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Supreme Court rules 'toll' means 'stop the clock' in federal jurisdiction statute

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 Monday in Artis v. District of Columbia [SCOTUSblog materials] that the "instruction to 'toll' a state limitations period means to hold it in abeyance, i.e., to stop the clock."

The court was asked to determine how long the federal supplemental jurisdiction statute gives plaintiffs to refile in state court. Specifically, whether the statute provides plaintiffs with a 30-day window after the dismissal of their claims to refile, or if the plaintiffs are given 30 days plus the remaining limitations period at the time the plaintiff filed the original federal suit. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed [opinion PDF] the lower court's ruling and decided "that the tolling provision of § 1367 (d) applies a thirty-day 'grace period' to allow litigants to re-file claims that otherwise would have become barred in Superior Court."

The decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reversed the appeals court decision and remanded it for further proceedings. The court based its decision on the language of the statute and what it was trying to accomplish. Ginsburg wrote:

In §1367(d), Congress did provide for tolling not only while the claim is pending in federal court, but also for 30 days thereafter. Including the 30 days within §1367(d)'s tolling period accounts for cases in which a federal action is commenced close to the expiration date of the relevant state statute of limitations. In such a case, the added days give the plaintiff breathing space to refile in state court.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined by three other justices, wrote the dissenting opinion in which he said the court's actions on the statute represent "no small intrusion on traditional state functions and no small departure from our foundational principles of federalism." The dissent believes the decision is the overstepping of the boundary between state and federal powers.

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