Plaintiff Ronald Luck, on February 2, 2013, traveled backwards in time to the year 1993, where he met the then 20-year-old Ronald Luck. During that visit, on February 10, 1993, the two men were in an automobile being driven by the younger Ronald Luck which collided with another automobile, causing the elder Ronald Luck to suffer severe injuries. Designed to avoid disclosing the time-traveler’s identity and the fact of time travel to the 1993-era authorities, the accident triggered the time machine automatically and returned Mr. Luck to 2013.
Subsequently, Mr. Luck brought this action against the younger Ronald Luck, seeking damages for the personal injuries he had suffered in the accident, citing the younger Mr. Luck’s negligence. The insurer that issued the policy to the younger Mr. Luck in 1993 defended the younger Mr. Luck with a reservation of rights and, on behalf of the defendant, has brought this Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that the action is barred by the Statute of Limitations. The Motion should be denied, because whether the limitations period has passed presents triable issues of fact.
The Limitations period for a cause of action for personal injury has not expired because this action was brought by plaintiff within one year of when plaintiff suffered his injuries, or because the limitations period was tolled by plaintiff’s disability.
Currently, the Statute of Limitations for an action for personal injury is Code of Civil Procedure §335.1, which requires that such an action be brought within two years of its accrual. In 1993, the Statute of Limitations was Code of Civil procedure §340, which provided for only one year within to bring such an action. This Court need not determine which statute to apply, since plaintiff brought this action within one year of suffering his injuries.
Of course, more than twenty traditional calendar years elapsed between the calendar date of the accident and the date this action was filed, but, for the elder Ronald Luck, only about eight months had passed, for his passage from 1993 to 2013 was nearly instantaneous. What this Court needs to determine, therefore, is, in counting the elapsed time between the accrual of a cause of action and the filing of an action, how to decide which party’s subjective time stream should be used.
Albert Einstein’s Theories of Relativity established more than a century ago that time is not a constant, immutable stream in which experiences flow from the past, through the present and to the future. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 143. Although that is how human beings have subjectively experienced time – that is, until now, with the advent of practical time travel — it would be scientifically inaccurate for this Court to presume that the historically subjectively perceived flow of time is somehow more “real” or accurate than is the flow of time perceived by the time-traveler. Ibid. There should, therefore, be no presumption that the limitations period is counted using either party’s subjective sense of time, but, rather, should be evaluated in light of the policy and history 
“(S)tatutes of limitations serve a number of functions including ‘to prevent stale claims, give stability to transactions, protect settled expectations, promote diligence, encourage the prompt enforcement of substantive law, and reduce the volume of litigation.’ Pineda v. Bank of America, N.A. (2011) 50 Cal. 4th 1389, 1397. Applying these purposes to the fluid reality of time is difficult. For example, a limitations period tied to historical human perceptions of linear time cannot promote stability of transactions where the reality of time travel necessarily means that the subjective experience of time could be greatly different for the parties to the transactions. In other words, automatic application of archaic notions of linear time would always leave transactions with time travelers unstable because of the divergence between their perceptions of time and that of the other party to the transaction. Similarly, if diligence is adjudged relative to the outworn notions of linear time, then it might be impossible for a time traveler to be diligent, because he was literally absent from the Newtonian universe while his window to demonstrate diligence was open.
These dilemmas are not difficult to reconcile, because the law already recognizes exceptions, situations where time is stopped (the limitations period is “tolled”) where the plaintiff is disabled from bringing his cause of action. Such disabilities exist during periods of time the plaintiff was mentally incapacitated (Code of Civil Procedure §352(a)), imprisoned (Code of Civil Procedure §352.1), or caught up in a war (Code of Civil Procedure §354). Code of Civil Procedure §357 requires that the disability have been in existence at the time the cause of action accrued in order for the limitations period to be tolled, but, in Feeley v. S. Pac. Transp. Co. (1991) 234 Cal. App. 3d 949, 952, the Court ruled that a disability caused by the event on which the cause of action would be based was sufficient to establish that the plaintiff was disabled as of the accrual of the cause of action.
Plaintiff, in the present case, was catapulted forward in time involuntarily by the automatic function of the safety mechanism of the time machine as a direct result of the event, the automobile collision, that gave rise to his cause of action. He was, therefore, disabled from bringing his cause of action, and the disability was caused by the event that gave rise to his cause of action.
Plaintiff in this action was disabled from bringing his cause of action by the occurrence that gave rise to this cause of action, so the limitations period should be tolled between the date of the accident and the time plaintiff returned to our subjective linear time line. However, that formulation of the issue is not sufficient for this new era where mankind can actually experience the reality of non-linear time, so this Court should explore more robust solutions than applying principles of tolling, and determine how to apply the principles of Statute of Limitation to parties with very different subjective experiences of time. In any case, the Motion for Summary Judgment should be denied.
Dated: October 21, 2014.
Joshua Genser, born and raised in West Contra Costa County, is the second generation of his family to provide legal services to West County businesses. Mr. Genser is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Richmond Development Company, LLC, developing office, warehouse, industrial and commercial properties in and around Richmond. He has a Master’s Degree in Economics from Stanford University and his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Mr. Genser has practiced law since 1983, handling litigation and transactions in business and real estate matters. In 2007, Genser & Watkins was given the Chief Justice Ronald M. George Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award by the Contra Costa County Bar Association, and Joshua Genser was named Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by The Law Center. Joshua Genser has also been honored as a Northern California Super Lawyer.
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