Frank Annino & Sons Construction, Inc. v. McArthur Restaurants, Inc – Case Brief Summary (California)

In Frank Annino & Sons Construction, Inc. v. McArthur Restaurants, Inc. (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 353, a Mr. Dupuis was named as an individual defendant. (Id. at p. 355.)

During the litigation, Dupuis filed a motion for summary judgment, which plaintiff's attorney admitted to Dupuis's counsel was "well taken." Prior to the hearing on the motion, the plaintiff dismissed Dupuis from the lawsuit. (Id. at p. 356.)

After Dupuis was dismissed from the action, he filed a motion for sanctions, alleging plaintiff and its counsel's actions and tactics in prosecuting the lawsuit against him were made "in bad faith, frivolous and intended solely to cause delay." Plaintiff contended the court did not have jurisdiction to consider the motion because Dupuis was no longer a party to the lawsuit. (Ibid.)

The appellate court found the trial court "had jurisdiction over Dupuis's sanction motion even though plaintiff had dismissed Dupuis as a party." (Frank Annino & Sons Construction, Inc. v. McArthur Resturants, Inc., supra, 215 Cal.App.3d at p. 357.) The court noted that while a court generally does not have jurisdiction over a party once the party is no longer in the lawsuit, there are exceptions to the rule "in order to give meaning and effect to a former party's statutory rights." (Ibid.)

The Court acknowledged the "general rule" that "once a person has been dismissed from an action he is no longer a party and the court lacks jurisdiction to conduct any further proceedings as to him." (Accord, Ramon v. Aerospace Corp. (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 1233.)

"A final judgment terminates the litigation between the parties and leaves nothing in the nature of judicial action to be done other than questions of enforcement or compliance"; 2 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (4th ed. 1996) Jurisdiction, § 406, p. 1015 "Jurisdiction over a cause or parties after a final judgment, order or decree is exceptional and limited to special situations".)

However, the Frank Annino court also observed that "even after a party is dismissed from the action he may still have collateral statutory rights which the court must determine and enforce." (Frank Annino, supra, 215 Cal. App. 3d at p. 357.)

Among these collateral rights are "the right to statutory costs and attorneys fees and the right to notice and hearing on a motion to set aside the dismissal. " (Ibid.)

Applying these principles, the Frank Annino court held that a trial court had jurisdiction over a party's sanctions motion pursuant to section 128.5 even though the party had been dismissed from the case. (Frank Annino, supra, 215 Cal. App. 3d at p. 358.)