Partnership Dissolution And Chief Judge’s Lament
Decisions by U.S. District Court judges typically begin with an identification of the parties, an explanation of the procedural posture of the case, or a description of the dispute. Chief Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill, however, chose to begin a recent opinion with an invitation to the parties and their attorneys to write their Senators:
Judges in the Eastern District of California carry the heaviest caseloads in the nation, and this Court is unable to devote inordinate time and resources to individual cases and matters. Given the shortage of district judges and staff, this Court addresses only the arguments, evidence, and matters necessary to reach the decision in this order. The parties and counsel are encouraged to contact the offices of United States Senators Feinstein and Harris to address this Court’s inability to accommodate the parties and this action. The parties are required to reconsider consent to conduct all further proceedings before a Magistrate Judge, whose schedules are far more realistic and accommodating to parties than that of U.S. Chief District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill, who must prioritize criminal and older civil cases.
Vahora v. Masood, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50655 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 3, 2017).
Judge O’Neill’s analysis of the California Revised Uniform Partnership Act is likely to be of greater interest to those not litigating in the Eastern District of California. The defendant sought dismissal of plaintiff’s cause of action for breach of an alleged oral partnership contract on the basis of the statute of limitations. Citing Corrales v. Corrales, 198 Cal. App. 4th 221 (2011), Judge O’Neill found that the partnership dissolved as a matter of law when one of the two partners withdrew from the partnership. Judge O’Neill nonetheless found that the dissolved partnership continued until the winding up of its affairs had been completed. Because Judge O’Neill could not determine from the face of the complaint when the partnership had terminated (i.e., when all of the pre-existing partnership contractual obligations at the time of dissolution expired or were resolved), he could not determine whether the plaintiff’s claim was time barred.