Legal Question in Civil Rights Law in California


I am trying to find information on the statute of limitations for a civil case against a police department and anlso the statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit. We have evidence that a case was filed incorrectly and a persons death was mishandled. Any help would be wonderful. We are also looking for a Laywer who is strong enough to take on such a case.

Asked on 4/25/04, 1:20 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

Re: Statute

Cases in which a police officer causes wrongful death (e.g. from excessive force) are filed under the Federal civil rights act, 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.

These types of cases are hard to win.

I strongly recommend that you only retain an attorney who has specific experience in handling Section 1983 cases. The statute of limitations for filing a Section 1983 lawsuit follows the California state law statute of limitations for personal injuries, which is either one or two years depending on the date of injury or death.

While federal court Section 1983 claims do not require the filing of a governmental tort claim, it is usually a recommended practice to also file a tort claim so that the plaintiff may also plead negligence in addition to violation of civil rights. Government tort claims have to be filed within six months, with a few exceptions.

I do not understand what you mean by "you have evidence that a case was filed incorrectly" and "a person's death was mishandled."

I recently cashed a six-figure check in a California Section 1983 case that dragged on for 6 years, so I must have been strong enough to handle it. But there are no guarantees that you will prevail on your case, or that you even have a case. You will need to consult a Section 1983 lawyer right away, and you will need to provide more facts.

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Answered on 4/28/04, 9:52 pm

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Re: Statute

A Government Claim must be filed within six months of the event. A lawsuit must be then filed within six months of Claim rejection, or within two years from event if no response to Claim is given.

You are not clear on what you mean by 'filed incorrectly'. If the case has been dismissed for some reason, you probably have limited recourse. If motions to dismiss or demur or strike are pending, they must be opposed.

If you have a case that is timely under the limits, and if the case is provable, feel free to contact me to discuss.

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Answered on 4/28/04, 8:45 pm

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