Troche v. Daley, No. D007642

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtTODD; WIENER, Acting P.J., and NARES
Citation217 Cal.App.3d 403,266 Cal.Rptr. 34
PartiesBrandy TROCHE et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. William DALEY et al., Defendants and Respondents.
Decision Date23 January 1990
Docket NumberNo. D007642

Page 34

266 Cal.Rptr. 34
217 Cal.App.3d 403
Brandy TROCHE et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
William DALEY et al., Defendants and Respondents.
No. D007642.
Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1, California.
Jan. 23, 1990.

[217 Cal.App.3d 406]

Page 35

Griffin & Griffin and Andrew H. Griffin, III for plaintiffs and appellants.

McInnis, Fitzgerald, Rees, Sharkey & McIntyre and Donald A. Vaughn, for defendants and respondents.

TODD, Associate Justice.

Brandy Troche, among others, sued Thomas A. Turney, among others, for legal malpractice. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Turney on the ground that the action was barred by the one-year statute of limitations. We affirm.

FACTS

On May 13, 1981, Turney filed a lawsuit, Troche v. United States of America (81-0434-K(H)), in the United States District Court for Southern California on behalf of Troche. On August 3, 1982, William P. Daley, a codefendant of Turney in this legal malpractice action, was substituted as counsel for Troche in Troche v. United States of America. 1 On May 15, 1984, the district court dismissed Troche v. United States of America for failure to timely serve the United States. On June 28, 1984, Daley filed a notice of appeal in Troche v. United States of America. On August 16, 1984, Troche discharged Daley as her attorney in the case. On September 18, 1984, attorney Andrew H. Griffin was substituted in as Troche's attorney of record. On March 18, 1985, the district court filed an opinion that denied Troche's request to appeal in forma pauperis because the court was unable to certify the appeal as not frivolous.

On May 7, 1985, Troche filed this legal malpractice action against Turney and Daley individually and their purported partnership, Turney & Daley. On July 17, 1985, Griffin, acting on behalf of Troche, dismissed Turney as a defendant from this lawsuit without prejudice. On August 26, 1985, Griffin filed a first amended complaint, renaming Turney as a defendant.

On October 5, 1987, Turney moved for summary judgment on the ground the complaint is barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court [217 Cal.App.3d 407] heard oral argument on December 16, 1987, and found as a matter of law the cause of action arose in May 1984 and the statute of limitations ran in May 1985. The trial court ruled Turney was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

DISCUSSION
I

Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (c), provides, in part, that "[a] motion for summary judgment shall be granted if all the papers submitted show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."

Page 36

(Italics added.) The California Supreme Court has stated that:

"The summary judgment procedure is drastic and should be used with caution so that it will not become a substitute for a full trial. A summary judgment is proper only if the affidavits of the moving party would be sufficient to support a judgment in his favor and doubts as to the merits of the motion should be resolved in favor of the party opposing the motion. [Citation.]" (Becker v. IRM Corp. (1985) 38 Cal.3d 454, 458, 213 Cal.Rptr. 213, 698 P.2d 116.)

"[T]he purpose of a summary judgment 'is to expedite litigation by avoiding needless trials'...." (Burton v. Security Pacific Nat. Bank (1988) 197 Cal.App.3d 972, 977, 243 Cal.Rptr. 277.) Therefore, "[i]f there are no triable issues, summary judgment is appropriate." (Ibid.) In reviewing an order granting summary judgment, "the appellate court has the duty to determine whether a triable issue of material fact exists." (Estate of Pitzer (1984) 155 Cal.App.3d 979, 986, 202 Cal.Rptr. 855.)

"Where a motion for summary judgment has been granted and there is a sufficient ground to support the judgment entered thereon, it will be upheld regardless of the grounds on which the trial court based its decision." (9 Witkin, Cal.Procedure (3d ed. 1985) Appeal, § 261(d), p. 268; Snider v. Snider (1962) 200 Cal.App.2d 741, 746, 19 Cal.Rptr. 709; Constance B. v. State of California (1986) 178 Cal.App.3d 200, 211, 223 Cal.Rptr. 645.)

It is well established that: " 'The fact that the action of the [trial] court may have been based upon an erroneous theory of the case, or upon an improper or unsound course of reasoning, cannot determine the question of its propriety.... [A] ruling or decision, itself correct in law, will not be disturbed on appeal merely because given for a wrong reason." (Smith v. Walter E. Heller & Co. (1978) 82 Cal.App.3d 259, 267, 147 Cal.Rptr. 1.) Thus, "[i]f the decision of the lower court is right, the judgment or order [217 Cal.App.3d 408] will be affirmed regardless of the correctness of the grounds upon which the court reached its conclusion." (9 Witkin, Cal.Procedure (3d ed. 1985) Appeal, § 259, p. 266.)

In granting summary judgment, the trial court ruled the statute of limitations on Troche's claim against Turney started running on May 15, 1984. We disagree, finding as a matter of law that the statute of limitations began running on August 16, 1984; nonetheless, we conclude the statute of limitations did bar the claim against Turney and summary judgment was proper.

II

The essential question is when did the statute of limitations start running on Troche's claim for legal malpractice against Turney. 2 The statute of limitations for legal malpractice, which is one year, starts to run when the client discovers, or should have discovered, the cause of action. (Code Civ.Proc., § 340.6.) The period is tolled during the times, inter alia, the client has not sustained actual injury or the negligent attorney continues to represent the client regarding the same matter. (Ibid.) 3

Troche presents two alternative theories to support her contention the statute did not start running until March 1985, when her petition to file in forma pauperis an appeal of the dismissal of her federal action was denied because the appeal could

Page 37

not be certified as not frivolous. First, she argues she did not discover the malpractice until the March 1985 event. Second, she argues she did not sustain actual injury until the March 1985 event. We shall consider these arguments individually.

A.

No one disputes the alleged breach of duty leading to the dismissal of the federal action occurred in 1981, when the federal entities were not served within the required time limits. However, the parties dispute the date on which Troche discovered the alleged negligence.

[217 Cal.App.3d 409] In an August 10, 1987, declaration, Troche declared Daley assured her an appeal of the dismissal of the federal action would be successful. Turney does not dispute this, and the assertion is supported by the record, which includes a notice of appeal in the federal action that was filed by Daley on June 28, 1984. However, Turney disputes Troche's assertion, contained in her October 30, 1987, declaration, that she did not discover the attorney negligence until March 18, 1985. Turney argues that the latest possible discovery by Troche was...

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42 practice notes
  • Jackson v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc., No. C013093
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 12, 1993
    ...was properly granted on any ground, we must affirm regardless of whether the court's reasoning was correct. (Troche v. Daley (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 403, 407-408, 266 Cal.Rptr. We independently review the parties' papers supporting and opposing the motion, using the same method of analysis as......
  • Bunnell v. Department of Corrections, No. C025611
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 22, 1998
    ...different from the trial court's reasons. (Davey v. Southern Pacific Co. (1897) 116 Cal. 325, 329, 48 P. 117; Troche v. Daley (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 403, 407-408, 266 Cal.Rptr. Before turning to the statute of limitations issue, we note this court, as a state court, has jurisdiction over thi......
  • Adams v. Paul, No. S041623
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 22, 1995
    ...occurs when plaintiff in underlying action incurs and pays attorney fees, legal costs and expenditures] with Troche v. Daley (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 403, 410, 266 Cal.Rptr. 34 [statute commences when court [11 Cal.4th 601] dismisses underlying lawsuit].) In Laird, we resolved the substantial ......
  • Laird v. Blacker, No. S021074
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 7, 1992
    ...harm under section 340.6 (i.e., adverse judgment and dismissal of the negligent attorney). For example, in Troche v. Daley (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 403, 410, 266 Cal.Rptr. 34, Attorney Turney filed a lawsuit in the federal district court on behalf of his client, Troche, in May 1981. In August ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • Jackson v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc., No. C013093
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 12, 1993
    ...was properly granted on any ground, we must affirm regardless of whether the court's reasoning was correct. (Troche v. Daley (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 403, 407-408, 266 Cal.Rptr. We independently review the parties' papers supporting and opposing the motion, using the same method of analysis as......
  • Bunnell v. Department of Corrections, No. C025611
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 22, 1998
    ...different from the trial court's reasons. (Davey v. Southern Pacific Co. (1897) 116 Cal. 325, 329, 48 P. 117; Troche v. Daley (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 403, 407-408, 266 Cal.Rptr. Before turning to the statute of limitations issue, we note this court, as a state court, has jurisdiction over thi......
  • Adams v. Paul, No. S041623
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 22, 1995
    ...occurs when plaintiff in underlying action incurs and pays attorney fees, legal costs and expenditures] with Troche v. Daley (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 403, 410, 266 Cal.Rptr. 34 [statute commences when court [11 Cal.4th 601] dismisses underlying lawsuit].) In Laird, we resolved the substantial ......
  • Laird v. Blacker, No. S021074
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 7, 1992
    ...harm under section 340.6 (i.e., adverse judgment and dismissal of the negligent attorney). For example, in Troche v. Daley (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 403, 410, 266 Cal.Rptr. 34, Attorney Turney filed a lawsuit in the federal district court on behalf of his client, Troche, in May 1981. In August ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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