9454 Wilshire Blvd, Sixth Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Guidance for Civil Litigation in California Courts

The litigation process is clearer with an experienced lawyer as your guide

The Law Offices of Michael Jay Berger is dedicated to our clients and making sure they understand how the system works. If you are involved in litigation as a plaintiff or defendant, the amount of work involved can be onerous, with mountains of paperwork and confusing requirements and rules. Although we cannot cover all the intricacies of litigation here, we will explain the basics of the process in Los Angeles and throughout the state of California.

What is involved in a civil case?

The civil court is where individuals and entities resolve disputes. Two parties are typically involved: the plaintiff, who initiates the lawsuit; and the defendant, the party who is being sued. Your civil matter may require a court or “bench” trial, in which the judge listens to the parties, examines the evidence and determines the outcome according to the law and the facts presented or a jury trial in which the jury serves as the finder of fact and the judge makes the decisions. Unlike criminal cases, there is no right to an attorney in a civil case.

Civil cases involve disputes between individuals or entities. They typically involve:

  • Asking the court to compel a person, business, government agency or other entity to perform or stop performing some act
  • Requesting money damages to be paid as compensation
  • Enforcing the terms of a contract or interpreting unclear agreements

We can provide valuable advice regarding your Los Angeles civil court case.

What is the typical structure of civil litigation in California?

At the Law Offices of Michael Jay Berger, we routinely participate in state court litigation. The rules and regulations governing California court cases are vast, but a typical matter operates as follows:

  • The plaintiff files a complaint and serves the complaint on the defendant.
  • The defendant files an answer disputing the complaint and any counterclaims.
  • The plaintiff and defendant begin discovery, the process of investigating the facts underlying the case.
  • The plaintiff and defendant may file motions as necessary. At the beginning, these are usually related to discovery; later, motions for the court to disregard certain aspects of the case are common.
  • More than 95% of all cases settle or are dismissed by this point, but if it is necessary to go further, the next step is the trial.
  • If the case goes to trial, a judgment is issued to resolve the matter.

After the judgment, the plaintiff or defendant may have to ask the court to enforce it through collections or by compelling an action to occur. Also, if one party believes a mistake was made, the decision may be appealed.

Get the experience and knowledge that make the difference in state civil litigation

Litigation is time-consuming and complicated. Working with an experienced legal team can make the process much easier. Located in the heart of downtown Beverly Hills, our firm offers sophisticated litigation and defense services for clients throughout the region. Call the Law Offices of Michael Jay Berger at 310-271-6223 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Representative Cases

Michael Jay Berger is an outstanding and highly successful trial lawyer.

A significant case that he won recently is entitled Thomas Michel vs. Robert Maghame, Linda Maghame and Saeed Sattari, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. SC123645.

This case was a lawsuit for rescission of a contract to purchase the famous West Hollywood Bar and Nightclub Rage. On April 29, 2016, after a three-day court trial, judgment was awarded in favor of Michael Berger’s client Thomas Michel and against the defendants in the sum of $364,474.17 and defendants received nothing on their multi-million-dollar cross-complaint. Even more impressive, Michael Berger collected this judgment in full plus additional sums for costs on May 11, 2016! Thomas Michel is now a very satisfied client and a good friend of Michael and the firm. He has posted glowing reviews of Michael and the firm on Google and Yelp. Here is a photo of Michael and Thomas celebrating their victory and a great shot of Thomas in front of the Santa Monica Courthouse where the case was tried before Judge Gerald Rosenberg:

Another important case that he won recently is entitled Kristen Noble vs. Doc’s Sober Living et. al., Orange County Superior Court Case No. 30-2014-00720846-CU-PO-CJC. This case was a personal injury lawsuit with allegations of general negligence and premises liability. Plaintiff Kristen Noble alleged that he was injured when a block wall collapsed and fell on him while he was living at Doc’s Sober Living, an alcohol and drug free residence in Anaheim, California. He sued multiple defendants and settled with all of them except Mr. Berger’s client Alexandra Apeles. With regards to her, he made a $500,000.00 settlement demand and recorded a Notice of Lis Pendens against her property. At trial, Mr. Noble walked with a cane and blamed the accident for the total knee replacement surgery that he had. Mr. Berger presented evidence of Mr. Noble’s multiple felony convictions, including kidnapping and forced oral copulation with a minor under the age of 14. Mr. Berger impeached Plaintiff’s other witnesses, revealing their felony convictions and medical license problems. Mr. Berger presented testimony from a witness that went to High School with the Plaintiff. He testified about Kristen Noble’s preexisting injuries from playing football in High School. In addition, Mr. Berger presented surveillance evidence of Mr. Noble which showed him walking without the cane that he used in Court, and suggested that he was exaggerating his injuries. On January 25, 2017, after a four-day court trial before Judge Deborah Servino, the Court rendered its decision. The Court found that Kristen Noble exaggerated his injuries. Instead of the $500,000.00 that he demanded, it awarded him $14,983.28. After trial, Mr. Berger negotiated a discount on the costs sought by Plaintiff’s counsel and settled the entire matter for $20,000.00, and had the Notice of Lis Pendens that was improperly recorded against Ms. Apeles’ home removed. By settling this matter after the Court’s decision, but before entry of judgment, Mr. Berger prevented any judgment from ever being entered against his client Ms. Apeles. Prior to meeting Mr. Berger, Ms. Apeles had been relentlessly pursued by Mr. Noble and his counsel. She was at risk of losing her home. Now she and her family can rest easy. Ms. Apeles has posted glowing 5-star reviews of Michael Berger and his team on Avvo and Yelp.

My most recent trial was in a probate case entitled In re Matter of Horwtih Trust of 1998, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BP057223. On August 19, 2019, the Court entered its decision granting our Petition for Attorney’s Fees and Costs, surcharging former Trustee Karen Riker, and ordering a Final Distribution of Beneficial Interest. The Court awarded my client $107,666.94 in fees and costs.


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