ILNews

Woman’s amended complaint is within limitations period

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The Indiana Court of Appeals Thursday spurned a previous ruling from the court and instead looked to a Vermont case to decide that a woman’s amended complaint should not be dismissed for being outside the statute of limitations.

Kris Schoolcraft, as personal representative of the wrongful death estate of Rickie D. Schoolcraft, sued mower manufacturer Magic Circle Corp. after Rickie Schoolcraft died from injuries sustained in a mower accident. On May 4, 2012, a day before the limitations period expired, she moved to amend the claim to add defendants who made parts for the mower. The motion was file-stamped that day; the trial court granted the motion to amend May 15.

The new defendants claim the amended complaint fell outside the limitations period. The trial court denied their motion to dismiss, determining the limitation period was tolled the moment Schoolcraft filed her proposed amended complaint and the summonses.

Based on A.J.’s Auto Sales Inc. v. Freet, 725 N.E.2d 955 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), the Court of Appeals should dismiss Schoolcraft’s amended complaint. The circumstances in the instant case are nearly identical to those in A.J.’s, Judge Melissa May pointed out. But instead, the appellate panel declined to follow A.J.’s and instead followed the rule that a majority of state and federal courts follow in situations where a motion to file an amended complaint is brought within the limitations period but not granted by the trial court until after the limitations period has expired.

That rule was articulated in The Children’s Store v. Cody Enters, Inc., 580 A.2d 1206, 1209-11 (Vt. 1990). The opinion stated, “If the date of commencement is based on when the court grants the motion to amend rather than when the plaintiff files the motion and proposed complaint, the plaintiff is left with uncertainty over whether the statute of limitation requirements will be met. The matter is out of the hands of the plaintiff and is controlled by the vagaries of the court’s workload. The better rule is that the action is commenced when the plaintiff files the motion to amend and the proposed complaint irrespective of when the court grants the motion to amend.”

If the panel followed A.J.’s, May wrote in Magic Circle Corporation, d/b/a Dixie Chopper, The Kelch Corporation, et al. v. Kris Schoolcraft as Personal Representative of the Wrongful Death Estate of Rickie D. Schoolcraft, Deceased, 29A02-1303-CT-273, it would punish Schoolcraft for the court’s unavoidable delay in issuing an order granting leave to amend a complaint.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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