Most people have never been involved in a civil lawsuit before.  Instead, their knowledge of the legal process is largely limited to what they see on television and in movies. The chart below is designed to help acquaint our visitors and clients with the overall litigation process. The outline below  is not meant to be all-inclusive.  It is important to remember that litigation often takes on a life of its own.

  • Plaintiff files Summons & Complaint
    • Clerk of the Court issues Summons and returns conformed Complaint to Plaintiff
      • A party to the action can be served with a Notice of Deposition and can also be required to bring and produce documents at the depsition to aid in the examination
        • Plaintiff sucessfully serves Defendant(s). Defendant(s) now have 30 days to respond to the Complaint (10 additional days are given to Defendant(s) who are served by substitution)
          • Defendant responds to Complaint by filing and serving on all parties one or more of the following:
            • Answer to the Complaint and allege affirmative defenses
            • Motion to Strike
              a) any irrelevant false or improper matter in a pleading
              b) all or any part of any pleading not drawn or filed in conformity with California law, California Rules of Court, Local Rules of Court or a Court Order

              • The Court will Rule on the Motion at a hearing
                • Denied:
                  Defendant is given time to prepare and file an Answer to the Complaint usually 10-20 days.
                • Granted:
                  If the Motion to Strike is Directed at the entire Complaint, the case is over and Judgment in Defendant’s favoor is entered or a dismissal
                  If the Motion is directed at only part of the Complaint, for example, the requests for attorneys’ fees and punitive damages, theh those portions will be stricken from the record and the case will proceed as thought those portions of the case are not involved.
            • Special Motion to Strike aka Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP)
              a) tends to chill exercise of free speech
              b) chills right to petition redress of greivances

              • The Court will rule on the Motion at a hearing
                • Granted:
                  The entire Complaint or cause of action will be stricken from the Court’s record and Plaintiff cannot purse these claims against Defendat Attorneys’ fees are mandatory and are awarded to Plaintiff

                  • The order granting a SLAPP Motion is immeidately appealable by Defendant
                • Denied:
                  Defendant is given time to prepare and file an Answer to the Complaint. Attorneys’ fees are mandatory and are awarded to Defendant.

                  • The order denying a SLAPP motion may or may not be immediately appealable
            • Demurrer:
              Demurrer is a special name for an objection to a pleading. Essentiall, this is what California calls a motion to dismiss. It can be brought on a variety of grounds, such as failure to state a cause of action, failure to plead fraud with specificity, failure to allege whether a contract is oral, written or implied by conduct,, outside the staute of limitations, etc.

              • The Court will rule on the Demurrer at a hearing
                • Sustained
                  • With Leave to Amend:
                    This means that Plaintiff has another opportunity to correct the defects in the Complaint that were addressed in the demurrer. Plaintiff cannot add new matters to the Amended Complaint without leave of Court

                    • Without Leave to Amend:
                      This measn that the cause(s) of actioin that were subject to the demurrer are no longer part of the case . If all of the causes of action are eliminated, the case is dismissed with prejudice and judgemnt is deemed to be in favor of Defendant
                • Overruled
                  • Defendant is given time to prepare and file an Answer to the Complaint usually 10-20 days.
          • Defendant files a Motion to Quash Service:
            a) sdefective service
            b) Defendant(s) live in another state.

            • Granted:
              Plaintiff either has to reserve Defendatn to obtain proper service or the case is dismissed against the Moving Defendant
          • Defendant fails to respond to the Complaint within the time prescribed
            • Plaintff files request for entry of default
              • Clerk of the Court Enters Default against Defendant
                • Plaintiff prepares and files a Default Judgment Package and Dismisses all Doe Defendants
                  • Judgment is entered against Defendant and interst will begin to accure at the legal rate of 10% per annum from and after the date of the judgment
        • Plaintiff is not sucessful in serving Defendant(s) with 60 days following the date the Summons was issued
          • Service by Publication Plaintiff files an application with the Court and a $20 fee to have Defendat(s) serve by publishing the summons in a local newspaper of general circulation
          • Plaintiff attempst to send a Notice of Acknowledgement and Receipt, which gives Defendat(s) 20 days to sign and return
            • If the Notice of Acknowledgement and Recieopt is not signed and retuned within 20 days, Defendat is responsible for all additional costs that Plaintiff incurrs in having to serve Defendant, regardless of who previals ultimately in the case

Click here to view Litigation Process Chart