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HALUS v. SAN DIEGO CTY. ASSESSMENT APPEALS BD.

April 20, 1992

NANCY M. HALUS, Plaintiff,
v.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY ASSESSMENT APPEALS BOARD, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GORDON THOMPSON, JR.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiffs complaint alleges acts that occurred on October 23, 1990. Sometime thereafter, plaintiff filed a claim with the County Claims Division. On June 17, 1991, the County Claims Supervisor issued the County's ruling on this claim. In a letter addressed to plaintiff, the County Claims Supervisor rejected plaintiff's claim. See Exhibit 1. In this letter, the County warned:

 "Subject to certain exceptions, you [plaintiff] have only six (6) months from the date this notice was personally delivered or deposited in the mail to file a court action on this claim. See Government Code Section 945.6."

 Plaintiff proceeded to file her complaint in federal court on December 16, 1991, one day before the expiration of the six month period.

 CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

 In support of their motions to dismiss, defendants argue that the statute of limitations for an action like this is one year, and that the one year period expired on October 23, 1991, 54 days before plaintiff's complaint was filed.

 A. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IS ONE YEAR

 Defendants are correct that the statute of limitations for a section 1983 claim in California is one year. This limitation period begins to accrue at the time of the last act. See McDougal v. County of Imperial, 942 F.2d 668, 673-74 (9th Cir. 1991). *fn1"

 One year from the last overt act was October 23, 1991. As a result, plaintiff did not file her complaint within the one year period. Thus, the Court must review the principles of waiver and estoppel because if plaintiff has no defense to the statute of limitations, her claims are barred.

 B. WAIVER AND ESTOPPEL -- THE SIX MONTH WARNING FROM THE COUNTY

 The terms "waiver" and "estoppel" are often used interchangeably. The terms, however, have two distinct meanings and are far from synonymous. "Waiver" is the voluntary, intentional relinquishment of a known right. "Estoppel," on the other hand, rests upon the principle that, where "one's conduct has induced another to take such a position that he will be injured if the first party is permitted to repudiate his acts [or statements]," Elliano v. Assurance Co. of America, 3 Cal. App. 3d 446, 450-51, 83 Cal. Rptr. 509 (1970) (citing Bastanchury v. Times Mirror Co., 68 Cal. App. 2d 217, 240 (1958)), the first party cannot be permitted to repudiate his act or statement. At the initial hearing on March 27, 1992, with these legal definitions of waiver and estoppel in mind, the Court ordered further briefing on the following question:

 "Whether waiver or estoppel bar the County from relying on the statute of limitations prior to the completion of the six month period referred to in the County's warning ...


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