If you perform a Lexis search using the words “Special Master” in the Code of Civil Procedure you will find “no results.” This is because there is no statutory authority for such an appointment. Yet, in the area of Construction Litigation the parties regularly stipulate and the courts appoint a Special Master to handle the case management, discovery rulings and settlement conferences under a Case Management Order.
John Podesta, an insurance coverage attorney in San Francisco, brings us his perspective on why the Form Interrogatories for Construction Defect should be used. John has handled hundreds of coverage cases involving Construction litigation and other complex matters for over twenty years. He is a nationally known speaker on Insurance Coverage issues in Construction and has written several articles on the subject. He is also the author
of the insurance Interrogatory 304.1 of Construction Litigation Form Interrogatories.
It is generally recognized that construction defect cases are some of the most expensive, and complicated, cases being litigated in California. I have personally been involved in cases with more than 75 payors contributing to a settlement, including contractors, insurers, and sureties. I have witnessed them from the beginning of the modern Special Master programs in the 1980’s through the single assignment Special Masters (both mediator and case management/discovery referee) and the dual reference (where the case manager/discovery referee and the mediator are separated) and cases with no outside supervision and the case is handled per the CCP. In all these cases, the same question is asked by the carriers: “How can we get these cases evaluated and resolved quicker and less expensively?” And the related question: “If this is a case that needs to be tried how can we get to that decision point as soon as possible?”…
Last November I received the following e-mail:
Since courts are so overwhelmed and setting dates for hearing is now running 6 months or longer, how does one do motions to compel further responses to interrogatories in a meaningful way? I booked the first available date with the court, but it is not until next June and I need the responses in order to know what documents to request. Any ideas?
It is unfortunate that the California budget crisis has so imploded civil litigation in our courts. Despite the fact that discovery is the heart and soul or your case and you are entitled to compliance with your discovery requests; law and motion departments typically give discovery motions the lowest priority on their calendar. So, what do you do?…
In many cases mediation is the most cost-efficient and effective method of resolving a case. Often, litigants can save a lot of money and time when mediation is held after first tier discovery has been completed, once the core facts are determined that circumscribe the dispute. In order to facilitate early resolution many courts have implemented mediation programs and asked mediators to volunteer their time. Unfortunately, many mediators are become very discouraged with these programs because many times the parties are not prepared.…