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What is the Discovery Rule?

The discovery rule is a type of equitable tolling of the statute of limitations.

If plaintiff did not know of facts that would have caused a reasonable person to suspect that he or she had suffered harm that was caused by someone else’s wrongful conduct; or a reasonable (good faith) investigation would not have disclosed that wrongful conduct or a defective product contributed to plaintiff’s harm. (California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 455.)

An example is a 30-year-old woman who has an IUD implanted in 2017. She gets pregnant in 2022. Her cause of action did not accrue until she got pregnant and suspected negligence. She would have one (1) year to file a lawsuit running from the date of discovery.

The hypothetical woman would have to plead and provide facts that she did not know of any problem with the IUD itself or its placement. A reasonable person would not suspect injury or wrongdoing.

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