Beck v. Stratton

A case is not placed automatically in the superior court’s limited jurisdiction based on the sum in controversy; so in this case since no party acted to have the case referred to limited jurisdiction, it remained in the court’s unlimited jurisdiction, and the longer period for seeking fees in an unlimited jurisdiction case applied.  Whether defendant’s motion for attorney fees was timely depended on whether the case was within the superior court’s unlimited jurisdiction (hence governed by a 60-day deadline) or limited jurisdiction (30-day deadline).  Plaintiff filed the suit to appeal a Labor Commissioner ruling awarding about $6,000 to the defendant employee.  Ordinarily, the case would have been treated as limited given the amount in controversy, but plaintiff did not file the required civil cover sheet indicating that the case fell within the court’s limited jurisdiction, and by the time of trial, the court had allowed the defendant to seek additional penalties supposedly totaling $61,000.  Held, by default, a case is within the superior court’s unlimited jurisdiction unless a party takes steps to have it referred to the court’s limited jurisdiction.  Designation as a limited jurisdiction case doesn’t happen automatically based on the sum in controversy.  Because plaintiff had not sought to have the case placed in the court’s limited jurisdiction, it was an unlimited jurisdiction case and the fee motion was timely filed.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4 (Collins, J.); February 14, 2017 (published March 8, 2017); 2017 WL 915535

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