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§ 6-8-84, Ala. Code 1975 Not Applicable To Counterclaim Against Party Involuntarily Joined

Ex parte Dow AgroSciences LLC, [Ms. 1180887, Jan. 24, 2020] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Mendheim, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin, Wise, Bryan, Sellers, and Stewart, JJ., concur; Shaw, J., concurs in the result; Mitchell, J., recuses) grants a petition for a writ of mandamus filed by Dow AgroSciences LLC (“DAS”) directing the Conecuh Circuit Court to dismiss it based on the statute of limitations.

DAS was not a party to the suit when it was initially filed in February 2016 by Andalusia Farmers Cooperative (“AFC”). DAS was subsequently added as an indispensable party by plaintiff/counterclaim defendant AFC on November 20, 2018. After DAS was joined, the original defendant/counterclaim-plaintiff Ward filed a counterclaim against DAS. Ms. *5.

AFC contended that its claim against DAS was not time-barred because § 6-8-84, Ala. Code 1975 provides that “[w]hen the defendant pleads a counterclaim to the plaintiff’s demand, to which the plaintiff replies to the statute of limitations, the defendant is nevertheless entitled to his counterclaim, where it was a legal subsisting claim at the time the right of action accrued to the plaintiff on the claim in the action.” Ms. *10-11.

The Court rejected this argument, holding that “DAS does not fit the ordinary understanding of a ‘plaintiff’ or of an ‘opposing party’ against whom a ‘counterclaim’ is brought. DAS did not bring an action or any claim against Ward. Instead, DAS is a party that was involuntarily joined as an indispensable party to the case. Consequently, § 6-8-84 – Ward’s only defense in the circuit court to the two-year statute of limitations in § 6-2-38(l) – does not apply to Ward’s claim against DAS.” Ms. *14.

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