may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Roger G. Merkl,
Filed March 10, 1998
Anoka County District Court
File No. C3952826
Robert A. Manson, 620 Civic Heights Drive, Suite 106, Circle Pines, MN 55014 (for appellant)
Richard S. Eskola, Moore, Halsey & Eskola, L.L.C., PACO Office Center, Suite 160, 7260 University Avenue NE, Fridley, MN 55432 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*
*Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Appellant claims that in June of 1992 she first had a revitalized repressed memory of childhood sexual abuse and that in June of 1993 she had another memory that indicated that respondent, her father, was the perpetrator of the abuse. She alleges that respondent sexually abused her between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s when she was between the ages of 6 and 16. Near the end of appellant's case, but before she presented evidence on damages, the district court heard and granted respondent's motion for directed verdict. The district court concluded that there was no issue of fact for the jury to determine and that appellant's claims were barred by the statute of limitations.
in light of the evidence as a whole, it would be the duty of the trial court to set aside a contrary verdict as manifestly contrary to the evidence or to the law.
Minnesota has a separate statute of limitations for civil damages caused by sexual abuse:
An action for damages based on personal injury caused by sexual abuse must be commenced within six years of the time the plaintiff knew or had reason to know that the injury was caused by the sexual abuse.
Minn. Stat. § 541.073, subd. 2(a) (1996). If a plaintiff is under age 18 when the cause of action arises, the running of the limitations period is suspended until one year after the plaintiff reaches the age of majority. Minn. Stat. § 541.15(a)(1) (1996). See Minn. Stat. § 541.073, subd. 2(d) (1996) ("This section does not affect the suspension of the statute of limitations during a period of disability under section 541.15."). The purpose of the statute is "to accommodate plaintiffs who reasonably fail to realize that they were abused and injured thereby until a significant time after the abuse." Winkler v. Magnuson, 539 N.W.2d 821, 827 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Feb. 13, 1996). If, however, the plaintiff knew or should have known of the abuse more than six years before the claim was brought, the claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Minn. Stat. § 541.073, subd. 2(a).
[E]ven memory suppression does not toll the limitations period where the victim should have known the abuse was the cause of their injuries before the memory suppression occurred.
S.E. v. Shattuck-St. Mary's School, 533 N.W.2d 628, 632 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Aug. 30, 1995).
We review the question of whether a person had reason to know the injury was caused by sexual abuse under an objective standard: whether a reasonable person should have known of the abuse at the time it occurred. Blackowiak v. Kemp, 546 N.W.2d 1, 3 (Minn. 1996). Here, the district court found that because appellant admitted that she knew the abuse was wrong at the time it occurred and that she tried to protect her younger sister from the abuse, "that a reasonable person should have known that what was happening was wrong." Thus, the court found as a mater of law that based on the evidence presented, appellant's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. We conclude that, on this record, which lacked any admissible expert testimony on the theory of revitalized repressed memory, the district court did not err in determining there was no fact issue for the jury and in directing a verdict for respondent based on the statute of limitations.
The transcript here does not contain any discussion of the propriety of the directed verdict or an objection to it. Thus, under Reinhardt, appellant effectively rested, making the directed verdict timely. Further, under Plate, any error in timing did not result in prejudice because appellant had no other witnesses to testify concerning when she knew of the abuse and her evidence on damages would not effect the statute of limitations. Thus, the district court correctly directed a verdict for respondent.