CCP § 2033.420(b)(1) Exception Prevented Sanctions Being Assessed.
This next decision, Magco Drilling, Inc. v. Natoma Family Housing, L.P., Case No. A151586 (1st Dist., Div. 1 Jan. 29, 2018) (unpublished), is a case reining in costs-of-proof sanctions under CCP § 2033.420 in a situation where there was a partial denial and the plaintiff tailored objections/partial denials in the correct manner.
In this one, the defense sent out RFAs in a mechanic’s lien foreclosure dispute, garnering responses that plaintiff lacked sufficient information to either admit or deny the RFAs. No challenges were made to the RFA responses, although the defense later obtained summary judgment against plaintiff and then moved for costs-of-proof sanctions to the tune of $55,245 in attorney’s fees in connection with efforts to prove that plaintiff’s RFA responses were not candid.
The trial judge denied the motion for costs-of-proof sanctions, which was affirmed on appeal.
The appeal focused on a costs-of-proof sanctions exception where “[a]n objection to the request was sustained or a response to it was waived” under CCP § 2033.420(b)(1). In this situation, plaintiff never moved for a further response even though the defense objection was followed by a partial denial. So, that left the lower court with discretion to decide that a motion to compel a further response was necessary in light of the partial denials by the defense.
BLOG OBSERVATION—The reasoning in this case may provide the defense with a basis to avoid costs-of-proof sanctions, as long as the RFA responses are tailored well when it comes to denying the RFA requests.