Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Court reverses lower court refusal to allow defendant’s amendment after statute of limitations had run

ROBERT DANIELS and PEGGY DANIELS, v. MICHAEL D. WRAY (Tenn. Ct. App. May 21, 2009)

Plaintiff filed this action for damages for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Defendant answered, denying liability, and subsequently filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 15 to amend and make claim for personal injuries and property damage as a result of the accident. The Trial Court allowed theamendment as to property damages, but refused to allow defendant to assert the claim for personal injuries on the grounds inter alia that the statute of limitations had run on the personal injury claim prior to the filing of the Motion to Amend. The property damage claim was settled, but the refusal to allow the amendment has been appealed to this Court. We hold that the Trial Court abused its discretion in refusing to allow the amendment.

"Under the abuse of discretion standard, a trial court's ruling “will be upheld so long as reasonable minds can disagree as to propriety of the decision made.” A trial court abuses its discretion only when it “applie[s] an incorrect legal standard, or reache[s] a decision which is against logic or reasoning that cause[s] an injustice to the party complaining.” The abuse of discretion standard does not permit the appellate court to substitute its judgment for that of the trial court." Id.

"Although permission to amend should be liberally granted, the decision 'will not be reversed unless abuse of discretion has been shown.' Factors the Trial Court should consider when deciding whether to allow amendments include '[u]ndue delay in filing; lack of notice to the opposing party; bad faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment.'” Id.

"The record does not demonstrate that plaintiffs were prejudiced in a “wasted” discovery or preparations for depositions, or that they would have prepared differently if the counterclaim had been filed." Id.

"There was also no showing that plaintiffs were prejudiced by the delay of defendant’s sought amendment, as discovery was still going on, and the case had not yet been set for trial." Id. (Case citations omitted)

The full text of this opinion is available at the TBA website: http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/danielsr_05209.pdf

No comments:

Post a Comment