A defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings in California is the topic of this blog post.
California Code of Civil Procedure § 438 states in pertinent part that, "A party may move for judgment on the pleadings on the following grounds, if the moving party is a defendant that the complaint does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against the defendant."
A motion for judgment on the pleadings can be an excellent tool as it has the same function as a general demurrer but can be made after the time for demurrer has expired. Except as provided by statute, the rules governing demurrers apply. Note that a motion for judgment on the pleadings may not be made on the grounds of uncertainty or any other ground for special demurrer.
The rules for pleading that are so commonly used in demurrers to complaints are also applicable to motions for judgment on the pleadings directed to a complaint as well as demurrers to answers. Significantly, a pleading must allege facts and not mere conclusions and must allege each and every element required to state a particular cause of action.
If a defendant has been served with a complaint containing causes of action which fail to allege each and every element required to state that particular cause of action, then filing a motion for judgment on the pleadings may be filed, assuming that the time for demurrer has already expired.
Note that California Code of Civil Procedure § 438(e) states that, " No motion may be made pursuant to this section if a pretrial conference order has been entered pursuant to Section 575, or within 30 days of the date the action is initially set for trial, whichever is later, unless the court otherwise permits."
Despite the language in California Code of Civil Procedure § 438 regarding time limits, and even though said statute was enacted in 1994, several California Courts including the Supreme Court and a Court of Appeal have ruled that a motion for judgment on the pleadings may be made at any time prior to the trial, or at the trial itself.
A very persuasive legal argument can be made to support the conclusion that a motion for judgment on the pleadings may be made at any time as the law is clear that the grounds for a general demurrer are never waived pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 430.80. However, in my person experience some judges do adhere to a strict interpretation and will deny a motion for judgment on the pleadings that is not filed within the time limits specified in California Code of Civil Procedure § 438(e).
Attorneys or parties in California who wish to view a portion of a 12 page sample motion for judgment on the pleadings for use by a defendant in California who contends that the complaint does not state a cause of action against them containing a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority and proof of service by mail sold by the author can use the link shown below.
Attorneys or parties that would like more information on a California law and motion litigation document collection containing over 70 sample documents including a sample motion for judgment on the pleadings for use by a defendant sold by the author can use the link shown below.
The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.