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Limitations of Actions

Supreme Judicial Court Expands Discovery Rule to Require Knowledge of "Whom to Sue"

The "discovery rule" delays the three-year statute of limitations period for plaintiffs to bring tort claims "where the plaintiff did not know or could not reasonably have known that he or she may have been harmed by the conduct of another" until the plaintiff gains actual or constructive knowledge of the wrong. See Koe v. Mercer, 450 Mass. 97, 101 (2007). In an opinion issued last week, the Supreme Judicial Court broadened the discovery rule to include knowledge of the responsible person's identity, reasoning that such knowledge "seems implicit in the requirement that a plaintiff know that the defendant's conduct caused him harm; without such knowledge, the plaintiff does not know whom to sue." Harrington v. Costello, 467 Mass. 720, 2014 WL 1362630 at *4 (April 9, 2014)

A Massachusetts Statute of Limitations Checklist

In evaluating any business litigation matter, one of the first and most critical points to consider (as a plaintiff or a defendant) is whether any aspect of the case may be untimely because it is barred by operation of a statute of limitation.  Too often, plaintiffs lose valuable claims because they (or their lawyer) fail to appreciate that the "clock" on one or more of their claims has run down.  Defendants, on the other hand, sometimes overlook excellent statute of limitations based defenses that can reduce or eliminate their exposure in a lawsuit.  Wouldn't it be useful if there were, in one place, a summary of the laws concerning the time limitations, accrual periods, and exceptions applicable to Massachusetts commercial cases?  Now there is one.  My colleague William G. Cosmas and I are pleased to share the Massachusetts Statute of Limitations Checklist that we prepared for publication with the Practical Law Company.  

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