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Robinson v. Woods

California Court of Appeal
86 Cal. Rptr. 3d 241 (2008)


Facts

Terry Robinson and Stephanie Hammonds (plaintiffs) sued Aaron Woods and Woodland Properties, LLC (Woodland) (defendants), seeking to quiet title to real property. Woodland filed a motion for summary judgment and mailed it to the plaintiffs. Woodland set the motion for hearing on April 12, which was 76 days after the date of mailing the motion and 18 days before trial. The plaintiffs’ response did not address the motion’s merits. Rather, the plaintiffs’ only argument was that Woodland’s motion was untimely, and therefore invalid, for two reasons. First, under California Code of Civil Procedure § 437c, a summary-judgment hearing cannot be set any earlier than 75 days after service. If a motion is served by mail, by statute, that added 5 days for service to happen and creates a minimum total of 80 days needed between the mailing of the motion and the hearing date. Second, also under § 437c, a summary-judgment hearing cannot be set within 30 days of the trial date without first obtaining the trial court’s consent. On April 12, the trial court agreed that the hearing date did not comply with the statutory requirements because it was only 76 days from the date of mailing instead of 80, and it was set for less than 30 days from trial without the court’s consent. Rather than reject the motion, the trial court continued the hearing for 4 days and invited the plaintiffs to provide a response to the motion’s merits. On April 16, the date of the continued hearing, the trial court determined that good cause existed for setting the hearing within 30 days of the trial date and held a hearing on Woodland’s summary-judgment motion that day. The plaintiffs had still not filed a response to the merits and objected to only having four days to come up with a new response on the merits. The trial court granted summary judgment to Woodland. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Mallano, J.)

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