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Saturday, August 31, 2019

New Case on Service of Leading Process, Dismissals Without Prejudice, and the Saving Statute

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently issued its opinion in Villalba v. McCown, No. E2018-01433-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. 2019).  Here is the syllabus from the slip opinion:
In this personal injury action arising from an automobile accident, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant upon finding that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate service of process in the originally filed action, which had been dismissed, such that the plaintiffs’ refiled action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The plaintiffs have appealed. Having determined that, pursuant to the version of Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 4.04(11) in effect at the time that the initial complaint was filed, the plaintiffs demonstrated valid service of process of the initial complaint, we reverse the grant of summary judgment to the defendant and grant partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs concerning the affirmative defenses of ineffective service of process and expiration of the statute of limitations. We remand this action for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Here is a link to the opinion:

NOTE: This is a must-read opinion for any lawyer who practices in Tennessee state courts.  And if you’re a Civ. Pro. junkie like I am, this case is just for you!  It has it all: service of leading process, return of service, dismissals without prejudice, and refiling under our saving statute.  Good stuff!

Also, I’m glad that Fair v. Cochran, 418 S.W.3d 542 (Tenn. 2013) helped in this case.  That is a case that the plaintiff’s counsel allowed me to assist on the appeal—and we won!  After all, cases in Tennessee are supposed to be determined upon their merits and not upon procedural technicalities.  

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