A concept that may be unfamiliar to those who do not have extensive experience with the United States court system is that of the rules governing how long a plaintiff has to bring a lawsuit after an injury. The way this works in practice is that plaintiffs’ attorneys are aware of these rules and ask questions from potential clients to ensure that a statute of limitation will not prevent the bringing of a lawsuit. Similarly, one of the first things defendants’ attorneys check after receiving a new lawsuit is all of the defenses they can raise, including a defense that the statute of limitations has run and therefore bars the cause of action brought by the plaintiff.See Klehr v. A.O. Smith Corp., 521 U.S. 179 (1997) (discussing the doctrine of the statute of limitations in a RICO case).
On the other hand, Courts in the United States are limited to decisions regarding active cases and controversies by the United States Constitution Art. III, Section 2, Clause 1. An action may not be commenced until a cause of action accrues. If all of the facts necessary to establish a claim are not possessed by the plaintiff, then the action is premature and the defense counsel can quite easily draft a motion to dismiss showing that the plaintiff’s pleadings fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See § 1:2. Accrual of cause of action, 1 Tenn. Cir. Ct. Prac., Lawrence A. Pivnick. Claims that are not yet ready for decision are termedripe. The Tennessee Supreme Court has defined ripeness doctrine as: “The central concern of the ripeness doctrine is whether the case involves uncertain or contingent future events that may or may not occur as anticipated or, indeed, may not occur at all.” B & B Enterprises of Wilson Cty., LLC v. City of Lebanon, 318 S.W.3d 839, 848 (Tenn. 2010).