Cardenas v. Horizon Senior Living, Inc., 78 Cal. App. 5th 1065 (2022)

The victim of a felony has an extended statute of limitations in which to bring an action for personal injury or wrongful death against the person convicted of that felony pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 340.3 (“Section 340.3”). Mauricio Cardenas (who suffered from dementia) was a resident of Horizon Senior Living. On many occasions, Cardenas left Horizon without the knowledge of the staff; on one such occasion, Cardenas wandered for several miles and was hit by a car and killed. The director of Horizon was convicted of felony elder abuse and manslaughter, and the manager was convicted of felony elder abuse in connection with Cardenas’s death. The heirs of Cardenas brought this civil action against Horizon and its director and manager for negligence, willful misconduct, elder abuse and wrongful death. Horizon demurred to the complaint on the ground that it was barred by the two-year statute of limitations applicable to torts. Plaintiffs opposed the demurrer on the ground that Section 340.3 revived the statute of limitations after the felony convictions. The trial court sustained the demurrer and dismissed the case, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that because Horizon had never been convicted of a felony (only its director and manager had), Section 340.3 did not apply and thus the lawsuit was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The Court further held that plaintiffs have no cause of action based upon Cal. Lab. Code § 2802, which provides indemnity to an employee by an employer and is inapplicable to a third party.