Calvin Gray Mills, Jr., et al. v. Fulmarque, Inc.

W2010-00933-SC-R11-CV
Date / Time: 
November 2, 2011 - 9:00am

Plaintiffs initially filed suit against Royal Group, among others. In its answer, Royal Group alleged the comparative fault of Aaron Rents, Inc. Because the one-year statute of limitations had run, Plaintiffs utilized Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-1-119’s ninetyday window to amend their complaint to add Aaron Rents as a defendant. However, in its answer, Aaron Rents then identified Fulmarque, Inc. as a comparative tortfeasor. Plaintiffs again amended their complaint to add Fulmarque as a defendant, but summary judgment was granted to Fulmarque based upon the running of the statute of limitations. On appeal, the parties disagree as to whether Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-1-119 authorizes successive ninety-day windows in which additional defendants may be named. We are asked to interpret whether the term “applicable statute of limitations” as used in the statute, and appearing in the phrase “or named in an amended complaint filed within the applicable statute of limitations,” refers only to the one-year limitation period for personal injury or to the limitation period as extended by the ninety-day window. We find that the term does not simply refer to the one year limitation period for personal injury, but also to the limitation period as extended by the ninety-day window. Therefore, because Aaron Rents was “named in an a amended complaint filed within the applicable statute of limitations[,]” and  because Plaintiffs amended their  complaint to name Fulmarque within ninety days from Aaron Rents’ identification of Fulmarque in its answer, we find that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Fulmarque.  Bearing these principles in mind, we find that the term “applicable statute of limitations” as used in Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-1-119, and appearing in the phrase “or named in an amended complaint filed within the applicable statute of limitation,” does not refer simply to the one-year limitation period for personal injury, but also to the limitation period as extended by the ninety-day window. As such, because Aaron Rents was “named in an amended  complaint filed within the applicable statute of limitations[,]” and because Plaintiffs amended their complaint to name Fulmarque within ninety days from Aaron Rents’ identification of Fulmarque in its answer, we find that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Fulmarque based upon a running of the statute of limitations. The trial court’s grant of summary judgment is reversed, and this cause remanded for further proceedings.

Court: 
Supreme Court
County: 
Shelby
Division: 
Western Section