The court considered the motion. No opposition was filed.
On September 30, 2016, plaintiff Julie Jarvis filed a complaint against defendants Directory Network Association LLC and Peter Digirolamo for motor vehicle negligence based on an incident that occurred on November 8, 2014.
On July 20, 2018, the court granted defendant Digirolamo’s motion to compel responses to form interrogatories and request for production of documents.
Trial is set for January 17, 2019.
Defendant Peter Digirolamo requests that the court impose terminating sanctions against plaintiff for her failure to comply with the court’s order dated July 20, 2018.
If a party fails to comply with a court order compelling discovery responses or attendance at a deposition, the court may impose monetary, issue, evidence, or terminating sanctions. CCP § 2025.450(h) (depositions); § 2030.290(c) (interrogatories); § 2031.300(c) (demands for production of documents). CCP § 2023.030 provides that, “[t]o the extent authorized by the chapter governing any particular discovery method . . . , the court, after notice to any affected party, person, or attorney, and after opportunity for hearing, may impose . . . [monetary, issue, evidence, or terminating] sanctions against anyone engaging in conduct that is a misuse of the discovery process . . . .” CCP § 2023.010 provides that “[m]isuses of the discovery process include, but are not limited to, the following: . . . (d) Failing to respond or to submit to an authorized method of discovery. . . . (g) Disobeying a court order to provide discovery. . . .”
“The trial court may order a terminating sanction for discovery abuse ‘after considering the totality of the circumstances: [the] conduct of the party to determine if the actions were willful; the detriment to the propounding party; and the number of formal and informal attempts to obtain the discovery.’” Los Defensores, Inc. v. Gomez (2014) 223 Cal. App. 4th 377, 390 (quoting Lang v. Hochman (2000) 77 Cal. App. 4th 1225, 1246). “Generally, ‘[a] decision to order terminating sanctions should not be made lightly. But where a violation is willful, preceded by a history of abuse, and the evidence shows that less severe sanctions would not produce compliance with the discovery rules, the trial court is justified in imposing the ultimate sanction.’” Los Defensores, 223 Cal. App. 4th at 390 (citation omitted).
“Under this standard, trial courts have properly imposed terminating sanctions when parties have willfully disobeyed one or more discovery orders.” Los Defensores, 223 Cal. App. 4th at 390 (citing Lang, 77 Cal. App. 4th at 1244-1246 (discussing cases)); see, e.g., Collisson & Kaplan v. Hartunian (1994) 21 Cal. App. 4th 1611, 1617-1622 (terminating sanctions imposed after defendants failed to comply with one court order to produce discovery); Laguna Auto Body v. Farmers Ins. Exchange (1991) 231 Cal. App. 3d 481, 491, disapproved on other grounds in Garcia v. McCutchen (1997) 16 Cal. 4th 469, 478, n. 4 (terminating sanctions imposed against plaintiff for failing to comply with a discovery order and for violating various discovery statutes).
On July 20, 2018, the court ordered plaintiff to serve responses without objections to defendant’s Form Interrogatories, Set One and Request for Production of Documents, Set One, within 15 days. The court also ordered plaintiff and her attorney of record to pay to defendant a monetary sanction in the amount of $460 within 30 days. According to defense counsel’s declaration, plaintiff failed to serve responses or to pay the sanctions amount.
Whether plaintiff complied with the court’s order to pay monetary sanctions is not relevant to the court’s determination as to whether terminating sanctions should be imposed, and the court has not considered that factor in making its determination. A court may not issue a terminating sanction for failure to pay a monetary discovery sanction. Newland v. Superior Court (1995) 40 Cal. App. 4th 608, 610, 615. A monetary sanction order is enforceable as a money judgment under the Enforcement of Judgments Law, Code of Civil Procedure §§ 680.010, et seq. Id. at 615.
The court finds that plaintiff has engaged in conduct that is a misuse of the discovery process by disobeying the court’s July 20, 2018 order by failing to serve discovery responses. CCP §§ 2023.010(g), 2023.030. The court thus finds that it is appropriate, and exercises its discretion, to impose a terminating sanction against plaintiff pursuant to CCP § 2023.030(d).
The motion is GRANTED.
The court orders that plaintiff Julie Jarvis’ complaint against defendant Peter Digirolamo is dismissed. CCP § 2023.030(d)(3).
Defendant is ordered to give notice of this ruling.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: November 6, 2018
Christopher K. Lui
Judge of the Superior Court