(251) 299-0101

DISMISSAL & STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS - EX PARTE CVS PHARMACY, L.L.C.

Ex parte CVS Pharmacy, L.L.C., [Ms. 1150355, May 27, 2016] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2016). The filing of a complaint, standing alone, does not commence an action for statute-of-limitations purposes. Ms. *7-8, quoting Ex parte Courtyard Citiflats, LLC, [Ms. 1140264, June 12, 2015] __ So. 3d __, ___ (Ala. 2015). Here, while plaintiff filed a complaint within the two-year statute of limitations period for a slip and fall claim against CVS (see § 6-2-38(1), Ala. Code 1975, which provides “all actions for any injury to the person or rights of another not arising from contract and not specifically enumerated in this section must be brought within two years.”), she did not pay a filing fee when she filed the complaint. Rather, she filed an “Affidavit of Substantial Hardship,” indicating she was unable to pay the filing fee. See § 12-19-70, Ala. Code 1975, (providing at subsection (b) “[t]he docket fee may be waived initially and taxed as costs at the conclusion of the case if the court finds that payment of the fee will constitute a substantial hardship....”). The circuit court initially entered an order purporting to declare plaintiff indigent and waiving the filing fee requirement, however, the circuit court subsequently entered an order reversing its earlier order and denying the claim of substantial hardship. Plaintiff subsequently paid the filing fee, but CVS moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the two-year statutory limitation period had expired before that fee was paid or the affidavit of substantial hardship was approved, either of which was necessary to “commence the action” and thereby invoke the jurisdiction of the circuit court before the expiration of the limitations period. Finding Courtyard Citiflats “virtually indistinguishable,” the Supreme Court grants a petition for a writ of mandamus and directs the Montgomery Circuit Court to dismiss the complaint as untimely filed.

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