Oswald v. Landmark Builders, Inc.Annotate this Case
In June 2016, the plaintiffs sued their contractor and subcontractors for alleged construction defects. In February 2017, the trial court deemed the litigation complex and appointed a discovery special master. The plaintiffs failed to comply with multiple pretrial orders regarding discovery; the trial date was reset several times before the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, when the Sonoma County Superior Court civil courtrooms closed due to the pandemic, the action had been pending for almost four years. After the courts reopened, the court reset the trial date twice. The plaintiffs requested a continuance from July to December 2021, noting that the statutory deadline for commencing trial was December 28, 2021, and that certain defendants would not stipulate to an extension. The court set a January 28, 2022 trial date without addressing the statutory deadline. Plaintiffs’ counsel raised no objection. In December 2021, the plaintiffs moved to continue the January trial date due to incomplete discovery. The trial court re-set the trial to April 2022 (eighth trial date).
In December 2021 and January 2022, several defendants moved for mandatory dismissal under Code of Civil Procedure 583.310. The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal. The court reviewed all pandemic-related orders and concluded that the delay was the result of the plaintiffs not exercising reasonable diligence in prosecuting their action.