Judgment Released: February 22, 2012 Link to Judgment
The test for dismissal under the status hearing provisions of Rule 48.14 is that the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that there is an acceptable explanation for litigation delay and that, if the action is allowed to proceed, the defendant will suffer no non-compensable prejudice. The focus of the inquiry is the plaintiff’s conduct, but the conduct of the respondent in the litigation can have a bearing on the assessment of the reason for the delay and on the exercise of the court’s discretion under Rule 48.13. Rule 24, which addresses motions to dismiss for delay, has no bearing on Rule 48.14 status hearings.
A party seeking to dismiss an action at a Rule 48.14 status hearing does not usually present affidavit evidence. The usual practice is for the initial status hearing to proceed on the basis of oral submissions. If the judicial officer conducting the status hearing forms the view, on the basis of the oral submissions, that the action is vulnerable dismissal for delay, ordinarily a full hearing will be ordered on affidavit evidence.