Interpreting Federal Statutes of Limitations

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Authors
Bain, Adam
Colella, Ugo
Issue Date
2004
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Journal Article
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FIRST PARAGRAPH(S)|Determining whether the limitations provision of a federal statute bars a cause of action is not always a simple chronological calculation. Where a plaintiffs action might otherwise be barred as untimely, a court may apply an equitable exception to the limitations period to save the case. Courts often do so without first analyzing whether Congress intended for the exception to apply to the particular federal statute. For example, without any statutory analysis, courts have applied a discovery rule of accrual to many federal statutes of limitations. Under a discovery rule, the time period of the limitations provision does not begin until the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered, her injury. The United States Supreme Court, in a series of recent cases, has held that there must be a basis for inferring Congressional intent to incorporate an equitable exception, including the discovery rule of accrual, into a federal statute. The Court, however, has not articulated a comprehensive interpretive approach for determining when Congress intends to include (or exclude) equitable considerations in a statute of limitations...
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37 Creighton L. Rev. 493 (2003-2004)
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Creighton University School of Law
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