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Anderson v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 2, 2014

CHARLES ANDERSON, Individually and on Behalf of a Class of All Similarly Situated Persons, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CHICAGO, Defendant-Appellee

Argued November 14, 2013

Page 646

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:11-cv-07188 -- Rubé n Castillo, Chief Judge.

For CHARLES ANDERSON, Individually and on Behalf of a Class of All Similarly Situated Persons, Plaintiff - Appellant: Jeffrey Antonelli, Attorney, James L. Glass Jr., Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Catholic Bishop of Chicago, Defendant - Appellee: James C. Geoly, Attorney, Susan M. Horner, Attorney, Burke, Warren, Mackay & Serritella, P.C., Chicago, IL.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and CUDAHY and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 647

Rovner, Circuit Judge.

Charles Anderson brought an action against the Holy See and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago (the " Catholic Bishop" ), alleging that he was sexually abused by priests and other employees of the Catholic Church in the 1950s and 1960s. The district court granted a motion to dismiss the complaint with prejudice as to the Catholic Bishop, and, because the Holy See had not been successfully served in the case, dismissed without prejudice the claims against the Holy See until valid service was obtained. Anderson now appeals the dismissal of his complaint, as well as the district court's refusal to allow amendment of the complaint following that dismissal or to grant the Rule 59(e) and Rule 60(b) motions.

Anderson alleged in his complaint numerous instances of abuse, including abuse by Rev. Father Cosmo at St. Joseph's Orphanage in Lisle, IL in the 1950s, abuse by a Catholic priest (since laicized), Thomas Windham, at Maryville Academy on or around 1960, and abuse by four other lay employees of Maryville Academy in separate incidents. Anderson alleged that as a result of the abuse, he required continuous psychological counseling and spent most of his adult life in penal institutions; at the time of the complaint, Anderson was an inmate at Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna, Illinois.

The complaint explicitly acknowledged, however, that the " alleged sex abuse occurred a sufficient number of years in the past such that any legal sex abuse claim based on said abuse would or could be barred by the applicable Illinois statute of limitations and/or statute of repose." Complaint ¶ 1. That contention is borne out by the facts alleged in the complaint. Anderson was born in 1951, and alleges injuries arising from abuse that occurred on or about 1960. Under Illinois law, " the limitations period governing a claim is determined by the nature of the plaintiff's injury rather than the nature of the facts from which the claim arises." Doe A. v. Diocese of Dallas, 234 Ill.2d 393, 917 N.E.2d 475, 487, 334 Ill.Dec. 649 (Ill. 2009). Under a statute effective July 1, 1991, Illinois established a statute of repose for actions based on childhood sexual abuse which required that all such claims be brought within 2 years of the date that the victim discovers, or by reasonable diligence should have discovered, that the abuse occurred and caused that injury, " but in no event may an action for personal injury based on childhood sexual abuse be commenced more than 12 years after the date

Page 648

on which the person abused attains the age of 18 years." 735 ILCS § 5/13-202.2(b) (1992). That statute thus mandated that any claims for personal injury based on childhood sexual abuse had to be brought by the plaintiff's thirtieth birthday, and as a statute of repose it operated to bar actions regardless of whether the plaintiff had discovered the injury. Orlak v. Loyola Univ. Health System, 228 Ill.2d 1, 885 N.E.2d 999, 1003, 319 Ill.Dec. 319 (Ill. 2007); Mich. Ind. Condominium Ass'n v. Mich. Place, LLC, 8 N.E.3d 1246, 2014 IL App (1st) 123764, 380 Ill.Dec. 704, 2014 WL 1672016 at 8 (Ill. App. 1 Dist. 2014).

That statute of repose was repealed effective January 1, 1994, but the repeal does not avoid the impact of the statute of repose as to Anderson because his claims were extinguished prior to the repeal. In M.E.H. v. L.H., 177 Ill.2d 207, 685 N.E.2d 335, 339, 226 Ill.Dec. 232 (Ill. 1997), the Illinois Supreme Court addressed an analogous case in which the persons alleging childhood sexual abuse had turned 30 long before the 1991 statute of repose and whose claims therefore were extinguished by that statute before it was repealed in 1994. The M.E.H . court noted that for over a hundred years it had held that once a limitations period has expired, a defendant has a vested right in asserting the bar of that limitations period as a defense to a cause of action, and that the right cannot be taken away without offending the due process protections of the Illinois Constitution. Id. The court further held that the rule applies equally to statutes of repose, and that claims time-barred under the old law therefore remained time-barred even after the repose period was abolished in the subsequent legislative action. Id.; Doe A., 917 N.E.2d at 484. Accordingly, under the Illinois statute of repose applicable to Anderson's claims, his claims were barred once he reached the age of 30 or--because he turned 30 in 1981 before the statute of repose became effective--his claims were time-barred if he failed to assert them within a reasonable time period after that effective date. See M.E.H., 685 N.E.2d at 340-41. He does not, and cannot, argue that an action brought in 2011, 20 years after that effective date, met that ...


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