Case Number: EC068384    Hearing Date: January 11, 2019    Dept: A

Hall v Akmal

MOTIONS TO COMPEL FURTHER (3)

Calendar:         10

Case No:         EC068384

Hearing Date:  1/11/19 (cont. from 11/16/18)

Action Filed:   4/6/18

Trial:               Not set

MP:                 Plaintiff/Cross-Defendant Lane Hall

RP:                  Defendants Arash Akmal and Royal Antiques, Inc.

ALLEGATIONS:

In this cross-action, Cross-Complainants Arash Akmal (“Akmal”) and Royal Antiques, Inc. (“Royal”) allege that in April 2017, Cross-Defendant Lane Hall (“Hall”) told Akmal that she was a collector of fine antiques and wanted to purchase Royal’s antiques. From April 28, 2017 to August 1, 2017, Hall purchased and paid for fine antiques in the approximate amount of $264,510.00, which Royal promptly shipped.  From June 15, 2017 to August 7, 2017, Hall purchased and did not pay for several items in the amount of $135,000, which Royal promptly shipped upon her promise to pay.  In August 2017, Hall contacted Akmal stating she had several high-quality antiques she would like to have Royal pay on consignment.  Akmal agreed to accept the items, but upon receiving them he complained that the items were not antique and were of poor quality.  From October 13, 2017 to November 15, 2017, Cross-Complainants allege that Hall contacted her credit card companies to reverse the charges for purchases she made from Royal in the amount of $203,755.63.  They allege that Hall kept the items despite demands for return.

The second amended cross-complaint (“SACC”), filed December 7, 2018, alleges causes of action for: (1) intentional misrepresentation; (2) negligent misrepresentation; and (3) conversion.

RELIEF REQUESTED:

Hall moves to compel further responses to form interrogatories (“FROG”) from Akmal and Royal, and special interrogatories (“SROG”) from Akmal.

DISCUSSION:

            This matter initially came before the Court on November 16, 2018.  The Court continued the motions to this date following the parties’ arguments.

            In the prior tentative order, the Court tentatively denied the motions to compel further as moot, based on Akmal and Royal’s representations that further responses and been provided.  The Court tentatively denied any request for sanctions as well.  However, the Court continued the hearing on the discovery motions to this date because it did not appear that further responses had in fact been provided.

            Hall moves to compel further responses from Akmal for her FROG and SROG requests; and from Royal for her FROG requests.

Hall propounded the discovery on Akmal and Royal on June 8, 2018.  They provided verified responses by mail on July 20, 2018.  The parties met and conferred about the responses but did not come to a resolution.  According to Plaintiff’s counsel, the parties also agreed to extend the date to file the motions to compel further responses.  (See Emahn Counts Decl., ¶4, Ex. C [8/29/18 email].)

In Akmal and Royal’s opposition briefs, they represent that the motions are moot because they provided Plaintiff with supplemental responses on November 9, 2018.  However, as noted above, at the November 16, 2018 hearing, Plaintiff informed the Court that no such supplemental responses were in fact received by Plaintiff prior to the hearing.  Based on the representations of Plaintiff’s counsel at the November 16, 2018 hearing, Plaintiff was not served with supplemental responses.  Akmal and Royal’s opposition briefs do not otherwise substantively oppose Plaintiff’s motions to compel further responses.

As such, the Court will grant the motions to compel further responses, as Defendants appear to be amenable to providing supplemental responses and they did not substantively oppose Plaintiff’s motions.

The Court will also grant Plaintiff’s request for sanctions.  Despite representations that supplemental responses had been served, Akmal and Royal did not provide any responses or proof that they served the responses.

Plaintiff requests sanctions in the amount of $3,300 for each motion filed (or $9,900 total).  Plaintiff’s counsel, Emahn Counts, states that he spent 2 hours drafting the meet and confer letters, 3 hours on the separate statement, 1 hour to draft a reply, and 3 hours of anticipated travel time, and bills at an hourly rate of $360/hour.  (Counts Decl., ¶¶6-7.)  He also states that he incurred $60 in filing fees.  (Id., ¶8.)

The Court will award sanctions in the reduced amount of $2,180.  This accounts for 2 hours to meet and confer, 6 hours to draft the moving and reply papers at a reasonably hourly rate of $250, plus $180 in filing fees.  It would be duplicative to compensate counsel for time spent on meeting and conferring and drafting the reply for each separate motion.

RULING:

Grant Plaintiff’s 3 motions to compel further responses to the FROG and SROG.  Defendants Akmal and Royal are ordered to provide further responses to the outstanding discovery within 20 days of notice of this order.

Order sanctions in the amount of $2,180.00 to Plaintiff and her counsel.