The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that the COVID tolls of the statute of limitations rendered the plaintiffs action timely:
472 days of the 1,095-day limitation period had elapsed by the time the toll began on March 20, 2020. Upon the expiration of the toll on November 3, 2020, the remaining 623 days of the limitation period began to run again, expiring on July 20, 2022 … . Thus, the action was timely commenced on May 18, 2022 … .
Defendants contend that the toll is inapplicable here because plaintiffs could have timely commenced the action at any point between December 4, 2018 [when the cause action accrued], and March 20, 2020 [when the toll began], or between November 3, 2020 [when the toll expired], and December 4, 2021 [three years from accual]. We reject that contention. “[A] toll operates to compensate a claimant for the shortening of the statutory period in which it must commence . . . an action, irrespective of whether the stay has actually deprived the claimant of any opportunity to do so” … Thus, plaintiffs were entitled to the benefit of tolling for the entire 228-day duration of the COVID-19 Executive Orders. Harden v Weinraub, 2023 NY Slip Op 05822, Fourth Dept 11-17-23
Practice Point: Here the plaintiffs’ action accrued before the COVID toll-period which began on March 20, 2020, and there was still time left on the three-year statute of limitations when the toll was lifted on November 3, 2020. The fact that plaintiffs could have commenced the suit within three years of accrual was not relevant. The three-year statute was extended by the the length of the toll-period, 228 days.