Illinois Appellate Court Finds that a Temporarily Disabled Injured Party Did Not Toll Statute of Limitations for Representative of the Estate

The plaintiff in this lawsuit, Roscoe Giles, was the representative and administrator of the estate of his brother, Morris Giles. Giles filed suit two years and one day after the death of his brother who was hit by a tow truck while walking through a cross-walk. When there is a sudden traumatic injurious event, the cause of action accrues, and the statute of limitations begins to run on the date the injury occurs.

As the original lawsuit complaint was not timely filed, no subsequent pleading can relate back to it. Any legal disability on the part of the decedent, and any negligence by the Giles’ attorney, cannot extend the statute of limitations.

Roscoe Giles, Morris’s brother, retained an attorney to sue Robert Parks, the tow truck’s owner and operator. On Dec. 23, 2014, exactly two years after Morris’s death, counsel for Roscoe filed the lawsuit, a survival claim. Survival claims have a statute of limitations of two years.

The case was dismissed for want of prosecution, but Giles hired a new lawyer and petitioned for relief from judgment, asserting that his previous lawyer had a minor stroke and was no longer authorized to practice law by the time the petition came before the court.

Parks did not object to the change in counsel, but he instead argued that the original claim had not been timely filed. Parks claimed he struck Giles two years and one day prior to the lawsuit being filed, meaning the statute of limitations expired on Dec. 22, 2014, one day prior to when Roscoe filed suit. Roscoe argued that because Morris was disabled until his death on Dec. 23, 2014, the statute of limitations was tolled until then.

The trial judge found that the claim of disability did not toll the statute of limitations and that the new claim could not relate back to an untimely filed original lawsuit. Giles appealed.

On appeal, Giles relied on 735 ILCS 13-211, which stated that if a party “is not under a legal disability at the time the case of action accrues but becomes under a legal disability before the period of limitations otherwise runs, the period of limitations is stayed until the disability is removed.”

Additionally, under 735 ILCS 13-209, “if a person entitled to bring an action dies before the expiration of the time limit for the commencement thereof . . . (1) an action may be commenced by his or her representative before the expiration of that time.”

Giles argued that his brother Roscoe was disabled, tolling the statute of limitations a day until his death, “remedied” the disability, at which point the “expiration of the time limited for the commencement” of the suit was Dec. 23, 2014.

Further, Roscoe Giles, as his brother’s representative, was entitled under Section 13-209 to commence the action up until that day. The appellate court disagreed, finding that Roscoe was “seeking the benefit of both statutory sections.”

The appeals panel noted that the purpose of Section 13-211 was to preserve the right of injured and disabled party in light of their disability, not to preserve the right of that party’s uninjured representative, who the court noted was “quite capable of bringing suit within the two years of the injured person’s injury.”

The appellate court disregarded the claims under Section 13-211 and found that Giles’ suit had been filed more than two years after Morris Giles’s injury, in excess of the time allotted by the statute of limitations.

As the original lawsuit was untimely filed, the later claims cannot relate back to it. Accordingly, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision dismissing the second filed lawsuit as being time-barred.

Estate of Morris Giles, Deceased v. Robert Parks, 2018 IL App (1st) 163151 (April 27, 2018).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling catastrophic injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits, bicycle accident cases, truck accident cases and car accident cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Franklin Park, Wood Dale, Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Long Grove, Hawthorne Woods, Lake Zurich, Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Skokie, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Blue Island, Calumet City, Lansing, Orland Hills, Olympia Fields, Mokena, Orland Hills, Chicago (Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Little Village, Little Italy, Chinatown, East Garfield Park, Bucktown, West Town, Irving Park, Avondale, North Center, Ravenswood, Edgewater, Uptown, Wildwood, Edison Park, Albany Park), Berkeley, Hillside and Lombard, Ill.

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