Hearndon v. Graham

767 So. 2d 1179 (2000)

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Hearndon v. Graham

Florida Supreme Court
767 So. 2d 1179 (2000)

Facts

Paula Hearndon (plaintiff) was sexually abused by her stepfather, Kenneth Graham (defendant), between 1968 and 1975, when Hearndon was between eight and 15 years old. Because of the abuse, Hearndon suffered from traumatic amnesia until 1988, meaning that she suppressed the memories of the abuse until 1988. Traumatic amnesia is amnesia triggered by a traumatic event, such as childhood sexual abuse, and causes the sufferer to suppress all memories related to the trauma. In 1991, Hearndon sued Graham for injuries related to the sexual abuse. The trial court dismissed Hearndon’s claim, holding that it was time-barred by the applicable four-year statute of limitations. Hearndon appealed, arguing that, because she suffered from traumatic amnesia until 1988, under the delayed-discovery doctrine, her cause of action did not accrue, and the statute of limitations did not start to run, until 1988. The appellate court affirmed, holding that Florida’s tolling statute did not allow statutes of limitation to be tolled based on the delayed-discovery doctrine. Hearndon appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that the tolling statute was irrelevant because (1) the delayed-discovery doctrine delayed the accrual of a claim; and (2) the tolling statute only applied to claims that had already accrued.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Dissent (Wells, C.J.)

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