HARRALSON V. MONGER
Civil Procedure: Statute of limitations and relation back of amendment in car accident case; tolling
PUBLISHED: REVERSING; WINTERSHEIMER
DATE RENDERED: 11/22/2006
The plaintiff moved to amend his complaint out of time pursuant to CR 15.03 when, after depositions were taken, he learned that another party besides the named defendant was at least partially responsible for an automobile accident. The new defendant had given a statement to the police officer at the accident scene which made reference to the first defendant hitting him, then careening into other cars. At deposition, this new defendant stated that he had pulled into her lane, thus causing her to hit plaintiff and others’ cars.
The trial court held that the new defendant had not intentionally concealed or misrepresented his actions, and thus the 2 year statute was not tolled. The Supremes disagreed, finding that the defendant had presented inaccurate information to the police officer on the scene. It noted that strictly enforcing the statute of limitation in spite of problematic silence, half-truths or omissions by a defendant would cause even more problems and resulted in the favoring of tolling the statute.
There dissent contends that the majority incorrectly found the new defendant acted intentionally or fraudulently and argued that the holding stretched the purposes and meaning of CR 15.03.