Sullivan ex rel. Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Sullivan v. Chattanooga Medical Investors, LP, 221 S.W.3d 506; 2007 Tenn. LEXIS 361 (Tenn. 2007)

The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant, finding that the statute of limitations had run. The Court of appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling in January, 2006 after finding that disability tolls the statute of limitations notwithstanding the existence of a durable power of attorney. On appeal, the defendants argued the that the agent, Terry Sullivan, had power to commence the action that, thus, the statute was not tolled. After examining the language of the statute and the relevant case law, the Supreme Court found that Terry Sullivan was not “the person entitled to commence an action” within the meaning of the Tolling Statute. The person “entitled to commence an action” is more than just a person who has the authority to bring an action. The term clearly refers to the person who is under the disability, who suffered the legal wrong, and to whom the claim belongs.

The court expressly rejected the Defendant’s argument that there is no disability and that tolling does not apply while a durable power of attorney exists.

Decided April 24, 2007. Opinion at: http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/OPINIONS/TSC/PDF/072/SullivantOPN.pdf

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