(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this car accident case and its proceedings.)
Hill’s Request Should Be In the Form of a Demurrer. Motion to Strike, or Judgment on the Pleadings. Not a Motion for Summary Adjudication.
Defendant also argues that plaintiffs’ request for punitive damages should be stricken because plaintiffs’ complaint only contained legal conclusions and generalizations. Defendant’s characterization is inaccurate as the portion of the complaint seeking punitive damages is full of specific factual allegations. Furthermore, if the basis for this motion is the legal sufficiency of the plaintiffs’ complaint, then defendant should have challenged it instead with a demurrer, motion to strike, or motion for judgment on the pleadings.
Defendant cites Cohen v. Groman Mortuary, Inc. (1964) 231 Cal.App.2d 1 for the proposition that plaintiffs’ request for punitive damages should be stricken because the complaint contained only legal conclusions. In Cohen, which was an appeal on a motion for judgment on the pleadings (rather than a motion for summary adjudication), the complaint sought punitive damages by stating abstract legal conclusions such as malice, wanton, and willful. (Id. at 8.) No specific factual allegations were made to support the punitive damages claim. (Id.) Plaintiffs’ complaint in the subject action is replete with specific facts.
Plaintiffs alleged that in an act of road rage, Hill swerved his car toward Sean Black’s SUV; that Hill’s car traveled erratically; and that it slammed into Sean’s SUV, causing it to roll over three times. The Lynchs’ complaint does not contain generalizations and legal conclusions. It is supported with numerous and specific factual allegations. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
A motion for summary adjudication is not the proper procedure for defendant to attack plaintiffs’ complaint.
In a motion for summary adjudication, the court determines from the submitted evidence whether there is a triable issue as to any material fact. Defendant should have filed a demurrer, motion to strike, or motion for judgment on the pleadings if he wanted to challenge the sufficiency of the complaint. (Code of Civil Procedure § 430.10, et seq.) Because it is too late for defendant to file a demurrer, motion to strike, and a motion for judgment on the pleadings, he has disguised such a motion with this motion for summary adjudication. This cannot be allowed.
Plaintiff Carrie Black’s Claim for Punitive Damages Is Tied to Her Husband Sean’s Claim for Punitive Damages.
Plaintiffs agree with defendant’s assertion that Carrie Black’s punitive damages claim is tied to Sean Black’s claim for punitive damages. If defendant’s motion for summary adjudication is denied as to Sean’s claim, then it should be denied as to Kathleen’s claim as well.
William Hill’s motion for summary adjudication must be denied for a number of reasons. Defendant used misleading facts, ignored evidence to the contrary, and improperly applied the law in their motion. Substantively, a triable issue of material fact exists with respect to whether defendant’s conduct rose to the level of malice or oppression. Procedurally, the motion must be denied because a motion for summary adjudication cannot be used to attack plaintiffs’ pleadings.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.