Legal Memorandum: Consolidation of Noncomplex Cases in CA

Issue: When is it appropriate to grant a motion for noncomplex cases to be consolidated in California?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Consolidation of civil actions; Common question of fact or law; Noncomplex cases
Jurisdiction: California, Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Cal. Code Civ. P. § 403; Cal. Code Civ. P. § 404.1; Cal. R. Ct. 3.400(a); Cal. R. Ct. 3.400(b)
Date: 02/01/2013

Section 403 of the Civil Procedure Code governs coordination of cases such as noncomplex cases.  “A judge may, on motion, transfer an action from another court to that judge’s court for coordination with an action involving a common question of fact or law. . . ..”  Cal. Code Civ. P. § 403.  The actions must meet the standards set forth in Section 404.1, which provides:

Coordination of civil actions sharing a common question of fact or law is appropriate if one judge hearing all of the actions for all purposes in a selected site or sites will promote the ends of justice taking into account whether the common question of fact or law is predominating and significant to the litigation; the convenience of parties, witnesses, and counsel; the relative development of the actions and the work product of counsel; the efficient utilization of judicial facilities and manpower; the calendar of the courts; the disadvantages of duplicative and inconsistent rulings, orders, or judgments; and, the likelihood of settlement of the actions without further litigation should coordination be denied.

Id. § 404.1. 

Section 403 also requires that the cases not be complex.  “A ‘complex case’ is an action that requires exceptional judicial management to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court or the litigants and to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, and promote effective decision making by the court, the parties, and counsel.”  Cal. R. Ct. 3.400(a).  Among the factors which the court must consider in deciding whether […]

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