What is a Petition for Coordination?

“When civil actions sharing a common question of fact or law are pending in different courts, a petition for coordination may be submitted to the Chairperson of the Judicial Council, by the presiding judge of any such court, or by any party to one of the actions after obtaining permission from the presiding judge, or by all of the parties plaintiff or defendant in any such action.” (Code of Civ. Proc., § 404.)

Legal Standard

“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.” (Code of Civ. Proc., § 404.1; McGhan Med. Corp. v. Super. Ct. (Hogan) (1992) 11 Cal.App.4th 804, 812.)

“A petition for coordination, or a motion for permission to submit a petition, shall be supported by a declaration stating facts showing that the actions are complex, as defined by the Judicial Council and that the actions meet the standards specified in Section 404.1.” (Code of Civ. Proc., § 404.)

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.” (First State Ins. Co. v. Super. Ct. (Jalisco Corp., Inc.) (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 324, 332.) In deciding whether an action is a complex case, the court must consider, among other things, whether the action is likely to involve:

  1. Numerous pretrial motions raising difficult or novel legal issues that will be time-consuming to resolve;
  2. Management of a large number of witnesses or a substantial amount of documentary evidence;
  3. Management of a large number of separately represented parties;
  4. Coordination with related actions pending in one or more courts in other counties, states, or countries, or in a federal court; or
  5. Substantial postjudgment judicial supervision.

(Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 3.400(b).)

The court must consider all of the factors set forth in rule 3.400(b), but no one factor is necessarily determinative by its presence or absence. (Ford Motor Warranty Cases (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 626, 641.)

Procedure

“On receipt of a petition for coordination, the Chairperson of the Judicial Council may assign a judge to determine whether the actions are complex, and if so, whether coordination of the actions is appropriate, or the Chairperson of the Judicial Council may authorize the presiding judge of a court to assign the matter to judicial officers of the court to make the determination in the same manner as assignments are made in other civil cases.” (Code of Civ. Proc., § 404.)

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