Notice & Comment

D.C. Circuit Review – Reviewed: the statute of limitations for ADA claims

Last week the D.C. Circuit decided just one case on a relatively narrow issue. In a short nine-page opinion in Abreu v. Howard University, the panel (Wilkins, Katsas, Rogers) held that the same three-year statute of limitations that applies (at least in the District of Columbia) to civil rights claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act also applies to civil rights claims under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The reasoning is quite straightforward. Neither Title VI, the ADA, nor the Rehabilitation Act contains an express statute of limitations. But the D.C. Circuit had previously borrowed the three-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions under D.C. law as the statute of limitations for claims brought under Title VI. See Stafford v. George Washington University, 56 F.4th 50 (D.C. Cir. 2022). The panel concluded that, by its terms, Stafford applied to all “civil rights claims involving discrimination,” and it emphasized the “need for certainty and uniformity” in statutes of limitations. Op. 5-6. A narrow holding on a relatively straightforward issue, but one that helpfully clarifies the law in the District.

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