County of Los Angeles v. Granite State Ins. Co – Case Brief Summary (California)

In County of Los Angeles v. Granite State Ins. Co. (2004) 121 Cal.App.4th 1, the defendant failed to appear for court on two separate occasions and the trial court ordered the bond forfeited twice, based on the two failures to appear. (Id. at pp. 2-3.)

The trial court sent the surety a notice of forfeiture that listed the date of the second forfeiture only. (Id. at p. 3.)

The Granite State court held that providing notice of the second forfeiture did not excuse the trial court's failure to provide notice of the first forfeiture, and that the surety was entitled to have the bond exonerated because the notice failed to adequately advise the surety of the first forfeiture. (Id. at pp. 3-4.)

In that case, the surety moved to vacate forfeiture and exonerate the bond before the expiration of the appearance period, and scheduled the hearing within 30 days following expiration of that period.

The trial court found good cause to continue the hearing three times, ultimately hearing the motion more than five months after the expiration of the appearance period.

The motion was denied, and the trial court entered summary judgment on the bond within 90 days following the denial. The surety moved to set aside the summary judgment, claiming the trial court lost jurisdiction to enter it because it was entered more than 90 days beyond the expiration of the extended appearance period. (Id. at pp. 761-762.)

The Granite State court held only that a trial court did not lose jurisdiction to enter summary judgment 90 days after the expiration of the 185-day period provided by sections 1305 and 1306 when a surety's motion to vacate forfeiture is pending. (144 Cal.App.4th at pp. 760-761, 766.)

Instead, the court concluded that "the 90-day period for entry of summary judgment does not begin to run until the motion is denied." (Id. at p. 766.)

The court explained: "In sum, we conclude that where a surety timely files a motion to vacate forfeiture prior to the expiration of the exoneration period, and the motion is decided after expiration of that period as provided under section 1305, subdivision (i) (current subdivision (j)), the court's power to enter summary judgment begins on the day following denial of the motion and expires 90 days later. Since summary judgment in this case was entered within 90 days of the date the trial court denied the motion to vacate, it was timely entered and the court did not err in denying Granite's motion to set aside the judgment." (Id. at p. 770.)