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A defendant’s costs of proof based on the plaintiffs’ denial of requests for admissions in discovery may be awarded under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 2033.420 even if the trial court denied the defendant’s motions for summary judgment and directed verdict

California

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USA

Successfully Opposing a Summary Judgment or Directed Verdict Motion Does Not Necessarily Mean that the Successful Party Reasonably Entertained a Good Faith Belief That They Would Prevail at Trial for the Purpose of Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 2033.420 In Spahn v. Richards, A159495 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 2021), the appellant argued that the trial court erred when it awarded the defendant costs of proof for the plaintiff’s failure to admit certain requests for admission (“RFAs”) during discovery under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 2033.420. The appellant argued that the fact that the judge denied the defendant’s motions for summary judgment and for directed verdict conclusively established that the plaintiff had reasonable grounds for believing that they would prevail at trial on the issues in the RFAs. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 2033.420 Requires Consideration of the Substantiality and Credibility of the Evidence Offered at Trial In awarding costs under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 2033.420, a court must consider the substantiality and credibility of evidence offered at trial to determine whether the party who denied a request for admission held a reasonably entertained good faith belief that they would prevail on the issue at trial. Defeating Summary Judgment and Directed Verdict Motions Does Not Conclusively Establish that a Party Reasonably Entertained a Good Faith Belief They Would Prevail at Trial The California Court of Appeal for the First District explained that when ruling on a summary judgment motion and/or a directed verdict motion, a trial court must construe the evidence in favor of the party opposing the motion. At trial, the court weighs the evidence without such an obligation. Thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the plaintiff’s success against the summary judgment motion had limited relevance to determining whether the plaintiffs held a reasonably entertained good faith belief that they would prevail on the issue at trial when they denied the RFAs. Likewise, the denial of a directed verdict motion did not establish that the plaintiffs presented credible evidence that they would prevail on the issue at trial. Disposition The Court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the plaintiffs did not have reasonable grounds to believe they would prevail at trial on the RFA issues and affirmed the trial court’s amended judgment which included the defendant’s costs of proof.

April 14, 2022
Spahn v. Richards, A159495 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 2021)
California Courts