Given that when a Plaintiff files an unlimited civil lawsuit with a US Superior Court, the name of the Plaintiff and the name of the first named defendant in the complaint are used to form the case name. [Edit: Thank you to @ohwilleke for confirming/clarifying this former assumption]
However, after nearly half a year later, the case name is suddenly changed from being the Plaintiff and the first named Defendant to the Plaintiff and one of the other named Defendants in the complaint.
In light of this, what sort of reason(s) might exist that could explain or justify why this change had suddenly occurred when taking into consideration the fact that no defendants were dismissed, no Plaintiff was added or removed, no new defendants were added or removed, no legal name changes had been made, no spelling mistakes had been identified, and no recent filings could be found that would otherwise explain why the case name had been suddenly changed?
- Spongebob Squarepants, an individual, files a lawsuit against Patrick Star, an individual, Sandy Cheeks, an individual, and Pearl Krabs an individual, and The Krusty Krab, a California Corporation.
- The Case name assigned by the court upon the initial filing of the unlimited civil complaint is Spongebob Squarepants vs. Patrick Star et. al. and is the case name shown when accessing the case online, when viewing all submitted court filings up until the change and is seen used in all discovery requests and responses.
- Following yet another continued case management conference wherein no trial date has been set, suddenly when accessing the case online, a new case name is shown and reads Spongebob Squarepants vs. Pearl Krabs et. al. while Patrick Star, the named defendant that previously played a role in the case name, is still a party to the case along with all the other defendants.
Alternatively, is it possible for one of the other defendants to request that the court not use their name for the case name and thus result in a sudden change being made without any sort of publicly viewable filing?
[Edit: Question was revised and improved to rule out circumstances that would otherwise not apply.]
I remember once upon a time a practicing attorney of 25 years telling me that once a case name has been assigned to a complaint, the case name would not be changed for any reason. So I was confused as to why this could've happened when I witnessed a case, suddenly without warning, started appearing under a different case name when searching for that same case number.
This case had started out with the expected case name based on the Plaintiff and the first named Defendant of the complaint and was shown using that case name in all court documents, in all the initial filings, including the original complaint. But, at some unknown point in time, the case name was suddenly changed for that particular case number and one of the other listed defendants was suddenly being used for the case name even though no amended complaint or similar was filed.
Is that something the Plaintiff could've done or perhaps one of the other named defendants?
Again, as mentioned above, it would be as if all initial documents (such as the ones served), as well as how the case appeared on the LACourt website in the beginning was Spongebob Squarepants vs. Patrick Star et. al. and all of a sudden, 6 months after the Complaint was filed, the case name on the LACourt website suddenly changed and became Spongebob Squarepants vs. Patrick Star et. al. when searching for the case number and being reported with the new case name..
Former Due Diligence
When attempting to do a search on case naming, search results kept assuming I was referring to making legal name changes rather than being able to find any laws or text about how a case name is determined and I was only able to find this thread which explained which name comes first in a case name (the party that files the initial complaint).