Complaint properly dismissed for failure to comply with Trial Rule 3

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Because the people suing a driver who allegedly caused a car accident sent their summons to the county clerk after the two-year statute of limitations expired, the trial court correctly granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Clarence Carter, Dollie Smith and Henry Harris filed their separate lawsuits Nov. 2, 2103, against Wayne Haggard, the driver who allegedly was at fault for the car accident the plaintiffs were involved in on Nov. 3, 2011. The attorney’s appearances and summonses were not included in the complaint, but were sent to the Madison County clerk on Nov. 6, 2013.

Haggard sought to have the complaints dismissed for non-compliance with Trial Rule 3 since the summonses were filed just after the statute of limitations expired. The trial court granted Haggard’s motion in March.

In Dollie Smith, Henry Harris, Jr., and Clarence Carter v. Wayne Haggard, 48A05-1404-CT-166, the plaintiffs argue that they substantially complied with the rule and that Haggard hasn’t shown any prejudice by the late filing of the summonses. But the appeals court pointed to several court cases, including Boostrom v. Bach, 622 N.E.2d 175, 177 n.2 (Ind. 1993), and Ray-Hayes v. Heinamann, 760 N.E.2d 172, 173 (Ind. 2002), in affirming the trial court.

“Because the Appellants filed their summonses two days after the statute of limitations expired, they failed to meet the requirements under Trial Rule 3 for timely commencement of their causes of action. Under the bright-line rule our supreme court established in Boostrom, and applied in Ray-Hayes, the trial court properly dismissed the Appellants’ complaints against Haggard,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote.


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