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June 2016

Gordon & Rees Oakland Partner Authors Statute of Limitations Article

Oakland partner and chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group Don Willenburg authored an article about a split in California law on the question of what statute of limitations applies in a growing class of cases: those claiming prenatal exposure to chemicals at a parent’s workplace.

The article was published in the June 10 edition of the Daily Journal, one of California’s premier legal publications. As Willenburg explains, “California has one statute of limitations regarding prenatal injuries, and another for exposure to toxic substances. The prenatal statute is six years after the date of birth, with no tolling for the child's minority status. The toxic tort statute is two years from the date of injury, but like most statutes of limitation is subject to tolling while plaintiff is a minor.”

A May 2016 decision from Los Angeles (Lopez v. Sony Electronics, Inc.) applied the prenatal statute, which is generally more favorable for defendants. A 2014 decision from the Silicon Valley (Nguyen v. Western Digital Corporation) had applied the more plaintiff-friendly toxic tort statute. Willenburg predicts that the California Supreme Court will likely weigh in to resolve the conflict.

Gordon & Rees has experience and expertise defending cases of claimed prenatal exposure to workplace chemicals, including so-called “clean rooms.”

Don Willenburg