Search This Blog

Thursday, January 25, 2018

New Opinion: How Long Does a Plaintiff Have to File Suit When the Tortfeasor Dies After the Wrongful Conduct? This Opinion Answers That Question.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has issued its opinion in Putnam v. Leach, No. W2017-00728-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 23, 2018).  The syllabus from the slip opinion is as follows:
This is a personal injury case involving a motor vehicle accident. The alleged tortfeasor died subsequent to the injury-causing accident. The plaintiffs were unaware of the decedent’s death and commenced this suit naming him as a defendant. Some months later, after learning of the decedent’s death, the plaintiffs sought the appointment of an administrator ad litem in the Probate Court and amended their complaint naming the administrator ad litem as a party as required by the survival statute. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the plaintiffs’ complaint was not properly filed until after the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court agreed and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs timely appealed. Having concluded that the plaintiffs did not properly commence their lawsuit within the time afforded by the applicable statute of limitations, we affirm. 
Here is a link to the slip opinion:

NOTE: This opinion contains a great discussion of the statute of limitations in personal injury actions, the discovery rule, and what happens when a tortfeasor dies and a lawsuit must be commenced against the tortfeasor (and when an adminstrator ad litem needs to be appointed).  This is a must-read opinion for any Tennessee lawyer who handles tort cases.

No comments: