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Statutes of Limitations for Civil Actions and Procedural Deadlines During COVID-19

Individuals are ordered to stay home. Businesses are extremely limited on how they are able to function. The New York State Court’s operations have been limited to essential matters. Yes, this is the state of affairs due to the spread of COVID-19. What happens now in the case where an individual or entity believes that they have been wronged by another and the applicable statutes of limitation (i.e., the deadline by which the party must commence formal legal action or be forever barred from making the claim) is scheduled to pass in the coming days or weeks? Currently, individuals and entities are faced with very real barriers to being able to prepare and file the paperwork necessary to avoid a “statute of limitations” dismissal of the civil action. Similarly, for those parties already embroiled in a civil action and a procedural deadline is approaching, those same barriers apply to the timely filing of notices or motions or meeting other required deadlines. Well, relief has just been granted by the State of New York.


Following Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.8, in accordance with the recent directive of New York’s Chief Judge limiting Court operations to essential matters during the pendency of the COVID-19 crisis, any specific time limit for the commencement, filing or service of any action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding as prescribed by the procedural laws of the State of New York is tolled (i.e., paused or delayed) from the date of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order (i.e., March 20, 2020) until April 19, 2020.

This Executive Order applies to all procedural laws of the State of New York, including but not limited to, the criminal procedure law, the family court act, the civil practice law and rules, the court of claims act, the surrogate’s court procedure act, and the uniform court acts, as well as any specific time limit set by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation or any part thereof.


Notably, shortly after Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.8, the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of New York State issued an Administrative Order, in which it was directed that, effective immediately and until further order, no papers shall be accepted for filing by a county clerk or a court in any matter of a type not included on the following list of essential matters:

A. Criminal Matters

  1. Arraignments

  2. Bail applications, reviews and writs

  3. Temporary orders of protection

  4. Resentencing of retained and incarcerated defendants

  5. Essential sex offender registration act matters

B. Family Court Matters

  1. Child protection intake cases involving removal applications

  2. Newly filed juvenile delinquency intake cases involving remand placement applications, or modifications thereof

  3. Emergency family offense petitions/temporary orders of protection

  4. Orders to show cause

  5. Stipulation on submission

C. Supreme Court Matters

  1. Mental Hygiene Law applications and hearings addressing patient retention and release

  2. Mental Hygiene Law hearing addressing the involuntary administration of medication and other medical care

  3. Newly filed Mental Hygiene Law applications for an assisted outpatient treatment plan

  4. Emergency applications in guardianship matters

  5. Temporary orders of protection (including but not limited to matters involving domestic violence)

  6. Emergency applications related to the coronavirus

  7. Emergency Election Law applications

  8. Extreme risk protective orders

D. Civil/Housing Matters

  1. Applications addressing landlord lockouts (including reductions in essential services)

  2. Applications addressing serious code violations

  3. Applications addressing serious repair orders

  4. Applications for post-eviction relief

E. All Courts

  1. Any other matter that the court deems essential


Given the above, whether you are an individual or entity with a legal action that needs to be filed (whether or not you have retained an attorney) or an attorney who is currently representing a client with a statutory deadline approaching, you have a bit of breathing room. However, you should continue to diligently work towards preparing and filing the necessary paperwork before the tolled deadline of April 19, 2020, but such filing may have to wait (unless it is one of the essential matters listed above), until further order from the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of New York.


If you have any questions about this Legal Briefing, please contact any member of the firm at (585) 730-4773.

This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business.

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