Judge: William A. Crowfoot, Case: 21STCV08721, Date: 2022-07-29 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 21STCV08721    Hearing Date: July 29, 2022    Dept: 27






















      CASE NO.: 21STCV08721




Dept. 27

1:30 p.m.

July 29, 2022



On March 4, 2021, Maria Guadalupe Trujillo (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendants William G. Farish (“Defendant”), George W. Pearson (“Pearson”), County of Los Angeles (“COLA”), City of Long Beach (“City”), and Southern California Edison (“SCE”) arising from the death of her husband, Andres Trujillo (“Decedent”).  Trial is presently scheduled for September 1, 2022.  On June 29, 2022, Defendant filed this motion to continue trial for 180 days, as well as all discovery and motion cut off dates.  On July 15, 2022, Plaintiff filed an opposition brief. 




Trial dates are firm to ensure prompt disposition of civil cases. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(a).) Continuances are thus generally disfavored. (See id. rule 3.1332(b).) Nevertheless, the trial court has discretion to continue trial dates. (Hernandez v. Superior Court (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 1242, 1246.) Each request for continuance must be considered on its own merits and is granted upon an affirmative showing of good cause. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(c); Hernandez, supra, 115 Cal.App.4th at 1246.) Circumstances that may indicate good cause include: (1) the unavailability of an essential lay or expert witness due to death, illness, or other excusable circumstances; (2) the unavailability of a party due to death, illness, or other excusable circumstances; (3) the unavailability of trial counsel due to death, illness, or other excusable circumstances; (4) the substitution of trial counsel where there is an affirmative showing that the substitution is required in the interests of justice; (5) the addition of a new party if (A) the new party has not had a reasonable opportunity to conduct discovery and prepare for trial, or (B) the other parties have not had a reasonable opportunity to conduct discovery and prepare for trial in regard to the new party’s involvement in the case; (6) a party’s excused inability to obtain essential testimony, documents, or other material evidence despite diligent efforts; or (7) a significant, unanticipated change in the status of the case as a result of which the case is not ready for trial. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(c).)

The court must also consider such relevant factors as: (1) the proximity of the trial date; (2) whether there was any previous continuance, extension of time, or delay of trial caused by any party; (3) the length of the continuance requested; (4) the availability of alternative means to address the problem that gave rise to the motion or application for a continuance; (5) the prejudice that parties or witnesses will suffer as a result of the continuance; (6) if the case is entitled to a preferential trial setting, the reasons for that status and whether the need for a continuance outweighs the need to avoid delay; (7) the court’s calendar and the impact of granting a continuance on other pending trials; (8) whether trial counsel is engaged in another trial; (9) whether all parties have stipulated to a continuance; (10) whether the interests of justice are best served by a continuance, by the trial of the matter, or by imposing conditions on the continuance; and (11) any other fact or circumstance relevant to the fair determination of the motion or application. (Id., rule 3.1332(d).)

On motion of any party, the court may grant leave to complete discovery proceedings, or to have a motion concerning discovery heard, closer to the initial trial date, or to reopen discovery after a new trial date has been set.  This motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration demonstrating a good faith effort at informal resolution.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2024.050, subd. (a).)  

The court shall take into consideration any matter relevant to the leave requested, including, but not limited to: (1) the necessity and the reasons for the discovery, (2) the diligence or lack of diligence of the party seeking the discovery or the hearing of a discovery motion, and the reasons that the discovery was not completed or that the discovery motion was not heard earlier, (3) any likelihood that permitting the discovery or hearing the discovery motion will prevent the case from going to trial on the date set, or otherwise interfere with the trial calendar, or result in prejudice to any other party, and (4) the length of time that has elapsed between any date previously set, and the date presently set, for the trial of the action.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2024.050, subd. (b).)


Defendant requests a continuance because trial counsel is unavailable Defense counsel states that he is to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary with a prepaid vacation which conflicts with the current trial date (Goldman Decl., ¶ 3.)  Defendant argues that a continuance is necessary because there may be additional discovery which needs to be completed.  Defendant also notes that there have been no continuances, the case is less than five years old, and Plaintiff will not be prejudiced by a brief continuance.

In opposition, Plaintiff argues that Defendant has not demonstrated good cause for a continuance.  Plaintiff states that there is no discovery that needs to be conducted and emphasizes defense counsel’s failure to identify when his prepaid vacation was planned and other details of his itinerary.  Plaintiff demands that Defendant go to trial with another lawyer from defense counsel’s firm. 

In his reply, Defendant discloses his attorney’s travel plans.  Defense counsel is scheduled to department for Barcelona, Spain on September 15, 2022 and he will return to the United States on September 25, 2022.  The trip was booked in June of 2021.  Defendant contends that trial will last ten to fifteen days and that the chances of concluding this trial prior to defense counsel’s planned departure date is slim to none.  Defendant also argues that even if another attorney from his firm were to take this case to trial, a continuance would still be needed. 

          Overall, given the age of the case, the anticipated length of the trial, and defense counsel’s unavailability, the Court finds good cause for a continuance.  However, given the Court’s calendar, the continuance will not be 180 days long as requested. 


Defendant’s motion is GRANTED in part.  Trial is continued from September 1, 2022 to December 7, 2022 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 27.  The final status conference is continued from August 18, 2022 to November 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. in Department 27.  All pretrial deadlines including discovery and motion cut-off dates are to be based on the new trial date.   


Moving party to give notice.

Parties who intend to submit on this tentative must send an email to the Court at SSCDEPT27@lacourt.org indicating intention to submit on the tentative as directed by the instructions provided on the court website at www.lacourt.org.  Please be advised that if you submit on the tentative and elect not to appear at the hearing, the opposing party may nevertheless appear at the hearing and argue the matter.  Unless you receive a submission from all other parties in the matter, you should assume that others might appear at the hearing to argue.  If the Court does not receive emails from the parties indicating submission on this tentative ruling and there are no appearances at the hearing, the Court may, at its discretion, adopt the tentative as the final order or place the motion off calendar.