwal”) and Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Los Angeles, LLC (“Defendant”) arising from a motor vehicle collision that occurred on July 20, 2021. 

On July 7, 2022, Defendant filed this demurrer arguing that the Complaint is too conclusory and that it cannot be held liable under the Graves amendment.  Defendant further argues that the complaint is uncertain. 


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).)

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.)


Before filing a demurrer, the demurring 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).) 

Defense counsel declares that he met and conferred with Plaintiff’s counsel in March 2022 through telephone and that on July 1, 2022, he sent a letter to Plaintiff’s counsel requesting Defendant’s dismissal.  (Miller Decl., ¶ 7.)  The meet and confer requirement is satisfied.

Failure to State a Claim and Uncertainty

Defendant demurs to the Complaint on the grounds that the complaint fails to state sufficient facts and is uncertain.  Defendant claims that the complaint’s allegations are too conclusory.  However, negligence-based causes of action may be pled generally.  (Hahn v. Mirda (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 740, 747.)  Furthermore, even if some theories of liability are not sufficiently supported, a demurrer cannot be sustained if some cause of action can be stated under those allegations.  Additionally, the Complaint is not so unintelligible that Defendant cannot reasonably respond.  (Khoury v. Maly’s of Calif., Inc. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 612, 616.)  Even if the pleading is somewhat vague, “ambiguities can be clarified under modern discovery procedures.”  (Ibid.)

Graves Amendment

Defendant also demurs to the complaint, contending it fails to state a cause of action due to the application of the Graves Amendment, codified at 49 USC §30106(a).  The Graves Amendment states:

(a) In general. An owner of a motor vehicle that rents or leases the vehicle to a person (or an affiliate of the owner) shall not be liable under the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, by reason of being the owner of the vehicle (or an affiliate of the owner), for harm to persons or property that results or arises out of the use, operation, or possession of the vehicle during the period of the rental or lease, if--


(1) the owner (or an affiliate of the owner) is engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles; and


(2) there is no negligence or criminal wrongdoing on the part of the owner (or an affiliate of the owner).


Plaintiff argues (a) neither the complaint nor judicially noticeable documents establish that Defendant is in the business of renting cars, such that the Graves Amendment applies, and (b) exceptions to the Graves Amendment apply in this case in any event.  Plaintiff is correct.  The demurrer on the ground that Defendant is a rental car leasing company, such that the Graves Amendment applies, is therefore overruled.  The complaint does not allege that Defendant is a rental car company, even if it alleges that “Defendants leased or rented the vehicle that collided with Plaintiff’s vehicle.”  Additionally, whether the business of Defendant is a rental car company is not of the nature of “facts of common knowledge within the Court’s territorial jurisdiction that cannot reasonably the subject of dispute” and the Court cannot judicially notice the truth of the statements made in Defendant’s Statement of Information filed with the California Secretary of State.  At this stage in the pleadings, the Court cannot determine that the Graves Amendment applies to Defendant for the purpose of this demurrer.   


The demurrer is OVERRULED.  Defendant is ordered to file an answer to the complaint within twenty days. 



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.