Civil Case Coordination FAQ

The Judicial Council of California's free publication Coordination of Civil Actions includes sample pleadings, statutes, and rules related to coordinating complex civil actions pending in different counties.

To order a copy or for additional information, call the Coordination Unit at 415-865-7630 or e-mail coordination@jud.ca.gov.



What kinds of actions can be coordinated?

Coordination brings to one court two or more "civil actions sharing a common question of fact or law [that] are pending in different courts." (Code Civ. Proc., § 404) The statutory reference to "different courts" means courts in different counties.

Distinct from coordination is the process of consolidation. Consolidation is the procedure for uniting separate actions involving common questions of fact or law that are pending in the same county. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 403, 404, 1048(a).)


When is coordination appropriate?

Not all separate actions sharing common questions of fact or law should be coordinated. Coordination is appropriate if it will promote the ends of justice, taking into account whether (a) the common question of fact or law predominates and is significant to the litigation; (b) the convenience of the parties, witnesses, and counsel; (c) the relative development of the actions and the work product of counsel; (d) the efficient use of judicial resources;(e) the calendar of the courts; (f) the disadvantage of duplicative and inconsistent rulings, orders, or judgments; (g) and the likelihood of settlement without further litigation if coordination is denied. (Code Civ. Proc., § 404.1.)


What is a complex action?

Rule 3.400 of the California Rules of Court defines a complex civil action. If the actions are complex, a petition is filed with the Chair of the Judicial Council. (Code Civ. Proc., § 404.)

If the actions are not complex, a motion to coordinate is filed directly in the court where the actions are to be transferred and where one of the included actions is pending, rather than with the Chair of the Judicial Council. (Code Civ. Proc., § 403.)1

1On September 21, 1996, the statutes and rules were changed so that they now direct parties to file a motion to coordinate noncomplex actions directly with one of the courts in which an action is pending.


Must all the plaintiffs or all the defendants in one of the actions agree that coordination is appropriate?

For actions involving complex issues, only all the parties plaintiff or all the parties defendant in one of the actions to be coordinated may submit a petition directly to the chair of the Judicial Council. (Code Civ. Proc., § 404.)


Are the actions automatically stayed when a petition for coordination is filed?

Actions are not automatically stayed upon the filing of a petition to coordinate, but they may be stayed by the coordination motion judge. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.515.) Additionally, no trial of an included action may be started after the court receives an order assigning a coordination motion judge, and a coordination motion judge may stay pretrial proceedings. It takes time-approximately 30 to 60 days-to process the petition for coordination from filing to issuance of an order by the chair of the Judicial Council assigning the coordination motion judge. A motion to stay proceedings may be filed with the petition for coordination. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.515(a).)


Who can submit a petition for coordination to the chair of the Judicial Council?

A petition for coordination may be submitted by any of the following:

  • A presiding judge of any court in which one of the included actions is pending.
  • All plaintiffs or all defendants to one of the included actions. This means that all the parties on one side of one lawsuit must join in the petition in order to submit the petition directly to the Judicial Council without prior leave of court.
  • Any party to one of the actions, after obtaining an order granting permission from the presiding judge. The party must include the order granting permission when it submits its petition to coordinate to the Chair of the Judicial Council.

(Code Civ. Proc., § 404, Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.520(b).)


What are the methods for initiating coordination of complex civil actions?

First-time petitioners frequently think that the procedural rule 3.520(b) (of the California Rules of Court) is an alternative to the petition procedure. This is incorrect. The petitioner avoids delay and duplication of effort by petitioning the Judicial Council directly, but the petitioner must satisfy "the all parties plaintiff or defendant rule" set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 404 in order to do so. In contrast, rule 3.520(b) provides a means to obtain leave of the court to petition for coordination if the rule has not been satisfied. No other coordination procedure exists in the superior court for complex actions pending in more than one county.


Is there a fee for filing a petition for coordination?

The Judicial Council does not charge a filing fee.


What documents does the petitioner submit to the chair of the Judicial Council?

A petition packet submitted to the chair of the Judicial Council should contain an original and one copy, and an additional copy plus a self-addressed stamped envelope if a conformed copy is requested, of the following documents:

  • Petition for Coordination;
  • Supporting Memorandum of Points and Authorities;
  • Supporting Declaration (that the actions sought to be coordinated are complex and meet the standards for coordination); and
  • An order from the presiding judge granting permission to submit a Petition for Coordination, if a direct petition is not authorized by Code of Civil Procedure section 404.
The following documents must be submitted within five calendar days of submitting the Petition for Coordination:
  • Notice of Submission of Petition for Coordination;
  • Proof of Service of Petition for Coordination, Points and Authorities, Declaration and Notice of Submission on all parties in the included actions;
  • Proof of Service of Petition for Coordination, Points and Authorities, Declaration and Notice of Submission on clerk for filing in each included action;
  • Proof of Filing Notice of Submission of Petition for Coordination in each included action; and
  • Application for Stay Order with proof of service (if a stay is requested from the coordination motion judge). (Cal. Rules of Court, rules 3.510; 3.511; 3.515; 3.521; 3.522; 3.523.)

Where is a petition for coordination submitted?

A petition for coordination and other required documents are submitted to the Chair of the Judicial Council at the following address:

    Chair, Judicial Council of California
    Administrative Office of the Courts
    Attn: Office of Appellate Court Services
    (Civil Case Coordination)
    455 Golden Gate Avenue, 5th Floor
    San Francisco, California 94102-3688


What documents are filed with the superior court?

The following documents are filed with the superior court in each included action:

  • Notice of Submission of Petition for Coordination; and
  • Copy of the Petition for Coordination with supporting Memorandum of Points and Authorities and Declaration. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.522.)

What is a "Proof of Service of Filing"?

Under rule 3.522 of the California Rules of Court, the documents submitted to the Chair of the Judicial Council must demonstrate proof that the Notice of Submission of Petition for Coordination was filed in each included superior court action. Within five calendar days after submitting the Petition for Coordination, the petitioner must submit to the Chair of the Judicial Council proof of filing of the Notice of Submission of Petition and Proof of Service of the Notice of Submission of Petition and of the Petition (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.522.).

Following are suggested methods for satisfying this requirement:

  • List the clerks of the courts and addresses for each included action on the proof of service by mail.
  • Submit a declaration of service by mail that states under penalty of perjury that the Notice of Submission of Petition for Coordination for the included action was transmitted to the court for filing in that included action. When the court returns a file-stamped copy of the Notice of Submission of Petition for Coordination, send a copy to the chair of the Judicial Council at the address shown above.

How can a petitioner obtain a stay of actions pending the ruling on the Petition for Coordination?

The stay procedures are described in rule 3.515 of the California Rules of Court. Important factors to note are the following:

  • The Chair of the Judicial Council never issues a stay.
  • There is an automatic stay of trial and stay of entry of judgment when the Chair of the Judicial Council's order assigning a coordination motion judge (or delegating that authority to a presiding judge) is filed in the action unless the trial has already begun (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.515.)
  • A stay of anything other than a trial and entry of judgment may be requested and included with the petition for coordination or may be submitted and served at any time before the petition for coordination is determined. Opposition to a stay request must be served on all parties and submitted to the Judicial Council within 10 days after service of the application (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.515(a).)
  • An order granting coordination that is filed in an included action acts as a stay of the superior court action, except as directed by the coordination motion judge for urgent matters pending assignment of a coordination trial judge or by the coordination trial judge (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.529(b)(c).)

As noted above, it takes approximately 30 to 60 days to process a petition for coordination from the date the Judicial Council receives it until the Chair of the Judicial Council assigns a coordination motion judge (or delegates the authority to assign a motion judge to the superior court presiding judge). When a coordination motion judge is assigned, he or she may summarily deny the petition on the ground that trial is imminent (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.521(d).) Accordingly, it is usually safer to move to continue a trial in the superior court where the action is pending than to risk delayed assignment of a coordination motion judge, or a summary denial by the coordination motion judge.


When is an opposition or other response to a petition due?

Any party to an included action who opposes coordination may serve and submit a memorandum and declarations in opposition to the petition. Any response in opposition must be served and filed at least nine court days before the date set for hearing. A response in support is also due at least nine court days before the hearing. (Cal. Rule of Court, rules 3.525; 3.526.)


Where is an Opposition to/Support for a petition for coordination sent?

If the Chair of the Judicial Council has not yet issued an order assigning a coordination motion judge, send an original and a copy of the opposition to or support for the petition to coordinate directly to the Chair. If the Chair of the Judicial Council has already issued an order assigning a coordination motion judge, send the original opposition to or support for the petition directly to the presiding judge of the court where the coordination motion judge is assigned and send a copy to the Judicial Council.

If the assignment order is issued to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, papers should be sent to the Managing Judge of the Complex Litigation Program at the following address:

    Superior Court of California
    County of Los Angeles
    Central Civil West, Department 324, Room 1715
    600 South Commonwealth Avenue
    Los Angeles, California 90005


Who assigns the coordination motion judge?

The Chair of the Judicial Council assigns a coordination motion judge to determine whether coordination is appropriate. The chair of the Judicial Council may authorize a presiding judge to assign a judge to make that determination. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.524.)


When coordination has been granted, what is the next step?

The coordination motion judge will prepare an order or ask the petitioning party to prepare an order granting coordination. The order may include a recommendation for the location of the coordinated proceedings. The order must specify the reviewing court having appellate jurisdiction if the actions to be coordinated are within the jurisdiction of more than one reviewing court. (Code Civ. Proc., § 404.2.) The order must be filed in each action, served on all parties, and transmitted to the Judicial Council (Cal. Rules of Court, rules 3.529, 3.511). The Chair of the Judicial Council will assign a coordination trial judge. It takes approximately three weeks to process the trial assignment.


How is the location of the coordination trial judge selected?

The rules and statutes do not provide for input by the parties on the appropriate location for assignment of the coordination trial judge. The parties may, however, present their views in the petition for coordination and in any opposition papers, and to the coordination motion judge at the time of the hearing on the petition to coordinate. If the coordination motion judge grants coordination, he or she may include in the order granting coordination a recommendation for the location of the coordinated proceedings. Upon receipt of the order, the Chair of the Judicial Council will consider the recommendation but is not bound by it. The Chair of the Judicial Council then issues an order assigning a coordination trial judge (or delegates this authority to a presiding judge). The coordination trial judge has ultimate authority to decide where the actions will be tried and can schedule trials at any site within the state. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.540; 3.541(b)(2).)


After a coordination trial judge has been assigned, what happens next?

The coordination trial judge must hold a case management conference within 45 days after issuance of the assignment order. Counsel and all self-represented persons must attend the conference and be prepared to discuss all matters specified in the order setting the conference. At any time following the assignment of the coordination trial judge, a party may serve and submit a proposed agenda for the conference and a proposed form of order covering such matters of procedure and discovery as may be appropriate. At the conference, the judge may:

  1. Appoint liaison counsel under rule 3.506;
  2. Establish a timetable for filing motions other than discovery motions;
  3. Establish a schedule for discovery;
  4. Provide a method and schedule for the submission of preliminary legal questions that might serve to expedite the disposition of the coordinated actions;
  5. In class actions, establish a schedule, if practicable, for the prompt determination of matters pertinent to the class action issue;
  6. Establish a central depository or depositories to receive and maintain for inspection by the parties evidentiary material and specified documents that are not required by the rules in this chapter to be served on all parties; and
  7. Schedule further conference is appropriate. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.541(a).)

Once coordination has been granted, how are the documents filed?

The assigned coordination trial judge will decide how documents are to be filed, which may include e-filing and using a central depository (Cal. Rules of Court, rules 3.541, 3.751). Rules related to filing coordinated case papers include the following:

  1. All documents shall bear the Judicial Council special title and number (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.550(c).)
  2. All documents shall be submitted to the coordination trial judge (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.540(c)).
  3. Specified documents shall be transmitted to the chair of the Judicial Council (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.511).

General civil law applies when the coordination rules are silent (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.504). This could mean that documents in coordination actions must be filed as if no coordination were in effect except as provided in (1, (2), and (3) above or unless otherwise ordered by the coordination trial judge. Documents would therefore be filed in each included action. To avoid the expense and inconvenience of filing in each action, counsel could ask the coordination trial judge to select a lead action and to limit the filing of documents to the master file.


Once coordination has been granted, what documents are filed with the Judicial Council?

  • Order assigning the coordination trial judge (if authority to assign was delegated to the presiding judge);
  • Petition for coordination of add-on cases;
  • Order granting or denying coordination of add-on cases;
  • Order assigning new coordination trial judge (if authority to assign was delegated to the presiding judge);
  • Order of remand;
  • Order of transfer;
  • Order terminating a coordination proceeding in whole or in part;
  • Order dismissing an included or coordinated action;
  • Notice of stay and reasons (e.g., order of federal court or automatic stay such as filing in bankruptcy court);
  • Notice that stay is vacated;
  • Notice of appeal;
  • Notice of disposition of appeal. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.511.)

Is more information available?

The Judicial Council of California's free publication Coordination of Civil Actions includes sample pleadings, statutes, and rules related to coordinating complex civil actions pending in different counties.

To order a copy or for additional information, call the Coordination Unit at 415-865-7630 or e-mail coordination@jud.ca.gov.

Site Map | Careers | Contact Us | Accessibility | Public Access to Records | Terms of Use | Privacy