SB 1256, as introduced, Anderson. Civil law: litigation: The Civility in Litigation Act.
Existing law states the time and procedure for commencement of civil actions.
This bill would require a person who claims to have been aggrieved by an alleged unlawful act or practice, to send a letter to the person or entity he or she alleges to have caused the harm that sets forth alleged facts in support of the grievance and any other information necessary to inform the person or entity of the alleged harm suffered, prior to filing any legal action or pursuing legally mandated alternative dispute resolution, as specified. The bill would require the person who claims to have been aggrieved to engage with that person or entity in good faith efforts to be made whole, if, during the 30-day period following the date on which the letter was received there is a response from the person or entity that is alleged to have engaged in the unlawful act or practice.
The bill would toll the statute of limitations on a claim arising from the alleged unlawful act or practice for the 30-day period, including the following period of negotiations, if any. If, after that 30-day period there is no response, the bill would authorize the person who claims to have been aggrieved to pursue other efforts to be made whole, including filing a claim in a court of competent jurisdiction or alternative dispute resolution. The bill would require that if the person who claims to have been aggrieved files a complaint in a court of law, he or she shall describe in the complaint the good faith efforts he or she made to comply with these provisions or attach a copy of the letter sent pursuant to this section and proof of its mailing to the complaint.
The bill would also authorize a court, factfinder, or arbiter, if it determines that these provisions were not complied with in good faith, to dismiss a claim that is otherwise authorized, in which case it would be required to state in writing and with specificity why the case was dismissed, and whether or not the case is dismissed with or without prejudice.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
Section 314 is added to the Code of Civil
2Procedure, immediately following Section 313, to read:
(a) This section shall be known, and may be cited as, the
4Civility in Litigation Act.
5(b) Notwithstanding any law, a person who claims to have been
6aggrieved by an alleged unlawful act or practice shall, before filing
7any legal action or pursuing legally mandated alternative dispute
8resolution, including mandatory arbitration, send a letter to the
9person or entity he or she alleges to have caused the harm that sets
10forth alleged facts in support of the grievance and any other
11information necessary to inform the person or entity of the alleged
12harm suffered. The letter shall be signed by the person who claims
13to have been aggrieved, or his or her representative.
14(1) The letter shall be
sent by certified mail to the last known
15address of the person or entity alleged to have engaged in the
16unlawful act or practice.
17(2) The letter may, alternatively, be sent to an authorized
18representative of the person or entity that is alleged to have engaged
19in the unlawful act or practice.
20(c) If the person or entity alleged to have engaged in the
21unlawful act or practice responds to the person who claims to have
22been aggrieved within 30 days after the letter specified in
23subdivision (b) is received, or delivery of the letter is attempted,
24the person claiming to have been aggrieved shall engage with the
P3 1person or entity alleged to have engaged in the unlawful act or
2practice in good faith efforts to be made whole.
3(d) If the person alleged to have engaged in an unlawful act or
4practice fails to respond to the letter within 30 days after the letter
5is received, or delivering of the letter is attempted, the person who
6claims to have been aggrieved may pursue other efforts to be made
7whole, including filing a complaint in a court of competent
8jurisdiction or alternative dispute resolution, including mandatory
9arbitration if applicable.
10(e) The statute of limitations on a claim arising from the alleged
11unlawful act or practice subject to this section shall be tolled for
12a period of 30 days following the date of mailing as set forth in
13subdivision (a), plus any additional period of time during which
14the parties engage in negotiations under this section.
15(f) If the person who claims to have been aggrieved files a
16complaint in a court of law, he or she shall attach to the complaint
17a copy of the letter sent pursuant to this section and proof of its
18mailing. If the person who claims to have been aggrieved knows
19that the letter he or she sent to the person or entity alleged to have
20engaged in the unlawful act or practice was not received, he or she
21shall disclose that information in the complaint, shall describe the
22good faith efforts he or she made to comply with this section, and
23shall include any information explaining whether and why the
24provisions of this section were not complied with.
25(g) If a court, factfinder, or arbiter determines that the provisions
26of this subdivision were not complied with in good faith, that
27determination may be grounds for dismissing a claim that would
28otherwise be authorized. Because of the public policy encouraging
29resolution of disputes and a full and fair hearing on those disputes,
30if the court or other lawfully authorized factfinder dismisses a
31claim under this paragraph, he or she shall state in writing and
32with specificity why the case was dismissed and whether the case
33was dismissed with prejudice. If the alleged claims by an aggrieved
34party are not time barred, including the tolling of the limitation
35period as set forth in subdivision (e), the claims should be
36dismissed without prejudice to allow the aggrieved party to cure
37any alleged defects under this section.
38(h) This section does not apply to a claim arising from matters
39related to, or violations of, the Family Code, Chapter 7
40(commencing with Section 12960) of Part 2.8 of Division 3 of
P4 1Title 2 of the Government Code, the Penal Code, or the Probate
3(i) This section does not apply in the case of a true emergency
4in which court relief is required immediately under the terms and
5conditions required for injunctive relief pursuant to Section 526.
6(j) Attempts to comply with this section by a person receiving
7a demand shall be construed to be an offer to compromise and
8shall be inadmissible as evidence pursuant to Section 1152 of the
9Evidence Code. Further, attempts to comply with a demand shall
10not be considered an admission of engaging in an unlawful act or
11practice. Evidence of compliance or attempts to comply with this
12section may be introduced by a defendant solely for the purpose
13of establishing good faith or to show compliance with this section.
14(k) As used in this section, “authorized representative” means
15any person designated in writing by the person or entity alleged
16to have engaged in an unlawful act or practice to be his or her
17representative, and includes attorneys, representatives of an
18insurance company, or any other person who is authorized to
19resolve disputes on behalf of the person or entity alleged to have
20engaged in an unlawful act or practice with binding authority to
21resolve a dispute.