Trujillo v. City of Los Angeles, 2022 WL 15119812 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022)

In a negligence case, the City of Los Angeles made a settlement offer to the plaintiff pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 998 a few days before the hearing on defendant’s motion for summary judgment.  Just four minutes after the court granted defendant’s summary judgment motion, plaintiff’s counsel emailed a purported acceptance of the settlement offer to the City.  The trial court entered judgment for the defendant, implicitly ruling that plaintiff’s acceptance was inoperative.  The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that “[b]ecause a dispute is resolved and the outcome of the litigation becomes certain and known once a trial court issues its oral ruling granting summary judgment, that is the point in time at which both the text and purpose of section 998 dictate that the pending section 998 offer is no longer operative.”