Reminder When Calculating the Statute of Limitations for a Minor (or any claim under Chapter 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure)

Luis Shalabi v. City of Fontana, 2019 WL 2183795, puts to rest any confusion you might have on how to calculate when a statute of limitations will expire on a minor’s claim for recovery under Chapter 3 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. Generally, there are two schools of thought as to how to calculate when a statute will expire: (1) the anniversary method or (2) the calendar method. Under the anniversary method the deadline to file a claim will expire on the anniversary of a triggering event, whereas under the calendar method, a claim will expire based on the calculation of a certain number of calendar days from the date of the triggering event (i.e. 365 days from a triggering event).

In Luis Shalabi v. City of Fontana, Shalabi’s father was wrongfully shot and killed in May of 2011. Shalabi did not reach the age of majority until December 3, 2011. He filed suit for the wrongful death of his father on December 3, 2013 – the two year anniversary from the date on which he reached the age of majority. The trial court, relying upon the holding of Ganahl v. Soher (1884) 2 Cal.Unrep. 415, concluded that Shalabi had until December 2, 2013 to file suit and therefore, dismissed the action. On appeal, the trial court’s ruling was reversed. The Court of Appeal chose not to apply the holding of Ganahl v. Soher because the opinion failed to discuss or even address Code of Civil Procedure § 12 which states that when calculating the last day of a statute of limitations, one should exclude the first day and include the last, unless the last day is a holiday.

Based on Code of Civil Procedure § 12, the Court of Appeal first excluded December 3, 2013 (the triggering event) from its calculation. It then calculated two calendar years (i.e. 730 days) from December 4, 2013 to find that the last day Shalabi could file a claim for the wrongful death of his father was December 3, 2013. As such, Shalabi’s complaint was timely.

The holding of Luis Shalabi v. City of Fontana does not appear to be limited to claims involving a minor reaching the age of majority. It simply demonstrates a clear and precise method for calculating when a statute of limitations will expire based on a known triggering event.

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May 30, 2019