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LASC Sustains Demurrer in Personal Injury Case

August 29, 2013

On August 29, 2013 Judge Thomas O'Brien of Department 92 in the Los Angeles Superior Court-Central Branch, sustained the Defendant's demurrer to Plaintiff's Complaint without leave to amend in a personal injury matter handled by Guy R. Gruppie, Lisa D. Angelo and Nanette Reed.

According to Plaintiff's complaint, on December 7, 2010 she sustained personal injuries while riding an electric escalator at the Metro Station owned and operated by Defendant LOS ANGELES COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (“LACMTA”). On December 27, 2010, Plaintiff filed a “claim for damages” with the LACMTA pursuant to California law and Government Code § 945.4. On January 18, 2011, a proper Notice of Rejection on Plaintiff’s “claim for damages” was sent to Plaintiff via U.S. Mail. According to Government Code § 945.6, Plaintiff had six (6) months from the date the claim is acted upon or deemed to have been rejected to file suit against a Government entity. On July 25, 2012, a year and a half after the Notice of Rejection was mailed, Plaintiff filed a complaint for damages against LACMTA. Accordingly, Defendant filed a demurrer to Plaintiff's complaint on grounds it was time-barred under the Government Code. One week before the hearing on LACMTA's demurrer, Plaintiff's counsel filed a Petition for Relief under Government Code §946.6 and/or Code of Civil Procedure §473. In the Petition, Plaintiff sought to be relieved from her former counsel's error in failing to file her lawsuit within the statutory timeframe under the Government Code. Since Plaintiff's petition failed to comply with the Code of Civil Procedure as to standard notice and service requirements, the court continued the hearing date on LACMTA's demurrer for 180 days so as to provide Plaintiff with sufficient time to properly file her Petition for Relief since the ruling on her Petition would have a direct effect on the outcome of LACMTA's demurrer.

After two rounds of briefing, Judge Teresa Beaudet of Department 92 denied the Petition in its entirety on July 18, 2013 holding that Government Code section 946.6 did not apply to the circumstances of the case and that the section does not mention relief from the "filing suit" requirements of section 945.6. As to Plaintiff's alternative Petition for Relief under Code of Civil Procedure §473, the court found that pursuant to Castro v. Sacramento County Fire Protection District, 47 Cal. App. 4th 924, 929-930 (1996), such relief is not available because Government Code section 945.6 is the operative statute of limitation and §473 cannot serve as a loophole to circumvent the necessary outcome under the Government Code.

In light of Judge Beaudet’s ruling on Plaintiff's Petition for Relief, Judge O'Brien sustained LACMTA's demurrer to Plaintiff's complaint without leave to amend.