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Garza v. Burnett, 2013 UT 66 (November 1, 2013) 

Nov 1, 2013

In answering a certified question from the Tenth Circuit, the Utah Supreme Court held that when an intervening change in law “extinguishes a previously timely cause of action,” the doctrine of equitable tolling will “afford the plaintiff a reasonable period of time after the change in law to bring his claim.” Garza, 2013 UT 66, ¶ ¶ 14 – 15. Previously, the court only applied equitable tolling in cases where the “discovery rule” was implicated. Id. ¶ ¶ 10 – 11. The court explained that this was not because equitable tolling was limited to such cases, but because there is a high bar that litigants must meet in order to obtain such “extraordinary relief.” Id. ¶ 10. In this § 1983 case, the court held that failure to apply equitable tolling “would be manifestly unjust because [the plaintiff] would lose his cause of action due to circumstances beyond his control and through no fault of his own.” Id. ¶ 12.