The California Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss a major toxic tort case last week instead of proceeding with four pro tem justices baffled appellate specialists and others who felt the court took the step of last resort for no valid reason.

The extremely rare decision to dismiss review occurred late Thursday after Justices Joyce Kennard, Marvin Baxter and Carol Corrigan belatedly joined Justice Ming Chin in recusing themselves from Lockheed Litigation Cases, S132167. Chin took himself off the case 19 months ago when the court granted review.