Supreme Court Clarifies Rule On Amending Complaints To Name New Defendants After Expiration Of Statute Of Limitations

Friday, March 7, 2014

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that state law allows a plaintiff to add a defendant whose involvement was raised by the original defendant, even when the plaintiff was aware of the new defendant before the statute of limitations expired.

The case involves Michael Becker, who was riding in a truck driven by his son when the truck hit a light pole. Mr. Becker was injured and filed a lawsuit in Hamilton County against Ford Motor Company, the manufacturer of the truck. Ford transferred the case to federal court. Then, in its answer to Mr. Becker’s complaint, Ford named the son as the person who caused the accident.

Mr. Becker asked the federal court for permission to amend his complaint to add his son as an additional defendant. By this time, the legal deadline for filing the suit had passed. However, a state law allows plaintiffs to file suit against new defendants who are named by the original defendant, despite the expiration of the statute of limitations.

The federal court was unsure whether Mr. Becker could add his son as a defendant because Mr. Becker was previously aware of his son’s involvement in the accident. Accordingly, the federal court turned to the Tennessee Supreme Court, asking whether the state law only applied to defendants who were unknown to the plaintiff prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Interpreting Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-1-119, the Supreme Court held that the law’s plain language does not require that the new defendant be unknown to the plaintiff prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Mr. Becker was therefore permitted to file suit against the son.

To read the opinion in Becker v. Ford Motor Company, authored by Justice William C. Koch, Jr., visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.

 


Salon And Spa Joins Cambridge Square

Cambridge Square developers have announced the addition of Spalon Three to the community’s tenant family. Spalon Three, which is owned by Ooltewah resident Shawn Dunn, is a combined spa and salon concept that will occupy 2,500 feet on the community’s public square. Opening date is slated for late spring 2015.  Cambridge Square is a commercial, retail and residential development ... (click for more)

New Hamilton County Businesses

Here are the new business licenses from the County Clerk's office: 3 I'S PERSONAL CARE SERVICES 4447 JAMES DRIVE CHATTANOOGA, TN 37416 ALL AMERICAN SUBCONTRACTOR LLC VARIOUS LOCATIONS CHATTANOOGA, TN 37402 ALL AMERICAN TREE SERVICE 5245 DONLYN LANE HIXSON, TN 37343 ARC FITNESS STUDIO 4716 MURRAY HILLS DR CHATTANOOGA, TN 37416 ARCHITECTURAL ... (click for more)

Cabela's To Open Fort Oglethorpe Store May 13

Cabela’s announced Monday plans to celebrate the official grand opening of its new Fort Oglethorpe store on Wednesday, May 13, with a unique ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a weekend-long celebration featuring giveaways, family activities and more.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony, hosted by Cabela's executives and special guests, will begin at 9:45 a.m. and conclude with ... (click for more)

City Detective Who Was Arrested Twice In 4 Months Is Fired After Internal Affairs Investigation

A city detective who was arrested twice in four months has been fired by Police Chief Fred Fletcher. David Catchings had been charged with DUI last September and then with domestic assault at the end of the year. Police said, "After a complete review of both investigations – which included recommendations from Internal Affairs, the Administrative Review Committee and Officer ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Goodbye, Dr. Nassour

About 51 years ago, right after Jim Creel had graduated from the University of Texas and was in Guadalajara for medical school, he was surprised to find a complete stranger sitting on his battered and dusty Volkswagen. “He had seen my Longhorns sticker and was thrilled to find somebody else in Mexico who loved the University of Texas. “That’s when our friendship started and it ... (click for more)