BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





                             SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                         Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session


          SB 470 (Jackson)
          Version: February 25, 2015
          Hearing Date:  April 14, 2015
          Fiscal: No
          Urgency: No
          RD
                    

                                        SUBJECT
                                           
                          Civil actions:  summary judgment

                                      DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would provide that a court, in ruling on a motion for  
          summary judgment, need rule only on those objections to evidence  
          that it deems material to its disposition of the motion and  
          would deem any and all objections not ruled upon overruled and  
          preserved on appeal.

          (This analysis reflects author's amendments to be taken in  
          Committee.) 

                                      BACKGROUND  

          After the filing of a lawsuit, either party to an action may  
          move for summary judgment by contending that the action has no  
          merit or that there is no defense thereto. Essentially, the  
          party filing the motion is claiming that all necessary factual  
          issues are resolved and need not be tried by the court because  
          they are so one-sided.  A motion for summary judgment must be  
          supported or opposed by admissible evidence such as affidavits,  
          declarations, admissions, answers to interrogatories,  
          depositions, and requests for judicial notice, as appropriate.   
          In determining whether the papers show that there is no triable  
          issue as to any material fact, the court must consider all of  
          the evidence set forth in the papers, except evidence to which  
          objections have been made and sustained by the court.  If the  
          court finds that there is no triable issue as to any material  
          fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a  








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          matter of law, then the motion must be granted (which generally  
          disposes of the whole case).  If an issue of fact is presented  
          the court must permit trial thereof, though it may also find  
          that certain other issues "are without substantial controversy"  
          and grant summary adjudication as to those issues.  (See Code  
          Civ. Proc. Sec. 437c.)  In short, the purpose of the summary  
          procedure is to provide a method for prompt disposition of  
          actions in which there is no triable, material issue of fact on  
          which evidence shall be taken.  

          This bill is the product of a proposal recommended by the  
          Judicial Council's Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee,  
          Civil and Small Claims Committee and Appellate Advisory  
          Committee, to reduce the burdens on trial courts associated with  
          evidentiary objections in summary judgment proceedings.   
          According to those advisory committees' October 29, 2014 report  
          to the Judicial Council, advisory committee members (including  
          both judges and attorneys) report that time and resources  
          expended in ruling on objections to evidence offered in support  
          of or in opposition to summary judgment motions are substantial.  
           (See Report to the Judicial Council, Judicial Council-Sponsored  
          Legislation: Evidentiary Objections in Summary Judgment  
          Proceedings (Oct. 29, 2014) (hereinafter, "Report")  
           [as  
          of Apr. 4, 2015] p. 2.) 

          The report cites published opinions that illustrate the large  
          number of objections made in summary judgment papers and the  
          huge volume of motion papers in overall.  (See Reid v. Google,  
          Inc. (2010) 50 Cal.4th 512, 532 ["We recognize that it has  
          become common practice for litigants to flood the trial courts  
          with inconsequential written evidentiary objection, without  
          focusing on those that are critical [footnote omitted]."])  The  
          report specifically cites, as an example, the case of Nazir v.  
          United Airlines, Inc. (2009) wherein "the moving papers in  
          support of a summary judgment totaled 1,056 pages, plaintiff's  
          opposition was nearly three times as long and included 47  
          objections to evidence, and the defendant's reply included 764  
          objections to evidence." (Report at pp.2-3, citing 178  
          Cal.App.4th 243, 249, 250-251 and 254.)  

          This bill, co-sponsored by the Judicial Council of California  
          and the California Judges Association, seeks to increase court  
          efficiency by specifying, consistent with a recent California  
          Supreme Court case, that the court need rule only on objections  







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          to evidence that it deems material to its disposition of the  
          motion for summary judgment. The bill would also preserve any  
          and all objections not ruled upon on appeal by deeming those  
          objections overruled. 

                                CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
           Existing law  authorizes any party, pursuant to a specified  
          procedure, to move for summary judgment in any action or  
          proceeding if it is contended that the action has no merit or  
          that there is no defense to it and to move for summary  
          adjudication as to certain issues in the action or proceeding.   
          Existing law requires the court to grant a motion for summary  
          judgment if all the papers submitted show that there is no  
          triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party  
          is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.  In determining  
          whether the papers show that there is no triable issue as to any  
          material fact, existing law requires the court to consider all  
          of the evidence set forth in the papers, except evidence to  
          which objections have been made and sustained by the court.   
          (Code Civ. Proc. Sec. 437c(a) and (c).) 

           Existing law  requires that the summary judgment motion be  
          supported by affidavits, declarations, admissions, answers to  
          interrogatories, depositions, and matters of which judicial  
          notice shall or may be taken, and that the supporting papers  
          include a separate statement setting forth plainly and concisely  
          all material facts which that the moving party contends are  
          undisputed, as specified.  (Code Civ. Proc. Sec. 437c(b).)  
          Existing law, among other things, provides that evidentiary  
          objections not made at the hearing shall be deemed waived.   
          (Code Civ. Proc. Sec. 437c(b)(5).)  

           Existing case law  holds that if a trial court fails to rule  
          expressly on specific evidentiary objections, it is presumed  
          that the objections have been overruled, the trial court  
          considered the evidence in ruling on the merits of the summary  
          judgment motion, and the objections are preserved on appeal.   
          (Reid v. Google, Inc. (2010) 50 Cal.4th 512, 534.)  

           This bill  would add a provision to the summary judgment statute  
          above to specify that the court need rule only on those  
          objections to evidence that it deems material to its disposition  
          of the motion for summary judgment.  This bill would specify  
          that any and all objections not ruled on are deemed overruled  







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          and preserved on appeal. 

                                        COMMENT
           
          1.   Stated need for the bill  

          According to the author, 

            Summary judgment motions have become one of the most  
            time-consuming pre-trial matters that civil courts handle, as  
            parties on both sides flood the courts with evidentiary  
            objections.  SB 470 is a carefully balanced, court efficiency  
            proposal that would not only save judges significant amounts  
            of time and resources when considering huge volumes of summary  
            judgment motion papers, but would also avoid any harm to the  
            litigants by preserving their rights on appeal with respect to  
            any properly raised objections that are not expressly ruled  
            upon by the court. . . . In turn, by reducing the burdens on  
            trial courts associated with evidentiary objections in summary  
            judgment proceedings, this proposal will allow the trial  
            courts to handle other motions and proceedings more swiftly.    


          Judicial Council of California and the California Judges  
          Association, co-sponsors of this bill, add that "[j]udges may  
          spend hours ruling on evidentiary objections for a single  
          summary judgment motion. Frequently, the number of objections  
          that pertain to evidence on which a court relies in determining  
          whether a triable issue of fact exists is a small subset of the  
          total number of objections made by the parties."  Accordingly,  
          "[t]o reduce the burden on trial courts in ruling on numerous  
          objections to evidence in summary judgment proceedings, Code of  
          Civil Procedure [S]ection 437c would be amended by providing  
          that a court need rule only on those objections to evidence that  
          it deems material to its disposition of the summary judgment  
          motion, and that objections not ruled on are deemed overruled  
          and preserved on appeal."
          2.   Bill codifies rule consistent with California Supreme Court  
          decision  

          Existing law, Section 437c of the Code of Civil Procedure,  
          provides that in bringing or opposing a summary judgment motion,  
          any evidentiary objections not properly made at hearing are  
          deemed waived.  That section also requires the court, in  
          considering in determining whether the papers show that there is  







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          no triable issue as to any material fact, to consider all of the  
          evidence set forth in the papers, except evidence to which  
          objections have been made and sustained by the court.  (See Code  
          Civ. Proc. Sec. 437c, subds. (b)(5), (c), (d).)  This bill would  
          codify a rule, consistent with a recent California Supreme Court  
          decision detailed below, that would expressly recognize that the  
          courts need rule only on those objections to evidence that it  
          deems material to its disposition of a motion for summary  
          judgment. The bill would deem any objections not ruled upon to  
          be overruled, thus preserving those objections on appeal.  

          Prior to 2010 and the California Supreme Court's decision Reid  
          v. Google, Inc. (2010) 50 Cal.4th 512, the effect of a trial  
          court's failure to rule on evidentiary objections that were  
          properly presented was unclear.  It was also not clear whether  
          the objection had to be raised at the hearing (as opposed to in  
          writing before the hearing) in order to be considered properly  
          presented.  

          In Reid, the California Supreme Court explained that while the  
          summary judgment statute requires that the trial court consider  
          all evidence unless an objection to it has been raised and  
          sustained, "the subdivision does not mandate that, in the  
          absence of express rulings, the underlying objections are waived  
          on appeal."  (Id. at 526-527.)  "Thus," the court wrote,  
          "evidentiary objections made 'at the hearing shall [not] be  
          deemed waived' . . . even if the trial court fails to rule on  
          them expressly."  (Id. at 527.)
          As held by the court, "if the trial court fails to rule  
          expressly on specific evidentiary objections, it is presumed  
          that the objections have been overruled, the trial court  
          considered the evidence in ruling on the merits of the summary  
          judgment motion, and the objections are preserved on appeal."   
          In rendering its decision, the court disapproved its own  
          decisions to the extent that they hold that, when a trial court  
          fails to rule on objections to summary judgment evidence, the  
          objections are waived and are not preserved on appeal.  (Id. at  
          527, footnote 5.)  The Court also disapproved lower court  
          decisions to the extent that they hold that litigants must raise  
          written objections orally at the hearing to preserve them on  
          appeal, or permit the trial court to avoid ruling on specific  
          evidentiary objections, or otherwise permitted the trial court  
          to avoid ruling on specific evidentiary decisions.  (Id. at 532,  
          footnotes 7 and 8).  








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          This bill appears to be consistent with the Reid decision and  
          would remove any lingering questions about the effect of a trial  
          court's silence in its rulings on properly raised evidentiary  
          objections.  While the bill appropriately leaves intact the  
          existing requirement that the court consider all objections  
          (except evidence to which objections have been made and  
          sustained by the court) in determining whether or not to grant  
          the motion, it would arguably reduce the time and resources that  
          courts must spend in rendering decisions on these motions by  
          recognizing that the court's express rulings need only be on  
          those objections it deems material to its disposition of the  
          motion.  At the same time, the bill would appear to avoid any  
          negative impact upon the parties: as long as the parties  
          properly make an objection at the hearing (either raising the  
          objection at the hearing, or in writing prior to the hearing),  
          the objection would be preserved on appeal as though it had been  
          overruled by the court. 

          3.   Author amendments  

          The following clarifying author's amendments are to be taken in  
          Committee to address stakeholder concerns. 

             Author's amendments  :

            On page 3, line 38, strike "may, in its discretion" and insert  
            "need"

            On page 3, line 39, strike "made to evidence that is material  
            to the disposition" and insert "to evidence that it deems  
            material to its disposition"

            On page 4, lines 1-2, strike "Objections to evidence that are  
            not on for purposes of the motion shall be" and insert "Any  
            and all objections not ruled on are deemed overruled and"


           Support  :  California Chamber of Commerce 

           Opposition  :  None Known 

                                        HISTORY
           
           Source  :  California Judges Association; Judicial Council of  
          California







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           Related Pending Legislation  :  AB 1141 (Chau, 2015), in relevant  
          part, would reenact and make permanent a sunsetted summary  
          adjudication provision that allows a motion for summary  
          adjudication that does not completely dispose of a cause of  
          action, affirmative defense or issue of duty, if the parties  
          whose claims or defenses are put at issue by the motion 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, and if the court grants the motion, having considered  
          any timely objections made by nonstipulating parties.  This bill  
          is currently set for hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee  
          on April 21, 2015.

           Prior Legislation  :  None Known

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