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A Brief to Trial Court

 

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

 IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

 

 

TIMOTHY TYLER,                                                                                        CASE NO. 1122-a

                Plaintiff,                                                                                             MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND

        vs.                                                                                                              AUTHORITIES IN OPPOSITION TO

EASTERN PACIFIC UNIVERSITY                                                EASTERN PACIFIC UNIVERSITY’S

               Defendant.                                                                                          MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

 

 

 

. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Timothy Tyler, submits this memorandum in opposition to Defendant Eastern Pacific University’s motion for summary judgment. The statue of limitations was tolled in this action because Tyler had no reason to suspect fraud or to inquire further until he discovered the fraud in March 1993. This action therefore has been timely filed and is not barred.

 

. STATEMENT OF FACTS

Timothy Tyler was a member of his high school’s varsity soccer team and was named to the state’s All Star team. (Joint Stipulation of Facts 2) In 1988, during the fall of his senior year, Tyler was recruited to play soccer for Eastern Pacific University (Eastern) by Richard Cramer, a recruiter for Eastern Pacific University. Tyler had already accepted a full athletic scholarship to attend Yosemite College after graduation. (Joint Stip. 3, 5)

In the course of their discussion, Cramer learned of Tyler’s desire to obtain a graduate degree from the Global Policy Studies (GPS) program at Eastern. Cramer told Tyler that Eastern had a policy of giving priority to its own graduates in admission to the GPS program. Cramer admits that he had no idea whether the GPS program had such a policy and made this statement only to induce Tyler to play soccer for Eastern. (Joint Stip. 9) Tyler had previously spoken with the staff of the GPS program and on such policy had been mentioned. That discussion with GPS program and on such policy had been mentioned. That discussion with GPS program and on such policy had been mentioned. That discussion with GPS staff had concerned the excellence of the program and the high caliber of student the program was able to attract. (Joint Stip. 10)

Tyler subsequently declined the scholarship to Yosemite College and enrolled at Eastern. Since no scholarships were available, he financed his education by working part-time and taking out substantial loans. Tyler was able to obtain a position as a student assistant in the GPS program. (Joint Stip.5) Although he assisted the admissions secretary during his freshman year, his responsibilities for applications and mailing letters as he was instructed by the secretary. Tyler was not involved in admissions decisions or aware of how they were made. The priority admissions policy was never mentioned during the course of his employment. (Joint Stip. 6)

In October 1992, Tyler applied for admission to the GPS program. When his application was denied in March 1993, Tyler discovered for the first time that Cramer had deceived his regarding the admissions policy. (Joint Stip. 11) Tyler promptly filed this action in October of 1993 to recover the damages incurred as a result of Cramer’s deception.

 

. ARGUMENT

TYLER’S ACTION FOR FRAUD WAS FILED WITHIN THE THREE-YEAR PERIOD ALLOWED BY THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS BECAUSE HE DID NOT DISCOVER UNTIL MARCH 1993 THAT HE HAD BEEN MISLED AND COULD NOT REASONABLY HAVE DISCOVERED THE FRAUD EARLIER.

The statute of limitations for fraud does not begin to run until “the discovery, by the aggrieved party, of the facts constituting fraud.” Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 338. (d) (West 1985 & Supp. 1994). Discovery occurs when the plaintiff obtains information “sufficient to make a reasonably prudent person suspicious of fraud, thus putting him on inquiry.” National Auto. & Casualty Ins. Co. v. Payne, 261 Cal. App. 2d 403. 409, 67 Cal. Rptr. 784, 788 (1968). When a plaintiff has no reason to suspect fraud, however, the statute of limitations does not begin to run. Seeger v. Odell, 18 Cal. 2d 409, 115 P. 2d 977 (1941); Hobart v. Hobart Estate Co., 26 Cal. 2d 412, 159 P. 2d 958 (1945).

Seeger and Hobart are controlling here. In Seeger, an elderly couple was misled about an execution sale of their real estate by the defendants’ attorney, who as an attorney, he knew all the pertinent facts about the sale. 18 Cal. 2d at 412,115 p. 2d at 979. Similarly, in Hobart, the plaintiff was misled about the market value of his stock by the attorney who had represented his family’s business for a long time. In both cases, the plaintiffs had no reason to suspect that they had been misled. And in both cases. The court held that the statute was tolled until the plaintiffs obtained information indicating that the attorneys had lied. Hobart, 26 Cal. 2d at 441, 159 p. 2d at 974; Seeger, 18 Cal, 2d at 418, 115 p. 2d at 982.

Tyler was similarly misled by someone who held himself out to be an expert. Tyler, a high school senior, had no reason to suspect that a recruiter employed by Eastern would lie to him about its admissions policy, just as the plaintiffs in Seeger and Hobart had no reason to suspect that the attorneys would lie to them. Thus, the statute did not begin to run Tyler discovered Cramer’s fraud in March of 1993.

Eastern’s reliance on Bedolla v. Logan & Frazer, 52 Cal. App. 3d 118, 125 Cal. Rptr.59 (1975), and National Automobile & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Payne is misplaced. In these cases, the plaintiffs were either aware of other wrongdoing by the defendants that should have aroused suspicion or were in a position to know the information that disclosed the fraud. In Bedolla, the court held that the plaintiff general partners should have suspected more wrongdoing on the part of the defendant accounting firm when the partners were already aware of other discrepancies in the books kept by the firm. 52 Cal. App. 3d at 130, 125 Cal. Rptr. at 68. And in Payne, the court held that members of a board of directors had a duty to discover a fraudulent sale of stock options that was contained in the corporate books. 261 Cal. App. 2d at 414, 67Cal. Rptr. at 791.

Tyler, on the other hand, had no reason to suspect that Cramer had lied to him. His previous discussion with the staff of the GPS program had disclosed only that many of its students were honor graduates from major universities. There was no discussion regarding the preferential admissions policy. Unlike the defendants in Bedolla, Tyler had no information that should have led him to suspect fraud.

Tyler’s situation is also very different from that of the directors in Payne, who had a fiduciary responsibility to know the contents of the corporation’s books. Tyler, a part-time student worker, had no responsibility to learn how admissions decisions were being made. His job was to complete the various clerical tasks assigned to him by the secretary in the GPS program.

Tyler has been harmed by the deliberate deception Cramer used to induce him to attend Eastern for the benefit of its soccer team. He should not be barred from recovering for the damages he has incurred because it took four years for the truth to come to light. As observed by the court in Twining v. Thompson, 68 Cal. App. 2d 104, 113, 156 P. 2d 29, 34 (1945):

The courts do not lightly seize upon small circumstances in order to deny an award to an innocent victim of a fraud upon the ground that he did not discover the fraud sooner.

Since Tyler had no reason to suspect the lack of a priority admissions policy before his application was rejected, the statute of limitations began to run only in March 1993. This action therefore is timely.

 

. CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated herein, Eastern’s motion for summary judgment should be denied.

Dated: March 17, 1994

 

                                                                    HERNANDEZ & CRUZ

                                                                 By

 

                                                                    Maria Hernandez

 

                                                                    Attorneys for Plaintiff

                                                                       Timothy Tyler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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