by Michael Fox
In certain parts of Texas, plaintiffs seek to avoid being in federal court at all costs. Today, the 5th Circuit clarified a procedural hurdle to that tactic in a small category of cases.
In Taylor v. Bailey Tool & Manufacturing(5th Cir. 3/10/14), plaintiff originally filed suit in state court alleging only violations of the Texas anti-discrimination statute. Unfortunately, for the plaintiff, the claim was not timely filed. Later plaintiff amended to add Title VII and a Section 1981 claim.
Defendant removed and moved to dismiss arguing all claims were untimely. Both parties agreed that the state claims were untimely. Both parties also agreed that whether the federal claims were timely depended on whether Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) or the Texas relation back rule, TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 16.068 applied.
If Rule 15(c) applied, the federal claims, even though filed after the federal statute of limitations would be timely because they would relate back to the filing of the original claim. On the other hand, if the Texas rule applied, they would not be timely because § 16.068 prohibits relation back if the cause of action would have been subject to a plea of limitation when filed.
The 5th Circuit joined the two other circuits (the 6th and 9th) that had ruled on this matter, holding that the state rule applied, thus barring the claim.
The net result is that plaintiffs will have to make sure that their state claim is timely if they want to avoid federal court.
A simple and straight forward, but important, holding.