Posts tagged with "Statute of Limitations"

Motion to Dismiss Denied Where Defendant Failed to Establish Due Process Violation from Pre-Arrest Delay

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

In a criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut considered a defendant’s pre-trial motion to dismiss charges against her due to “unreasonable delay” in prosecutorial efforts.

Case Background

This case arose from an incident that occurred on November 29, 2006, in New Haven, CT. The defendant was involved in an automobile collision with a city bus, resulting in her month-long hospitalization before she returned to her residence, which she occupied prior to and after the accident. A detective prepared an arrest warrant, which was signed on December 14, 2006, but made only one attempt to serve it on the defendant, which was unsuccessful. Approximately fifteen months of inaction passed before the defendant “turned herself in,” indicating she became award of the arrest warrant.

The defendant was charged with second-degree assault with a motor vehicle (Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) § 53a-60d), operating under the influence (CGS § 14-227a), and evading responsibility (CGS § 14-224(b)). She filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that warrant was not served within a reasonable time and beyond the statute of limitations. She further claimed that the pre-arrest delay violated her constitutionally protected due process rights. In support of her motion, the defendant did not present any evidence of “the impact, if any, the fifteen-month delay had on the defendant’s ability to present a defense.”

What Constitutes an Unreasonable Delay?

Under CGS § 54-193(b), our statute of limitations law, the State can prosecute an individual for a crime resulting in a sentence in excess of one year within five years after the date of the offense. However, “the warrant must still be executed without unreasonable delay to preserve the primary purpose of the statute of limitations.” Where a defendant asserts due process violations stemming from pre-arrest delays, he or she must prove “both that (1) actual substantial prejudice resulted from the delay and (2) that the reasons for the delay were wholly unjustifiable, as where the state seeks to gain a tactical advantage.”

There is no per se rule regarding whether the length of a delay is unreasonable. In State v. Crawford, a decision rendered by Connecticut’s Supreme Court, the arrest warrant was not executed for more than two years after it was issued, yet this did not warrant a dismissal of the charges.

Court’s Ruling

In this case, the Superior Court found that the fifteen-month delay was not per se unreasonable, in large part referencing the longer and unexplained, yet permissible delay in Crawford. Even if the delay due to a lack of due diligence was found unreasonable, “[t]he evidence presented to this court did not demonstrate that the defendant has suffered any disadvantage.” The defendant did not provide any evidence of prejudice beyond “mere allegations,” and there was “no evidence in the record to support a claim that the state sought to gain a tactical advantage over the defendant by virtue of the pre-arrest delay.” Therefore, the Superior Court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

When faced with a charge of evading responsibility, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Federal Court Case of First Impression-Statute of Limitations Defense

This afternoon, the Honorable Stefan R. Underhill of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut issued a decision denying summary judgment to a defendant in a case in which Maya Murphy P.C., represents the Plaintiff (Chappetta v. Soto, 3:06 cv 1913(SRU)).  Andrea Chappetta was injured in a rear-end motor vehicle collision on I-95 in Connecticut in 2003; following surgery to address her injuries, she fell in a movie theater (in New York) owned by Regal Cinemas, which fall irreparably and significantly damaged her surgically repaired shoulder while also causing new injuries.

Plaintiff commenced one lawsuit against two defendants in different states, suing both the Connecticut motor vehicle operator and the New York movie theater in the United States District Court in June of 2005.  Following initial motion practice, the lawsuit against the Connecticut driver was dismissed by the Court for lack of personal jurisdiction, on the basis of a claimed statute of limitations defense.

Plaintiff re-filed the action, invoking the protections and applicability of the Connecticut “Savings Statute” (C.G.S. Sec. 52.592), and immediately faced a second attack by the Connecticut defendant, who sought to escape liability and dismiss the lawsuit rather than proceed to trial on the merits of Ms. Chappetta’s claims.

After exhaustive discovery, comprehensive motion practice, and extensive oral argument before the Court, this afternoon’s decision represents a landmark interpretation and clear definition of the Connecticut savings statute in federal diversity jurisdiction cases.  The Court held that the mere filing of an action in federal court (the filing was prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, even though personal service was not completed until after the statute of limitations had expired) was sufficient to satisfy the savings statute and allow a case to be heard on the merits.  This was clearly a case of first impression; indeed, the Court acknowledged during oral arguments that no case existed under State or Federal case law which was directly on point.  Today’s decision carefully analyzed and expanded the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 2004 holding in Rocco v. Garrison, 268 Conn. 541 (2004), stating, in part:

“In my view, however, the better reading of Rocco is that the Court held that the defendant’s receipt of actual notice of the pendency of a federal court action is sufficient, but not necessary, to commence an action for purposes of the savings statute.  In other words, by indicating that the action was commenced ‘when’ the defendant received notice, the Court meant that on that date, which was within the statute of limitations, the Rocco plaintiffs’ action had been commenced; it did not mean that the action had been commenced because the defendant received actual notice or that the action was commenced by reason of the receipt of actual notice…”

The Court went on to reason the following:

“In a real sense, therefore, an action is commenced in federal court upon filing; indeed, with federal court cases other than diversity of citizenship cases, the statute of limitations is satisfied upon the filing of the complaint rather than service of process.  Although commencement in the sense of opening a federal court case and assigning a docket number does not satisfy the statute of limitations under Connecticut law, the Rocco Court suggested that it might constitute ‘commencement’ of an action for purposes of the savings statute…if an action governed by Connecticut law is filed in federal court within the statute of limitations but is not properly served pursuant to Connecticut law so that it has not been timely commenced for purposes of the statute of limitations, the savings statute permits it to be brought again within one year.”

And so, with the Court’s adept reasoning and today’s clear decision – after persistent, aggressive legal work and detailed argument from counsel – Ms. Chappetta will soon have the opportunity to have a jury consider the gravity of her injuries and all parties responsible for her damages.  A link to the 11-page decision will be posted when the decision is officially published.

If you have questions regarding a statute of limitations or any personal injury matter, contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

Am I Entitled to Payment For Overtime Work, If I Have Not Been Paid for the Past 10 Years, in Connecticut?

If you have worked overtime but have not been appropriately compensated for your work, you may be entitled to payment.  Determining what money you may be entitled to depends on a number of different factors.  The first factor is the statute of limitations in your state.  Depending on this statute, you will only be entitled to collect overtime wages from a certain date.  Another important factor to consider is your employment contract.  It would be best to consult an experienced employment law attorney who can consider each important fact of your case to educate you on your best course of action.

If you have any further questions regarding employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Am I Entitled to Payment For Overtime Work, If I Have Not Been Paid for the Past 10 Years, in Connecticut?

If you have worked overtime but have not been appropriately compensated for your work, you may be entitled to payment.  Determining what money you may be entitled to depends on a number of different factors.  The first factor is the statute of limitations in your state.  Depending on this statute, you will only be entitled to collect overtime wages from a certain date.  Another important factor to consider is your employment contract.  It would be best to consult an experienced employment law attorney who can consider each important fact of your case to educate you on your best course of action.

If you have any further questions regarding employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

I Have Been Working a 40 Hour Work Week for 15.5 Years and Have Only Been Paid for 37.5 Hours. Am I Entitled to My Money Earned?

It is understandable that you would want to collect the money you deserve compensation for.  One issue that should be addressed is the statute of limitations on wage collection.  Depending on the statute of limitations in your state, you will only be entitled to collect wages from a certain date.  It would be helpful to consult an employment attorney who has experience dealing with these issues, to educate you on your rights and how you should proceed.

If you have any questions regarding employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

I Have Been Working a 40 Hour Work Week for 15.5 Years and Have Only Been Paid for 37.5 Hours. Am I Entitled to My Money Earned?

It is understandable that you would want to collect the money you deserve compensation for.  One issue that should be addressed is the statute of limitations on wage collection.  Depending on the statute of limitations in your state, you will only be entitled to collect wages from a certain date.  It would be helpful to consult an employment attorney who has experience dealing with these issues, to educate you on your rights and how you should proceed.

If you have any questions regarding employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.