Isaak v. Superior CourtAnnotate this Case
Isaak, an 84-year-old retired farmer, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2020 and suffers physical and mental impairments. He is wheelchair-bound and receiving palliative care. Several parties have sued the manufacturers of Paraquat alleging that the pesticide caused their Parkinson’s disease and successfully petitioned the Judicial Council to form a Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding (JCCP) in 2019. By March 2021, discovery was underway in the JCCP.
Isaak filed a products liability lawsuit in May 2021. The case was coordinated with the JCCP. Isaak sought trial preference under Code of Civil Procedure section 36; a party to a civil action is entitled to trial preference where the person is over 70 years of age and the court finds that the party has a substantial interest in the action as a whole and that the party’s health is such that preference is necessary to prevent prejudicing the party’s interest in the litigation. Defendants argued that the law governing coordinated proceedings conflicted with, and took precedence over, section 36. The trial court denied Isaak’s motion but approved a special procedure for seeking preference that it found would balance the interests of parties for whom a preference might be warranted with the need to streamline coordinated proceedings. The court of appeal upheld the ruling. Section 36 does not supersede California Rules of Court, 3.504, which governs coordinated proceedings.