Severson & Werson is a law firm that was entangled with an individual named Fareed Sepehry-Fard. After a number of threats and other unpleasantries, the firm obtained a workplace violence temporary restraining order against Sepehry-Fard to protect its lawyers and staff. California law provides a set of forms for these proceedings, which are governed by the Workplace Violence Safety Act, Code of Civil Procedure section 527.8.
Typically, an employer or another person may go into court “ex parte” or without notice to obtain a temporary restraining order. But, as the name suggests, that lasts only “temporarily;” generally for a couple of weeks. The court sets a hearing date for a mini-trial, after which it will decide whether to issue an injunction that can last for years.
Naturally, the defendant – the person accused of misconduct – has to have an opportunity to respond before an injunction is issued against him or her. So, before the Court will issue the injunction, it requires service of the temporary restraining order, and the papers supporting the request for the injunction, as well as an “Order to Show Cause” why the permanent injunction shouldn’t be granted.
The statute says that those papers “shall” be served at least five days before the hearing on the injunction. Severson & Werson served its papers on Sepehry-Fard, but just four days before the hearing. Sepehry-Fard did not show. The trial court issued the injunction anyway.
On appeal, Sepehry-Fard argued that four days’ notice was insufficient. The Court of Appeal agreed, deciding that a trial court lacks jurisdiction to issue a workplace violence injunction unless (1) the defendant is served at least 5 days before the hearing or (2) the trial court has issued an order, based on good cause, that a shorter service time is appropriate. So, the injunction against S-F was reversed and Severson must go back to court after serving S-F with enough advanced notice.
This sounds like a no-brainer. But the truth is that it can be difficult to serve these papers on uncooperative defendants in these types of cases. So, if the process server cannot serve the defendant and the deadline approaches, it may be worth trying to move the hearing on the injunction, or asking the court for an order shortening time for service.
This case is Severson & Werson, PC v. Sepehry-Fard and the opinion is here.