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County of Los Angeles v. Financial Casualty & Surety Inc.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Second Division

April 7, 2015

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
FINANCIAL CASUALTY & SURETY INC., Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. SJ1526, Lia Martin, Judge.

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COUNSEL

E. Alan Nunez for Defendant and Appellant.

Richard D. Weiss, Acting County Counsel, Ruben Baeza, Jr., Assistant County Counsel and Lindsay Yoshiyama, Deputy County Counsel for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

ASHMANN-GERST, Acting P. J.

Appellant Financial Casualty & Surety Inc. (Financial Casualty) appeals the denial of its motion under Code of Civil Procedure section 473, subdivision (b) asking the trial court to consider a prior motion to vacate forfeiture and exonerate bond that was taken off calendar due to its attorney’s mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect. Because Financial Casualty established surprise and excusable neglect due to misinformation from a court clerk, we reverse. The matter is remanded for the trial court to determine if there are grounds to vacate forfeiture and exonerate bond due to a permanent disability under Penal Code section 1305, subdivision (d)[1] because the bailee, Giovanni Santana (Santana), was deported to Mexico and barred from reentry into the United States for 20 years. If there is a permanent disability, the trial court is directed

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to set aside summary judgment on the forfeiture of Financial Casualty’s bond, and then to vacate that forfeiture and exonerate the bond. Otherwise, the trial court shall deny the motion on the merits.

FACTS

Santana was charged with assault with a deadly weapon (§ 245, subd. (a)(1)) and issuing criminal threats (§ 422).

After Financial Casualty posted a $50, 000 bail bond, Santana did not appear for arraignment. On August 9, 2012, the court clerk mailed notice of forfeiture of the bond to Financial Casualty. The notice stated that Financial Casualty’s obligation to pay the bond would become absolute on the 186th day following the date of mailing[2] unless Santana was surrendered to the court or custody, or Financial Casualty made a motion to vacate the forfeiture.

A week before the expiration of Santana’s 186-day appearance period on February 4, 2013, Financial Casualty filed a motion to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bond. It cited section 1305, subdivision (d), which provides: “In the case of a permanent disability, the court shall direct the order of forfeiture to be vacated and the bail or money or property deposited as bail exonerated if, within 180 days of the date of forfeiture or within 180 days of the date of mailing of the notice[, ] if notice is required [under] subdivision (b), it is made apparent to the satisfaction of the court that both of the following conditions are met: [¶] (1) The defendant is... unable to appear in the court due to... detention by... ...


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