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COA: personal injury action should be allowed to proceed

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The Indiana Court of Appeals examined how the 120-day time limit under Indiana Trial Rule 15(C) on amending a complaint to substitute a party interacts with the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, and held that the 120-day time limit can’t be allowed to operate prematurely to bar a claim when the statute of limitations is still running.

In Samuel D. Raisor, et al. v. Edward O. Carter, et al., No. 49A05-1010-CT-629, the issue was whether Samuel and Christy Raisor should have been allowed to amend their original personal injury complaint to include the correct owner of the bar where Samuel was allegedly assaulted by an underage patron. The Raisors brought the personal injury claim within the two-year statute of limitations, but made the amendment to include the correct bar owner – Jimmie’s Raceway Pub Inc. – after the 120-day time limit under T.R. 15(C). The Raisors didn’t learn who the correct owner was until 23 months after the alleged assault due to incorrect addresses and information listed for the pub owner.  

The trial court granted Jimmie’s motion to dismiss, finding the amended complaint was barred because the statute of limitations had expired by the time the amended complaint was filed and the 120-day period for amended complaints to add a new party had expired.

The appellate court reversed, finding that even though the 120-day period to amend the complaint had passed by the time the correct pub owner learned of the suit, the two-year limitation period for the personal injury action hadn’t expired. Because Jimmie’s gained actual knowledge of the lawsuit three weeks before the statute of limitations expired, the owner's defenses weren’t prejudiced, wrote Judge Terry Crone. The judge also pointed out Jimmie’s owner actually discovered the mistake before the Raisors because a mail carrier had delivered a piece of mail addressed to him to the correct address instead of the one listed on the envelope.

Judge Crone noted that T.R. 15(C) gives a party an additional 120 days to give notice of the action, so if someone filed their complaint on the last day under the statute of limitations, they would have 120 days after the expiration date to substitute a proper party defendant.

“The fact that the Raisors filed their original complaint earlier should not work to penalize them. We do not believe that the amended trial rule was designed to shorten the period of time that plaintiffs have to file their claims,” he wrote. “Simply put, where the statute of limitations is still running, the 120-day limit found in Trial Rule 15(C) cannot be permitted to operate prematurely to bar the claim.”

The Court of Appeals also found the trial court erred by denying the Raisors’ T.R. 6(B) motion to extend the T.R.15(C) notice period, but based on their ruling on the statute of limitations issue, the equitable remedy under T.R. 6(B) isn’t necessary, wrote Judge Crone. The judges remanded for further proceedings.
 

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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