Mediation Message No. 94



Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.290, subd. (a), which became law on January 1, 2013, holds, except as provided by court order or case management order, that a deposition of a witness by all counsel, other than the witness’s counsel of record, shall be limited to seven hours of total testimony. Additional time shall be allowed by the court “if needed to fairly examine the deponent or if the deponent, another person, or any other circumstance impedes or delays the examination.” (Id.) Subdivision (a) does not apply if the parties stipulate to another time period, expert depositions, cases designated as complex pursuant to Rule of Court 3.400, depositions of employees or prospective employees against an employer for acts or omissions arising out of or relating to the employment relationship, most qualified person designees and parties who appear after a deposition has concluded. Complex case depositions of a deponent, however, shall be limited to two days of seven hours each day and a total of fourteen hours by all counsel if a licensed doctor declares “that the deponent suffers from an illness or condition that raises substantial medical doubt of survival of the deponent beyond six months” (Subd. (3).)

Thus, the court may allow additional time for a seven-hour deposition if needed to fairly examine the deponent or if the deponent or another person has impeded or delayed the examination. Similar language does not exist for an extension of the 14-hour limitation in complex cases where a doctor has declared that the deponent may not live beyond six months.  Certainteed Corporation v. Superior Court (2014) B253308 addressed that ambiguity and held that the court’s power to extend time in subdivision (a) applies, as well, to the 14-hour limit in  subdivision (b)(3).

Current status of section 2025290: All depositions of witnesses, unless the exceptions in subd. (b) apply, are limited to seven hours except where the trial court finds that additional time is needed to fairly examine the deponent or if the deposition has been impeded or delayed. Because of Certainteed, that same exception also now applies to the 14-hour time limitation of a deponent in complex cases where the deponent may not live more than six months.

Judge Michael D. Marcus (Ret.)
ADR Services, Inc.
1900 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 250
Los Angeles, California 90067
(310) 201-0010

Copyright Michael D. Marcus, January 2014

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