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Ott v. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 28, 2018

RENNAE ELIZABETH OTT, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued: September 27, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. Richard D. Bennett, District Judge. (1:16-cv-03394-RDB)

         ARGUED:

          Robin Ringgold Cockey, COCKEY, BRENNAN & MALONEY, PC, Salisbury, Maryland, for Appellant.

          Lisa O'Mara Arnquist, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Towson, Maryland, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Ashley A. Bosché, COCKEY, BRENNAN & MALONEY, PC, Salisbury, Maryland, for Appellant.

          Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Towson, Maryland, for Appellee.

          Before AGEE and FLOYD, Circuit Judges, and John A. GIBNEY, Jr., United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

          GIBNEY, DISTRICT JUDGE:

         Rennae Elizabeth Ott asks us to determine the statute of limitations for claims she brought against Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ("DPSCS" or "Department") pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"). Because the Rehabilitation Act does not contain a limitations period, we borrow the time limit from the most analogous state law claim. In the past, courts have applied Maryland's three-year general limitation for civil cases to claims under the Rehabilitation Act. We, however, have not addressed this question since Maryland amended its Fair Employment Practices Act ("MFEPA") to align more closely with the Rehabilitation Act. We now find that the amended MFEPA qualifies as the most analogous Maryland law to the Rehabilitation Act. The MFEPA's two-year statute of limitations applies and bars Ott's claims.

         To avoid this result, Ott invokes the doctrine of equitable tolling. Unfortunately, she does not meet the doctrine's exacting standard, and cannot avoid the bar.

         For these reasons, we affirm the district court's dismissal of ...


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