(251) 299-0101

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS - EX PARTE INTERNATIONAL REFINING & MANUFACTURING CO. D/B/A IRMCO

Ex parte International Refining & Manufacturing Co. d/b/a IRMCO [Ms. 1130110, June 20, 2014] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2014). A case is governed by the statute of limitations in existence at the time the action is filed, not at the time the cause of action accrued. Employees at a manufacturing plant sued, alleging injuries arising from exposure to toxic and dangerous chemicals. More than two years after their last exposure, they added new defendants and alleged wantonness against them. After their cause of action accrued, but before they added these claims, the Alabama Supreme Court held in McKenzie v. Killian, 887 So. 2d 861 (Ala. 2004), that the statute of limitations for wanton conduct resulting in personal injury is six years. In an earlier appeal, the Supreme Court held that the adding of these defendants did not relate back to the filing of the initial complaint. After that holding, the new defendants moved for summary judgment on the wantonness claims, arguing that the plaintiff's last exposure was more than two years before McKenzie was decided, and thus that the wantonness claims expired before they were added. The circuit court denied the motion. The Court first noted that although mandamus ordinarily will not lie to review the denial of a summary-judgment motion, mandamus will lie to determine whether a trial court has complied with an earlier remand order from an appellate court. The new defendants, however, did not demonstrate that the trial court failed to comply with a prior mandate, because in the earlier appeal, the Supreme Court had held that the six-year statute of limitations would apply to the wantonness claims D and this was so even though, in the meantime, the Supreme Court overruled McKenzie in Ex parte Capstone Building Corp., 96 So. 3d 77 (Ala. 2012), in which the Court returned wantonness claims to a two-year statute of limitations. In another aspect of the opinion, the Court held that the circuit court had erred in denying the motion for summary judgment as to conspiracy claims, because those claims were not subject to the six-year statute of limitations.
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