The First Appellate District, in Connelly v. Bornstein, adds to the line of cases holding that a malicious prosecution action against an attorney is governed by Code of Civil Procedure section 340.6(a). That section imposes a one-year statute of limitations for actions “against an attorney for a wrongful act or omission, other than for actual fraud, arising in the performance of professional services.”
The result is contrary to the statute of limitation applicable to other litigants of a malicious prosecution claim. Other litigants are subject to the more general two-year statute of limitation set forth at Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, applicable to injury to a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.
In writ proceedings, the Second Appellate District reverses the Los Angeles Superior Court Appellate Division and holds that a special motion to strike, or anti-SLAPP motion, pursuant to Code Civil Procedure section 425.16 may not be brought in a limited civil case. Continue reading →
The First Appellate District reverses the trial court and holds that the court was obligated to grant relief under the mandatory provision of Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b), where plaintiff presented a sworn declaration from his counsel attesting that counsel mistakenly failed to respond to the demurrer by timely filing an amended complaint. Continue reading →
The California Supreme Court holds that under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (the anti-SLAPP statute) a defendant must move to strike a cause of action within 60 days of service of the earliest complaint that contains a cause of action to which it is directed, unless the court grants discretionary relief and permits late filing under subdivision (f). (Newport Harbor Ventures LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism.)
To survive a demurrer in a civil case, the plaintiff must assert his claims before the statute of limitations expires. However, the statutory deadline may be extended—or tolled—if, among other reasons, the plaintiff is “imprisoned on a criminal charge” when the cause of action accrues. A cause of action accrues when a party is entitled to prosecute an action based upon it.
In a case of first impression, the Second Appellate District holds in Austin v. Medicis that a plaintiff is “imprisoned on a criminal charge” within the meaning of Code of Civil Procedure section 352.1 when plaintiff is serving a term of imprisonment in state prison–not when plaintiff is merely incarcerated, pretrial, in the county jail.
The California Supreme Court, in Barry v. The State Bar, holds that a court lacking subject matter jurisdiction over a claim may nonetheless grant a special motion to strike the claim under section Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, and thus may award attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing defendant.
Code of Civil Procedure 170.6 provides the statutory basis to disqualify a judge from hearing a proceeding. A peremptory challenge is usually made by filing an affidavit or declaration under penalty of perjury that the judge is prejudiced against a party or attorney for a party using a locally approved form.
If the affidavit is duly presented (timely), no further act or proof is required and a new judge must be assigned, except that no party or attorney shall be permitted to make more than one such motion in any action or proceeding, and if there are multiple plaintiffs or defendants, only one motion for each side may be made.
What about the circumstance where an appeal is taken from a judgment or interim order? In that circumstance, section 170.6 provides that a successful party on appeal may exercise a second peremptory challenge provided the appeal is from a final judgment, but not if the appeal is from an interim order.
The case is McNair v. Superior Court (National Collegiate Athletic Assn.): “…[W]e hold that Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6, subdivision (a)(2) allows a party to exercise a second peremptory challenge only after prevailing in an appeal from a final judgment, but not following reversal of an interim decision.”
The California Supreme Court holds that where a plaintiff’s injury results from alleged negligence in the use and maintenance of equipment needed to implement a physician’s order concerning plaintiff’s medical treatment, the claim sounds in professional, rather than ordinary, negligence. The special statute of limitations period “for injury or death against a health care provider based upon such person’s alleged professional negligence” is applicable.
Generally, a personal injury action generally must be filed within two years of the date on which the challenged act or omission occurred. [Code Civ. Proc., § 335.1.] However, unlike most personal injury actions, professional negligence actions against health care providers must be brought within “three years after the date of injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first.” [Code Civ. Proc., § 340.5.]
The facts of any particular case for personal injury against a health care provider will determine whether the statute of limitations is lengthened, or shortened, by this holding. The case is Flores v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital.
Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (b), contains the attorney-fault provision for relief from default which provides “…the court shall, whenever an application for relief is made no more than six months after entry of judgment, is in proper form, and is accompanied by an attorney’s sworn affidavit attesting to his or her mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect, vacate any . . . resulting default judgment or dismissal entered against his or her client, unless the court finds that the default or dismissal was not in fact caused by the attorney’s mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or neglect.”
Relief under the statute is mandatory if the conditions are fulfilled. The motion is timely if filed within six months of the entry of default judgment or dismissal. Due diligence is not required. Nor is it necessary for the attorney attesting to mistake, inadvertence, surprise or neglect be attorney of record for the party requesting relief. The statute only requires the affidavit be executed by an attorney who represents the client and whose mistake, inadvertence, surprise or neglect in fact caused the client’s default or dismissal. Continue reading →
It is a fundamental concept of due process that a judgment against a defendant cannot be entered unless he was given proper notice and an opportunity to defend. Code of Civil Procedure section 580 therefore provides the relief granted to the plaintiff, if there is no answer, cannot exceed that demanded in the complaint or in a statement of damages as required by section 425.11. Section 425.11 refers to the required statement which must be served prior to entry of default in an action for personal injury or wrongful death. In those actions, the complaint must not allege a specific dollar amount of damages.The purpose of sections 580 and 425.11 is to guarantee defaulting parties adequate notice of the maximum judgment that may be assessed against them. Continue reading →