The case is Farley v. Koepp, 14-1695. The lawyer for the plaintiff had until March 11, 2013 to file a civil rights case. Here is what happened:
On March 8, 2013, the lawyer opened an electronic case file in the Southern District of Illinois. He then emailed a copy of the complaint and the civil cover sheet to the clerk’s office as required by the local rules. The clerk opened the electronic case file. As the court explains “on the next business day – Monday, March 11 – the attorney’s assistant tried to upload the complaint but encountered problems with the electronic payment system. It was not until Tuesday, March 12, that she successfully paid the filing fee and uploaded the complaint.”
The district court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss and dismissed the case as untimely.
The Seventh Circuit reversed. It held that the email of the complaint to the clerk was sufficient to toll the statute of limitations. The court held that under FRCP 5(d) the complaint was timely. “We hold only that under Rule 5(d) a complaint is ‘filed’ on the date it is delivered to the clerk, regardless of defects in form (including electronic defects), and under Rule 3 the action is commenced on that date, which tolls the running of the statute of limitations.”
For anyone who has struggled with the electronic filing system, this decision is welcome.
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.