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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  I am a practicing attorney with more than 30 years of experience in the legal field.
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Statue of Limitations for theft of property in Pennsylvania.

Resolved Question:

Victim was residing out of state at time of theft. Is statue of limitations tolled?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawTalk replied 5 years ago.
Good morning,

I believe that I can assist you. However, I will need some additional information.

When did the theft occur as far as all the evidence points to now?
When did you first learn of the theft?
What was stolen?
Was anyone responsible for looking over the thing(s) during the period it was stolen?

I’ll put forth my best effort in assisting you. When you are able to respond to my request for clarification of your situation, I’ll be able to assist you. In the meantime I would ask that you please stay on-line, just in case I need additional clarification from you regarding the factual circumstances relating to your question. Thank you for allowing me to help.

Regards,

Doug
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Theft occurred 3-9-07 and was detected 3-19-07. However an inventory of items did not occur till 5-3-07. Taken were over 86 items of furniture, cloths, kitchen items, coins, antiques. Relative at house during period. Asked to vacate for four months prior to the theft and we belive he took the items upon vacating home.
Expert:  LawTalk replied 5 years ago.
Good morning,

As you are no doubt aware of the, the statute of limitation for suing for interference with property, or in tort, in Pennsylvania is 2 years.

Taking the best position possible--that the discovery of the theft was discovered on or about March 19, 2007, the statute would have already run by now.

There is no provision in the law for a tolling of the statute while the victim is outside of the state. Pennsylvania does have what is known as a discovery period, wherein the court can take the position that a statute of limitations has been tolled during the time that the victim was unaware of the harm and reasonably could not have been aware of it:

In Pennsylvania, the laws surrounding the Discovery Rule have been strengthened due to Supreme Court rulings. Specifically, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated: "the statute must be interpreted in accordance with reason and common sense. Accordingly, the court allows tolling of the statute of limitations in situations in which the legislature's intent is better served by hearing suit than by barring it." In other words, the Discovery Rule serves the greater good.

However, with the benefit of the discovery rule comes that requirement that the victim must act expeditiously when they learn of the harm. In your circumstance I have no doubt that the court would extend the statute the approximately 10 days between the theft and the discovery. The issue of what specifically was stolen is really not even the issue as far as filing of suit; it goes to the damages. Consequently, the delay in conducting an inventory of what was missing after the theft would not serve to further extend the statute, I'm afraid.

As a result, it is too late in the state of Pennsylvania to file suit against your former tenant.

That being said, given the numerous items stolen, and the fact that the value no doubt was quite significant; this would be classified as a felony in your state. The statute of limitation, depending on how the prosecutor would charge the crime, could be as long as 5 years. If the criminal is convicted of the crime, the court could award restitution to you, despite the fact that the civil statute of limitations has already run.

I wish you the best in 2009.

Thank you very much for having allowed me to assist you. It would be greatly appreciated if you would click the green Accept icon so that I can receive credit for having assisted you.

Best regards,

Doug

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Since the relative filed suit within the statue of limitations 2-27-09 would my friends counterclaim against this suit also fall within the statue of limitations even though his reply will be filed next week? In other words as a defendant with a counterclaim by the relative filing a claim in Feb. did the statue of limitations stop for the defendant?
Expert:  LawTalk replied 5 years ago.
Good morning,<br /><br />Counterclaims <strong>must</strong> be filed within the appropriate statute of limitations for the underlying claim itself under Pennsylvania law, I'm afraid. Plaintiff's Complaint did not toll the statute of limitations for any available counterclaim, nor did it act to toll the statute for any other separate actions as between your friend and Plaintiff.<br /><br /><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument>  & nbsp;<w:View>Normal</w:View>   <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom>   <w:Compatibility>    <w:BreakWrappedTables/>    <w:SnapToGridInCell/>    <w:ApplyBreakingRules/>    <w:WrapTextWithPunct/>    <w:UseAsianBreakRules/>   </w:Compatibility>   <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> <!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal      {mso-style-parent:"";      margin:0in;      margin-bottom:.0001pt;      mso-pagination:widow-orphan;      font-size:12.0pt;      font-family:"Times New Roman";      mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} span.text-15-black      {mso-style-name:text-15-black;} @page Section1      {size:8.5in 11.0in;      margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in;      mso-header-margin:.5in;      mso-footer-margin:.5in;      mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1      {page:Section1;} --> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable      {mso-style-name:"Table Normal";      mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;      mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;      mso-style-noshow:yes;      mso-style-parent:"";      mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;      mso-para-margin:0in;      mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;      mso-pagination:widow-orphan;      font-size:10.0pt;      font-family:"Times New Roman";} </style> <![endif]--> <p style="text-align: center" class="MsoNormal" align="center"><span class="text-15-black"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial">Thank you very much for having allowed me to assist you. It would be greatly appreciated if you would click the <strong><span style="color: green">green Accept icon</span></strong> so that I can receive credit for having assisted you.</span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial"> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial">Best regards,</span></p> <p style="text-indent: 0.5in" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial"> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial">Doug</span></p> .
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27998
Experience: I am a practicing attorney with more than 30 years of experience in the legal field.
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