Vafi v. McCloskey – Case Brief Summary (California)

In Vafi v. McCloskey (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 874, the court held that the one-year limitations period of section 340.6, subdivision (a) applied to malicious prosecution actions against an attorney. (Vafi,supra, 193 Cal.App.4th at p. 880.)

In so holding, the court reasoned that inasmuch as the plain language of section 340.6 referred to a "plaintiff" rather than a "client," section 340.6 "applies to all actions, except those for actual fraud, brought against an attorney 'for a wrongful act or omission' which arise 'in the performance of professional services.' " (Vafi, supra, 193 Cal.App.4th at pp. 881-882.)

The court explained that the statute does not exempt malicious prosecution actions from its limitations period, and if, as here, " 'exemptions are specified in a statute, courts may not imply additional exemptions unless there is a clear legislative intent to the contrary.' " ( p. 881.)

Finally, Vafi noted that under traditional rules of statutory construction, "the more specific statute of limitations under section 340.6 overrides the general catchall statute" provided in section 335.1. (Ibid.)