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Karubian v. Security Pacific National Bank

California Court of Appeal
152 Cal. App. 3d 134 (1984)


In 1975, Richard Karubian and others (plaintiffs) filed a civil action against Security Pacific National Bank (defendant) in a California state court. Under California law, civil cases were required to be brought to trial within five years of filing. In 1976, plaintiffs’ attorney filed an “at-issue memorandum,” which effectively placed the matter on the “civil active list” of cases on the court’s trial calendar. After the filing of the at-issue memorandum, plaintiffs switched attorneys twice. In 1979, a court clerk issued a “notice of eligibility” to plaintiffs, indicating that the case was high enough on the civil active list to be eligible for setting a trial date. Receipt of a notice of eligibility triggered an obligation on the part of plaintiffs to file a Certificate of Readiness, which put the case on the “trial ready list.” The court calendar was such that it took at least six months for a case to move from the trial ready list to trial commencement. Plaintiffs’ notice of eligibility was erroneously sent to plaintiffs’ original attorney, who did not forward it to plaintiffs’ current attorney. The original attorney claimed to have contacted the clerk’s office and told someone that he no longer represented plaintiffs. In the end, plaintiffs and their current counsel did not receive any notice of eligibility. Consequently, no Certificate of Readiness was filed. The case was never moved to the trial ready list and, in fact, was entirely removed from the civil active list. Plaintiffs’ attorney learned this state of affairs after moving to schedule the case for trial approximately 40 days prior to the expiration of the five-year deadline. The court denied plaintiffs’ motion as well as a motion to reconsider. The court then dismissed the case based on its inability to be tried prior to expiration of the deadline. Plaintiffs appealed

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

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