Wednesday, September 30, 2015

You Need More than a Hope to Deny an RFA

Grace v. Mansourian, No. G049590 (D4d3 Sept. 15, 2015)

This is a car accident case where defendant allegedly ran a red light. Plaintiff won a jury verdict. He then sought to recover his fees for his costs of proving liability under Code of Civil Procedure § 2033.420, because Defendant had unjustifiably denied an request that he admit the light was red. All the other witnesses said it was red. But Defendant (somewhat shakily) persisted that it was yellow at best. The trial court denied fee shifting, finding that the difference in memory was sufficient to provide a reasonable basis to deny the RFA.

The court of appeal, however, holds that Defendant’s belief wasn’t reasonable given all of the other overwhelming evidence that the light was, in fact, red. The point isn’t whether there was substantial evidence sufficient to beat summary judgment or avoid nonsuit. That was there. But avoiding SJ didn’t make it reasonable to deny the RFA. Reasonableness requires “more than a hope or a roll of the dice.” Under the circumstances, Defendant’s shifty recollection didn’t cut it.

Reversed.

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