636 F.2d 90 (5th Cir. 1981), 80-1613, Braden v. Texas A & M University System

Docket Nº:80-1613
Citation:636 F.2d 90
Party Name:Bartley BRADEN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. TEXAS A & M UNIVERSITY SYSTEM, etc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:February 02, 1981
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 90

636 F.2d 90 (5th Cir. 1981)

Bartley BRADEN, Plaintiff-Appellant,


TEXAS A & M UNIVERSITY SYSTEM, etc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 80-1613

Unit A

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

February 2, 1981

Page 91

George M. Kirk, Jr., Houston, Tex., for plaintiff-appellant.

Page 92

Barbara C. Marquardt, Asst. Atty. Gen., Austin, Tex., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before GEE, RUBIN and RANDALL, Circuit Judges.


Bartley Braden contends his employment by Texas A&M University System was terminated in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Three and a half years after his discharge, he brought this action claiming that he had been deprived of his "property" interest in his employment without due process of law and that the arbitrary and capricious manner of his termination injured a reputational interest constitutionally protected under the first and fourteenth amendments. The district court dismissed the action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), because the analogous state statute of limitations for suits arising out of oral contracts had run. While the district court erroneously applied the state limitations statute applicable to contract actions, the claim was time-barred under the appropriate state statute of limitations, and we affirm its dismissal.

Because Congress did not establish a statute of limitations applicable to actions brought in federal court under Section 1983, federal courts apply the state law of limitations governing an analogous state cause of action. Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York v. Tomanio, 446 U.S. 478, 483, 100 S.Ct. 1790, 1794-95, 64 L.Ed.2d 440, 446-448 (1980); Pegues v. Morehouse Parish School Board, 632 F.2d 1279 (5th Cir. 1980); Miller v. Smith, 615 F.2d 1037, 1039 (5th Cir. 1980); Williams v. Rhoden, 629 F.2d 1099, 1103 (5th Cir. 1980). See 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The applicable limitation period is the one prescribed by the forum state for suits seeking similar relief in state court. Miller v. Smith, 615 F.2d at 1039 (5th Cir. 1980).

In Shaw v. McCorkle, 537 F.2d 1289 (5th Cir. 1976), we described a two step procedure for determination of the applicable statute of limitations focusing first on the essential nature of the claim under federal law and then on the period applicable to a like claim brought under state law. See Franklin v. City of Marks, 439 F.2d 665, 669 (5th Cir. 1971). However, in characterizing the federal claim under step one, the federal court draws heavily upon the state law categorization of the claim presented, thus blurring the distinction between the two steps. Shaw v. McCorkle, 537 F.2d at 1292.

Section 1983 is to be interpreted against a "background of tort...

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