BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     SB 470


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          Date of Hearing:  June 16, 2015 


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY


                                  Mark Stone, Chair


          SB  
          470 (Jackson) - As Amended May 28, 2015


                                  PROPOSED CONSENT

          SENATE VOTE:  35-0


          SUBJECT:  CIVIL ACTIONS: SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND SUMMARY  
          ADJUDICATION


          KEY ISSUE:  WHEN GRANTING OR DENYING A MOTION FOR SUMMARY  
          JUDGMENT OR A MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION, SHOULD A COURT  
          ONLY BE REQUIRED TO RULE ON THOSE OBJECTIONS THAT IT DEEMS  
          MATERIAL TO THE DISPOSITION OF THE MOTION AND SHOULD ALL OTHER  
          OBJECTIONS BE PRESERVED FOR APPEAL?


                                      SYNOPSIS


          This non-controversial bill, sponsored by the Judicial Council  
          and the California Judges Association, seeks to reduce and  
          better direct the time and effort trial courts spend in ruling  
          on motions for summary judgment and motions for summary  
          adjudication.  The bill codifies two holdings from a 2010  
          decision by the California Supreme Court, Reid v Google, Inc.  
          (2010) 50 Cal.4th 512.  First, the bill would allow the court,  








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          when granting or denying a motion for summary judgment or a  
          motion for summary adjudication, to only rule on those  
          objections to evidence which it deems material to the  
          disposition of the motion.  Under current law, a judge, when  
          considering a motion for summary judgment or a motion for  
          summary adjudication, must rule on all objections to evidence  
          that are presented with the motion, except those which have been  
          made and sustained by the court.  Second, this bill provides  
          that any objection to evidence on which the court does not rule  
          at a hearing for a motion for summary judgment or a motion for  
          summary adjudication is deemed to be overruled and the issue of  
          the court's ruling on such objection is preserved for appeal.   
          This bill is supported by its co-sponsors, the Judicial Council  
          and the California Judges Association, as well as the Civil  
          Justice Association of California and the California Chamber of  
          Commerce.  The supporters argue that this bill will help  
          preserve judicial resources and assist with judicial efficiency  
          without any negative impact on the litigants, or the appellate  
          courts.  There is no known opposition to the bill. 


          SUMMARY:  Specifies which evidentiary objections a court is  
          required to resolve when ruling on a motion for summary judgment  
          or summary adjudication.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Allows a court, when ruling on a motion for summary judgment  
            or a motion for summary adjudication, to rule only on those  
            objections to evidence that it deems material to its  
            disposition of the motion.


          2)Requires that any objections to evidence that are not ruled on  
            for purposes of a motion for summary judgment or a motion for  
            summary adjudication are preserved for appeal. 


          









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          EXISTING LAW: 


          1)Requires a 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 the moving party is entitled to judgment  
            as a matter of law.  (Code of Civil Procedure Section 437c  
            (c).  All further statutory references are to this code,  
            unless otherwise indicated.)


          2)Requires the court to consider all of the evidence set forth  
            in the papers, except that to which objections have been made  
            and sustained by the court, and all inferences reasonably  
            deducible from the evidence.  Also specifies that summary  
            judgment may not be granted by the court based on inferences  
            reasonably deducible from the evidence, if contradicted by  
            other inferences or evidence, which raise a triable issue as  
            to any material fact.  (Section 437c (c).)


          3)Requires that a motion for summary adjudication proceed in all  
            procedural respects as a motion for summary judgment.   
            (Section 437c (f)(2).)


          4)Requires the court to grant a motion for summary adjudication  
            only if it completely disposes of a cause of action, an  
            affirmative defense, a claim for damages, or an issue of duty.  
             (Section 437c (f).)


          5)Provides that evidentiary objections not made at the summary  
            hearing shall be deemed waived.  (Section 437c (b)(5).)


          FISCAL EFFECT:  As currently in print this bill is keyed  
          non-fiscal.








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          COMMENTS:  According to the Judicial Council of California, a  
          sponsor of this bill:


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


          The Value of Summary Judgment Rulings.  In a motion for summary  
          judgment, the moving party contends that the action has no merit  
          or that there is no applicable defense to the claim asserted.   
          The motion must be supported (or opposed) by affidavits,  
          declarations, admissions, answers to interrogatories,  
          depositions, and requests for judicial notice.  The supporting  
          papers must include a separate statement, all material facts  
          which the moving party contends are undisputed.  Each material  
          fact must be followed by a reference to the supporting evidence.  
          (Section 437c (b)(1).)  In making a determination of whether the  
          evidence submitted shows that there is no triable issue as to  
          any material fact or no applicable defense to the claim, the  
          court must consider all of the evidence set forth in the papers,  
          other than 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, or alternatively that  
          there is no applicable defense to the claim, the moving party is  
          entitled to a judgment as a matter of law and the court must  








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          grant the motion.  Either way, when the court decides the motion  
          at this pre-trial stage, the parties are more likely to settle  
          the matter, or shorten the time required for an actual trial. 


          Summary Adjudication Motions.  In a summary adjudication motion,  
          the moving party asks the court to rule on the merits of a  
          particular cause of action, affirmative defense, or claim for  
          damages.  If the motion is granted, the claim or defense is  
          resolved pre-trial.  The type of evidence presented for a  
          summary adjudication motion is the same type of evidence  
          required to be presented in a motion for summary judgment,  
          including affidavits, declarations, admissions, answers to  
          interrogatories, depositions, and requests for judicial notice.   
          If the motion is granted, then the issue raised by the moving  
          party is resolved prior to trial.  The remaining matters must  
          still be litigated, but time is saved because fewer issues  
          remain to be resolved at trial.  (Section 437c (f)(1).)  If the  
          ruling will not be dispositive of the entire cause of action or  
          affirmative defense, the court is not authorized by law to hear  
          the motion for summary adjudication. 


          Prior Confusion Among the Courts is Resolved by the Supreme  
          Court.  Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Reid v. Google,  
          supra, there was no definite procedure in place for a court,  
          considering an appeal of a lower court's ruling on a motion for  
          summary judgment or summary adjudication, to interpret the trial  
          court's intentions when a party had made an evidentiary  
          objection in a motion for a summary judgment or summary  
          adjudication but the trial court had failed to rule on the  
          objection.  The Reid 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.)  To provide a definitive answer,  
          the Reid Court held that "evidentiary objections made 'at the  
          hearing shall [not] be deemed waived'?even if the trial court  








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          fails to rule on them expressly."  (Reid v. Google, supra, 50  
          Cal. 4th at p. 527 [citation to internal quotation omitted].)


          This Bill Codifies The California Supreme Court Decision in Reid  
          v. Google.  This bill codifies the Supreme Court's decision in  
          Reid by clarifying that a court is only required to rule on  
          objections to evidence that it deems material to the actual  
          summary judgment or summary adjudication motion that is before  
          the court.  Further, this bill codifies the holding, from that  
          same Supreme Court decision, that any evidentiary objection not  
          ruled on by the court when granting or denying a motion for  
          summary judgment or summary adjudication must be preserved for  
          appellate review.  This bill is helpful to judicial economy  
          because pretrial hearing on motions for summary judgment and  
          summary adjudication will be significantly shorter in duration  
          because judges are no longer required to rule on every  
          evidentiary objection that has been presented in the moving  
          papers.  Trial courts will have more time to hear cases and  
          handle other matters that are currently backlogged in the  
          courts.  


          The author explains the reason for the bill as follows:


               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 or summary adjudication  
               motion papers, but would also avoid any harm to the  
               litigants by preserving their rights on appellate review  
               with respect to any properly raised objections that are not  
               expressly ruled upon by the court.










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               To reduce the burden on trial courts in ruling on numerous  
               objections to evidence in summary judgment and summary  
               adjudication proceedings, this bill would amend  
               California's summary judgment statute, Section 437c of the  
               Code of Civil Procedure, to expressly authorize trial  
               courts to rule only on those objections to evidence that it  
               deems material to its disposition of the motion for summary  
               judgment or summary adjudication.  This bill would specify  
               objections to evidence that are not ruled on for purposes  
               of the motion are preserved for appellate review.


               In doing so, this bill will save the time of research  
               attorneys and judicial officers without impacting the  
               litigants negatively.  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. 


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:  The Judicial Council of California  
          writes: 


               Until the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Reid, the  
               effect of a trial court's failure to rule on evidentiary  
               objections that were properly presented was unclear. Some  
               Courts of Appeal had held that objections made in writing  
               were waived if not raised by the objector at the hearing  
               and ruled on by the court. In Reid, at pages 531-532, the  
               court disapproved this prior case law as well as its own  
               prior opinions to the extent that they held the failure of  
               the trial court to rule on objections to summary judgment  
               evidence waived those objections on appeal. The court also  
               held that the trial court must expressly rule on properly  
               presented evidentiary objections, disapproving a contrary  
               procedure outlined in Biljac Assocs. v. First Interstate  
               Bank (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 1410, 1419-1420. "[I]f the trial  








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               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, supra, 50  
               Cal.4th at p. 534.)


          Pending Legislation:  AB 1141 (Chau) passed out of this  
          Committee and is currently in the Senate.  AB 1141, if  
          chaptered, would re-enact the former summary adjudication  
          statute that allowed a court to grant summary adjudication  
          motions to resolve partial issues, without requiring that the  
          entire issue be resolved as a result of the motion.  


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          California Judicial Council (co-sponsor)


          California Judges Association (co-sponsor)


          California Chamber of Commerce


          Civil Justice Association of California




          Opposition








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          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Khadijah Hargett / JUD. / (916)  
          319-2334