Washington Case Law Update: Is the Statute of Limitations Tolled if the Wrong Defendant is Served?
From the desk of Kyle D. Riley: In Washington, most tort claims must be brought within three years or they are time-barred. When a defendant is served properly, Washington law tolls the statute of limitations as to all unserved defendants. When the wrong defendant is served, is the statute of limitations tolled? Read on to learn more.
Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of car accident, the Washington Court of Appeals held that because a defendant did not establish that there was a genuine dispute as to whether the entity the plaintiff served was a proper defendant, summary judgment was inappropriate. The case delves into the Washington rules governing commencement of actions and tolling of the statute of limitations to allow for proper service on all defendants, an important consideration in many instances for insurers and their attorneys.
Rundquist v. Fox, No. 49993-2-II, Washington Court of Appeals Div. II (August 29, 2017) (unpublished)
Brian Rundquist (“Rundquist”) and Michael Fox (“Fox”) were involved in a car accident on September 4, 2012. On September 2, 2015, just before the expiration of the limitations period, Rundquist sued Fox and Fischer Trucking, Inc., based in Snohomish County, Washington (“Washington Fischer Trucking”), a company Rundquist alleged was Fox’s employer. On October 19, Rundquist served Washington Fischer Trucking at its place of business in Snohomish County. On December 3, 2015, Rundquist amended his complaint to add Fischer Trucking Inc., a Georgia corporation (“Georgia Fischer Trucking”), as a defendant. The amended complaint alleged that Georgia Fischer Trucking was Fox’s employer.
On February 22, 2016, Rundquist attempted to serve Fox by mail and via the Washington Secretary of State. On May 10, 2016, Fox filed an answer in which he denied that Georgia Fischer Trucking was his employer. Shortly...