Week of January 9, 2017 through January 13, 2017
Brilliant Semenova v. Maryland Transit Administration (Thacker 1/10/2017): The Fourth Circuit held that the statute of limitations under the Americans with Disabilities Act is three years, the same as a general civil action. The Court reversed the decision of the district court, which applied a two-year statute of limitations, and remanded the case because the complaint alleged discrimination occurring within three years of its filing. See below for full summary of this case. Full Opinion
United States v. Brandon Tate (Floyd 1/11/2017): The Fourth Circuit held that the government, to satisfy their plea agreement obligation “to recommend the lowest end of the applicable guideline range,” is only required to recommend the lowest end of the specific range chosen by the district court, not the range the defendant believes should have been chosen. Full Opinion
Brilliant Semenova v. Maryland Transit Administration, No. 15-2125
Decided: January 10, 2017
The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s suit as untimely, and remanded the case because plaintiff’s complaint alleged discrimination occurring within three years of its filing.
Plaintiff filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland alleging that the Maryland Transit Administration violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in operating its commuter bus service. Plaintiff suffers from cerebral palsy and uses a walker or crutches. Plaintiff alleged that on numerous occasions, bus operators refused to use an assistance lift or otherwise assist her in boarding the bus. Because plaintiff relied on the bus to attend classes at the Community College of Baltimore County, she alleged that this discrimination forced her to withdraw from school. The Maryland Transit Administration moved to dismiss the suit on timeliness grounds, arguing that because the ADA does not provide a statute of limitations, ADA claims brought in Maryland are subject to the two-year statute of limitations found in the Maryland Anti-Discrimination Law. Plaintiff, however, argued that her complaint was timely because Maryland’s three-year statute of limitations for general civil actions should apply to her claim. The district court granted the Maryland Transit Administration’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint as untimely.
On appeal, the Fourth Circuit held that the three-year statute of limitations for general civil actions should apply to plaintiff’s complaint. Because Title II of the ADA does not contain a statute of limitations, federal courts borrow the state statute of limitations that applies to the most analogous state-law claim. State legislation containing a statute of limitations will only control if it provides substantially the same rights and remedies as the ADA. The Maryland Anti-Discrimination Law does not provide plaintiff the same rights and remedies as the ADA because it does not provide a cause of action for disability discrimination in the provision for public services. Rather, the closer state-law analog to such an ADA claim is Maryland’s more general statute of limitations, requiring plaintiffs to file civil actions within three years from the date it accrues unless another provision in the Code provides otherwise.
Accordingly, the Fourth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal and remanded for further proceedings.
Katie E. Lowery