SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES – NORTH DISTRICT


ANGELO HURD, et al., )
) Case Number MC025548
Plaintiff, )
) ORDER AFTER HEARING
v. )
) Date of Hearing:
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN ) August 18, 2016
CALIFORNIA, et al., ) Dept. A-11
) Judge Randolph A. Rogers
Defendant. )
____________________________________)

Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel Further Responses to Requests for Production (set three) came on for hearing on August 18, 2016. Plaintiffs Angelo E. Hurd and Marianna Garotti appeared in propria persona. Defendant University of Southern California appeared through its counsel of record, ________________.

The Court, having received and reviewed the pleadings of record and evidence submitted and having considered argument of counsel, hereby ORDERS:

The motion to compel further responses is DENIED.

The Court reserves jurisdiction over an award of sanctions as requested by either party pending further order of the court or trial of the action.


SO ORDERED this the _____ day of August, 2016.


______________________
RANDOLPH ROGERS,
JUDGE


SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES – NORTH DISTRICT


ANGELO HURD, et al., )
) Case Number MC025548
Plaintiff, )
) STATEMENT OF DECISION
v. )
) Date of Hearing:
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN ) August 18, 2016
CALIFORNIA, et al., ) Dept. A-11
) Judge Randolph A. Rogers
Defendant. )
____________________________________)


The Court bases the Order After Hearing of this date upon the following Statement of Decision:

1. The present case is a medical malpractice case.

2. Throughout 2014, Plaintiff, Angelo E. Hurd (“Hurd”), was a patient at one of Defendant University of Southern California’s (“Defendant”) medical facilities. Plaintiff Marianna Garotti (“Garotti”; collectively with Hurd, “Plaintiffs”) is Hurd’s wife. During his time in Defendant’s care, Hurd developed substantial bed sores, which caused Hurd to later suffer sepsis. Hurd suffered leg scarring, and Plaintiffs allege they suffered injuries as a result of allegedly deficient care. Plaintiffs filed suit on June 17, 2015, alleging causes of action for negligence, battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED), loss of consortium, and medical malpractice – res ipsa loquitur.

3. Defendant filed its demurrer on July 2, 2015, and Plaintiffs filed their Opposition on July 29, 2015. Defendant also filed a motion to strike punitive damages on July 2, 2015. Plaintiffs filed their Opposition on July 24, 2015. By Order dated 8/11/15, the Court sustained in part and overruled in part the demurrer. In addition, the Court granted the motion to strike without leave to amend.

4. Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on August 21, 2015, alleging causes of action for negligence, battery, NIED, loss of consortium, and dependent adult abuse. Defendant demurred to the FAC on September 10, 2015, which was sustained in part and overruled in part. Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint (“SAC’) on November 9, 2015.

5. Following further rounds of pleadings, a Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) was filed. Defendant again demurred to the TAC, and Plaintiffs’ fourth cause of action, for elder abuse, was stricken without leave to amend. Discovery ensued.

6. On May 8, 2016, Plaintiffs served their Request for Production of Documents (set three) (“RFP”) on Defendant. Responses were timely served on June 13, 2016. Plaintiffs concluded that the responses were defective and began the meet and confer process on July 2, 2016. A response was served by Defendant on July 8, 2016. No further communications appear to have been had between the parties as to the RFPs. Plaintiffs brought their motion to compel further responses on July 25, 2016, arguing that Defendant’s discovery responses are evasive and incomplete. Plaintiffs further seek sanctions.

7. Defendant filed its Opposition on August 4, 2016. Defendant first notes that as to most of the discovery sought, the documents have already been produced, and Plaintiffs are not entitled to require Defendant compile a summary or abstract, or to produce duplicative discovery. Defendant also contends that the discovery is overbroad and irrelevant, and violates the privacy rights of non-parties to the suit.

8. Discussion –Motion to Compel Further Responses to RFP – Code of Civil Procedure §2031.310 permits a party propounding RFPs to bring a motion to compel further responses if it deems that the responses are evasive, incomplete, inadequate, or objections are without merit or too general. CCP §2031.310(a). Such a motion must be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration setting forth facts demonstrating that a reasonable and good faith effort has been made to informally settle all issues raised in the motion. CCP §2031.310(b)(2). The motion must further set forth specific facts showing good cause justifying the discovery. CCP §2031.310(b)(1). The motion must be brought within 45 days of service of the verified response or supplemental verified response unless the parties agree in writing to extending the date. CCP §2031.310(c). The Court must impose monetary sanctions against a party who unsuccessfully brings or opposes such a motion unless it makes a finding that the party subject to sanction acted with substantial justification, or the circumstances would make imposition of sanctions unjust. CCP §2031.310(h).

9. Meet and Confer – Defendant first argues that Plaintiffs have not met and conferred in good faith. Defendant notes that “plaintiff has made it clear that they would accept no degree of compromise on this defendant’s responses. This does not comport with either the letter or the spirit of the meet and confer requirement.” Opposition at 6:17-19. However, “[a] single letter, followed by a response which refuses concessions, might in some instances be an adequate attempt at informal resolution.” Obregon v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 424, 432. Plaintiffs’ meet and confer letter asked for further responses without objections, and detailed why Plaintiffs thought the responses were defective. Defendant’s response essentially refused any further responses, and laid out the basis for Defendant’s refusal. Particularly in light of the history of discovery in this case, the meet and confer process was sufficient.

10. RFP 42-53 – RFP 42 through 52 seek all correspondences, notes, and e-mails from various nurses in Defendant’s employ from 2014. Defendant objected on the basis that all of these documents, to the extent that they existed and were not privileged, could be found in Plaintiffs’ medical records that were previously produced. Plaintiffs, however, argue that this response is overbroad and meritless because it “refers to a 24,000+ page disc.” Plaintiffs’ Separate Statement at 2:11-12. Plaintiffs contend the responses “are frivolous, evasive, cumulative and meritless.” Motion at 5:6-7. Plaintiffs do not appear to provide any further explanation or analysis for these assertions.

11. In responses to a RFP, the Civil Discovery Act permits a party to produce documents “either . . . as they are kept in the usual course of business, or be organized and labeled to correspond with the categories in the demand.” CCP §2031.280(a). Further, “[i]f a demand for production does not specify a form or forms for producing a type of electronically stored information, the responding party shall produce the information in the form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a form that is reasonably usable.” CCP §2031.280(d)(1).

12. In this case, Defendant notes that it has already produced all of Plaintiffs’ medical records previously in the form in which they are kept in the ordinary course of business. Defendant further notes that all of the discovery sought in RFP 42 through 52 can be found in Plaintiffs’ medical records. In light of these representations, an order compelling further responses would merely result in Defendant reproducing the entirety of Plaintiffs’ medical records, as permitted under CCP §2031.280(a). Such an order would result in needless waste and duplication of material already provided. As such, further responses are not required.

13. Plaintiffs complain that Defendant has merely referred to over 24,000 pages of materials as their response. However, the burden to find responsive discovery within Plaintiffs’ medical records would be substantially the same between Plaintiffs and Defendant. Given that Defendant has produced the documents in a manner permitted by the Civil Discovery Act, there is no real reason why the burden of this sifting and sorting has to fall on Defendant rather than Plaintiffs.

14. Accordingly, the motion to compel further responses is DENIED as to RFP 42 through 52.

15. RFP 54-57 – RFPs 54 and 55 seek all documents, correspondences, e-mails, and notes from 2014 concerning bed sores or pressure ulcers in the “5 West ICU.” Defendant argues that the request seeks irrelevant documents because Plaintiffs were only patients between May 2014 and October 2014, and “the occurrence of pressure ulcers [and bed sores] in third-party patients are irrelevant to plaintiff’s claim of negligence with respect to the care and treatment provided to him.” Defendant’s Separate Statement at 8:1-3.

16. RFPs 56 and 57 further seek documents, correspondences, hand written notes, e-mails, and computer notes from 2014-2015 concerning Medicare Funding reductions due to poor performance measures for harm prevention and documents regarding Defendant’s compliance efforts with portions of the Affordable Care Act. Defendant argues that these documents need not be produced because Medicare reductions and compliance with the Affordable Care Act do not have any relation to the care Plaintiff received, or the negligence he suffered. Further Defendant argues that Plaintiffs have not demonstrated good cause for producing the documents sought.

17. Under the Civil Discovery Act, a party seeking to propound further responses to RFPs must set forth specific facts showing good cause justifying the discovery sought by the demand. CCP §2031.310(b)(1). “To establish good cause, a discovery proponent must identify a disputed fact that is of consequence in the action and explain how the discovery sought will tend in reason to prove or disprove that fact or lead to other evidence that will tend to prove or disprove the fact.” Digital Music News LLC v. Superior Court (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 216, 224. As noted previously, Plaintiffs’ Separate Statement and motion to compel contains nothing more than Plaintiffs’ assertions that the responses are evasive, frivolous, and meritless, and that the Court should require further responses. The only facts that Plaintiffs might rely on are those that were subjected to a demurrer sustained without leave to amend and a motion to strike that was granted by Order dated April 7, 2016.

18. In light of the forgoing, Plaintiffs have not met their burden to allege disputed facts of consequence in this case that the discovery will tend to prove or disprove, or will lead to evidence that will tend to prove or disprove. As such, the motion fails to satisfy the requirements of CCP §2031.310(b)(1).

19. Accordingly, Plaintiffs motion to compel further responses to RFP (set three) is DENIED.

20. The Court reserves jurisdiction over an award of sanctions as requested by either party pending further order of the court or trial of the action.



SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the ______ day of August, 2016.


_____________________________
RANDOLPH A. ROGERS, JUDGE