The Guide is an invaluable online tool for litigation and transactional attorneys. The Guide provides for more than 70 common law causes of action:

- Each action’s elements;
- The most recent state and federal cases that cite the actions’ elements;
- The applicable statute of limitations for each action; and
- Defenses to each cause of action.
- AND, The Guide is updated annually.

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Equitable Estoppel

1 Elements and Case Citations

“A valid claim for equitable estoppel requires:

(a) a representation or concealment of material facts;
(b) made with knowledge, actual or virtual, of the facts;
(c) to a party ignorant, actually and permissibly, of the truth;
(d) with the intention, actual or virtual, that the ignorant party act on it; and
(e) that party was induced to act on it.

. . .  There can be no estoppel if one of these elements is missing.”

Simmons v. Ghaderi, 44 Cal. 4th 570, 584-85 (2008); see Cal. Evid. Code § 623 (codification of equitable estoppel).

Equitable estoppel can be a factor supporting a cause of action, or an affirmative defense.


California Supreme Court:People v. Castillo, 49 Cal. 4th 145, 155 n.10 (2010);Simmons v. Ghaderi, 44 Cal. 4th 570, 584-85 (2008).

California 1st Dist.:Olofsson v. Mission Linen Supply, 211 Cal. App. 4th 1236, 1245 (2012).

California 2d Dist.:Gaines v. Fidelity National Title Ins. Co., -- Cal. App. 4th --, No. B244961, 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 1001, at *20 (Dec.12, 2013); Windsor Pac. LLC v. Samwood Co., Inc., 213 Cal. App. 4th 263, 271-72 (2013).

California 3d Dist.: Brown v. Chiang, 198 Cal. App. 4th 1203, 1227 (2011).

California 4th Dist.:Chavez v. Indymac Mortgage Servs., 219 Cal. App. 4th 1052, 1058 (2013).

California 5th Dist.:Estate of Bonzi, 216 Cal. App. 4th 1085, 1105-06 (2013); Sofranek v. County of Merced, 146 Cal. App. 4th 1238, 1250 (2007).

California 6th Dist.:Young v. Horizon West, Inc., 220 Cal. App. 4th 1122, 1131 (2013).


United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit:Kramer v. Toyota Motor Corp., 705 F.3d 1122, 1128-29 (9th Cir. 2013) (use of doctrine under California law by a non-signatory to enforce an arbitration clause); Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 695 F.3d 946, 959 (9th Cir. 2012).

Central District:Fahmy v. Jay-Z, No. CV 07-5715 CAS (PJWx), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119817, at *36-37 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 15, 2013).

Eastern District:Herrejon v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, No. CV F 13-1756 LJO MJS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157126, at *40 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 1, 2013).

Northern District:HPS Mech., Inc. v. JMR Constr. Corp., No. 11-cv-02600-JCS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159083, at *24 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 6, 2013).

Southern District: Enel Co., LLC v. Schaefer, No. 12-cv-1369-IEG(WMC), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152156, at *31-32 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 22, 2013).

2 Defenses to Claim for Equitable Estoppel

(1)   Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 431.30(b)(2) (pleading affirmative defenses), and other standard defenses.  See Chapter 1 for all defenses.

(2)   Statute of Limitations: California courts have not addressed the applicable statute of limitations for estoppel claims.

(3)    “A defendant will be estopped to invoke the statute of limitations where there has been ‘some conduct by the defendant, relied on by the plaintiff, which induces the belated filing of the action."’ . . . It is not necessary that the defendant acted in bad faith or intended to mislead the plaintiff.”  Shaffer v. Debbas, 17 Cal. App. 4th 33, 43 (1993).

(4)   “As a general matter, equitable estoppel will not be invoked against a governmental entity to contravene specific constitutional or statutory limitations.”  North Kern Water Storage Dist. v. Kern Delta Water Dist., 147 Cal. App. 4th 555, 584 (2007).  “[E]quitable estoppel can be applied against the United States only where the government engages in ‘affirmative misconduct,’ which is defined ‘to mean a deliberate lie or a pattern of false promises.’”  Elim Church of God v. Harris, 722 F.3d 1137, 1143-44 (9th Cir. 2013).

(5)   “‘Where equitable estoppel is established, all relief on a claim may be barred.’ . . . It is neither ‘limited to a particular factual situation nor subject to resolution by simple or hard and fast rule.’” Enel Co., LLC v. Schaefer, 12-cv-1369-IEG(WMC), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143747, at *30  (S.D. Cal. Oct. 2, 2013).

(6)   Courts have the power to apply equitable estoppel “to prevent a party from using the statute of frauds where such use would constitute fraud.” Chavez v. Indymac Mortgage Servs.,219 Cal. App. 4th 1052, 1057-1058 (2013). “‘“The doctrine of estoppel has been applied where an unconscionable injury would result from denying enforcement after one party has been induced to make a serious change of position in reliance on the contract or where unjust enrichment would result if a party who has received the benefits of the other’s performance were allowed to invoke the statute of frauds.”’”  Id. at 1058.

(7) Delay: “‘Where the delay in commencing an action is induced by the conduct of the defendant it cannot be availed of by him as a defense.’”  Vu v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 26 Cal. 4th 1142, 1153 (2001).