Bonneau v. Centennial School District

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 01-11-2012
  • Case #: 10-36070
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Circuit Judges Tashima and Tallman
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Wilson v. Garcia the Supreme Court stated that state's residual personal injury statute of limitations should be applied to § 1983 claims in order to prevent "unnecessary litigation and preserve the efficacy of the 1983 remedy." Plaintiff's § 1983 child abuse claim was found to be governed by the state's general personal injury statute of limitations, and since the state's tolling statute was not closely related to the two-year residual statute of limitations, federal law governed the accrual of plaintiff's § 1983 claim.

Ryan Bonneau filed a § 1983 action alleging he was beaten by teachers at his elementary school during the years of 1986 and 1988. At the time of the filing of his action, Bonneau was 34 years old. The district court dismissed Bonneau’s action, ruling that it was untimely and that the child-abuse specific statute of limitations did not apply to his § 1983 claim. The district court did, however, apply Oregon’s two-year statute of limitations for personal injury and its one-year tolling provision for minors who have reached the age of 18. Under the Oregon child abuse reporting statute, an action must be commenced before the person reaches the age of 40 or within five years of discovery of the causal connection between the abuse and the injury. Bonneau appealed to the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the Oregon child abuse statute should apply to his case since they are child abuse claims, and his suit was filed before he turned 40. First, the Ninth Circuit determined that Oregon’s general statute of limitations governs Bonneau’s claims since in Wilson v. Garcia, the Supreme Court explained that the state’s residual personal injury statute of limitations should be applied to § 1983 claims in order to prevent “unnecessary litigation and preserve the efficacy of the § 1983 remedy." Further, the Ninth Circuit determined that federal law governs accrual of Bonneau’s claims, since the Oregon tolling statute does not satisfy the requirement of being “closely related to the two-year residual statute of limitations for purposes of borrowing a tolling provision from state law.” Finally, the Ninth Circuit determined that there were not enough facts alleged by Bonneau to support his allegation that his claims should be delayed because he repressed memories of the beatings. AFFIRMED.

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