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Sands v. Green (156 P.3d 1130)

alaska-nursing-home-elder-abuse-227x300Articles: Alaska

Sands v. Green (156 P.3d 1130)

CASE:
Sands v. Green (156 P.3d 1130)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Sands
Defendant (Appellant) – Green
COURT:
Supreme Court of Alaska (2007)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

Plaintiffs filed a personal injury claim against the defendants on May 29, 2003, alleging negligence and strict liability stemming from an incident two years prior when the defendant’s dog bit the plaintiff’s minor son. Defendant’s moved to have the case dismissed on the grounds that it was barred by the statute of limitations. The Superior Court granted the motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs appealed.

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

Plaintiffs allege that their minor son, Cody, was attacked and injured by the defendant’s dog on July 24, 1998, approximately one month before Cody’s eighth birthday. Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the defendant on behalf of Cody on May 29, 2003. The defendant’s moved to dismiss the claim on the ground that it was barred under AS 09.10.140(c), which tolls the statute of limitations for personal injury claims for minors injured before their eighth birthdays only until they reach eight years of age and thereafter imposes a two year statute of limitations.

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, ruling that the statute of limitations had run.

ISSUES ON APPEAL:

Does the two- year statute of limitations on a minor child under the age of eight violate their right to due process of law?

SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“Alaska Statute 09.10.070 creates a general two- year statute of limitations for personal injury actions. Alaska Statute 09.10.140(a) exempts both minors and persons incompetent by reason of mental illness or mental disabilityfromthe general statute of limitations set forth in AS 09.10.070, tolling the statute of limitations during the period of disability and allowing two years after the disability ceases to bring suit.”This essentially allows a plaintiff injured while they are a minor to bring a suite up to two years past their eighteenth birthday (when they reach the age of majority). The statuteimposinga two year statute of limitations on minors under the age of eight, according to the Court here, violates a plaintiff such as Cody, their constitutional right to due process and equal access to the courts.

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