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Tollings the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations refers to a certain time period during which a lawsuit must be brought. If a claim is not filed within the time period, then it is barred and cannot be pursued.

Dismissing a petition (i.e., a lawsuit) on the grounds that it is not timely under the statute of limitations is a legal issue, not a factual issue. A court will liberally construe the petition and treat all of the facts alleged as true.  It needs to be clear on the face of the petition that the matter is not timely.

In certain circumstances, however, the statute of limitations can be tolled (i.e., extended). As as example, if any person, by absconding or concealing himself, or by any other improper act, prevent the commencement of an action, such action may be commenced within the time herein limited, after the commencement of such action shall have ceased to be so prevented. RSMo, 516-280. “Improper acts” has been interpreted to mean an act “in the nature of a fraud that will prevent the commencement of the action.” Therefore, a court can take into account actions by a defendant which are designed to frustrate the statute of limitations.

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