What's the correct legal term?

I can’t remember the correct term for “civil statute of limitations”* A boxer has filed a civil suit against Sylvester Stallone for misappropriating his lfe as the basis for the film Rocky. I thought that there’s a doctrine about timeliness in civil suits, but I can’t for the life of me remember the correct term so that I can find out more information.


*blatantly incorrect terminology

term unknown, but Stallone continues to benefit from the Rocky series, so the limit would be extended based on that.

Wepner still experiences harm, as far as he is concerned, so that means their is no limit.


the legal term is “statute of limitations.”

There is also a concept called laches, which is an equitable doctrine which denies someone requested relief if they sat on their rights too long. Often, “too long” means less than the SOL but long enough to disadvantage others due to the delay. Its a fairly vauge concept. I think what you are talking about is the statute of limitations.

Lemon is correct. Sometimes we’ll refer to a “limitations period” or, or say the a claim is “time-barred”, but usually we just call it a statute of limitations.

…or say that a claim…

Nope. Please refrain from commenting on legal topics (esp. in GQ) when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

The statute of limitations applies, typically, when a person first learns about an injury that has been done to him. It is not continually renewed merely because the original harmful conduct continues. There are things which renew or “toll” (that is, extend) the SOL. For instance, if there were a conspiracy to keep the harm secret such that the injured party couldn’t reasonably have known what was going on until after the SOL had expired, the courts will refuse to enforce the limitation as the tortfeasor should not benefit from his own obfuscatory conduct. It’s hard to see how that might apply in this case.

Also, if new harm were freshly committed, then the SOL would start ticking for that new harm when it happened. Possibly later films in the Rocky franchise might have been considered separate torts and therefore they each had their own SOL period. (I don’t really know enough about SOL law to comment on whether they’d be considered separate or not for SOL purposes.) More concretely, if, for instance, Rocky VI were to come out and portray Rocky as a child molestor, then that would be certainly be a different tort (defamation or some other character-assassination tort instead of some sort of misappropriation theory, which appears to be Wepner’s argument). As such, a new SOL would start at that time for that injury – although Wepner wouldn’t be able on those facts to recover for the earlier misappropriation, only the recent defamation.

Skimming the linked article, there are a couple possibilities. First, Wepner seems to be claiming that Stallone continues to misappropriate Wepner’s name in publicity for the franchise. It’s possible that each mention might be considered a new incident of the misappropriation and therefore renew the SOL. (I doubt it, but like I said above, I really don’t know SOL law very well as i’ve never studied the topic.) More telling, I think, is the allegation that Stallone has promised to give Wepner a cut at various times in the past but has never followed through. As a tortfeasor, you can’t just promise to make an injury right, wait until the SOL passes, and then change your mind. If you take active steps to delude the victim into thinking the problem will be solved, that tolls the SOL, at least until it becomes obvious that you’re bluffing. Therefore, it seems that these specific allegations, if true, might get Wepner around his statute of limitations problem.

–Cliffy, Esq.

Hey, Cliffy, did I not see you show examples of how this Wepner case has some possibilities? I was commenting on this case and my view of the facts. You try to chastise me then show I might have an arguement? Pardon???

In case you are not aware, another lawyer is taking the opposite view from yours (if your view is that Wepner has seen the SOL run out).

So, far as I can tell, lawyers bat 50/50. Half are right, half are wrong. I suggest you back off and let a judge decide. Your esq status is not a ticket to being correct. It’s credentials, yes, but not a pass to be all-knowing. Wepner’s lawyer would agree with me - now what?

Give your view, your credentials and move on.

I tagged my answer “IANAL”, which is courstesy around here, and should keep people like you off my back.

Merits of Wepner’s argument (or Philster’s for that matter)aside, I think laches is the term I was thinking of. I wanted the equitable concept or doctrine, rather than a time period specified in statute law.

I don’t know if there is a SOL on civil suits for misappropriation.

Phil, you are wrong. GQ is not a place for people to express opinions (or “views”). You don’t vote on facts.

The (apparent) fact that Stallone is still benefitting from the Rocky series has no relevance here, so your statement is incorrect. Similarly, your assertion that Wepner is still suffering harm, even if true, wouldn’t by itself prevent the application of the S/L. Yes, there are some particular narrow exceptions. Certain kinds of continuing conduct are considered to be new wrongs. But even these wouldn’t allow recovery for damages resulting from the showing of the movies in 1980 (or whatever).

So your general statements are untrue, and simply adding IANAL after a WAG isn’t going to immunize people like you from adverse comment from people like me.