On September 21, 2022, the Los Angeles County Superior Court announced that it would start a gradual shutdown of the Personal Injury Hub, currently located at the Spring Street Courthouse. This closure will see the return of personal injury cases being venued in the district where they occurred.
The Personal Injury Hub was established in 2012 as a means of consolidating personal injury cases after several civil courtrooms around the County were closed due to significant budget cuts. It first began as two courtrooms in Stanley Mosk Superior Court, then moved to the Spring Street Courthouse and ballooned to six courtrooms, each handling a case load of reportedly over 9,000 cases at times. Case Management Conferences were abolished and the parties were largely left to their own devices to move cases along. At times, slow chaos ensued. With a new and increased budget, Los Angeles Superior Court has now decided that enough is enough.
Effective October 10, 2022, new personal injury cases will be filed and handled from start to finish in independent calendar courtrooms in the districts where the events giving rise to the claims occurred. Any cases properly filed in the Central District will continue to be heard in the Personal Injury Hub for now. A new Civil Case Cover Sheet Addendum that reflects this change will be available on the Los Angeles County Superior Court website for use as of October 10th.
During Phase I of the shutdown, pending Personal Injury cases will continue to be heard in the Hub until they are assigned to a trial courtroom by Department 1 at Stanley Mosk Courthouse. For Phase II, Stanley Mosk Courthouse will start hearing personal injury cases in its independent calendar courtrooms. Ultimately, the current Personal Injury Hub courtrooms will become independent calendar courtrooms, either in the Central District or elsewhere. Los Angeles County Superior Court additionally intends to establish new independent calendar courtrooms in Pomona, Pasadena, Chatsworth, Compton, Inglewood, and Beverly Hills.
While there were some efficiencies, the creation of the Personal Injury Hub resulted in large backlogs for law and motion and even trial. Parties could be on the eve of a dispositive motion and find themselves transferred to a new courtroom where available hearing dates were months away. Timely filed Motions for Summary Judgment could be scheduled for hearing more than a year after the current trial date, resulting in a trial continuance and giving the responding party the inordinate advantage of time to oppose the motion and dramatically alter trial strategies. Four year old cases could see up to five or six judges come and go even before trial, both within the Personal Injury Hub and then after transfer to an independent calendar courtroom.
The return of independent calendar courtrooms is likely going to be a considerable improvement in the consistency of case development as well as speed of case management. While we certainly commend the Los Angeles Superior Court leaders, administrators, and jurists for their tireless efforts during this ten year struggle through budget deficits and, of course, the pandemic, we are encouraged that adjudication of personal injury claims will again have the opportunity to be managed in the traditional manner afforded all other litigation matters.
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