New York Legal News Round Up
Define That Term #279

Statute of Limitations and Emotional Distress Claims

Gavel2 Statute of limitations cases always interest me, since they present unique issues, and Schultes v Kane 2008 NY Slip Op 03271 is just such a case.

Schultes offers an unusual factual scenario, and clarity on the issue of when the statute of limitations begins to run on emotional distress claims.

In this case, 30 years after the plaintiff and defendant divorced, the defendant, without the plaintiff's knowledge, had their children's bodies disinterred from a burial plot owned jointly by the parties and had the bodies placed elsewhere.

The plaintiff learned of this fact a few years later in 2005, and shortly thereafter filed a lawsuit alleging, inter alia, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.  The husband alleged that her claims were precluded by the statute of limitations.

The Third Department disagreed:

The statutes of limitations do not bar plaintiff's causes of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. "[A]s a general proposition, a tort cause of action cannot accrue until an injury is sustained. That, rather than the wrongful act of defendant or discovery of the injury by plaintiff, is the relevant date for marking accrual"...Because extreme emotional distress is an element of each of these causes of action, and plaintiff could not truthfully allege all of the elements until she suffered this element of injury, these causes of action did not accrue until she suffered distress as a result of learning that her children's bodies had been disinterred...As plaintiff commenced the action within two months after these causes of action accrued, the statutes of limitations had not expired...

Sounds about right to me. 


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