§31.16 Statute of Limitations
The Case: Sanders v. Traver , 109 S.W.3d 282 (Tenn. 2003).
The Basic Facts: Plaintiff, the daughter of a deceased medical patient, brought a wrongful death action against Defendant hospital, a governmental entity. The one-year anniversary of Plaintiff's mother's death occurred on a Sunday, and the next day, Monday, was Memorial Day. Plaintiff filed her complaint on Tuesday.
The Bottom Line:
- "The issue before us is, when the statute of limitations runs on a Sunday and the following Monday is a legal holiday, is the action timely under the GTLA when the complaint is filed on Tuesday?" 109 S.W.3d at 284.
- "The doctrine of sovereign immunity provides that governmental entities may be sued only upon the terms to which they consent. See Cruse v. City of Columbia, 922 S.W.2d 492, 495 (Tenn. 1996). The GTLA, the act under which the government allows itself to be sued for tort, provides a twelve-month period in which potential plaintiffs may file claims against the government, and, under its own terms, 'any claim for damages must be brought in strict compliance with the terms of this chapter.' Tenn. Code Ann. § 29‑20‑201(c). Blount Memorial argues that any extension of time past the twelve month deadline improperly extends the GTLA's statute of limitations, effectively allowing the governmental entity to be sued in a manner to which it did not consent. The plaintiff responds that the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure govern GTLA suits and essentially asserts that Rule 6.01 does not extend the time but merely defines how the twelve-month statutory period is to be computed. Thus, according to the plaintiff, Rule 6.01 allows a claim under the GTLA to be filed on the first day that the court is open following the one-year anniversary of the cause of action arising - in this case, the death of Cathi Williams." Id.
- "We agree with the plaintiff that, just as Section 1-3-102 appears in the 'Construction of Statutes' Chapter and defines time periods, Rule 6.01 also serves to define, not extend, the period provided by statutes of limitations. Rule 6.01 is not analogous to a 'savings statute.'" Id. at 285.
- "For the reasons stated herein, this Court finds that a complaint is timely filed under the GTLA's twelve month statute of limitations if it is filed pursuant to the computation of time set forth in Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 6.01. Since the one year anniversary of the accrual of the cause of action occurred on a Sunday, and the following Monday was a legal holiday, the complaint was timely when filed on the following Tuesday." Id. at 286.
Shaw v. Cleveland Utilities Water Division , No. E2009-00627-COA-R3-CV, 2009 WL 4250157 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 2009) (upholding dismissal based on applicable statute of limitations); Bertrand v. The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, No. W2008-00025-COA-R3-CV, 2008 WL 4334921 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 23, 2008) (savings statute at Tenn. Code. Ann. § 28-1-105 does not apply to claims filed against governmental entities under Governmental Tort Liability Act).