California Civil Statutes of Limitations: Are Further Tolling Rules Coming Tomorrow?Jul 24, 2020
By Gregory M. Smith, Esq., The Maloney Firm, APC
Under most circumstances, missing the opportunity to file an action within the statute of limitations deprives a party of their right to seek redress. But on April 6, 2020, as part of a sweeping rules package to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Judicial Council of California adopted Emergency Rule 9 which tolls statutes of limitations in all civil actions from April 6, 2020 to “90 days after the Governor declares that the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted.” Many attorneys, judges, and commentators expressed concern at the vague and open-ended nature of the rule, with some recommending that potential plaintiffs simply ignore it and timely file less the tolling later be found to be ineffective or impermissible.
However, by way of a far less reported Circulating Order Memorandum on May 29, 2020, the Judicial Council amended the Emergency Order to close the indefinite tolling. Under the Amended Emergency Rule 9, the statute of limitations for most civil actions are tolled from April 6, 2020 to October 1, 2020. The (few) causes of action with statutes of limitations of less than 180 days are tolled from April 6, 2020 to August 3, 2020.
As we are now a little more than a week away from the August 3, 2020 deadline, it remains to be seen if the Judicial Council will again amend Emergency Rule 9 in light of the pandemic which is still very much ongoing. The Judicial Council has a public meeting set for July 24, and although the agenda for that meeting is focused on Court budgets and Court appearances by video, it would not be surprising if the tolling period is continued. Either way, potential plaintiffs and their attorneys must be vigilant to ensure that they comply with all statutes of limitations and properly calculate the applicable tolling period. When in doubt, file early!
About the Author:
Greg Smith represents attorneys in disputes over legal fees and legal malpractice. If you have questions regarding this article contact Greg Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.