doctrine of contra non valentem

  

Definition

Legal principle that the statute of limitations is not applicable, or a prescriptive period does not begin to run, against a plaintiff where (1) some legal cause prevented a court or its officer from acting on a plaintiff's action, (2) some condition associated with the litigation process prevented the plaintiff from acting, (3) the defendant prevented the plaintiff from acting, or (4) the plaintiff is ignorant of the injury caused by the defendant, and his or her ignorance is not due to negligence, unreasonableness, or a willful act. The plaintiff bears the burden to show the court why the prescription has not run. The #4 reason is separately called equitable tolling doctrine. The full term is 'contra non valentem agere nulla currit praescriptio,' which is Latin for, [a] prescription does not run against one who is unable to act.

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