Case Number: SC128867 Hearing Date: January 29, 2019 Dept: K

Case Name: Jerold Block, et al. v. John Humble, et al.

Case No.: SC128867 Complaint Filed: 02-20-2018

Hearing: Tuesday, January 29, 2019 Motion C/O: 06-03-2019

Calendar #: 8 Discovery C/O: 05-20-2019

Notice: E-served; no indication of consent Trial Date: 06-17-2019

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SUBJECT: Motion to Deem the Truth of Matters Specified in Requests for Admission, Set One to Each of John Humble, Paula Dobbins, Lillian Crick and Josh Crick Admitted and Conclusively Established; Request for Order Awarding Monetary Sanctions

MP: Plaintiff Jerold Block

RP: Defendants John Humble, Paula Dobbins, Lillian Crick, and Josh Crick

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Jerold Block and his associated LLCs have brought this action for damages and injunctive relief alleging housing discrimination and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment based on alleged discrimination and harassment by the defendants for years based upon Plaintiff’s disability. Plaintiff is a resident of a 6-unit condominium complex, where he and his LLCs own three of the units, and Defendants John Humble, Paula Dobbins, Lillian Crick, and Josh Crick own the other units. Plaintiff alleges that Humble tried to get Plaintiff evicted from the premises when he was renting a unit, made derogatory remarks about Plaintiff’s disability and need for reasonable accommodations, and stated that the other residents wanted Plaintiff to move out. Since becoming an owner of the unit, the defendants have regarded Plaintiff as if he had a disability consisting of hypersensitivity to certain chemicals and smells, have engaged in harassment and attempted harm to Plaintiff, refused to let Plaintiff have a reasonable accommodation of attending homeowners’ meetings by telephone, allowed termites to infest Plaintiff’s area to attempt to “evict” him, and blocked his homeowner’s rights.

Complaint filed on 02-20-2018

1st c/a – denial of reasonable accommodation

2d c/a – inferior terms, conditions, and privileges of tenancy

3d c/a – harassment in housing because of disability

4th c/a – discriminatory statements

5th c/a – unlawful retaliation

6th c/a – interference with the enjoyment of equal housing rights

7th c/a – breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment

TENTATIVE RULING

Plaintiff Jerold Block’s Motion to Deem the Truth of Matters Specified in Requests for Admission, Set One to Each of John Humble, Paula Dobbins, Lillian Crick and Josh Crick Admitted and Conclusively Established is GRANTED, unless Defendants can demonstrate that they served substantially compliant responses before the hearing on the motion.

Plaintiff is ordered to pay three additional motion filing fees as the present motion was improperly filed as a single motion, for a total of $180 forthwith.

The accompanying Request for Order Awarding Monetary Sanctions is GRANTED in the amount of $420, representing four motion filing fees and attorney’s fees.

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice.

REASONING

As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that Plaintiff’s motion was required to be filed as separate motions for each discovery request, as it is directed to 4 separate defendants. (See Weil & Brown, Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2017) ¶ 8:1140.1 “Motions to compel compliance with separate discovery requests ordinarily should be filed separately.”].) Plaintiff has moved the Court for relief based on four different discovery requests, so proper filing of the motion would have resulted in four separate motions. Instead, Plaintiff filed only one motion and paid only one filing fee where four motions and four filing fees were required. (See Gov. Code, § 70617, subds. (a) [$60 fee for filing a motion requiring a hearing], (f) [filing fees “apply separately to each motion or other paper filed”].) Plaintiff is ordered to pay three additional motion filing fees of $60 each, totaling $180.

Second, Plaintiff has not attached a proof of service of the current motions. Code of Civil Procedure section 1010.6, subdivision (a)(2)(A)(i), provides that “[f]or cases filed on or before December 31, 2018, if a document may be served by mail, express mail, overnight delivery, or facsimile transmission, electronic service of the document is not authorized unless a party or other person has agreed to accept electronic service in that specific action or the court has ordered electronic service on a represented party or other represented person under subdivision (c) or (d).” There is no indication in the Court’s file that Defendants consented to electronic service of motions, nor has the Court ordered electronic service in this matter. Nonetheless, Defendants have filed an opposition to the motion; thus, this Court will presume proper service and proceeds to the merits of the motion.

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.280, subdivision (b), a “party may move for an order that the genuineness of any documents and the truth of any matters specified in the requests be deemed admitted, as well as for a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with section 2023.010).” The court “shall” grant the motion to deem requests for admission admitted “unless it finds that the party to whom the requests for admission have been directed has served, before the hearing on the motion, a proposed response to the requests for admission that is in substantial compliance with Section 2033.220.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.280, subd. (c).)

Plaintiff moves the Court for an order deeming the truth of all matters specified in Requests for Admissions, Set No. One, admitted against Defendants John Humble, Paula Dobbins, Lillian Crick, and Josh Crick. Plaintiff served the requests on October 15, 2018 (Block Decl. ¶ 2), and responses were due (pursuant to agreement of counsel) on or before December 10, 2018 (Block Decl. ¶ 5), but Defendants failed to provide responses (Block Decl. ¶ 9). In opposition to the present motion, Defendants complain that the number of requests for admission were excessive, but they intend to reply before the hearing date on this motion. Unless Defendants make a showing that they served substantially compliant responses prior to the hearing, the Court is required to order the matters in the RFAs deemed admitted pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.280, subdivision (c). Defendants have not filed a motion for a protective order pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.040, subdivision (b), on the ground that the number of requests is unwarranted; therefore, Plaintiff does not have the burden of justifying the number of requests in the present motion if Defendants entirely fail to respond.

Plaintiff also requests monetary sanctions in the amount of $420 against Defendants and defense counsel, representing a $60 filing fee, $100 in costs to print and assemble the motion, a $260 Westlaw service charge for the month. Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.280, subdivision (c), “[i]t It is mandatory that the court impose a monetary sanction . . . on the party or attorney, or both, whose failure to serve a timely response to requests for admission necessitated this motion.” Plaintiff may recover the amount of a motion filing fee, and because he has been ordered to pay three additional filing fees, he may be awarded $240 in filing fees.

In light of the lateness of Defendants’ responses, this Court will grant the remaining sanctions sought (as costs and attorney’s fees) for a total of $420 due in 21 days.