Horvitz & Levy obtained reversal of a judgment on statute of limitations grounds in an appellate decision that brought California in line with federal precedent concerning American Pipe tolling based on plaintiffs’ membership in successive class actions.
After driving his SUV for more than 10 years, plaintiff sued the manufacturer in 2013, asserting various tort claims and warranty claims under the Song-Beverly Act (lemon law). A jury found against plaintiff on all claims except the implied warranty claim, for which the statute of limitations is four years. The jury found that Montoya knew the SUV was a “lemon” by 2005, but notwithstanding the facial untimeliness of the law suit that plaintiff filed eight years later, the trial court entered judgment for Montoya on the amount of damages determined by the jury. The court found the statute of limitations was tolled during the pendency of two class actions filed in 2006 and 2010 (American Pipe tolling).
On appeal, Horvitz & Levy successfully argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in China Agritech—which bars extended tolling based on successive class action filings—foreclosed Montoya’s claim. The Court of Appeal agreed that, while a first class action may toll statutes of limitations for individual opt-out claimants, “to toll the statute of limitations during the period of a second class action contravenes the judicial economy and efficiency that American Pipe was trying to achieve.”