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Safechuck v. MJJ Productions, Inc.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division

January 3, 2020

James SAFECHUCK, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
MJJ PRODUCTIONS, INC., et al., Defendant and Respondent. Wade Robson, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
MJJ Productions, Inc., et al., Defendant and Respondent.

         [257 Cal.Rptr.3d 230] APPEAL from judgments of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Mitchell L. Beckloff, Judge. Reversed and remanded. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. Nos. BC545264, BC508502)

Page 1095

         COUNSEL

         Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, John C. Manly, Vince W. Finaldi, Irvine, Alexander E. Cunny; Esner, Chang & Boyer, Holly N. Boyer, Pasadena, and Steffi A. Jose, Los Angeles, for Plaintiffs and Appellants.

         Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert, Howard L. Weitzman, Jonathan P. Steinsapir, Aaron C. Liskin, Katherine T. Kleindienst, Santa Monica; Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland and Alana H. Rotter, Los Angeles, for Defendants and Respondents.

         OPINION

         BIGELOW, P. J.

Page 1096

         [257 Cal.Rptr.3d 231] These appeals involve allegations of a disturbing, years-long pattern of child sexual abuse by international superstar Michael Jackson. The truth of those allegations is not at issue here. Instead, we must decide whether plaintiffs Wade Robson and James Safechuck waited too long to sue, not Jackson himself (who died over a decade ago), but two of Jackson’s corporations, MJJ Productions, Inc. and MJJ Ventures, Inc., for their involvement in Jackson’s alleged abuse of Robson and Safechuck.

         This timeliness issue had been litigated under a prior version of Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1 (section 340.1) that required claims of childhood sexual abuse against third-party nonperpetrators to be filed by a victim’s 26th birthday unless the claims fell within a narrow exception. Robson and Safechuck sued after their 26th birthdays, and the trial court concluded their claims were untimely because they did not fall within this exception. Effective January 1, 2020, however, section 340.1 was amended to allow a victim to bring claims of childhood sexual assault against third-party nonperpetrators until the victim’s 40th birthday. (§ 340.1, as amended by Stats 2019, Ch. 861, § 1.) Safechuck and Robson both sued before their 40th birthdays, and the corporations do not dispute the revised statute applies to their nonfinal cases. We reverse the judgments in the corporations’ favor and remand for further proceedings. We decline to address any other issues.

          BACKGROUND

         Robson has appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the corporations, while Safechuck has appealed judgment after the sustaining of a

Page 1097

demurrer. Both cases present the same basic legal question involving the timeliness of their claims, so we have consolidated their appeals for the purposes of this opinion.[1]

          R ...


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