A trial court is bound by a judicial admission in a pleading, and may not consider any contrary evidence, said the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Thurman v. Bayshore Transit Management, Inc. (Feb. 27, 2012, D055586), __ Cal.App.4th __ [2012 DJDAR 2585].
The Amalgamated Transit Union, and individual employee plaintiffs, filed a representative action on behalf of bus drivers, alleging that various employers violated the Labor Code by failing to provide meal and rest periods. In the complaint plaintiffs calculated the amount of the recovery sought based on the fact that the employer "has been providing meal periods since July 2003." At the trial, the court ruled that plaintiffs were not bound by this admission, stating : "The court declines the invitation to elevate pleading form over the facts as they emerged at trial."
The trial court should have accepted the invitation, said the court of appeal. An admission in the pleadings is a waiver of proof of a fact by conceding its truth, and has the effect of removing the matter from the issues to be decided. The court may not consider contrary evidence, because such evidence is irrelevant and immaterial, unless the party is permitted to amend the pleading, and plaintiffs did not move to amend in this case.
Plaintiffs' argument that the court effectively granted a motion to amend by denying defendants' motion in limine and ultimately disregarding the judicial admission went nowhere. A formal motion should have been made given that the effect of a judicial admission is a well-settled rule and defendants' relied on the admission in determining the amount of its pretrial statutory offer to compromise. Notwithstanding that no request for leave to amend was made, said the court, as a general rule a party will not be allowed to file an amendment contradicting an admission made in the pleadings. Such an amendment may be permitted only upon evidence that the party was deceived or misled into making the admission, or acting under a clear mistake as to the facts. That was not the case here, and the court of appeal remanded the matter with directions to determine the amount of civil penalties for missed meal periods prior to July 2003.