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Fairmont Insurance Co. v. Superior Court

California Supreme Court
991 P.2d 156 (2000)


Facts

Ken Stendell (plaintiff) sued Fairmont Insurance Company (Fairmont) (defendant). The parties agreed to bifurcate the trial and try some of Fairmont’s defenses first. The trial court found that the defenses applied and ruled for Fairmont. Stendell appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed and remanded the case for a trial on the merits. On remand, Stendell served discovery requests on Fairmont for the first time. Fairmont objected, asserting that the discovery requests were untimely. The California Code of Civil Procedure sets a deadline for discovery that is based on “the date initially set” for trial. Fairmont argued that this deadline should be measured using the initial date of the first trial, meaning the deadline was long gone. Stendell filed a motion to compel responses to the new discovery. The trial court granted the motion, ruling that the discovery deadline is reset if a new trial is granted after an appeal. Fairmont appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed. Using the dictionary definition of “initially,” the Court of Appeal held that the statute’s reference to the date initially set for the trial meant the date of the first trial, even if a new trial was granted. Stendell petitioned the California Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Mosk, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Kennard, J.)

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