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Tenth Circuit Holds Prisoner Not Entitled to Equitable Tolling

On November 18, 2011, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit upheld an equitable tolling claim. Oklahoma State prisoner Calvin Eugene Barnett filed a pro se lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 in federal court alleging his constitutional rights were violated by Davis Correctional Facility (DCF) for not acting on the danger that existed between himself and his cell mate.

Barnett alleged that DCF's failure to act caused Nathan Gerrod Houston's death. He was moved from DCF on March 28, 2007 and charged with first degree murder on June 19, 2007.

Barnett filed the §1983 claim alleging personal injury. Oklahoma has a two-year limitation on filing the §1983. Oklahoma discovery rules toll the statute of limitation "Until an injured party knows of, or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known of or discovered the injury," Lovelace v. Keohane, 831 P.2d 624, 629 (Okla. 1992). Barnett alleges that he learned about the equitable tolling in October 2009, so the two year limitation would have given him until October 2011. The district court dismissed the suit as untimely.

Barnett never specified dates of his allegations of the danger that existed between himself and his cell mate and claims he didn't know about the limitation of the equitable tolling. Because Barnett failed to explain why he didn't discover the injury nor did he show evidence of exercising reasonable diligence, the court affirmed the lower court's decision finding no grounds for equitable tolling. See: Barnett v. Corrections Corporation of America, 441 Fed.Appx. 600 (10th Cir. 2011) (unpublished).

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Related legal case

Barnett v. Corrections Corporation of America