In 1921, there were massive race riots which led to the destruction of the black section of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the murder of dozens or hundreds of blacks. (See Wikipedia for one account.) At the time, the official story exonerated local whites, blaming the riot on blacks; eventually, the whole incident was forgotten. In 1997, the Oklahoma legislature set up a commission, which issued a report four years later which found that in fact white residents, aided and abetted by the local government, were at fault.
Enter the lawyers. Eighty-two years after the incident, Johnnie Cochran, Charles Ogletree and other prominent attorneys filed a federal civil rights suit against the city of Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma on behalf of the survivors, seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief. As you might expect, courts don’t look too kindly on eight-decade old lawsuits, and so the federal district and appellate courts dismissed the suit, on the grounds that the statute of limitations had long since passed. (The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.)
So now the lawyers (well, not Johnnie Cochran) are in Washington, trying to get Congress to retroactively extend the statute of limitations so they can sue. Ogletree is a driving force behind the slavery reparations movement, which so far has also foundered on statute of limitations issues; if he succeeds here, be assured that he won’t be resting on his laurels.
(To be clear, unlike many of the suits we chronicle on Overlawyered, the Tulsa suit is not inherently frivolous, and it may well be legitimate to assign blame to the city and state, for actions that (unlike slavery) were illegal even at the time. But, to reiterate: eighty years.)