178 Cal.App.2d 680, 24417, Pettie v. Superior Court In and For Los Angeles County

Docket Nº:24417
Citation:178 Cal.App.2d 680, 3 Cal.Rptr. 267
Opinion Judge:[12] Kincaid
Party Name:Pettie v. Superior Court In and For Los Angeles County
Attorney:[7] Faber L. Johnston and Faber L. Johnston, Jr., for Petitioner. [8] Harold W. Kennedy, County Counsel, William E. Lamoreaux, Assistant County Counsel and Edward A. Nugent, Deputy County Counsel, for Respondents. [9] Parker, Stanbury, Reese & McGee, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Respondents. [10...
Case Date:March 07, 1960
Court:California Court of Appeals
 
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Page 680

178 Cal.App.2d 680

3 Cal.Rptr. 267

Nancy M. PETTIE, a minor, by Garnita Pettie, her Guardian ad litem, Petitioner,

v.

SUPERIOR COURT OF the State of CALIFORNIA, IN AND FOR the COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, and The Honorable Philbrick McCoy, Respondents,

Anita Roye Roerman, Real Party in Interest.

Civ. 24417.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Second Division

March 7, 1960.

Hearing Denied May 4, 1960.

Page 681

Faber L. Johnston and Faber L. Johnston, Jr., San Jose, for petitioner.

Harold W. Kennedy, County Counsel, William E. Lamoreaux, Assistant County Counsel, and Edward A. Nugent, Los Angeles, Deputy County Counsel, for respondents.

Parker, Stanbury, Reese & McGee, Santa Ana, amicus curiae on behalf of respondent Court.

No appearance for Real Party in Interest.

KINCAID, Justice pro tem.

Petitioner is the plaintiff in a personal injury action pending in the respondent court

Page 682

brought against Anita Roye Roerman as defendant, the real party interest herein, to recover damages allegedly suffered by petitioner as a result of the claimed negligent operation of an automobile by defendant.

The question presented by this original proceeding for a writ of mandate or other appropriate extraordinary writ is whether discovery of the limits of an insured defendant's liability insurance policy may be had in a personal injury action against the insured defendant upon interrogatories served and filed pursuant to sections 2030 and 2016(b), Code of Civil Procedure.

Petitioner served written interrogatories upon the defendant asking whether defendant was covered by policy of automobile public liability insurance at the time of the accident; and, if so, the names and addresses of the insurers. By said interrogatories, defendant was further asked to state the liability limits of each said policy, and to state the total combined liability limits of all of said policies covering defendant at the time of the accident.

Defendant filed written answer to said interrogatories stating that she was covered at the time of the accident by a policy of automobile public liability insurance issued by National Union Insurance Company and giving the address of sid insurer. However, defendant made no answer to the interrogatories seeking information as to the extent or limits of her insurance coverage; and, on the contrary, she filed written objections thereto on the grounds that matters relating to a defendant's liability insurance do not relate to the subject matter involved in the pending action, that the information sought is inadmissible in evidence and does not appear to be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

The respondent court sustained the defendant's objections to the interrogatories seeking information as to the policy limits of defendant's public liability insurance; and, upon the filing of the petition herein, we issued an alternative writ of mandate.

Preliminarily, it is noted that the petition seeks a writ of mandate directed individually to the judge of the respondent court in addition to a writ directed to the respondent court as such. It is settled that the judge of the court is not a proper party respondent in such a proceeding; and accordingly the demurrer of the respondent judge filed herein is sustained. Gresham v. Superior Court, 44 Cal.App.2d 664,

Page 683

666; 3 Witkin, California Procedure, 2547, and cases there cited.

The precise question presented herein has previously been fully considered in Laddon v. Superior Court, 167 Cal.App.2d 391. In said case, writs of mandate or prohibition were sought to compel the trial court to set aside an order overruling the defendant's objections to certain written interrogatories asking defendant (a physician) whether he carried malpractice insurance, and, if so, to state the policy limits. The action pending below therein was one for injuries allegedy resulting from malpractice.

The petition for the writs was denied; and, in its well-considered opinion hereinafter further discussed, the reviewing court held in essence that, in California, plaintiff in a personal injury action has a 'discoverable interest' in defendant's liability insurance which arises with the 'very pendency' of the action against the assured; that, therefore, the existence and policy limits of defendant's liability insurance are relevant to the subject matter involved in the personal injury action, although not strictly within the issues raised by the pleadings; and that accordingly the existence and policy limits of defendant's liability insurance are discoverable by interrogatories served and filed pursuant to sections 2030 and 2016(b) of Code of Civil Procedure.

No valid distinction between Laddon and the present case can be made on the ground that the former involved a malpractice suit and malpractice insurance, whereas the case at bar involves an automobile negligence action and automobile liability insurance. As is pointed out in Laddon, there is no essential difference between malpractice insurance and automobile negligence insurance with relation to the question of the discoverability of insurance policy limits, since both are within the provisions of Insurance Code, section 11580. Laddon v. Superior Court, supra, 167 Cal.App.2d at page 394, 334 P.2d at page 639.

Similarly no valid distinction between Laddon and the case at bar can be made on the ground that the writ sought therein was to set aside an order of the trial court overruling defendant's objections to the interrogatories, whereas the writ sought in the present case is to set aside an order of the respondent court sustaining defendant's objections to the interrogatories. An order granting a discovery remedy, like the order of denial, is not directly appealable; and, since review on appeal from...

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