California Procedure,  Summary Judgment

“A Sadistic Urge to Torment Lawyers”


Image via Wikipedia

I always assume that all of the rules of procedure will be strictly construed against me, and that opposing counsel will be allowed to get away with murder. To me, it’s the smart way to practice: dot your I’s and cross your T’s.

In Whitehead v. Habig, case no. G037991 (4th Dist. May 28, 2008, ordered published June 5, 2008), the appellants had appealed a summary adjudication and default judgment on the remaining claims. In opposing the summary adjudication motion, the appellants never filed their own separate statement of undisputed and disputed material facts (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (b)(3); Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1350(e)); they merely filed objections to the moving parties’ separate statement of material facts.  In noting that the objections did not satisfy the requirement for a separate statement, the court had a gem of a quote:

The separate statement is not merely a technical requirement, it is an indispensible part of the summary judgment or adjudication process. “Separate statements are required not to satisfy a sadistic urge to torment lawyers, but rather to afford due process to opposing parties and to permit trial courts to expeditiously review complex motions for . . . summary judgment to determine quickly and efficiently whether material facts are disputed.” [Citation.]

The appellants’ failure to comply with the separate statement requirement in opposition is reason enough for the trial court to grant the summary adjudication motion.