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- 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.
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Intentional Interference Parent-Child

1 Elements and Case Citations

“[A] parent who has the right to the custody, control, and services of a minor child may maintain an action for damages against anyone who unlawfully takes or withholds such child. . . . The right of action may be based not only on the loss of services but also on the parent's right to the care, custody, and companionship of the child.”

Surina v. Lucey, 168 Cal. App. 3d 539, 542-44 (1985) (citing Cal. Civ. Code §49 and the Rest. 2d Torts, § 700).

Civil Code section 49 prohibits the “abduction” or “enticement” of a child.

“Damages may also be recovered from the wrongdoer for the mental anguish and wounded feelings (i.e., emotional distress) resulting from the loss of the child and for the expenses incurred in vindicating the parent's rights.  Additionally, the parent is entitled to punitive damages provided the defendant's conduct was actuated by malice.”  Surina v. Lucey, 168 Cal. App. 3d 539, 544 (1985).


Supreme Court of California:  None

California 1st District:  None

California 2d District: Surina v. Lucey, 168 Cal. App. 3d 539, 542-44 (1985).

California 3d District:  None.

California 4thDistrict:  None.

California 5th District:  None.

California 6th District:  None.


United States Court of Appeal for the 9th CircuitNone.

Central District: None.

Eastern District:  None.

Northern District None.

Southern District:  None.

2 Issues and Defenses to Claim for Intentional Interference with Parent-Child Consortium

(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:  “Child abduction is a continuing tort for which the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child is returned to her/his rightful custodian.”  Risk v. Kingdom of Norway, No. B007703, 1992 U.S. App. LEXIS 30948, at *1 (9th Cir. Nov. 18, 1992) (citing Surina v. Lucey, 168 Cal. App. 3d 539 (1985).

(3)  California does not recognize an action for negligent loss of parent-child consortium except in the context of recovery allowable for wrongful death pursuant to Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 377.60 (2013).  Borer v. American Airlines, Inc., 19 Cal. 3d 441, 451 (1977); Boeken v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 217 Cal. App. 4th 992, 997-98 (2013) (discussing wrongful death exception based on current statutory permission).

(4)  Privilege to rescue from physical violence.  The court in Robbins v. Hamburger Home for Girls, 32 Cal. App. 4th 671, 681-82 (1995) cited to the Comment e to the Restatement 2d Torts § 700 for the proposition that “One is not liable for rescuing a child from physical violence inflicted by its parent in excess of his parental privilege. To entitle the actor to immunity, however, it must appear reasonably probable that the child is about to suffer immediate harm or that it will be subjected to immediate harm if it returns to its home. It is also necessary to the actor's protection that he act for the purpose of saving the child from the threatening danger or of assisting him to escape from it.”

(5)  Under California Penal Code § 11172 mandatory reporters of child abuse are absolutely immune from civil and criminal liability for their actions in connection with such reports “even if the mandated reporter acquired the knowledge or reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect outside of his or her professional capacity or outside the scope of his or her employment.”

(6)  “Under California law, acts that further a conspiracy to abduct and conceal a child, or that aid and abet the abduction and concealment of a child, are actionable even if they occur during a period of lawful visitation.”  Hodges v. Holmgren, No. 96-15940, 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 21618, at *4 (9th Cir. Aug. 14, 1997).