Statute of Limitations for Claims Against Municipal Employees - KOTA Territory News

Statute of Limitations for Claims Against Municipal Employees



Gary Jensen
Beardsley, Jensen and Von Wald

Based upon differences in state statutes, the South Dakota Supreme Court recently rejected what it suggested might be the majority rule in the country to hold that the statute of limitations for claims against an employee of a municipality (3 years) is different than the for claims against the municipality itself (2 years).

The Court noted that "municipality" is not statutorily defined to include an employee, then stated, "Under the plain language of the statute, the mere fact that Barff's allegedly negligent acts occurred during the scope of his employment does not include him within the term "municipality" in SDCL 9-24-5."  Salzer v. Barff, 2010 S.D. 96, ¶ 12. 

This case is a good example of how the law varies from state to state based upon language in statutes passed by state legislatures. 

And, you shouldn't be lulled into thinking the rules with regard to municipalities and its employees are the same as for other levels or agencies of government, such as state and county government.  They are often different - very different – so it's critical to look at the statutes and case law for each when the situation arises.

E-mail Gary is intended as general information on legal issues affecting us all.  This information should not be relied upon in any particular case and should never be used in lieu of consulting with an attorney.


1.      You see yet another car accident at a spot where there have been many accidents in the past and will be more accidents in the future? 


2.      You learn another person is hurt using a machine that has injured others in the past and will injure others in the future? 


3.      You watch a dangerous practice – like where a school bus parks – you know is a disaster waiting to happen?  


What should you do? 


Try to prevent the next accident, injury, and catastrophe from happening. 


How can you do that? 


Send a letter or email to those responsible – the highway department, the owner and operator of the machine, the school district - putting them on notice of the danger.


Your letter or email will either prompt a "fix" or help the next innocent victim establish liability against those who failed to act.   


Taking a few minutes to write a letter or email can have a huge impact; you can be a difference maker. 

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