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Doe v. City of Los Angeles

Supreme Court of California
169 P.3d 559 (2007)


Facts

John Doe and John Doe 2 (plaintiffs) sued the City of Los Angeles (City) and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) (defendants), alleging that the defendants’ negligence caused Doe and Doe 2 to be sexually abused by David Kalish, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), while the plaintiffs and Kalish participated in a joint BSA-LAPD “Explorer Scout” program. The alleged abuse took place when the plaintiffs were teenagers. The men were in their forties when they filed suit. The applicable statute of limitations barred suits brought by persons 26 or older, but the limitations period was extended, under Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 340.1(b)(2), if the defendant “knew or had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice, of any unlawful sexual contact by an employee . . . or agent,” and failed to institute reasonable measures to prevent “unlawful sexual conduct in the future by that person.” In their pleadings, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had negligently failed to protect them from Kalish, because they knew or should have known that (1) the Explorer Scout program was poorly supervised; (2) officers other than Kalish had engaged in sexual misconduct with program participants; (3) there were many incidents of BSA scout leaders sexually abusing kids; and (4) Kalish had inappropriate tendencies demonstrated by his interest in certain young boys, his trips to Thailand, and his friendship with a pornographer. The defendants moved to dismiss on the ground that the plaintiffs had not adequately established knowledge so as to extend the statute of limitations. The trial court dismissed the lawsuits. The appeals court affirmed, concluding that the plaintiffs had failed to allege evidentiary facts as to the defendants’ knowledge. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moreno, J.)

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