Hey, Potential Tortfeasors: Do Business in Kentucky

Oh, Kentucky! I wax maudlin as the spring approaches, when the bluegrass begins to grow, and I am reminded of my love of fried chicken, mint juleps, and Billy Ray Cyrus. How wonderful art thou, great state of the Gray Squirrel and the greatest two minutes in sports! And even with all of these enticements to share a state of domicile with Rick Pitino, there is but one ultimate reason to make the move. Although Greenville is a fine place to live, if I were ever to maim or otherwise injure someone, I would hope to do so in Kentucky. I am surprised that the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce does not openly espouse its one year statute of limitations [PDF] on personal injury cases as a benefit of living, maiming, of doing business there. Unfortunately for Johnny Childress, he lived in Kentucky at the time of his injury, and his claim was dismissed because of it.

For reasons not clear in Childress v. Interstate Battery Systems of America, Inc., 2010 WL 600023, No. 1:09CV-54-M (W.D. Ky. Feb. 18, 2010), Mr. Childress did not bring suit within one year of his accident. On November 26, 2007, Mr. Childress drove home, exited his car, and “noticed the distinct odor of battery fumes emanating from his vehicle.” Id. Mr. Childress disconnected the battery, took the battery into his garage, and placed it on a workbench, where it exploded and sent shards of plastic and acid into Mr. Childress’ face and eyes. Childress, inexplicably, waited too late to file his products liability action, and, therefore, he had to assert a theory of recovery that would allow him to maintain his claim. He argued that his accident sounded in the Motor Vehicle Reparations Act, which allowed a two-year period to bring an action.

The two-year limitations period extends to those who were victims of a motor vehicle accident and whose injuries arose out of the use of a motor vehicle. Id. Because the blog adheres to the strictest of legal writing axioms, you already know what the court decided. Childress was not in his vehicle at the time of the explosion, and “it was the battery, not his vehicle, that was the sole cause of his injuries.” Id. Therefore, Childress was time-barred.

Maybe Childress had some bad facts in his claim that would have precluded a finding against the battery distributor, and he was trying to bring in his auto insurer. It’s unclear. But unfortunately for Mr. Childress, who at the very least had a real injury, and perhaps a valid claim, he can’t recover. Manufacturers take note and take advantage of Citizens United: Elect officials who support a one-year statute of limitations. Then I won’t have to move to Kentucky.

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