Today is February 29, 2016, which is unusual, because February typically only has 28 days. Apparently, the purpose of a leap year is that “the number of Earth’s revolutions about its own axis, or days, is not equal to or connected in any way to how long it takes for the Earth to get around the sun.” The full explanation is more extensive and exceeds the scope of this post, but it is worth the read for those who are interested. Here, we examine the appearance of the leap year in reported case law.
It should not be surprising that courts have faced leap year related excuses for late filings. A plaintiff has allegedly waived the right to file a discovery-related motion, because the plaintiff allegedly “calendared the due date of the motion as Monday, March 26, 2012, and filed it that day based on a lack of awareness that 2012 is a leap year.” Manno v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Grp., LLC, No. 11-61357-CIV, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56272, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 23, 2012). Unfortunately, the Court ruled that “[t]his type of error, in and of itself, however, does not provide good cause for out-of-time filing.” Id. A notice of appeal was not timely filed, despite the excuse that “the late filing” was caused in part by the appellant’s alleged “miscalculation of the time due to Leap Year . . . .” Hardman v. Comm’r, No. 08-1118, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 13613, at *1 (D.C. Cir. June 24, 2008). A leap year was not a basis for equitable tolling, despite the fact that the leap year “caused the statute of limitations to begin running on March 29, 2004, instead of March 30, 2004.” Simpson v. Wolfenbarger, No. 05-CV-71298-DT, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6509, at *12 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 21, 2006).
The leap year has also spawned litigation. Litigation has arisen out of a dispute as to how an employer’s payroll practices should be adjusted to deal with the fact that “every eleven (11) years, a leap year causes a 27th pay period to occur.” Matter of Cty. of Erie v. Faculty Fedn. of Erie Cmty. Coll., 2014 NY Slip Op 24158, ¶ 2, 44 Misc. 3d 593, 594, 988 N.Y.S.2d 449, 450 (Sup. Ct.). A court has refused to give a prisoner “an extra day of credit for each leap year that he has served or will serve.” Keystone v. Johnson, Civil Action No. 7:06-cv-00503, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63778, at *3 (W.D. Va. Sep. 7, 2006).
Leap years have also thrown wrenches into interest calculations. Kreisler & Kreisler, LLC v. Nat’l City Bank, 657 F.3d 729, 732 (8th Cir. 2011) (“Because the numerator and denominator do not match as they do in the other methods, the 365/360 method increases the effective interest rate by .01389 in a non leap year.”).
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of leap year appearances in litigation, but it does show that even the leap year is not immune from being dragged into the courthouse.