Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Business Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2018

Sales And Use Tax Court Decisions

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Cravens v. State Board of Equalization . . . (1997)

Plaintiff Cannot Voluntarily Dismiss Complaint to Avoid Summary Judgment Motion

Plaintiff filed a complaint in connection with an audit conducted at its business accusing the Board of negligence in failing to treat plaintiff with respect and dignity and in failing to investigate charges by her. The Board filed a motion for summary judgment, but before the hearing and without filing any opposition to the Board's motion, plaintiff filed a request for dismissal without prejudice. Although the clerk completed the form stating that the dismissal was entered before the hearing, the Board received no notice of the dismissal and therefore appeared at the hearing on the summary judgment motion. The trial court granted the summary judgment in the Board's favor, and this appeal followed.

The Court of Appeal held that the right of the plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss an action before trial is not absolute. The court followed an earlier decision which did not allow the plaintiff to avoid summary judgment by voluntarily dismissing, without prejudice, for the purpose of reasserting the same allegations after refiling the complaint that the plaintiff could not, or would not, defend when challenged by the defendant's summary judgment motion. In this case, the court upheld that the trial court's finding that the Board's moving papers met the Board's burden, and that plaintiff could not avoid the adverse ruling by the strategem of filing a last minute request for dismissal without prejudice. Cravens v. State Board of Equalization (1997) 52 Cal.App.4th 253.