Bankruptcy Trustee's Intervention Relates Back to the Date of Filing by Debtor, Western Section Rules

BERLINDA LANE, AND EDWARD L. MONTEDONICO, AS CHAPTER 7 TRUSTEE FOR THE ESTATE OF BERLINDA LANE v. JACOB L. DANIEL AND DANIEL J. LUND
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

James E. Bailey, III and R. Campbell Hillyer, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Edward L. Montedonico, as Chapter 7 Trustee for the Estate of Berlinda Lane.

Christopher L. Richardson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Daniel J. Lund.

Dawn Davis Carson, Russell B. Jordan, and Hal S. Spragins, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case involves the application of the statute of limitations to an intervening personal injury complaint filed by a bankruptcy trustee after the defendants asserted that the original plaintiff, the debtor in the bankruptcy proceeding, lacked standing to bring the claim. Once the bankruptcy trustee became aware of the claim, he filed a motion for intervention, or in the alternative, for substitution pursuant to Rule 17.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. The trial court granted the trustee’s motion and the trustee later filed an intervening complaint. The trial court, however, later dismissed the case, reasoning that because the first complaint was filed by a party without standing, the original complaint was a nullity. Under this theory, the trial court concluded that the action was commenced upon the filing of the trustee’s intervening complaint, which was undisputedly outside the applicable statute of limitations. Having determined that the plaintiff’s original complaint was not a nullity, we conclude that the trustee’s intervening complaint relates back to the original complaint and, thus, was filed within the applicable statute of limitations. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

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