The Limited Power of California Courts to Compel Witness Attendance at In-State Depositions


Originally published in The Daily Journal Corp. (2011).

Ms. Sungaila, a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s Appellate Practice, and Ms. Micklis filed an amicus brief in support of Toyota in Toyota v. Superior Court.

In a case that could have broad impact on discovery in this state as well as save corporate defendants from needless business disruption, last month the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles confirmed in a published opinion (Toyota v. Superior Court (Stewart)) that California courts lack the power to compel a foreign witness to come to California to be deposed. If a party wants to depose an individual who resides out of state or out of the country, the party must conduct the deposition in the individual witness’ home country or state of residence.

Plaintiffs in the case filed a California product liability action arising from an accident that took place in Idaho, and sought to depose in California five employees of Toyota who were Japanese residents. They were designated as individual employees, not as corporate representatives.

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