550 F.2d 687 (1st Cir. 1977), 76-1092, Graffals Gonzalez v. Garcia Santiago

Docket Nº:76-1092.
Citation:550 F.2d 687
Party Name:Roberto GRAFFALS GONZALEZ, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. Ramon GARCIA SANTIAGO et al., Defendants, Appellees.
Case Date:March 02, 1977
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 687

550 F.2d 687 (1st Cir. 1977)

Roberto GRAFFALS GONZALEZ, Plaintiff, Appellant,


Ramon GARCIA SANTIAGO et al., Defendants, Appellees.

No. 76-1092.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

March 2, 1977

Submitted Jan. 28, 1977.

Page 688

Jesus Hernandez Sanchez, Rio Piedras, P. R., on brief for plaintiff, appellant.

Miriam Naveira De Rodon, Sol. Gen., and Mario L. Paniagua, Asst. Sol. Gen., San Juan, P. R., on brief for defendants, appellees.

Before COFFIN, Chief Judge, ALDRICH and CAMPBELL, Circuit Judges.


The district court dismissed this civil rights complaint for being brought beyond the limitations period. We affirm. Appellant worked as a warehouse keeper in the Commonwealth's Department of Social Services. On July 9, 1974, he was discharged by appellee, Eliza Diaz Gonzales, who was then the Secretary of Social Services. Appellant claims that he was dismissed because he was a member of the New Progressive Party and they had lost in the elections to the Popular Democratic Party. See Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 96 S.Ct. 2673, 49 L.Ed.2d 547 (1976); Rivera v. Benitez, 541 F.2d 882 (1st Cir. 1976).

The day after he was fired, appellant filed an appeal before the Commonwealth's Personnel Board. On March 11, 1975, he asked the Board to dismiss his appeal, and it did so, with prejudice, on March 20. Unfortunately for appellant, he waited almost six months before bringing this lawsuit in the federal court.

The district court held that the analogous state statute of limitations was that for torts (one year), 31 L.P.R.A. § 5298(2), and appellant urges that it is the one for contracts (fifteen years), 31 L.P.R.A. § 5294. Traditionally, civil rights actions have been considered to state a cause of action lying in tort, rather than contract. Johnson v. Railroad Express Ag'cy, Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 456 n. 2, 95 S.Ct. 1716, 44 L.Ed.2d 295 (1975). The analysis underlying that conclusion is particularly appropriate in the present action. Quoting from Dean Prosser, we have held:

" 'The duties of conduct which give rise to (tort actions) are imposed by the law, and are based primarily upon social policy . . . .' " Lexington Ins. Co. v. Abarca Warehouses Corp., 476 F.2d 44, 46 (1st Cir. 1973).

The only clear-cut federal claim stated by appellant's complaint is that he was fired for political reasons. This suggests a claim...

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