Procedural Posture

Petitioner insurer sought a writ of mandate pursuant to Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 437(c)(1) to compel respondent Superior Court of Santa Cruz County (California), to vacate its denial of summary judgment, and enter summary judgment in petitioner’s favor, based on a one-year period of limitations in the insurance policies which petitioner issued to the real parties in interest insureds, in real parties in interests’ action against petitioner.

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Petitioner insurer issued policies to real parties in interest insureds that contained a one-year limitation period for lawsuits. Real parties in interest filed suit against petitioner more than one year after the occurrence of the loss, awareness of the loss, and denial of the claim by petitioner. The trial court held that the limitations provision was void. Petitioner filed a writ of mandate against respondent trial court to compel a summary judgment in its favor, based upon the policy limitation. In reversing, the court found that the differences in language between the policies and Cal. Ins. Code § 2071 were inconsequential. Clearly, “no action shall be brought” meant no action on the policy. And the differences between “occurrence” and “inception of the loss” were trivial; if anything, the policies’ provision was an improvement in the direction of plain English. Real parties in interest did not identify any prejudice to their rights that justified an excision of the limitations from the policies. Further, there was no evidence the real parties in interest were deprived of an opportunity to bring suit or were misled by the language of the policy, and the writ was issued.


The court issued a writ of mandate directing respondent trial court to vacate its order denying summary judgment to petitioner insurer and to make a new and different order entering summary judgment in favor of petitioner, where real parties in interest insureds’ action was beyond the one-year limitation period in the insurance policy, which was held to be a valid limitations period.

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