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Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Five

March 8, 2007, Filed

B187258

Opinion

 [**752]  MOSK, J.—This appeal 2 [***3]  from an order imposing a monetary discovery sanction of $ 8,786.36 raises the issue of whether, under  [**753]  the California Civil Discovery Act of 2004 (Code Civ. Proc., § 2016.010 et seq.), 3 the trial court has the authority to hear a motion to compel responses to written interrogatories  [*396]  under section 2030.290 when the party on whom the interrogatories were served fails to serve any response within the required time, thereby waiving all objections,  [***2]  but after the motion is served, provides an untimely response that the propounding party deems inadequate. In the published portion of this opinion, we hold that the service of an untimely interrogatory response, which may or may not reflect a good faith effort to comply with the party's discovery obligations, does not divest the trial court of authority to hear and grant a motion to compel responses under section 2030.290, subdivision (b). Whether the trial court should proceed with a motion to compel responses under section 2030.290 when there has been an untimely interrogatory response is within the sound discretion of the trial court.

BACKGROUND

In December 2004, plaintiff and respondent Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. (Sinaiko), sued defendants 4 for breach of contract, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, interference with prospective economic advantage and interference with contractual relations. Sinaiko alleged that it and its predecessor had engaged Kirchwehm, first as an employee and then (through Zeppelin [***4]  and Pacific) as an independent contractor, to provide financial advisory services to Sinaiko's clients in the health care industry. Sinaiko alleged that, as a result, Kirchwehm had access to Sinaiko's proprietary client database; that after Kirchwehm ended his relationship with Sinaiko in July 2004, Sinaiko discovered that Kirchwehm had solicited at least one of its clients with which Kirchwehm had no previous contact; and that Kirchwehm had solicited other Sinaiko clients utilizing confidential information improperly obtained from Sinaiko.

Sinaiko's complaint included eight causes of action, one of which alleged a breach of contract. In its first cause of action, entitled “Breach of Oral Contract,” Sinaiko alleged that, “In or about August, 2002, the parties orally agreed that defendants, and each of them, would provide  [**754]  advisory and financial [***5]  services to SINAIKO's clients for which SINAIKO would compensate defendants. Defendants agreed that they would provide SINAIKO with the underlying materials supporting the opinion letters prepared upon SINAIKO's request, due to the fact that said materials were at all times the property of SINAIKO.” Sinaiko further alleged that, “Beginning in or about August, 2002, and continuing to the present, defendants, and each of them, breached the above-referenced oral agreement … .”

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148 Cal. App. 4th 390 *; 55 Cal. Rptr. 3d 751 **; 2007 Cal. App. LEXIS 318 ***; 2007 Cal. Daily Op. Service 2550; 2007 Daily Journal DAR 3248

SINAIKO HEALTHCARE CONSULTING, INC., Plaintiff and Respondent, v. PACIFIC HEALTHCARE CONSULTANTS et al., Defendants; STEVEN M. KLUGMAN, Objector and Appellant.

Notice: CERTIFIED  [***1]  FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION1

Prior History: Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC325513, Mary Ann Murphy, Judge.

CORE TERMS

trial court, responses, interrogatories, discovery, documents, defendants', subdivision, propounding party, sanctions, monetary sanctions, motion to compel, requests, untimely, interrogatory response, form interrogatory, answers, responding party, timely response, response to interrogatory, fail to serve, confer, parties, terminating sanctions, inspection demand, protective order, discovery process, discovery request, violating, complied, misuse

Civil Procedure, Sanctions, General Overview, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Interlocutory Orders, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery, Relevance of Discoverable Information, Methods of Discovery, Protective Orders, Misconduct During Discovery, Motions to Compel, Misconduct During Discovery, Interrogatories, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation