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Garcia v. McCutchen

California Supreme Court
940 P.2d 906 (1997)


Danny Garcia (plaintiff) was injured during an altercation at Henry’s Cantina. Garcia sued Fern and David Avila, individually and doing business as Henry’s Cantina (defendants), for his injuries. However, Garcia’s attorney did not file either a proof of service or an at-issue trial memorandum by the deadlines set out in the court’s local rules. These rules were established to implement the Trial Court Delay Reduction Act. The trial court ordered Garcia’s attorney to appear for a case-management hearing to address these local-rule violations. On the morning of the hearing, Garcia’s attorney told the trial court that he was out of the county in trial in another case and did not appear at the hearing. The trial court issued a monetary sanction against the attorney for violating the local rules and for failing to appear. On its own initiative, the trial court also moved to dismiss Garcia’s lawsuit for failing to comply with the local rules and set another hearing to address the motion. The trial court’s order said that the hearing would be cancelled if the at-issue memorandum was filed. The memorandum was not filed before the second hearing, and the trial court issued another monetary sanction. A third hearing was set, and the trial court warned that the case would be dismissed if the memorandum was still not filed. No memorandum was filed before the third hearing, and Garcia’s attorney failed to appear. The trial court then dismissed the case without prejudice. Garcia’s attorney filed a motion to reconsider the dismissal, but the motion was denied. Garcia appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed. The California Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Chin, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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