(a) Whenever a complaint for damages for personal injuries is filed against a physician and surgeon, dentist, registered nurse, dispensing optician, optometrist, pharmacist, registered physical therapist, podiatrist, licensed psychologist, osteopathic physician and surgeon, chiropractor, clinical laboratory bioanalyst, clinical laboratory technologist, or veterinarian, duly licensed as such under the laws of this state, or a licensed hospital as the employer of any such person, in an action for error, omission, or negligence in the performance of professional services, or performance of professional services without consent, any such defendant may, within six months after service of summons, move the court for an order, upon notice to plaintiff and all defendants having appeared in the action, and hearing, requiring the plaintiff to file an undertaking in a sum not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500) as security for the costs of defense as provided in subdivision (d), which may be awarded against the plaintiff. The motion shall be supported by affidavit showing that the claim against the defendant is frivolous. Any defendant having appeared in the action and within 30 days after receipt of notice may join with the moving party requesting an order under this section as to the additional defendant. The failure of any defendant to join with the moving party shall preclude that defendant from subsequently requesting an order under this section.
At the hearing upon the motion, the court shall order the plaintiff to file the undertaking if the defendant shows to the satisfaction of the court that: (i) the plaintiff would not suffer undue economic hardship in filing the undertaking and (ii) there is no reasonable possibility that the plaintiff has a cause of action against each named defendant with respect to whom the plaintiff would otherwise be required to file the undertaking.
A determination by the court that an undertaking either shall or shall not be filed or shall be filed as to one or more defendants and not as to others, shall not be deemed a determination of any one or more issues in the action or of the merits thereof. If the court, upon any such motion, makes a determination that an undertaking be filed by the plaintiff as to any one or more defendants, the action shall be dismissed as to that defendant or defendants, unless the undertaking required by the court shall have been filed within the reasonable time as may be fixed by the court.
(b) This section does not apply to a complaint in an action commenced in a small claims court.
(c) Whenever more than one defendant is named, the undertaking shall be increased to the extent of not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500) for each additional defendant in whose favor the undertaking is ordered, not to exceed the total of one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(d) In any action requiring an undertaking as provided in this section, upon the dismissal of the action or the award of judgment to the defendant, the court shall require the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s court costs. Any sureties shall be liable for those costs in an amount not to exceed the sum of five hundred dollars ($500) or the amount of the undertaking, whichever is lesser, for each defendant with respect to whom the sureties have executed an undertaking. If the plaintiff prevails in the action against any defendant with respect to whom an undertaking has been filed, the defendant shall pay the costs to plaintiff incurred in defending the motion for dismissal authorized by this section.
(e) Any defendant filing a motion under this section or joining with a moving party under this section is precluded from subsequently filing a motion for summary judgment.
(f) Any defendant filing a motion for summary judgment is precluded from subsequently filing a motion, or joining with a moving party, under this section.
(Amended by Stats. 1993, Ch. 226, Sec. 6. Effective January 1, 1994.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018