Sakiyama v. Amf Bowling Centers, Inc.

Decision Date10 July 2003
Docket NumberNo. B151800.,B151800.
Citation1 Cal.Rptr.3d 762,110 Cal.App.4th 398
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesShion SAKIYAMA et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. AMF BOWLING CENTERS, INC., Defendant and Respondent. Hsin Hwa Chen et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. AMF Bowling Centers, Inc., Defendant and Respondent.


This appeal arises out of a tragic incident. Four teenagers attended an all-night party and then attempted to drive home. Unfortunately, the driver of the vehicle crashed into a tree, killing herself and one passenger and severely injuring the two other passengers. The two injured parties (Shion Sakiyama (Sakiyama) and Julie Kuo (Kuo)) and the parents of the two deceased teenagers (Lynn Chen (Chen) and Suel Lee (Lee))1 brought the instant lawsuit against numerous persons, including AMF Bowling Centers, Inc. (AMF), the owner of the facility where the party was held. Appellants theorize that AMF is liable under traditional negligence theories because AMF had a duty not to allow its facility to be used for an all night rave party, an allegedly inherently dangerous event. We disagree. We hold that the trial court properly granted AMF summary judgment because (1) all-night rave parties are not inherently dangerous, and (2) AMF did not have a duty not to allow its facility to be used for such a party, even if it knew or could assume that drugs would be used by some of the attendees.

Moreover, the trial court properly denied appellants' motion for reconsideration. The motion failed to include new facts and/or new law, and even if some of the facts could be construed as "new," they do not alter the conclusion that AMF did not owe a duty to appellants.


On March 13-14, 1999, a "rave" party3 was held at AMF's roller skating rink, World on Wheels. Chen, Lee, Sakiyama, and Kuo, all teenagers, arrived at the event between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Drug Use

According to appellants, drugs were being used and sold at the event. In fact, Kuo purchased "ecstasy" about 30 minutes after arriving at World on Wheels. She purchased two tabs of the drug, which she divided into halves. Both she and Lee each took half a tab of ecstasy approximately 45 minutes after arriving at the skating rink. Although Kuo did not see Sakiyama take any ecstasy, Sakiyama later told her that she had taken her share of the drugs. Neither Kuo nor Sakiyama know whether Chen ingested any ecstasy while at the party.

Various items (which appellants characterize as drug paraphernalia), including pacifiers, whistles, masks, and glow sticks, were sold at the party. However, AMF and its security personnel took numerous steps to confiscate and remove both drugs and drug paraphernalia from the facility. Specifically, prior to the party, AMF employees were told that because attendees would try to sneak into the event with drugs, they were required to identify any such persons and confiscate the drugs. Before attendees could enter the party, they were searched twice—once outside the facility and once inside the roller skating rink—and any known drug paraphernalia (surgical masks, dust spray, balloons, and Vick's Vapor Rub bottles) was confiscated. During the party, AMF employees confiscated drugs and drug paraphernalia. Moreover, drug dealers were identified and ejected from the premises.

There is no evidence that AMF furnished appellants, or anyone else, with drugs.

Car Accident

The four girls left the rave party while it was still dark out. After exiting the arena, all four girls sat down for about 30 minutes because they were tired. A security guard then approached them and told them that it was time to leave.

Once in the car, Kuo and Lee fell asleep almost immediately. Chen and Sakiyama discussed whether Chen felt able to drive. Chen told Sakiyama that she "could drive."

According to Sakiyama, they got lost after leaving World on Wheels. It took them between 45 minutes and one hour to find the freeway. They were so tired that they rolled down the car windows and turned the volume on the radio up loud.

Sakiyama fell asleep approximately a half-hour after entering the freeway. Before she fell asleep, Chen seemed to be driving fine.

Over an hour after they left the party and about 30 miles from the roller skating rink, appellants were involved in a single-car accident. Chen struck a tree, causing severe injuries to Kuo and Sakiyama. Both Chen and Lee were killed.

Procedural History

In March 2000, Sakiyama, Kuo, and the successors in interest of Lee, filed their first amended complaint for personal injuries and wrongful death. In September 2000, Hsin Hwa Chen and Chin Chih Ting, individually and as successors in interest of Chen, filed their complaint for wrongful death. The two separate lawsuits were thereafter consolidated and transferred to one court.

On April 13, 2001, AMF filed its motion for summary judgment, arguing, inter alia, that it did not owe a duty of care to appellants. Appellants opposed the motion, asserting that AMF owed them (and the general public) a duty not to participate in the creation of a rave, which they define as a dangerous event. On May 21,

2001, the trial court granted AMF's motion for summary judgment, adopting AMF's argument that it did not owe a duty to appellants.

Thereafter, appellants filed a motion for reconsideration of the trial court's order. Appellants asserted that they possessed both new facts and new law which warranted reconsideration. AMF filed an opposition, and on June 27, 2001, the trial court denied the motion for reconsideration, reasoning that "there is no new evidence to suggest AMF had a duty to prevent Plaintiffs [sic] from acquiring and ingesting the drug Ecstasy and then thereafter not driving a car." After a signed judgment could not be located in the trial court file, judgment was entered nunc pro tunc with a retroactive date of June 12, 2001, in favor of AMF and against appellants.

This timely appeal followed.

I. Motion for Summary Judgment
A. Standard of Review

"A trial court properly grants summary judgment where no triable issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. (Code Civ. Proc, § 437c, subd. (c).) We review the trial court's decision de novo." (Merrill v. Navegar, Inc. (2001) 26 Cal.4th 465, 476, 110 Cal.Rptr.2d 370, 28 P.3d 116 (Merrill); see also Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843, 107 Cal.Rptr.2d 841, 24 P.3d 493.) If, in deciding this appeal, we find there is no issue of material fact, we affirm the summary judgment if it is correct on any legal ground applicable to this case, whether that ground was the legal theory adopted by the trial court or not, and whether it was raised by defendant in the trial court or first addressed on appeal. (Western Mutual Ins. Co. v. Yamamoto (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 1474, 1481, 35 Cal.Rptr.2d 698.) If, on the other hand, we find that one or more triable issues of material fact exist, then we must reverse the judgment.

Exercising our independent judgment as to the legal effect of the undisputed facts (Spitler v. Children's Institute International (1992) 11 Cal.App.4th 432, 439, 14 Cal.Rptr.2d 197) and acknowledging the obligation to affirm on any ground supported by the record (Becerra v. County of Santa Cruz (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 1450, 1457, 81 Cal.Rptr.2d 165), we find summary judgment properly was granted.

B. AMF Did Not Owe Appellants a Duty of Care

"Actionable negligence is traditionally regarded as involving the following: (a) a legal duty to use due care; (b) a breach of such legal duty; (c) the breach as the proximate or legal cause of the resulting injury. [Citations.]" (6 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (9th ed. 1988) Torts, § 732, pp. 60-61.) The question here is whether AMF owed appellants a duty of care. "The determination of duty is primarily a question of law. [Citations.] It is the court's `expression of the sum total of those considerations of policy which lead the law to say that the particular plaintiff is entitled to protection.' (Prosser, Law of Torts (4th ed.1971) pp. 325-326.) Any number of considerations may justify the imposition of duty in particular circumstances, including the guidance of history, our continually refined concepts of morals and justice, the convenience of the rule, and social judgment as to where the loss should fall. [Citation.] While the question whether one owes a duty to another must be decided on a case-by-case basis, every case is governed by the rule of general application that all persons are required to use ordinary care to prevent others from being injured as the result of their conduct. [Citation.]" (Weirum v. RKO General, Inc. (1975) 15 Cal.3d 40, 46, 123 Cal.Rptr. 468, 539 P.2d 36, fn. omitted (Weirum).)

In Rowland v. Christian (1968) 69 Cal.2d 108, 113, 70 Cal.Rptr. 97, 443 P.2d 561 (Rowland), the Supreme Court set forth the now well-known factors courts consider in ascertaining whether a legal duty exists: "[1] the foreseeability of harm to the plaintiff, [2] the degree of certainty that the plaintiff suffered injury, [3] the closeness of the connection between the defendant's conduct and the injury suffered, [4] the moral blame attached to the defendant's conduct, [5] the policy of preventing future harm, [6] the extent of the burden to the defendant and consequences to the community of imposing a duty to exercise care with...

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