The very first Monday guest blog post is from the blog, Full Court Pass, which focuses on New York law and the United States Supreme Court. The blog is authored by Norman Olch, whose practice is centered on state and federal appeals in civil and criminal cases.
action is dismissed by the New York State courts on the grounds the
action is barred by the statute of limitations, can the identical claim
then be brought in federal court where the statute of limitations is longer?
In Cloverleaf Realty of New York, Inc. v. Town of Wawayanda the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today answers that question "Yes." The decision can be found here.
a public hearing, the town of Wawayanda, New York, imposed a special
tax assessment on property owners. Property owner Cloverleaf brought a
declaratory judgment action in state court arguing, inter alia, that
the assessment violated procedural due process because the town had
posted notice of the public hearing in a newspaper advertisement
instead of providing actual notice by mail to property owners. The
state court dismissed the action on the grounds it was commenced after
the four-month statute of limitations under CPLR § 217.
then brought an action in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 again
alleging that the failure to give notice by mail violated due process
of law. The District Court dismissed the action on the grounds the
prior dismissal in the state court barred the action in federal court.
The Second Circuit reversed the dismissal and reinstated the claim. The statute
of limitations for a § 1983 action in the New York federal courts is
three years. The traditional rule is that a dismissal on
statute-of-limitations grounds is not a determination on the merits--it
bars the remedy but does not extinguish the right. Therefore, an action
dismissed for untimeliness in one jurisdiction, can be brought in
another jurisdiction with a longer statute of limitations....
(The remainder of the post can be read here.)