It is now very easy to waive the right to a jury trial in any personal-injury case filed in the newly reorganized Los Angeles Superior Court, or in any other courts that follow a similar system, where the case is set for trial upon being filed.
Code of Civil Procedure section 631 (f)(4) states:
(f) A party waives trial by jury in any of the following ways:
(4) By failing to announce that a jury is required, at the time the cause is first set for trial, if it is set upon notice or stipulation, or within five days after notice of setting if it is set without notice or stipulation.
As we all know, in Los Angeles County, effective March 18, 2013, all personal injury cases must be filed in the Central District, in downtown Los Angeles. In these actions, the court has done away with the Case Management Conference, and sets the case for trial on the day the case is filed.
The result is that plaintiff’s counsel has five days from the date the complaint is filed to demand a jury. Although it is unlikely that this result was intended when the reorganization was contemplated, the result is that it is now very easy for lawyers to inadvertently waive a jury.