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Smith v. Haggard

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 11, 2014

DOLLIE SMITH, HENRY HARRIS, JR., AND CLARENCE CARTER, Appellant-Plaintiffs,
v.
WAYNE HAGGARD, Appellee-Defendant

APPEAL FROM THE MADISON CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Dennis D. Carroll, Judge. Cause No. 48C06-1311-CT-200, 48C06-1311-CT-201.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL P. QUIRK, Quirk & Hunter, P.C., Muncie, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: PATRICK J. DIETRICK, Dietrick Law, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana.

MATHIAS, Judge. RILEY, J. and CRONE, J. concur.

OPINION

Page 802

MATHIAS, Judge

Clarence Carter, Dollie Smith, and Henry Harris (collectively " the Appellants" ) appeal the Madison Circuit Court's dismissal of their complaints against Wayne Haggard (" Haggard" ). The Appellants claim that the trial court erred when it concluded that their complaints should be dismissed because they failed to file their summonses as required by Trial Rule 3 within the two-year statute of limitations.

We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

On November 3, 2011, Henry Harris was driving his vehicle on Mounds Road in Madison County, Indiana. Dollie Smith and Clarence Carter were passengers in Harris's vehicle. Harris's vehicle was involved in an accident with Haggard's vehicle. Haggard allegedly caused the accident by failing to yield the right-of-way to Harris and by pulling his vehicle out in front Harris's vehicle.

The Appellants were injured in the accident and incurred medical expenses as a result. Therefore, the Appellants' attorney prepared three separate complaints on behalf of the Appellants and named Haggard as the defendant. On November 2, 2013, the Appellants' attorney mailed the three complaints to the Madison County Clerk, via certified mail.[1] The filing fees were enclosed in the mailing, but the attorney's appearances and summonses were not. On November 6, 2013, the Appellants' attorney faxed his appearances and summonses for all three cases to the Madison County Clerk.

On November 21, 2013, Haggard filed a motion to dismiss all three complaints arguing that the complaints were filed after the two-year statute of limitations had expired. A hearing was held on Haggard's motion to dismiss on March 5, 2014.[2] Citing Trial Rule 3, Haggard argued that the complaints should be dismissed because the Appellants filed the summonses on November 6, 2013,[3] two days after the two-year statute of limitations expired. The Appellants argued that they had substantially complied with Trial Rule 3 and Haggard could not establish any prejudice because the summonses were filed four days after their complaints.

Page 803

On March 13, 2014, the trial court granted Haggard's motion to dismiss the Appellants' complaints. The court concluded that the Plaintiffs " failed to timely commence their respective complaints within the two year statute of limitation" because the summonses were filed two days after the statute of ...


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