Understanding the Case Management Process – Part 5

Keith B. DunnaganToday, we continue with our series on litigation and we look at the case management process. While it may seem trivial, the case management process plays a central role in moving an action towards a trial.

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Understanding the Case Management Process – Part 5

By Robert J. Enos, Esq.

In part four of our series on civil litigation we covered the enforcement of discovery rights. Today we look at the court’s management of the litigation process and moving an action to trial.Regardless of the county, upon filing the complaint, virtually every Superior Court in the state will assign a Case Management Conference. Plaintiffs are required to serve all defendants the clerk’s notice of the first case management conference together with the summons and complaint. The purpose of the Case Management Conference is to confirm the lawsuit has been served on all of the defendants and that the defendant or defendants have appeared, i.e. filed an answer or some other responsive pleading such as a demurrer or motion to strike.

While some courts are more strict than others, it is proper for counsel for the respective parties to confer approximately one month before the first case management conference to discuss the following: (1) Resolving any discovery disputes and setting a discovery schedule; (2) Identifying and, if possible, informally resolving any anticipated motions; (3) Identifying the facts and issues in the case that are uncontested and may be the subject of stipulation; (4) Identifying the facts and issues in the case that are in dispute; (5) Determining whether the issues in the case can be narrowed by eliminating any claims or defenses by means of a motion or otherwise; (6) Determining whether settlement is possible; (7) Identifying the dates on which all parties and their attorneys are available or not available for trial, including the reasons for unavailability; (8) Any issues relating to the discovery of electronically stored information, including: (A) Issues relating to the preservation of discoverable electronically stored information; (B) The form or forms in which information will be produced; (C) The time within which the information will be produced; (D) The scope of discovery of the information; (E) The method for asserting or preserving claims of privilege or attorney work product, including whether such claims may be asserted after production; (F) The method for asserting or preserving the confidentiality, privacy, trade secrets, or proprietary status of information relating to a party or person not a party to the civil proceedings; (G) How the cost of production of electronically stored information is to be allocated among the parties; (H) Any other issues relating to the discovery of electronically stored information, including developing a proposed plan relating to the discovery of the information; and (9) Other relevant matters.

Engaging in this meet and confer process is very helpful to clarifying the issues in the case early and often setting the case of up for resolution. If the appropriate Case Management Statement has been filed by the Plaintiff, then appearance at the first case management conference is usually not required. Appearances at subsequent case management conferences will be required only if deemed necessary by the Court.

In most counties days before the scheduled Case Management Conference, the Judge will issue either a tentative ruling or case management calendar notes. The notes will state whether an appearance is required, the procedural status of the case, any future dates set by the court (including any further case management conferences, trial dates, order to show cause hearings, etc.). The calendar notes will be based on information included in the parties’ case management conference statements and in the file.

The Case Management process is designed to help the court marshal the large load of cases working through the system. For that reason, a party’s failure to comply can result in harsh consequences including monetary sanctions and even dismissal. It is also helpful in alerting the court of the uniqueness of the case and to possible challenges ahead often found in nasty partition cases and other complex real estate and business lawsuits.

Ultimately, the Court through the Case Management process will determine that the case is ready to start moving towards a trial and will refer the matter to trial setting moving the matter closer to a litigated conclusion.


The attorneys of BPE Law Group, PC. have been advising our clients on real estate, business and estate planning issues for over 20 years and have assisted numerous clients in business and real estate matters and have represented clients in hundreds of lawsuits and discovery is a critical component to success in litigation. If you have questions concerning legal matters, give us a call at (916) 966-2260 or e-mail Keith at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com or Robert at rjenos@bpelaw.com. Our flat fee consult for new clients may get you the answers you need for the questions you have.

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options.