227 Cal.App.4th 250, B252356, Delon Hampton & Associates, CHTD. v. Superior Court (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

Docket Nº:B252356
Citation:227 Cal.App.4th 250, __ Cal.Rptr.3d __
Opinion Judge:ALDRICH, J.
Party Name:DELON HAMPTON & ASSOCIATES, CHTD., Petitioner, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent LOS ANGELES COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, Real Party in Interest.
Attorney:Collins Collins Muir+Stewart, Michele L. Gamble, Alexandra N. Krasovec and James C. Jardin for Petitioner. No appearance for Respondent. Krutcik & Georggin, James A. Krutcik, A. Nicholas Georggin and Alexandra Buechner for Real Party in Interest.
Judge Panel:Klein, P. J., and Croskey, J., concurred.
Case Date:June 23, 2014
Court:California Court of Appeals
 
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Page 250

227 Cal.App.4th 250

__ Cal.Rptr.3d __

DELON HAMPTON & ASSOCIATES, CHTD., Petitioner,

v.

THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent

LOS ANGELES COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, Real Party in Interest.

B252356

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division

June 23, 2014

[CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION [*]]

ORIGINAL PROCEEDINGS in mandate. Robert H. O’Brien, Judge. Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BC489953.

Page 251

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Collins Collins Muir+Stewart, Michele L. Gamble, Alexandra N. Krasovec and James C. Jardin for Petitioner.

No appearance for Respondent.

Krutcik & Georggin, James A. Krutcik, A. Nicholas Georggin and Alexandra Buechner for Real Party in Interest.

OPINION

ALDRICH, J.

INTRODUCTION

In 1993, real party in interest Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) completed the rail station at 4th Street and Hill Street in Los Angeles. In 2011, Jose Madrigal fell on a stair well at the station. Alleging that the stair well was “too small” and that its banister was “too low, ” Madrigal sued the MTA. The MTA cross-complained against, among others, petitioner Delon Hampton & Associates, Chartered (Hampton), which provided design and/or construction services at the station. Hampton demurred to the first amended cross-complaint based on Code of Civil Procedure section 337.1, 1 which contains a four-year limitations period for patent defects. The trial court overruled the demurrer. Because we conclude that the defects alleged were patent, we grant Hampton’s petition for writ of mandate and direct the trial court to sustain the demurrer without leave to amend.

BACKGROUND

The rail station at 4th and Hill streets was completed in 1993. On August 15, 2011, Madrigal “ ‘fell over and/or from a stairwell’ ” at the rail station, which was a part of the development of the Southern California Rapid Transit District Metro Rail Project.

Madrigal filed a complaint on August 9, 2012 against MTA for dangerous condition of public property and statutory liability and for negligence. He alleged, “ ‘Among other defects, the banister of the stairwell was too low and the stairwell too small given the number, age, and volume of persons entering and exiting the Metro Rail station.’ ” MTA “ ‘failed to provide adequate

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safeguards against this known dangerous condition by, among other acts and omissions, failing to properly design, construct, supervise, inspect and repair the Premises causing the same to be defective and unsafe for its intended purposes.’ ”

MTA cross-complained against numerous entities involved in the construction of the rail station where Madrigal fell, including Hampton, which “performed design and/or construction services for construction of the Premises.” As to Hampton, the first amended cross-complaint alleged causes of action for equitable indemnity, comparative contribution, apportionment of fault, and declaratory relief.2

Hampton demurred to the first amended cross-complaint on the ground that the causes of action were barred by the four-year statute of limitations in section 337.1, subdivision (a)(1), and any deficiencies in design were patent under that section.3 Hampton requested judicial notice of the March 15, 1993 notice of completion of the project.4

On September 11, 2013, the trial court overruled the demurrer, finding that the defect was not patent as a matter of law.5

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of review.

To determine whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim for relief, “our standard of review is clear: ‘ “We treat the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded, but not contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact

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or law. [Citation.] We also consider matters which may be judicially noticed.” [Citation.] Further, we give the complaint a reasonable interpretation, reading it as a whole and its parts in their context. [Citation.] When a demurrer is sustained, we determine whether the complaint states facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. [Citation.] And when it is sustained without leave to amend, we decide whether there is a reasonable possibility that the defect can be cured by amendment: if it can be, the trial court has abused its discretion and we reverse; if not, there has been no abuse of discretion and we affirm. [Citations.] The burden of proving such reasonable possibility is squarely on the plaintiff.’ [Citations.]” (Zelig v. County of Los Angeles (20...

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