The U.S. Chamber joined a coalition of amici asking the California Supreme Court to adopt a reasonable limitations period for claims of prenatal or birth-related injury due to exposure to toxic substances. For such actions, the California Code of Civil Procedure contains two potentially applicable statutes of limitations: a statute for prenatal or birth related injuries instituting a six-year limitations period (section 340.4) and another for toxic exposure injuries that effectively creates a limitations period of twenty years or more, if—as the plaintiff contends—the limitations period may be tolled during a plaintiff’s minority (section 340.8).
The Chamber’s brief argued that an analysis of the text, history, and purpose of both statutes reveals that section 340.4 governs claims for prenatal or birth-related injury due to toxic exposure. In addition, the brief rebutted plaintiff’s assertion that section 340.8 silently replaced section 340.4’s six-year limitations period simply because it was the newer statute, citing the strong presumption against implied repeals. As an alternative argument, the brief explained that, regardless of which limitations period governs this case and others like it, the court should most importantly hold that minority tolling does not apply under either section. First, in the case of section 340.4, minority tolling is expressly prohibited. Second, because section 340.8 is silent on the subject, and minority tolling could thus only apply by operation of the Code of Civil Procedure’s general minority tolling provision, section 340.4’s more specific, later enacted, and severable anti-minority tolling provision would prohibit minority tolling even if section 340.8’s limitations period applies.
In addition to the Chamber, the coalition included the American Insurance Association, the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, and the Civil Justice Association of California.
Jeremy B. Rosen, John F. Querio, and Scott P. Dixler of Horvitz & Levy LLP served as counsel for the amici.