equitable tolling – the statute of limitations will not bar a claim if the plaintiff did not discover the injury until after the limitations period ended, or extraordinary circumstances prevented earlier filing

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equitable tolling:

1. The doctrine that the statute of limitations will not bar a claim if the plaintiff, despite diligent efforts, did not discover the injury until after the limitations period had expired, in which case the statute is upended or tolled until the plaintiff discovers the injury.  *  Equitable tolling does not require misconduct such as concealment by the defendant.

2. The doctrine that if a plaintiff files a suit first in one court and then refiles in another, the statute of limitations does not run when the litigation is pending in the first court if various requirements are not met.  *  Among those requirements are 

(1) timely notice to the defendant;
(2) no prejudice to the defendant; and
(3) reasonable and good-faith conduct on the party fo the plaintiff.

3. A court’s discretionary extension of a legal deadline as a result of extraordinary circumstances that prevented one from complying despite reasonable diligence throughout the period before the deadline passed. [1]

     It has been held that equitable tolling applies principally if the plaintiff is actively misled by the defendant about the cause of action or is prevented in some extraordinary way from asserting his or her rights.  However, it has also been held that the equitable tolling doctrine does not require wrongful conduct on the part of the defendant, such as fraud or misrepresentation. [2]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: 51 American Jurisprudence 2d Limitation of Actions § 174 (2007).


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