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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

New Case Discussing Proper Procedure for Reviving Tort Suit Against a Tortfeasor Who Dies Before Suit Is Filed: Trial Court's Dismissal of Action as Untimely Upheld on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released its decision today in Mott. v. Luethke, No. E2020-00317-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 16, 2021).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

Following an automobile accident that occurred on March 22, 2016, the plaintiff filed a cause of action, in the form of a civil summons, in the Washington County General Sessions Court . . . on March 3, 2017, seeking an award of damages from the defendant, who was the other driver involved in the car accident. Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, however, the defendant had passed away in December 2016. On January 31, 2018, the plaintiff filed a “re-issue[d]” summons to be served upon the administrator ad litem of the decedent’s estate. After the matter was subsequently transferred to Washington County Circuit Court . . . , the trial court granted the administrator’s motion for summary judgment, determining that the plaintiff had failed to timely file his tort action against the personal representative within the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court consequently dismissed the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. The plaintiff has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Here is a link to the slip opinion:

NOTE: This is an excellent decision!  It is also a must-read one for any lawyer who must deal with the issue of revivor of a claim against a tortfeasor who dies before suit is filed under Tennessee substantive law.  It also touches upon equitable estoppel.  Worth the time it takes to read it.   

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