Appeal from Order Entered April 24, 1986 in the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Civil Action No. 96-1986.
William T. Jorden, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Bruce A. Barrett, Assistant Public Defender, Meadville, for appellees.
Cirillo, President Judge, and Rowley and Popovich, JJ.
[ 360 Pa. Super. Page 431]
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, granting a motion for dismissal. We affirm.
On March 20, 1982, appellant, one year old Billy Redenz, burned his hand on a heater in a mobile home rented by his parents from appellees, Bard and Charlotte Rosenberg. At that time the statute of limitations for personal injuries was two years. See 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5524. On March 20, 1984, the two year statute ran on appellant's injury. Effective June 29 of that year, the legislature changed Pennsylvania law by providing that when a minor is injured the applicable
[ 360 Pa. Super. Page 432]
statute of limitations does not start to run until the minor turns eighteen. See 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5533. On November 22, 1985, appellant filed his complaint in the above captioned matter, alleging that his injuries resulted from appellees' negligence. After a hearing in limine, the trial court granted the appellees' motion to dismiss. The court held that appellant's cause of action arose under the old statute of limitations and thus was barred as of March 19, 1984, since that was two years from the date of his injuries. The court held that the statute was not tolled by appellant's infancy because his claim was barred before the new tolling legislation became effective.
Appellant presents two issues for our review: (1) whether the legislation tolling the statute of limitations during minority applies retroactively to revive claims barred under prior law; and (2) whether the equitable discovery rule tolls the statute of limitations for a minor-plaintiff whose infancy causes him to be unaware of the cause of his injury.
As a general rule, a statute of limitations applies equally to minors and adults unless the statutory language expressly exempts infants. See 51 Am.Jur.2d Limitation of Actions § 182. Appellant was injured in 1982 and at that time the statute of limitations for personal injuries was two years. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5524. In Peterson v. Delaware River Ferry Co., 190 Pa. 364, 42 A. 955 (1899), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that the Pennsylvania statute made no exceptions in favor of minors. Id., 190 Pa. at 365, 42 A. at 955. See also Walters v. Ditzler, 424 Pa. 445, 227 A.2d 833 (1967); Walker v. Mummert, 394 Pa. 146, 146 A.2d 289 (1958). In 1978 the legislature emphasized that such was the law of Pennsylvania with a statutory declaration that:
Except as otherwise provided by statute, infancy, insanity or imprisonment does not extend the time limited by this subchapter ...