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New Albertsons, Inc. v. Superior Court

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

December 10, 2008, Filed

B207661

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

Real parties in interest, a customer and his wife, filed suit against petitioner supermarket operator for negligence and premises liability. The supermarket operator filed a petition for a writ of mandate after the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California, denied its motion to withdraw an admission made in response to a request for admission and imposed evidence and issue sanctions for misuse of the discovery process.

Overview

The customer was injured while shopping at one of the operator's supermarkets. The supermarket operator had admitted that a photograph of the scene where the customer was found lying on the supermarket floor showed a bag of ice in the aisle. The court held that any doubts in ruling on a motion to withdraw or amend an admission pursuant to Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.300, had to be resolved in favor of the moving party. Because the record did not clearly establish that the supermarket operator's mistake in admitting the matter was inexcusable or show that the withdrawal of the admission would substantially prejudice real parties, the policy in favor of trial on the merits compelled the conclusion that the motion to withdraw the admission should have been granted. Moreover, the trial court had no statutory authority to impose the sanctions absent a failure to obey an order compelling discovery. There was no order compelling the supermarket operator to produce certain video recordings, and real parties had waived the right to compel a further response or inspection. The trial court's inherent powers to control the litigation did not justify the sanctions under the circumstances.

Outcome

The court granted the mandate petition, directing the trial court to vacate its order denying the motion to withdraw the admission and awarding sanctions, and to issue a new order granting the motion to withdraw the admission and denying in full real parties' motion for sanctions.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

 

 

Civil Procedure > ... > Methods of Discovery > Requests for Admissions > Effect of Admissions

Civil Procedure > ... > Methods of Discovery > Requests for Admissions > Withdrawal of Admissions

HN1  Effect of Admissions

Any matter admitted in response to a request for admission is conclusively established against the party making the admission for purposes of the pending action, unless the court permits a withdrawal or amendment of the admission under Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.300. Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.410, subd. (a). A party may withdraw or amend an admission made in response to a request for admission only with leave of court granted after notice to all parties. § 2033.300, subd. (a).

 

Civil Procedure > ... > Methods of Discovery > Requests for Admissions > Withdrawal of Admissions

HN2  Withdrawal of Admissions

See Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.300, subd. (b).

 

Civil Procedure > ... > Methods of Discovery > Requests for Admissions > Withdrawal of Admissions

HN3  Withdrawal of Admissions

See Code Civ. Proc., § 2033.300, subd. (c).

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168 Cal. App. 4th 1403 ; 86 Cal. Rptr. 3d 457 ; 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 2393 

NEW ALBERTSONS, INC., Petitioner, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent; JOHN SHANAHAN et al., Real Parties in Interest.

Subsequent History: Time for Granting or Denying Review Extended New Albertsons Inc. v. S.C. (Shanahan), 2009 Cal. LEXIS 2474 (Cal., Mar. 11, 2009)

Review denied by New Albertsons v. L.A. County Superior Court, 2009 Cal. LEXIS 3365 (Cal., Mar. 25, 2009)

Prior History:  [1] Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC365496, Phrasel L. Shelton, Judge.

Disposition: Petition granted.