(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this brain injury case and its proceedings.)
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION IS UNTIMELY
Code of Civil Procedure § 598 provides that a motion to bifurcate brought by a party must be noticed and set for hearing far enough in advance of the trial so that an order for bifurcation, if appropriate, may be obtained no later than the pretrial conference or, in other cases, no later than 30 days before the trial date. C.C.P. § 598;
Although the Court retains discretion to order bifurcation on its own motion, the notice and hearing deadline provided in CCP § 598 is no small matter. For example, in the present case, plaintiffs counsel have been preparing for trial and scheduling witnesses, including expert witnesses, for a single trial. Defendants never mentioned or hinted that they desired bifurcation until new counsel entered the case and this motion was filed. Notably, the motion was filed with the trial date imminent and with a hearing date for the motion on the trial date itself, June 6, 2008. This is well beyond the deadline for such motions specified in CCP § 598.
Equally significant is the fact that the Rules of Court provide that the issue of bifurcation, if desired or applicable, should be taken up months before the trial, at the Case Management Conference. (See California Rules of Court, Rule3.727(10).
In their Case Management Conference Statement filed for the Case Management Conference on June 20, 2007 nearly one year ago, Defendants mentioned nothing about seeking bifurcation, and specifically left blank the section of the CMC Statement that is to be checked where a party is contemplating bifurcation. Nor did defendants suggest they would seek bifurcation at either of the Case Management Conferences (June 20, 2007 and August 31, 2007). Clearly, the rules contemplate that such a motion be heard and ruled upon well before trial.
Accordingly, defendants’ motion is untimely and should be denied. (See Part 5 of 9.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.