The trial court erred in denying Warner Bros.’ motion to dismiss for failure to bring this class action to trial within 5 years of its filing.  The 43 days during which the court stayed the filing of pleadings and the service of discovery requests while the parties met and conferred on a case management plan was not properly excluded from the period of pendency.  Under Bruns v. E-Commerce Exchange, Inc. (2011) 51 Cal.4th 717, time is excluded only by a total stay of all proceedings in the case, not by a partial stay affecting only some proceedings, like discovery. Absent compelling justification, a class action must be dismissed under the five-year statute if the class issues are not decided with enough time for notice to the class and a minimally reasonable period for class members to exercise their options before a trial begins.  The 21 days remaining in this case when the motion to dismiss was heard was manifestly too short, so the case should have been dismissed.  Finally, the trial court could not save the case by the charade of commencing the trial, swearing a witness and then continuing the case because plaintiffs had not been diligent, were not prevented by overcrowded court dockets from getting their case to trial, and were not prepared to go to trial when the 5-year statute expired.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 8 (Grimes, J.); November 14, 2018 (published November 20, 2018); 29 Cal. App. 5th 243