JOHN HAYNES v. RUTHERFORD COUNTY ET AL. (Tenn. Ct. App. June 28, 2011)
The issue in this matter is whether Tenn. Code Ann. section 16-1-116 ("the Transfer Statute") tolls the running of the statue of limitations when a claim under the Government Tort Liability Act is filed in a court that lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and the court transfers the case to a court with jurisdiction.
Acting pro se, the plaintiff filed a GTLA claim in the general sessions court of Rutherford County; the civil warrant was filed prior to the running of the one-year statute of limitations for a GTLA claim. Because subject matter jurisdiction over GTLA claims is limited to the circuit court, the sessions court transferred the case. The circuit court held that, because the sessions court lacked jurisdiction, the transfer itself was invalid; therefore, the action was not effectively filed until it was transferred to the circuit court. However, the date of transfer was beyond the applicable one-year statute of limitations for GTLA claims; thus, the circuit court dismissed the case as time barred.
We have determined this case is not time barred because, under the Transfer Statute, the statute of limitations was tolled when the civil warrant was timely filed in sessions court and, because it was timely filed, the sessions court was authorized to transfer the case to the circuit court. Therefore, we reverse and remand with instructions to reinstate the case and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
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