Church v. Jamison, 143 Cal. App. 4th 1568 (2006)

In this action arising from the alleged malpractice of John Church’s attorney, the trial court granted the attorney’s motion for judgment on the pleadings on the ground that the attorney could not be held liable for legal malpractice because the statute of limitations had not run on Church’s claim for unpaid vacation at the time the attorney filed the lawsuit. In the underlying employment case, Church alleged that he had not been paid for vacation benefits that he had earned during the first year of his employment (1998) when his employment ended on May 1, 2001. Although Church’s attorney filed the complaint on April 30, 2002, the employer had argued successfully in the underlying employment case that Church’s right to sue for vacation benefits from 1998 was barred by the “look-back” statute of limitations by 2002. The Court of Appeal in the malpractice action (this case) disagreed with the trial court in the employment case and refused to apply the “lookback” statute of limitations and in so doing refused to follow a prior Court of Appeal opinion as well as the interpretation of this question by the California Labor Commissioner. Cf. O’Donnell v. Vencor Inc., 465 F.3d 1063 (9th Cir. 2006) (Equal Pay Act claims related back to earlierfiled complaint and were equitably tolled).