TERRY QUARRY et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
DOE I, Defendant and Respondent.
Supreme Court of California.
Filed March 29, 2012.
Zalkin & Zimmer, The Zalkin Law Firm, Irwin M. Zalkin, Michael H. Zimmer, Devin M. Storey and Michael J. Kinslow for Plaintiffs and Appellants.
Jeff Anderson & Associates, Michael Finnegan and Sarah Odegaard for The National Association for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children, the National Center for Victims of Crime and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.
Nancy O'Malley, District Attorney (Alameda); Furtado, Jaspovice & Simons, Bill Lockyer and Richard J. Simons as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.
Reed Smith, Margaret M. Grignon; Foley & Lardner, Stephen A. McFeely, Tami S. Smason, Courtney R. Henning, Leila Nourani and Michael B. McCollum for Defendant and Respondent.
Lombardi, Loper & Conant, Peter O. Glaessner and Lori A. Sebransky for The Ordinary Mutual as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, Daniel H. Bromberg; Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, James C. Geoly and Nora Flaherty Couri for The Order of Carmelites, Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, The Order of the Friar Servants of Mary, USA Province and The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.
Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman, J. Michael Hennigan and Lee W. Potts for the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.
Sweeney & Greene, James F. Sweeney, Stephen J. Greene, Jr., and Laura Borden Riddell Jr. for California Association of Private School Organizations as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.
Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold and Nicholas W. Heldt for Boy Scouts of America and Masonic Homes of California, Inc., as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.
Neumiller & Beardslee, Paul N. Balestracci, Lisa Blanco Jimenez; McNamara Law Firm and Gary A. Watt for the Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.
CANTIL-SAKAUYE, C. J.
Plaintiffs brought an action against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland, alleging that defendant bore responsibility for sexual abuse committed during the 1970's by a priest then assigned to the Oakland diocese. Plaintiffs allege that in 2006 they discovered for the first time that the cause of their adult psychological injuries was the sexual abuse inflicted by this priest when they were children. It is our task to determine whether their claims are timely within the limitations period established by Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1.1
Section 340.1 governs the period within which a plaintiff must bring a tort claim based upon childhood sexual abuse. The statute must be understood in an historical context. Over the years, the limitations period for claims alleging sexual abuse against children continually was expanded as to actions that were brought against those persons who were the direct perpetrators of the sexual abuse. Moreover, in 1990 the Legislature elected to specify that such causes of action against direct perpetrators could be brought within eight years of majority or within three years of the time the plaintiff discovered that psychological injury was caused by childhood abuse. It was only in 1998, however, that the statute was amended to include third party defendants within its purview, and as to such defendants the Legislature elected not to embrace the open-ended discovery provision past the plaintiff's 26th birthday. On the contrary, drawing a clear distinction between direct perpetrators and third party defendants, in 1998 the Legislature provided that claims against third party defendants must be brought prior to the plaintiff's 26th birthday. The claims of plaintiffs in the present case clearly were lapsed by 1998, because by that date plaintiffs all had passed their 26th birthdays.