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Comparison: Equitable Tolling vs Jurisdictional Deadlines


I. Definitions

Equitable
"according to natural right or natural justice; marked by due consideration for what is fair and impartial, unhampered by technical rules the law may have devised that limit recovery or defense." Statute of Limitations
"any law that fixes the time within which parties must take judicial action to enforce rights or else be thereafter barred from enforcing them. Equity proceedings are governed by an independent doctrine called laches." Tolling
"1. to bar, defeat. To toll the statute of limitations means to suspend the limitation."

II. Legal Citations

§120.68(2)(a) Florida Statute | Judicial Review
"(a) Judicial review shall be sought in the appellate district where the agency maintains its headquarters or where a party resides or as otherwise provided by law. All proceedings shall be instituted by filing a notice of appeal or petition for review in accordance with the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure within 30 days after the rendition of the order being appealed. If the appeal is of an order rendered in a proceeding initiated under s. 120.56, the agency whose rule is being challenged shall transmit a copy of the notice of appeal to the committee." §760.11(5) Florida Statute | Administrative and Civil Remedies; Construction
"A civil action brought under this section shall be commenced no later than 1 year after the date of determination of reasonable cause by the commission. The commencement of such action shall divest the commission of jurisdiction of the complaint..." §760.11(7) Florida Statute | Administrative and Civil Remedies; Construction
"The aggrieved person may request an administrative hearing under ss. 120.569 and 120.57, but any such request must be made within 35 days of the date of determination of reasonable cause and any such hearing shall be heard by an administrative law judge and not by the commission or a commissioner. If the aggrieved person does not request an administrative hearing within the 35 days, the claim will be barred." 42 USC §2000e-5(f)(1) | Enforcement Provisions
"the Commission, or the Attorney General in a case involving a government, governmental agency, or political subdivision, shall so notify the person aggrieved and within ninety days after the giving of such notice a civil action may be brought against the respondent named in the charge (A) by the person claiming to be aggrieved or (B) if such charge was filed by a member of the Commission, by any person whom the charge alleges was aggrieved by the alleged unlawful employment practice." 42 USC §2000e-16(c) | Civil Action by Employee
"Within 90 days of receipt of notice of final action taken by... the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission... on a complaint of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, brought pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, Executive Order 11478 or any succeeding Executive orders, an employee... may file a civil action as provided in section 2000e–5 of this title..."

III. Judicial Application

Equitable Tolling pretty much means applying fairness to filing deadlines:
“The doctrine of equitable tolling abates the harsh operation of the statute of limitations under certain circumstances in which barring a plaintiff's potentially meritorious action would be unjust."
- Justice v US, 6 F. 3d 1474, 1480 (11th Cir. 1993)
Florida's judiciary construes the appellate filing deadlines as Statutes of Limitation. Therefore, Equitable Tolling applies:

“In view of the fact that the filing of [a Notice of Appeal] is not jurisdictional, but is analogous to statutes of limitation which are subject to equitable considerations"
- Castillo v. Dept of Admin, 593 So. 2d 1116 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992)
Federal judiciaries construe civil rights filing deadlines as statutes of limitation:
“Filing a timely charge of discrimination with the EEOC is not a jurisdictional prerequisite to suit in federal court, but a requirement that, like a statute of limitations, is subject to waiver, estoppel, and equitable tolling. The structure of Title VII, the congressional policy underlying it, and the reasoning of this Court's prior cases all lead to this conclusion."
- Zipes v Trans World Airlines, Inc., 455 US 385 (1982)
Standard of Review: The Courts will apply Equitable Tolling to your case if something bad happened that was out of your control:
"Generally, the tolling doctrine has been applied when the plaintiff has been misled or lulled into inaction, has in some extraordinary way been prevented from asserting his rights, or has timely asserted his rights mistakenly in the wrong forum."
- Machules v. Dept of Admin, 523 So. 2d 1132 (Fla. 1988)
Broken down into its parts, the Courts will apply the doctrine for four different reasons:
(1) you were misled;
(2) you were lulled into inaction;
(3) some extraordinary thing got in your way1; or
(4) you filed your papers on time - but in the wrong court/tribunal;
Important: The wrongdoer can be either the government or your civil opponent.
“For instance, equitable tolling may be appropriate where a plaintiff has been "lulled into inaction by her past employer, state or federal agencies, or the courts."
- Martinez v Orr, 738 F.2d 1107, 1112 (10th Cir. 1984)


Bottom Line: If it's not your fault that you're "late" then the Court will excuse your "tardiness".



Footnotes:
1Equitable Tolling is available when the "plaintiff is unable to determine who caused his injury"
(see Savory v Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 669 (7th cir. 2006))


STATUTES OF LIMITATION

✓ Equitable Tolling IS available.
JURISDICTIONAL DEADLINES

x no Equitable Tolling allowed.




IV. Additional Notes

V. Additional Resources

V. Conclusion

You can use the doctrines of Equitable Tolling to get the Court to excuse your "late" filing (as long as the deadline was "non-jurisdictional").









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