Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of New Mexico issued a written opinion holding that the statute of limitations in a product liability case filed against a car manufacturer may be tolled if there is a showing that the manufacturer fraudulently concealed information that could give rise to the claim. In the case, Estate of Brice v. Toyota Motor Company, the court reversed a trial court’s ruling that the plaintiff’s case was filed beyond the applicable statute of limitations and allowed the case to proceed toward trial.
The Facts of the Case
Back in 2006, a Toyota Corolla driven by Alice Brice inexplicably accelerated into an intersection, where it was struck by a semi-truck. The vehicle caught fire, and Brice ultimately died as a result of the injuries she sustained. Approximately three years and 11 months later, her estate filed a product liability lawsuit against Toyota, the manufacturer of her vehicle.
In a summary judgment motion, Toyota asked the court to dismiss the case against it, arguing that it was filed too late. Under New Mexico law, wrongful death actions of this sort must be filed within three years from the date of the death. The plaintiff responded that Toyota had known about the sudden-acceleration problem but had acted to conceal the safety issue, preventing the plaintiff from realizing that there was a potential claim. The plaintiff also explained that as soon as the information became available, the lawsuit was filed without delay.
The lower court looked at the language of the statute requiring all claims to be brought within three years, and it agreed with Toyota that the claim was filed too late. The plaintiff then appealed to a higher court so that it could determine whether the defendant’s fraudulent concealment of critical facts could act to toll the statute of limitations.
The Court’s Opinion
The appellate court ultimately determined that fraudulent concealment may act to toll the statute of limitations in some circumstances. The court looked at the history of New Mexico law and the specific statute at issue. The court acknowledged that the language in the statute is clear, but the court also noted that fraudulent concealment does toll other similar statutes of limitations. Without making a judgment on whether it did so in this case, the court remanded the case back to the lower court to determine if the plaintiff’s showing was sufficient to toll the statute of limitations.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured or killed in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as was the situation in the case discussed above, there are almost always strictly enforced procedural rules, such as statutes of limitations with which you must comply. In some cases, there are specific exceptions to these rules that may apply. In any event, an attorney’s assistance can prove invaluable to anyone seeking the compensation they deserve. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Case Reversed after Lower Court Allows Jury to Hear Truck Driver Did Not Have Insurance, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 20, 2016.
Accident Involving Truck and Minibus Results in 12 Fatalities, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 6, 2016.