We granted this appeal to determine whether the return of proof of service of process 412 days after issuance of a summons precludes a plaintiff from relying upon the original commencement of the lawsuit to toll the running of the statute of limitations. We hold that the plain language of Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 3 and 4.03 does not condition the effectiveness of the original commencement to toll the statute of limitations upon the prompt return of proof of service. We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. We remand this case to the trial court to determine whether service of process occurred within ninety days of issuance of the summons. If so, the plaintiff may rely upon the original commencement of the lawsuit to toll the statute of limitations.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
New Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion on Service of Process: Lack of Prompt Return of Proof of Service Does Not Require Dismissal of a Civil Action
The Tennessee Supreme Court issued its opinion today in Fair v. Cochran, No. E2011-00831-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Sept. 12, 2013). The summary from the opinion states as follows:
Here is a link to the majority opinion:
Here is a link to Justice Holder's concurrence:
In all candor, the plaintiff's lawyer in this appeal was nice enough to let me write the supplemental brief and argue this case before the Tennessee Supreme Court (which I asked him to let me do). I wanted to take this opportunity to thank him. Thanks Mike!