The trial court abused its discretion in denying plaintiff a continuance of the hearing on defendant’s summary judgment motion so he could file an opposition, and it also abused its discretion in denying plaintiff’s new trial motion based on irregularity of proceedings, surprise, and legal error. After the summary judgment motion was filed, the parties reached a settlement. Plaintiff discharged his attorney who thereafter falsely told the defendant that plaintiff wished to back out of the settlement. Defendant then got the trial court to reaffirm the hearing date on its summary judgment motion. When plaintiff objected and requested a continuance so he could hire counsel and file an opposition to the motion–in a case he thought he had settled–the court refused entering summary judgment as there was no opposition. Plaintiff provided an adequate excuse; there was no prejudice; and no sound reason for in effect imposing terminating sanctions on plaintiff for failing to anticipate that the settlement would not be finalized.
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division Two (Richman, J.); October 30, 2017; 2017 WL 4873259.