California Court of Appeals, First District, Fifth Division
GEORGE W. LUKE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
SONOMA COUNTY et al., Defendants and Respondents.
FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION [*]
Superior Court of Sonoma County, No. SCV261187, Hon. Rene
Robinson & Robinson, Jeffrey A. Robinson and Charles R.
Patterson for Plaintiff and Appellant.
Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, Michael G. Colantuono,
Jon R. di Cristina and Conor W. Harkins for Defendants and
Respondents County of Sonoma, Sonoma County Board of
Supervisors, Erick Roeser, Christina Cramer, Bruce Goldstein,
and Sheryl Bratton.
Nossaman, Ashley K. Dunning and Jennifer L. Meeker for
Defendant and Respondent Sonoma County Employees'
Retirement Association and Julie Wyne.
Mastagni Holstedt, David P. Mastagni and Kenneth E. Bacon for
Defendant and Respondent Sonoma County Law Enforcement
George W. Luke, a Sonoma County resident and taxpayer,
appeals from the trial court's orders sustaining the
demurrers of Sonoma County (the County) and certain County
officials, the Sonoma County Employees' Retirement
Association, and the Sonoma County Law Enforcement
Association (collectively, Respondents). Plaintiff argues the
trial court erred in finding his claims challenging the
payment of increased public employee pension benefits barred
by the statute of limitations. We affirm.
or 2003, the County authorized increased pension benefits for
County employees, pursuant to a settlement of employee
lawsuits alleging past miscalculation of retirement benefits.
In doing so, the County failed to comply with state laws
requiring local legislative bodies to obtain an actuarial
statement of the future annual costs of proposed pension
increases, and to make the future annual costs public at a
public meeting, before authorizing the pension increases.
(See Gov. Code, §§ 7507, 23026, 31515.5,
31516.) In 2017, Plaintiff filed the
underlying petition for writ of mandate, alleging these
violations and seeking a writ enjoining payment of the
increased pension benefits.
trial court sustained Respondents' demurrers to
Plaintiff's original and first amended petitions, finding
the claim barred by the statute of limitations. In sustaining
the demurrers to the first amended petition, the trial court
denied leave to amend. Judgment issued in favor of
appeal follows the sustaining of a demurrer. The application
of the statute of limitations on undisputed facts is a purely
legal question [citation]; accordingly, we review the lower
courts' rulings de novo. We must take the allegations of
the operative complaint as true and consider whether the
facts alleged establish [Plaintiff's] claim is barred as
a matter of law.” (Aryeh, supra, 55 Cal.4th at
affirmative defense, the statute of limitations exists to
promote the diligent assertion of claims, ensure defendants
the opportunity to collect evidence while still fresh, and
provide repose and protection from dilatory suits once excess
time has passed. [Citations.] The duration of the limitations
period marks the legislatively selected point at which, for a
given claim, these considerations surmount the otherwise
compelling interest in adjudicating on their merits valid
claims. [Citations.] [¶] The limitations period, the
period in which a plaintiff must bring suit or be barred,
runs from the moment a claim accrues. [Citations.]
Traditionally at common law, a ‘cause of action accrues
“when [it] is complete with all of its
elements”-those elements being wrongdoing, harm, and
causation.' [Citation.] This ...