I'm handling my own civil case since I can't afford lawyers. It's been six months since the defendant answered. We have exchanged discovery. I gave them documents showing I have $80k+ in losses with my complaint. They served me a motion to reclassify my case down to limited this week. Their motion says my damages won't reach $25k. But they didn't mention anything about why they have good cause for filing so late. I understand you waive defenses if you don't raise them (They forgot to raise statute of limitations in my case). Do they admit they don't have good cause or can they show it at the hearing?
It it has been six months since the defendant filed an answer, it may be too late. Typically, a defendant may only file a motion for reclassification within the time allowed for that party to respond to the initial pleading.
You are describing what is commonly referred to as a "Walker" hearing. A defendant in an unlimited jurisdiction lawsuit may make a motion to the court for an order reclassifying the case as a limited jurisdiction case pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 403.040 if there is no evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $25,000. Code of Civil Procedure § 396(b) provides that “[i]f an action or proceeding is commenced in or transferred to a court that has jurisdiction of the subject matter thereof as determined by the complaint or petition, and it thereafter appears from the verified pleadings, or at the trial, or hearing, that the determination of the action or proceeding, or of a cross-complaint, will necessarily involve the determination of questions not within the jurisdiction of the court, in which the action or proceeding is pending, the court, whenever that lack of jurisdiction appears, must suspend all further proceedings therein and transfer the action or proceeding and certify the pleadings (or if the pleadings be oral, a transcript of the same), and all papers and proceedings therein to a court having jurisdiction thereof that may be agreed upon by the parties, or, if they do not agree, to a court having subject matter jurisdiction that is designated by law as a proper court for the trial or determination thereof.”
Code of Civil Procedure § 403.040(a) provides that the defendant may file a motion for reclassification within the time allowed for that party to respond to the initial pleading. However, the court, on its own motion, may reclassify a case at any time. The court shall grant the motion and enter an order for reclassification, regardless of any fault or lack of fault, if the case has been classified in an incorrect jurisdictional classification.
An action can be reclassified as a limited civil case only if the claim necessarily involves no more than $25,000.00. Under this test, inability to recover more than $25,000 must be established to a legal certainty: i.e., it must be shown that a monetary award of more than $25,000 is “virtually unattainable.” (Walker v. Super.Ct. (Residential Const. Enterprises) (1991) 53 Cal.3d 257, 269.)
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended nor should be construed as legal advice for any particular case or client. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney. This posting is not intended to constitute an advertisement nor a solicitation. Due to the high volume of phone calls and e-mails, not all phone calls or e-mails can be returned.
You should object and oppose the motion on the basis that it is untimely and further on the grounds that the motion contains no explanation or other reason explaining why the motion should be heard at this stage. Be prepared, that the Court on its own motion may set an OSC re Reclassification, if it believes that the case belongs in limited.
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