Nahmod Law


This is the fifth of my section 1983 primers. I previously blogged on section 1983’s history and purposes (post of 10-29-09); on Monroe v. Pape (post of 11-29-09); on constitutional states of mind (post of 2-6-10); and on causation in fact and the Mt. Healthy burden-shift rule (post of 4-25-10).

This post addresses the important, and threshold, question of statutes of limitations in section 1983 cases.

The Basics

Because section 1983 does not have its own statute of limitations, it is “deficient” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. section 1988. Under the provisions of that statute, where federal law is deficient, federal courts are to apply the relevant law of the forum state, unless the relevant law of the forum state is inconsistent with federal law or policy or discriminates against federal claims.

As a consequence of section 1988, statutes…

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