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Legal Memorandum: Affirmative Defense of Statute of Limitations

Issue: Under New York law, what is the burden of proving the affirmative defense of statute of limitations?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Statute of limitations; Expiration; Burden of proof
Jurisdiction: New York 
Cited Cases: 38 A.D.2d 645
Cited Statutes: N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 3018(b)
Date: 09/01/2010

Expiration of the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense.  See N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 3018(b).  The burden of proving this affirmative defense is on the party invoking it, i.e., the defendant.  Doyon v. Bascom, 38 A.D.2d 645, 645-46 (3d Dep’t 1971).  In order have a cause of action dismissed on the basis of a statute of limitations bar, the defendant bears the initial burden of establishing prima facie that the time in which to file suit has expired.  Swift v. N.Y. Med. Coll., 25 A.D.3d 686, 687 (2d Dep’t 2006); Texeria v. Bab Nuclear Radiology, P.C., 43 A.D.3d 403, 405 (2d Dep’t 2007).  The prima facie showing requires the defendant to establish, among other things, when the cause of action accrued.  Swift, 25 A.D.3d at 687.  Once the defendant has made a prima facie showing that the statute of limitations has run, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to aver facts establishing that the cause of action falls within an exception.  Texeria, 43 A.D.3d at 405.  Accord Doyon, 38 A.D.2d at 646.  “[A] defendant asserting the statute need not negate any exceptions contained therein.”  Id.

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