Ordinarily, a cause of action accrues and the statute of limitations begins to run at the time the wrongful act was committed. Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations begins to run when a plaintiff discovers or, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have discovered a possible cause of action.
A former church parishioner (FCP) alleged that he was sexually abused by the pastor over a three-year period when he was a minor. Years later, when he learned that there were other victims of the pastor, he brought suit for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and corrupt activities against the Archdiocese and the pastor. The trial court, however, dismissed the action based on the bar of the relevant limitations periods. On appeal, the court of appeals reversed and remanded the matter, and certified a question regarding whether the limitations periods ran.
Is the parishioner barred from filing suit due to the statute of limitations?
The court reviewed other case precedents from Ohio and other jurisdictions and held that as the FCP knew the identity of the pastor, the pastor's employer, and that a battery had occurred at the time of the abuse, the time within which to bring his claims began to run from the time that he reached majority. Accordingly, his tort claims were barred. Similarly, his statutory claim was barred by the limitations period under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2923.34(K). Further, retroactive application of the claim would have violated Ohio Const. art. II, § 28. Equitable estoppel did not apply to toll the limitations period and public policy considerations did not warrant extending the period.