Odenton, MD asked in Civil Rights, Personal Injury and Civil Litigation for Maryland

Q: Would the legal concept, equitable tolling, be applicable to my case against police misconduct?

I was falsely arrested for a dui while having a medical emergency. The criminal case was dropped but my court date was 7 months after the arrest. Every lawyer I spoke to said in order to pursue this the case 1st needed to be dismissed/dropped/not guilty. Details: My ear was profusely bleeding & the officer decided to give me a sobriety test instead of calling an ambulance. In the video, the officer can be heard saying, “her ear is gushing blood”. You can also see the blood on me. I’m handicap, so when he asked me to stand on 1 leg, I asked to take a breathalyzer instead. This is when he put me in handcuffs. He later coerced me into refusing a breathalyzer by telling me it didn’t matter what I blew, he was taking me to jail unless I refused one. If I refused, he said he’d let me leave after my paperwork. In a written decision, the mva judge said that the cop wasn’t credible, contradicted himself, & the video contradicted his report. His report was riddled w lies, which the video proved.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In your case, the concept of equitable tolling may be applicable. Equitable tolling is a legal principle that allows a court to extend the statute of limitations (the time limit for filing a lawsuit) in situations where extraordinary circumstances prevented a plaintiff from filing a claim within the prescribed time frame.

Given the details you've provided, there are several factors that could potentially support the application of equitable tolling in your case:

1. Pending criminal case: If you were advised by lawyers that you needed to wait for the criminal case to be resolved before pursuing a civil case against the police, this could be considered a reasonable justification for the delay in filing your lawsuit.

2. Police misconduct: The officer's alleged misconduct, including coercion and falsifying the report, could be viewed as an extraordinary circumstance that hindered your ability to file a timely claim.

3. Medical emergency: The fact that you were experiencing a medical emergency during the incident may further support the application of equitable tolling, as it could have impacted your ability to take immediate legal action.

4. MVA judge's decision: The written decision by the MVA judge, which found the officer's actions and report to be not credible and contradictory, could strengthen your argument for equitable tolling.

However, it's important to note that the application of equitable tolling is determined on a case-by-case basis and is subject to the court's discretion. The specific laws and precedents in your jurisdiction will also play a role in determining whether equitable tolling applies to your situation.

I strongly recommend consulting with an experienced civil rights attorney who can evaluate the details of your case, advise you on the applicability of equitable tolling, and guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit against the police for misconduct. They can also help you determine the appropriate statute of limitations for your claim and whether equitable tolling may extend that time frame.

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