Piccuta Law Group, LLP Authors Brief That Wins California Court of Appeals Decision
Earlier this month, the California Court of Appeals, for the Sixth Appellate District, issued a 26 page decision in the matter of St. Mary v. Schellenberg, Et Al. Charles Piccuta of the Piccuta Law Group, LLP authored the winning appellate brief. The decision is significant because it sets a standard for what constitutes “substantial compliance” in responding to requests for admissions. It is also the first time a California Appeals Court has addressed this standard.
The appellate decision arose by a petition for writ of mandate. A writ of mandate is an order by a higher court instructing a lower court to take a certain action or rule a certain way. The election by the Court of Appeals to consider a petition for writ of mandate is discretionary. Generally, the California Court of Appeals do not consider petitions with respect to discovery matters. However, in this circumstance, the Court of Appeals decided to consider the issue which arose from a discovery matter.
“Discovery” is the process and stage of a case where the opposing sides gather evidence from one another prior to trial. There are different ways to do this. The most common ways include: interrogatories, requests for the production of documents, requests for admissions and depositions. Interrogatories are written questions that the other side must answer under oath. Requests for production of documents allow the parties to request and collect documents from each other. Requests for admissions allow one side to set forth a series of statements that the other side is required to admit or deny the truth of under oath. Depositions are question and answer sessions where one side takes a party or witness’ sworn statement.
In the St. Mary matter, the trial court held that the responses that St. Mary provided were not in substantial compliance and deemed several of the requests for admissions admitted. In other words, the lower court ordered that the negative statements alleged by the other side were true. The lower court did this by examining each of the responses individually and choosing which responses were not in “substantial compliance.” The Court of Appeals overturned the lower court after reading the appellate brief authored by Charles Piccuta. The Court of Appeals ruled, that in determining the “substantial compliance” of the responses, the lower court should have looked at the totality of the responses as a whole and not at each individual response. The Court also concluded that the lower court made mistakes by treating the motion to have requests deemed admitted as a motion to compel further responses.
In the end, the brief authored by Charles Piccuta convinced the Court of Appeals to establish new legal standards and law that was extremely favorable to the Client. The Piccuta law Group, LLP handles tough and complicated matters. We practice in all courts throughout California and are not afraid to challenge and appeal faulty decisions that hurt our clients. If you have a tough legal matter and need a skilled attorney, contact the Piccuta Law Group, LLP today.