On January 22, 2018, the Supreme Court decided Artis v. District of Columbia, a case concerning the scope of the tolling language contained in the federal supplemental jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1367(d). When a federal court dismisses the only claim serving as the basis for its exercise of jurisdiction, it ordinarily also dismisses (without resolving) any related non-federal claims that were part of the same case or controversy. Should the plaintiff wish to refile and pursue those claims in state court, questions may arise as to how any applicable statutes of limitations would apply. The language of § 1367(d) provides that such statutes of limitations “shall be tolled while the claim is pending and for a period of 30 days after it is dismissed unless State law provides for a longer tolling period.”
In 2011, Stephanie Artis filed suit against DC in federal district court alleging unlawful termination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with various other claims arising under DC statutes and the common law. The district court granted DC judgment on the pleadings and dismissed Artis’s sole federal claim under Title VII in 2014. Fifty-nine days later, Artis refiled those claims in DC Superior Court. DC responded with a motion for dismissal on the grounds that the claims were time-barred based on the relevant statutes of limitations plus 1367(d). The Superior Court agreed and the DC Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment, concluding that § 1367(d) does not “stop the clock” on state statutes of limitations from the time of an unsuccessful federal filing until 30 days after dismissal, but rather merely creates a 30-day “grace period” for a claimant to refile his or her claims elsewhere.
The U.S. Supreme Court thereafter granted Artis’s petition for certiorari to resolve a split among state supreme courts regarding the proper interpretation of § 1367(d). By a vote of 5-4 the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the DC Court of Appeals and remanded the case. In an opinion delivered by Justice Ginsburg, the Court rejected the “grace period” reading and held that §1367(d)’s instruction to “toll” a state limitations period means to hold it in abeyance, i.e., to stop the clock.
Justice Ginsburg’s majority opinion was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito.
To discuss the case, we have Misha Tseytlin, Solicitor General of Wisconsin.
As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speakers.