January 26, 2018

The tolling of the statute of limitations when litigating a federal civil rights claim

The tolling of the statute of limitations when litigating a federal civil rights claim
Artis v District of Columbia, USSC, Docket 16-460

28 USC Section 1367(d) provides that the “period of limitations for” to refile a cause of action for a claim in State court  “shall be tolled while the claim is pending [in federal court] and for a period of 30 days after it is dismissed unless State law provides for a longer tolling period.”

Stephanie C. Artis filed lawsuit in federal court against the District of Columbia alleging a federal employment discrimination claim. Artis also filed three related claims under D.C. law.

At the time Artis filed the related claims nearly two years remained on the statute of limitations for timely filing of the D.C. law claims.

More than two years later the federal district court rejected Artis' federal claim and dismissed her D.C.-law claims. Artis then filed her D.C. law claims in the D.C. Superior Court 59 days later. Superior Court dismissed those actions as time-barred and the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed.

Supreme Court reversed, rejecting the District of Columbia's argument that 28 USC Section 1367(d) merely provided a grace period and the statute of limitations continued to run while the claim was pending in another forum.

The Supreme Court disagreed, explaining that the plain meaning of the statutory language, 28 USC Section 1367(d) indicated that the provision was a tolling provision, suspending the running of the statute of limitations both while the claim is pending in federal court and for 30 days after a dismissal of the federal action.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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