Karubian v. Security Pacific National Bank

152 Cal. App. 3d 134 (1984)


Ps sued Ds for negligent damage to real property. Civil cases were required to be brought to trial within five years of filing.  The complaint in this action was filed September 24, 1975. Ps' then counsel filed an 'at-issue memorandum' on December 31, 1976. On February 18, 1977, another law firm was substituted as counsel, which firm itself was, on March 2, 1977, substituted for by yet another attorney. On April 26, 1979, some 18 months prior to the running of the 5-year period, the clerk issued a 'notice of eligibility' to file a certificate of readiness. A second such notice was issued June 25, 1979. They were mailed to the initial attorney of record. That attorney failed to forward the notice to either Ps or their counsel. He called the clerk's office and simply indicated to 'someone' that he was no longer attorney of record. When no certificate of readiness was filed, the case was removed from the 'civil active list.' It remained in that status until the hearing on Ps' motion to specially set the matter for trial. That status was not discovered by Ps' attorney until shortly after the denial of the motion. The court dismissed the case, and Ps appealed claiming the failure of the clerk to properly notice was at fault.