California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed the Expedited Jury Trials Act (the “Act”) which is intended to streamline some lawsuits. Under this Act, parties to a lawsuit can agree to an expedited one-day jury trial. The parties may agree to proceed as follows:
- A one day trial by a jury of eight or fewer jurors (with no alternate jurors).
- Each side shall have up to three hours in which to present their case to the jury.
- Each side shall be limited to only three peremptory challenges of potential jurors.
- The verdict in an expedited jury trial case can be subject to a written “high/low agreement” entered into by the parties concerning the amount of the award. (A high/low agreement guarantees the plaintiff a minimum damage award while capping the maximum liability a defendant may face.)
- The parties waive all rights to appeal and to move for directed verdict (except in some extreme circumstances) as well as the right to make any post-trial motions except for motions such as attorney’s fees and costs.
This Act will expire by its own terms on January 1, 2016 unless the California Legislature votes extends the statute past that date or terminates it earlier. During the next two months, the California Judicial Council is to adopt rules and forms to establish uniform procedures for implementing the Expedited Jury Trials Act.
Employers may be interested in this new law when they are involved in minor lawsuits because an expedited trial can save the employer on litigation costs. Please contact our office if you would like more information on the Expedited Jury Trials Act.