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Tentative Rulings, Truckee - Law and Motion

>Riverview Townhomes Owners’ Association Case No. T10-4142C

Riverview Townhomes Owners’ Association Case No. T10-4142C 

Superior Court of Nevada County
Tentative Ruling
Truckee Branch

Defendant Kane’s Motion for Summary Adjudication and Defendant Tadman’s Motion for Summary Adjudication

Defendant Kane’s Motion for Summary Adjudication and Defendant Tadman’s Motion for Summary Adjudication are denied on both procedural and substantive grounds.

Requests for Judicial Notice

Both Requests for Judicial Notice are granted in their entirety.

Standard of Review

The function of a motion for summary judgment or adjudication is to allow a determination as to whether an opposing party cannot show evidentiary support for a pleading or claim and to enable an order of summary dismissal without the need for trial. Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843. In analyzing motions for summary judgment, courts must apply a three-step analysis: (1) identify the issues framed by the pleadings to be addressed; (2) determine whether moving party showed facts justifying a judgment in movant's favor; and (3) determine whether the opposing
party demonstrated the existence of a triable, material issue of fact. Sun v. City of Oakland (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 1177, 1182-83; McGarry v. Sax (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 983, 994; Hinesley v. Oakshade Town Center (2005) 135 Cal. App. 4th 289, 294.

Procedural Issues

Code of Civil Procedure § 473c(f)(1) allows summary adjudication “as to one or more causes of action within an action, one or more affirmative defenses, one or more claims for damages, or one or more issues of duty…”

The notices of motion do not seek summary adjudication of an affirmative defense, claims for damages, or an issue of duty. Rather, the motions seek an order declaring that Plaintiff does not have standing to bring a lawsuit for defect claims that are outside of the common areas, such as the electrical systems or heating systems that are wholly contained within each townhouse.

In the present case, no individual cause of action will be disposed of completely by these motions because the damages set forth in the first cause of action is for both the common areas and the individual areas that are integrally related to the common areas. Thus, summary adjudication is not permitted as requested under CCP §437c(f)(1).

Additionally, Code of Civil Procedure § 437c(s)(1) does permit summary adjudication of an issue: “Notwithstanding subdivision (f), a party may move for summary adjudication of a legal issue… that does not completely dispose of a cause of action…. (2) This motion may be brought only upon the stipulation of the parties…”

In the present case, no stipulation was filed. So, summary adjudication of these “issues” is procedurally improper and not permitted.

Analysis

Additionally, on the merits, the motions are denied. Civil Code § 5980(d) does permit an association to bring claims for “damage to a separate interest that arises out of, or is integrally related to, damage to the common area or a separate interest that the association is obligated to maintain or repair.”

In the present case, there are triable issues of material fact as to whether the damages alleged are “integrally related to” damages to the common area. See Plaintiff’s SSUMF #6, 7, and the evidence cited therein.

Based upon the foregoing, the motions for summary adjudication are denied.

Defendant Groves Fischer’s Motion to Sever

Defendant’s Motion to Sever is denied.

"Code of Civil Procedure section 598 allows a party to seek an order before trial ‘that the trial of any issue or any part thereof shall precede the trial of any other issue or any part thereof in the case,' where ‘the convenience of witnesses, the ends of justice, or the economy and efficiency of handling the litigation would be promoted thereby ….'" Estate of Young (2008) 160 Cal. App. 4th 62, 90.

“In general, ‘[w]hether there shall be a severance and separate trials on issues in a single action is a matter within the discretion of the trial court . . . .’ " Shade Foods, Inc. v. Innovative Products Sales & Marketing, Inc. (2000) 78 Cal. App. 4th 847, 911. Accord Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Sheily (2004) 122 Cal. App. 4th 824, 833; Royal Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v. Ranger Ins. Co. (2002) 100 Cal. App. 4th 193, 205; Finley v. Sup. Ct. (2000) 80 Cal. App. 4th 1152, 1163; Grappo v. Coventry Financial Corp. (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 496, 504. See also generally Weil & Brown, Civ. Pro. Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2012) ¶¶12:415 – 12:424; Cal. Prac. Guide: Civ. Trials and Ev. (The Rutter Group 2012) ¶4:430.

In the present case, the court finds that judicial economy would not be promoted by severing and hearing the statute of limitations defense first. Issues intrinsic to determining the statute of limitations issues turn on the same expert testimony that must be used to explore the nature, cause and effect of the defects themselves. Thus, a bifurcated trial of statute of limitations will necessarily overlap with the trial of the underlying defect issues. Thus, judicial economy will not be served.

Plaintiff’s attorney is to submit a formal order that sets out verbatim the tentative ruling herein and complies with California Rule of Court 3.1312 and is thereafter to prepare, file and serve notice of order.

This is the Court’s tentative ruling. In order to argue at the hearing, you must notify the parties and thereafter notify the court’s law and motion secretary at (530) 550-3033 by 4:00 p.m. the court day before the hearing. If you do not so notify the parties and court, the tentative ruling shall become the final ruling. Any argument is limited to five minutes. California Rule of Court 3.1308, Local Rule 4.05.3.

Unless the court orders otherwise, the court does not provide court reporters for civil law and motion hearings and case management conferences at the court's expense. Any litigant who wants a record of a law and motion matter or a case management conference must arrange for the presence of a court reporter at his or her expense. Local Rule 10.00.3B.