Burnett v. N.Y. Cent. R.R. Co

In Burnett v. N.Y. Cent. R.R. Co., 380 U.S. 424 (1965), an employee timely filed suit in state court under the Federal Employers Liability Act. Id. at 424-25. The action was dismissed for lack of venue, and eight days later, the plaintiff filed the identical suit in federal court. Id. 425. Limitations had expired by the time the suit was filed in federal court. Id. The Supreme Court held the state court action tolled limitations, which made the federal action timely. Id. at 426. The Court also observed that limitations may be equitably tolled in situations where the failure to file suit is due to the defendant misleading the plaintiff into believing he had more than the limitations period to file suit or where the plaintiff was prevented from filing suit due to war. Id. at 428-29. "In such cases a plaintiff has not slept on his rights but, rather, has been prevented from asserting them." Id. at 429.