In Alabama, For Statute of Limitations Purposes Simply Filing a Complaint Does Not Commence an Action
On December 6, 2019, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released its opinion in James Brooks v. Austal USA, LLC. The undisputed facts were that while the Complaint was filed prior to the expiration of the Statute of Limitations, the Complaint was not served on the employer for seven months, during which time the Statute of Limitations expired. The Court of Appeals held that to commence an action for Statute of Limitations purposes, a Complaint must be filed and there must be an intent to have the Complaint immediately served; and held further that if the employee performs all of the tasks required to effectuate service at the time of filing, that the action has commenced. In this case, the employee attempted to serve the Complaint at the time it was filed, albeit to an outdated registered agent. While it took several months after the failed attempt for the Complaint to be served, the Court of Appeals determined that there was an attempt to serve at the time of filing. For this reason, the case was reversed and remanded.
About the Author
This blog submission was prepared by Karen Cleveland, an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Fish Nelson & Holden is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Cleveland by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her directly at 205-332-1599.