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Collection Bureau of San Jose v. Rumsey

Supreme Court of California
24 Cal. 4th 301 (2000)


Facts

Donald (defendant) and Jean Rumsey were married. In 1990, after a long battle with cancer, Jean passed away. Jean’s medical treatment left large medical bills behind. Collection Bureau of San Jose (plaintiff) (CBSJ) was assigned to collect the debts for Jean’s medical treatment. The last billing entry in the hospital records was November 4, 1990. CBSJ filed a complaint against Donald on November 1, 1994. Donald demurred to the complaint. The trial court sustained Donald’s demurrer because CBSJ’s action was time-barred. CBSJ filed amended complaints, and, ultimately, a trial was held on the sole issue of whether CBSJ’s claim was time-barred. The trial court ruled that CBSJ’s claim was time-barred based on the one-year period of limitations-provided by California Probate Code § 13554 and California Code of Civil Procedure § 353. CBSJ appealed. The court of appeals reversed, stating that CBSJ had an independent cause of action against Donald under California Family Code § 914. The four-year statute of limitations under § 914 rendered CBSJ’s complaint timely. Donald petitioned the Supreme Court of California for certiorari.

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Holding and Reasoning (Baxter, J.)

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Dissent (Werdegar, J.)

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