Monday, April 10, 2017
Court of Appeal Affirms Sanctions Award Against Nonparty Deponents
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has affirmed an award of more than $20,000 in sanctions against nonparty deponents over their failure to appear for deposition in a divorce case.
Div. Three Thursday upheld the award by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Willett, who is now retired, against Regina Rudyak and Ginadan Capital, LLC. The panel rejected the deponents’ contention that they could not be sanctioned because they were not parties to the underlying litigation.
The discovery dispute occurred during the litigation between Leonid Rudyak—the now-deceased president of Ginadan—and Ludmilla Rudyak. Ludmilla Rudyak had Regina Rudyak served with two subpoenas duces tecum for deposition, one in her individual capacity and the other as representative of Ginadan.
Regina Rudyak, who is listed as the company’s chief operating officer on its website, objected to the subpoenas and did not appear for the deposition. Counsel for Ludmilla Rudyak moved to compel and requested sanctions.
Following a hearing, Willett ordered Rudyak to give the deposition and awarded the sanctions against her and the company. He described the sanctions as mandatory based on a lack of substantial justification for not appearing.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rupa Goswami, sitting on assignment in the Court of Appeal, said in an unpublished opinion the sanctions were authorized by Code of Civil Procedure §2025.480(j), which permits “any party, person, or attorney” to be sanctioned in connection with a motion to compel compliance with a deposition subpoena.
Goswami also cited §2023.030, which permits sanctions to be imposed on “anyone” who abuses discovery, including “any affected party, person, or attorney.”
The jurist rejected the argument that sanctions for conduct such as that found to have been engaged in by Rudyak may only be imposed under §1992, which makes a person who fails to honor a subpoena liable for forfeiture in the amount of $500 plus all damages incurred as a result of the failure. She described as “legally baseless” the argument that Ludmilla Rudyak’s sole remedy was to bring a separate action under §1992.
When the subpoena is for a deposition, Goswami said, the offended party may seek a remedy under the Civil Discovery Act, which is “precisely” what occurred in this case, rather than §1992.
Attorneys on appeal were Paula S. Glickstein for Regina Rudyak and Paul L. Cass and Donald H. Latzer for the Ludmilla Rudyak.
The case is Rudyak v. Rudyak, B2673886.
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