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January 11, 2016

Changes to the California Rules of Court and California Civil Procedure Regarding Demurrers and Motions for Summary Judgment and Summary Adjudication Effective January 1, 2016

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Several changes to the California Rules of Court and California Code of Civil Procedure went into effect on January 1, 2016.  The revisions change motion practice in California state courts.

Before filing a demurrer, parties in a civil action must now meet and confer at least five (5) days before the responsive pleading is due. Civil Procedure Section 430.41(a). The meet and confer must be done in person or by telephone.

The moving party must include a declaration with its demurrer stating the parties met and conferred and were unable to reach an agreement, or the pleading party failed to respond to meet and confer efforts.  Civil Procedure Section 430.41(a)(3). The last day a party can amend its pleadings is on the due date for the opposition. Civil Procedure Section 472(a).  Plaintiffs can no longer file an amended complaint on the day before the demurrer hearing which would moot the demurrer and waste the moving party's time.

The statute will reduce unnecessary pleadings which clog the already-overburdened California court systems. Many demurrers are filed to challenge curable pleadings where the court will grant leave to amend, thus costing clients unnecessary fees, costs and time. Also, plaintiffs' lawyers may no longer wait until the last minute to amend and have the demurrer come off calendar even after the court has issued a tentative ruling.

There are also changes to summary judgment and summary adjudication motions in California. 

Importantly, parties may now file a motion for summary adjudication which does not completely dispose of a cause of action, affirmative defense, or issue of duty under specific circumstances: if the claims or defenses are put at issue by the motion, the parties must jointly stipulate as to the issue(s) to be adjudicated and declare that a ruling on the motion would further the interest of judicial economy.  Code of Civil Procedure Section 437c(t). The court now has discretion to summarily adjudicate that issue. Code of Civil Procedure Section 437c(t).

Moreover, a court is now only required to rule on objections to evidence in a motion for summary judgment or adjudication which the court deems material to disposition of the motion. Code of Civil Procedure Section 437c(q). Evidentiary objections not ruled upon by the court are expressly preserved for appeal.  Code of Civil Procedure Section 437c(q).

Our attorneys will monitor the impact of the new rules regarding demurrers and summary judgment motions and observe whether the meet and confer requirements cut down on litigation, especially wasted demurrer practice. 

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