Statute of Limitations for Filing Deliberate Indifference Claim in Serious Medical Needs Cases

Under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, the government has the constitutional obligation to attend to a prisoners serious medical needs.  Under the common law of Section 1983, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is based on the forum state's personal injury statute of limitations.  How does one calculate the statute of limitations?

If a prisoner's medial issues are ignored for several months or years, when does the limitations period begin to run?  Does the limitations period run at the date of the first complaint?  At the last?

Recently the Second Circuit held that the limitations period in deliberate actions will be governed by the continuing violations rule.  Shomo v. City of New York, 07-1208-cv (2d Cir. Aug. 13, 2008) ("We hold that the continuing violation doctrine can apply to Eighth Amendmentclaims of medical indifference brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when the plaintiff shows anongoing policy of deliberate indifference to his or her serious medical needs and some acts infurtherance of the policy within the relevant statute of limitations period.")  The panel limited its holding to cases where the plaintiff alleges "both the existence of an ongoing policy of discrimination and somenon-time-barred acts taken in furtherance of that policy."  Slip op. at *6, citing Harris v. City of NewYork, 186 F.3d 243, 250 (2d Cir. 1999).

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