Utilities Board of the City of Opp v. Shuler Brothers, Inc.

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Utilities Board of the City of Opp appealed a circuit court's order that denied its motion to dismiss a third-party complaint filed by Shuler Brothers, Inc. The Alabama Electric Company (AEC) had filed suit against Shuler Brothers seeking recovery for services performed and for breach of contract when Shuler Brothers refused to pay an invoice for repairs AEC made to some equipment. Shuler Brothers argued that the repairs did not solve its equipment issue. Shuler Brothers alleged the Utilities Board was negligent in maintaining power lines going to its facility that was part of its equipment troubles. In its motion to dismiss, the Utilities Board argued that a two-year statute of limitations applied to Shuler Brothers' claim, and that the alleged negligence was not discovered until AEC served Shuler Brothers with its complaint. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment to deny the Utilities Board's motion to dismiss; reversed the circuit court's decision denying Shuler Brothers' breach-of-contract claim; and reversed the circuit court's denial of the Board's motion to dismiss Shuler Brothers' negligence claim.

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REL: 06/21/2013 Notice: T h i s o p i n i o n i s s u b j e c t t o f o r m a l r e v i s i o n b e f o r e p u b l i c a t i o n i n t h e advance s h e e t s o f Southern R e p o r t e r . R e a d e r s a r e r e q u e s t e d t o n o t i f y t h e R e p o r t e r o f D e c i s i o n s , A l a b a m a A p p e l l a t e C o u r t s , 300 D e x t e r A v e n u e , M o n t g o m e r y , A l a b a m a 3 6 1 0 4 - 3 7 4 1 ((334) 2 2 9 - 0 6 4 9 ) , o f a n y t y p o g r a p h i c a l o r o t h e r e r r o r s , i n o r d e r t h a t c o r r e c t i o n s may b e made b e f o r e t h e o p i n i o n i s p r i n t e d i n Southern R e p o r t e r . SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA OCTOBER TERM, 2012-2013 1111558 U t i l i t i e s Board o f the C i t y o f Opp v. Shuler B r o t h e r s , Inc. Appeal from Houston C i r c u i t Court (CV-12-0024) PER CURIAM. The Board"), Houston motion Utilities Board the third-party Circuit Court's to dismiss, of the City defendant August o f Opp ("the U t i l i t i e s below, appeals 9, 2 0 1 2 , o r d e r on s t a t u t e - o f - l i m i t a t i o n s from t h e denying i t s grounds, t h e 1111558 third-party Inc. complaint filed against i t by S h u l e r Brothers, We a f f i r m i n p a r t , r e v e r s e i n p a r t , a n d remand. F a c t s and P r o c e d u r a l H i s t o r y On J a n u a r y Dothan which Company, I n c . o f filed ("AEC") Shuler a complaint owns a n d o p e r a t e s complaint, labor 18, 2012, A l a b a m a E l e c t r i c done AEC a wood-chipping stated claims and alleging against seeking breach of Brothers, operation. recovery contract In the f o r work and after Shuler B r o t h e r s r e f u s e d t o p a y an i n v o i c e f o r r e p a i r s AEC h a d made t o Shuler Brothers' Brothers filed chipper motor. an answer t o t h e c o m p l a i n t a l l e g i n g negligence against 23, 2012, S h u l e r and a c o u n t e r c l a i m and s e e k i n g r e c o v e r y f o r l o s t On M a r c h 27, 2012, S h u l e r complaint On M a r c h the U t i l i t i e s Brothers filed Board seeking a income. third-party recovery f o r l o s s o f income a n d $145,545 f o r r e p a i r s t o t h e c h i p p e r m o t o r . In t h e t h i r d - p a r t y c o m p l a i n t , S h u l e r B r o t h e r s a l l e g e d t h a t , i n December 2009, repair i t c o n t a c t e d AEC a n d a s k e d i t t o remove a n d a l a r g e c h i p p e r motor t h a t had r e c e n t l y f a i l e d . AEC p e r f o r m e d t h e r e q u e s t e d r e p a i r work, r e i n s t a l l e d t h e m o t o r on J a n u a r y 20, 2010, a n d s u b m i t t e d an i n v o i c e f o r $ 7 5 , 0 0 0 , w h i c h Shuler Brothers promptly paid. 2 1111558 Shuler Brothers a l s o a l l e g e d t h a t , on o r a b o u t 22, 2010, t h e m o t o r s u f f e r e d a n o t h e r to repair i t . reinstalled 11, AEC performed f a i l u r e , a n d i t a s k e d AEC the requested t h e motor a t S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ' 2010, a n d a t t e m p t e d to restart February it. repair facility However, work, on M a r c h immediately a f t e r i t was r e s t a r t e d , t h e m o t o r s u f f e r e d what a p p e a r e d t o be t h e same f a i l u r e as b e f o r e , a n d S h u l e r B r o t h e r s a s k e d AEC t o r e p a i r i t , w h i c h AEC d i d . According t o paragraph 8 of Shuler Brothers' third-party complaint: " [ O ] n M a r c h 23, 2010, [ A E C ] r e i n s t a l l e d t h e m o t o r and, d u r i n g s t a r t - u p , was f o r c e d t o s h u t i t down before the engine f a i l e d again. [Shuler Brothers] contacted the T h i r d - P a r t y Defendant, the U t i l i t i e s B o a r d o f t h e C i t y o f Opp, ... t o i n v e s t i g a t e t h e incoming line problem. [ T ] h e lineman from t h e [ U t i l i t i e s B o a r d ] d i s c o v e r e d a n d r e p l a c e d '3 c r i m p e d c o n n e c t o r s ' on t h e i n c o m i n g s i d e o f t h e m e t e r a n d p o l e t h a t were l o o s e , c r a c k e d a n d s h o w i n g s i g n s o f r e c e n t a n d o l d a r c i n g damage." Shuler Brothers alleged that negligent i n maintaining Brothers' facility. that, t h e power the U t i l i t i e s lines going Board into was Shuler I t a l s o a l l e g e d t h a t i t was f o r e s e e a b l e i f t h e c h i p p e r motor f a i l e d , Shuler Brothers' business w o u l d be s h u t down a n d S h u l e r B r o t h e r s w o u l d l o s e income as a result. Therefore, i ta l l e g e d that the U t i l i t i e s 3 B o a r d owed 1111558 it f o r t h e c o s t o f t h e r e p a i r s AEC h a d s u e d i t f o r . Finally, Shuler Brothers a l l e g e d that i t d i d not discover the U t i l i t i e s Board's negligence u n t i l AEC. i t was s e r v e d w i t h t h e c o m p l a i n t by 1 On A p r i l dismiss grounds 30, 2012, t h e U t i l i t i e s the t h i r d - p a r t y pursuant Specifically, to complaint Rule i t asserted Board f i l e d a motion t o on statute-of-limitations 12(b)(6), that the Ala. R. Civ. negligence claim P. was g o v e r n e d b y t h e t w o - y e a r s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s f o u n d i n § 6¬ 2-38, A l a . Code Shuler 1975. Brothers I t a l s o a s s e r t e d t h a t , even suggested that i t d i d not though discover the U t i l i t i e s B o a r d ' s a l l e g e d n e g l i g e n c e u n t i l i t was s e r v e d w i t h the complaint complaint, should have negligence by quoted been as AEC, above, aware early as paragraph 8 of established that of the U t i l i t i e s March 23, 2010. the third-party Shuler Brothers Board's alleged Therefore, the U t i l i t i e s Board a s s e r t e d t h a t the t h i r d - p a r t y complaint, which was f i l e d on M a r c h 27, 2012, was b a r r e d b y t h e a p p l i c a b l e t w o year s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s a n d s h o u l d be d i s m i s s e d . T h e f a c t s a l l e g e d i n AEC's c o m p l a i n t a g a i n s t S h u l e r B r o t h e r s r e g a r d i n g t h e damage a n d t h e r e p a i r s t o t h e c h i p p e r motor a r e s u b s t a n t i a l l y s i m i l a r t o t h e f a c t s a l l e g e d i n S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ' t h i r d - p a r t y complaint a g a i n s t the U t i l i t i e s Board. 1 4 1111558 On June 6, 2012, S h u l e r B r o t h e r s , w h i c h was by new c o u n s e l , amended i t s t h i r d - p a r t y claim a l l e g i n g breach of c o n t r a c t . represented complaint t o add a I t alleged: "[Shuler Brothers] avers that a contract e x i s t e d / e x i s t s between t h e [ U t i l i t i e s B o a r d ] and [ S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ] whereby t h e [ U t i l i t i e s Board] had/has t h e d u t y t o p r o v i d e e l e c t r i c a l p o w e r / s e r v i c e i n a manner c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e s a f e a n d p r o p e r operation of [Shuler Brothers'] manufacturing f a c i l i t y as c o n t r a c t e d . S a i d c o n t r a c t e x i s t s by v i r t u e of the [ U t i l i t i e s Board] undertaking the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to provide e l e c t r i c a l power/service to [ S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ' ] f a c i l i t y and t h e t i m e l y and c o n s i s t e n t payments made b y [ S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ] t o t h e [Utilities Board] f o r the electrical power consumed." On June opposition 2012, S h u l e r Brothers to the U t i l i t i e s third-party included 7, complaint. allegations Board's I t argued a response motion that, i n i t s complaint B o a r d ' s r e p l a c i n g "3 c r i m p e d filed to dismiss the even about connectors," in the though i t Utilities i t d i d n o t know a t t h a t time t h a t the U t i l i t i e s Board's negligence r e g a r d i n g the condition o f t h e power malfunction. filed line caused the chipper motor to S h u l e r B r o t h e r s a l s o a r g u e d t h a t , e v e n when i t i t s counterclaim on M a r c h 23, 2012, i t d i d n o t know w h e t h e r t h e damage i t s u f f e r e d was c a u s e d b y t h e n e g l i g e n c e o f AEC o r o f t h e U t i l i t i e s Board. Therefore, 5 citing D e s o u z a v. 1111558 Lauderdale, 928 So. 2d 1035 ( A l a . C i v . App. 2005), i t argued t h a t t h e r e were g e n u i n e i s s u e s o f m a t e r i a l as f a c t t o when i t s i n j u r y was f i r s t d i s c o v e r e d and t h a t t h o s e i s s u e s p r e c l u d e d a j u d g m e n t on s t a t u t e - o f - l i m i t a t i o n s grounds. The U t i l i t i e s B o a r d f i l e d a m o t i o n t o d i s m i s s t h e amended t h i r d - p a r t y complaint, a r g u i n g t h a t , f o r the reasons hereinafter, year So. S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ' c l a i m s were b a r r e d b y t h e s t a t u t e of Code 1975. 2d detailed limitations set forth in § two- 6-2-38(l), Ala. C i t i n g R u m f o r d v. V a l l e y P e s t C o n t r o l , I n c . , 623, 627 ( A l a . 1993), the Utilities Board 629 asserted t h a t , " ' [ g ] e n e r a l l y , a c a u s e o f a c t i o n f o r i n j u r y o r damage t o property accrues, on the date Limitations so as t o s t a r t t h e r u n n i n g of the injury of A c t i o n s § o r damage.'" 176 (1987).) of limitations, (Quoting Also, 54 C.J.S. citing Singer A s s e t F i n a n c i a l Co. v. C o n n e c t i c u t G e n e r a l L i f e I n s u r a n c e 975 So. although 2d 375, 382 ( A l a . C i v . App. Shuler Brothers attempted 2007), i t a s s e r t e d t h a t , to a v o i d the limitations b a r by a l l e g i n g t h a t i t d i d not d i s c o v e r the U t i l i t i e s negligence u n t i l i t was Co., served w i t h the complaint, Board's "there i s no ' d i s c o v e r y r u l e ' f o r n e g l i g e n c e c l a i m s t h a t w o u l d t o l l r u n n i n g of the s t a t u t e of l i m i t a t i o n s from the time the 6 the cause 1111558 o f a c t i o n was ' d i s c o v e r e d ' b y t h e p l a i n t i f f . " breach-of-contract Shuler Brothers' claim, claim the U t i l i t i e s sounded Regarding the argued that Board i n tort, rather than in c o n t r a c t , and t h a t , t h e r e f o r e , t h e two-year l i m i t a t i o n s p e r i o d set forth Utilities before in § 6-2-38(l), A l a . Code 1975, a p p l i e d . B o a r d a s s e r t e d t h a t a l l t h e damage o c c u r r e d March 11, 2010, a n d t h a t commenced no l a t e r than The on o r the s t a t u t e of l i m i t a t i o n s that date. Therefore, i t concluded t h a t , b e c a u s e S h u l e r B r o t h e r s w a i t e d u n t i l M a r c h 27, 2012, t o file i t s t h i r d - p a r t y complaint against i t , i t s claims were b a r r e d by the two-year s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s . After presented trial conducting arguments a concerning during which the motion c o u r t accepted b r i e f s from t h e p a r t i e s . e n t e r e d an o r d e r d e n y i n g it hearing explained: "Because the p a r t i e s to dismiss, the Thereafter, i t the U t i l i t i e s Board's motion i n which factual Shuler [ B r o t h e r s ] discovered issues remain as t o when t h a t [ i t s ] d a m a g e [ ] may be t h e r e s u l t o f a c t i o n / i n a c t i o n or conduct by [ t h e U t i l i t i e s [ i t s ] m o t i o n t o d i s m i s s i s ... d e n i e d . " The U t i l i t i e s f i l e d a motion t o r e c o n s i d e r , which the t r i a l denied. 7 Board,] court Board summarily 1111558 The U t i l i t i e s B o a r d a s k e d t h e t r i a l denial of the motion court to c e r t i f y i t s t o d i s m i s s f o r an a p p e a l b y p e r m i s s i o n p u r s u a n t t o R u l e 5, A l a . R. App. P. The t r i a l court entered the r e q u e s t e d c e r t i f i c a t i o n , and t h e U t i l i t i e s B o a r d petition f o r permissive appeal granted the p e t i t i o n i n this Court. filed a This and o r d e r e d answer and b r i e f s . Standard o f Review "'The a p p r o p r i a t e s t a n d a r d o f r e v i e w u n d e r Rule 12(b)(6)[, A l a . R. C i v . P.,] i s whether, when the a l l e g a t i o n s of the c o m p l a i n t a r e v i e w e d most s t r o n g l y i n t h e pleader's favor, i t appears that the pleader could prove any set of circumstances t h a t would e n t i t l e [ i t ] t o relief. Raley v. Citibanc of Alabama/Andalusia, 474 So. 2d 640, 641 ( A l a . 1 9 8 5 ) ; H i l l v. F a l l e t t a , 589 So. 2d 746 ( A l a . C i v . App. 1991) . I n m a k i n g t h i s d e t e r m i n a t i o n , t h i s C o u r t does n o t c o n s i d e r whether the p l a i n t i f f w i l l ultimately p r e v a i l , b u t o n l y w h e t h e r [ i t ] may p o s s i b l y prevail. F o n t e n o t v. B r a m l e t t , 470 So. 2d 669, 671 ( A l a . 1 9 8 5 ) ; R i c e v. U n i t e d I n s . Co. o f A m e r i c a , 465 So. 2d 1100, 1101 ( A l a . 1984). We n o t e t h a t a R u l e 12(b)(6) d i s m i s s a l i s p r o p e r o n l y when i t a p p e a r s beyond doubt t h a t t h e p l a i n t i f f can prove no s e t o f f a c t s i n s u p p o r t o f t h e c l a i m t h a t would e n t i t l e the p l a i n t i f f t o r e l i e f . G a r r e t t v . Hadden, 495 So. 2d 616, 617 ( A l a . 1 9 8 6 ) ; H i l l v. K r a f t , I n c . , 496 So. 2d 768, 769 ( A l a . 1 9 8 6 ) . ' "'Nance v. 1993)." Matthews, 622 8 So. 2d 297, 299 ( A l a . Court 1111558 DGB, LLC v. H i n d s , 55 So. 3d 218, 223 ( A l a . 2010). "'Inasmuch as t h e i s s u e b e f o r e us i s w h e t h e r t h e t r i a l court c o r r e c t l y denied a Rule 12(b)(6), A l a . R. C i v . P., m o t i o n t o d i s m i s s , " [ t ] h i s C o u r t must a c c e p t t h e a l l e g a t i o n s o f t h e c o m p l a i n t as t r u e . " Creola L a n d Dev., I n c . v. B e n t b r o o k e Housing, L.L.C., 828 So. 2d 285, 288 ( A l a . 2002) . M o r e o v e r , as t h e d e f e n d a n t s s o u g h t o n l y a R u l e 12(b) (6) dismissal without r e s o r t t o f a c t s s u p p l i e d by a f f i d a v i t or other e v i d e n t i a r y m a t e r i a l outside the a l l e g a t i o n s o f t h e c o m p l a i n t , a n d as t h e t r i a l c o u r t a c c o r d i n g l y t r e a t e d t h e m o t i o n o n l y as what i t was, a m o t i o n t o d i s m i s s a n d n o t a m o t i o n f o r summary judgment w i t h e v i d e n t i a r y m a t e r i a l s o u t s i d e t h e a l l e g a t i o n s of the complaint, those a l l e g a t i o n s themselves are the only p o t e n t i a l source of f a c t u a l support f o r the defendants' c l a i m s of immunity. R u l e 1 2 ( b ) , A l a . R. C i v . P.; Mooneyham v. S t a t e Bd. o f C h i r o p r a c t i c E x a m i n e r s , 802 So. 2d 200 ( A l a . 20 0 1 ) ; G a r r i s v. F e d e r a l L a n d Bank o f J a c k s o n , 58 4 So. 2d 791 ( A l a . 1 9 9 1 ) ; H a l e s v. F i r s t N a t ' l Bank o f M o b i l e , 380 So. 2d 797 ( A l a . 1 9 8 0 ) . ' " Ex p a r t e W a l k e r , 97 So. 3d 747, 749-50 ( A l a . 2012). Discussion The trial permissive court certified the following question appeal: "[W]hether the s t a t u t e of l i m i t a t i o n s f o r Shuler B r o t h e r s , I n c . ' s n e g l i g e n c e and b r e a c h o f c o n t r a c t c l a i m s commenced upon d i s c o v e r y o f t h e damage t o i t s c h i p p e r m o t o r , o r upon t h e d i s c o v e r y t h a t t h e damage may have r e s u l t e d f r o m t h e a c t i o n / i n a c t i o n o r c o n d u c t by t h e U t i l i t i e s B o a r d o f t h e C i t y o f Opp." 9 for 1111558 A. The denying U t i l i t i e s Board argues t h a t the t r i a l i t s motion claim on to dismiss Shuler statute-of-limitations reiterates i t s argument that Brothers' grounds. a cause court erred i n negligence In support, i t o f a c t i o n f o r damage a c c r u e s , a n d t h e s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s s t a r t s r u n n i n g , on t h e date t h e damage occurs. See Rumford, supra. I t also r e i t e r a t e s i t s a r g u m e n t t h a t t h e r e i s no " d i s c o v e r y r u l e " t h a t would toll negligence the running claim. of the s t a t u t e of l i m i t a t i o n s See S i n g e r A s s e t , supra. The on a Utilities B o a r d a s s e r t s on a p p e a l , as i t d i d b e l o w , t h a t a l l t h e damage o c c u r r e d on o r b e f o r e M a r c h 11, 2010, a n d t h a t t h e s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s s t a r t e d r u n n i n g no l a t e r t h a n t h a t d a t e . Shuler Brothers third-party waited complaint, until the U t i l i t i e s Shuler Brothers' negligence statute 1975, of l i m i t a t i o n s and t h a t t h e t r i a l March Because 27, 2012, t o f i l e i t s Board concludes that c l a i m i s b a r r e d by t h e two-year set forth i n § 6 - 2 - 3 8 ( l ) , A l a . Code court e r r e d i n denying i t s motion t o d i s m i s s on t h a t g r o u n d . Shuler Brothers argues t h a t i t s negligence c l a i m a g a i n s t the U t i l i t i e s Board i s n o t b a r r e d by t h e two-year s t a t u t e o f 10 1111558 limitations. S p e c i f i c a l l y , i t c o n t e n d s t h a t "an be within commenced negligence Brothers or e l s e asserts two years of the a c t i o n must discovery of [the c l a i m s ] are f o r e v e r b a r r e d . " that the statute of limitations the Shuler was not t r i g g e r e d on M a r c h 11, 2010, because, i t says, at t h a t time i t lacked cause of the k n o w l e d g e as to the damage and know w h e t h e r t h e damage t o t h e c h i p p e r m o t o r was negligence o f AEC or the n e g l i g e n c e did not c a u s e d by the of the U t i l i t i e s Board. Thus, t h e g i s t o f i t s a r g u m e n t s i s t h a t q u e s t i o n s as t o when it first was d i s c o v e r e d t h e c a u s e o f i t s i n j u r y and t h e p a r t y t h a t responsible limitations for grounds. the We injury precluded a judgment on disagree. "The s t a t u t o r y p e r i o d o f l i m i t a t i o n s f o r n e g l i g e n c e ... a c t i o n s , f o u n d a t A l a . Code 1975, § 6-2-38, i s two y e a r s f r o m t h e d a t e t h e i n j u r y o c c u r r e d . ... T h e r e i s , h o w e v e r , no ' d i s c o v e r y r u l e ' t o t o l l t h e running of the l i m i t a t i o n s p e r i o d w i t h r e s p e c t to n e g l i g e n c e ... a c t i o n s " Henson v. 1993). Celtic Life See I n s . Co., a l s o B o y c e v. Cassese, ( A l a . 2006) ("Alabama has no negligence ... actions 621 So. 2d 941 So. 1268, 2d 1274 932, 946 n.2 'discovery rule' with respect to t h a t would toll the running l i m i t a t i o n s p e r i o d . " ) ; S i n g e r A s s e t , 975 So. 2d a t 382 t h a t " t h e r e i s no (Ala. 'discovery rule' 11 of the (noting for negligence claims that 1111558 would t o l l the running of the s t a t u t e of l i m i t a t i o n s from t i m e t h e c a u s e o f a c t i o n was ' d i s c o v e r e d ' by t h e and W i l l i a m s v. N o r w e s t F i n . A l a b a m a , I n c . , 723 (Ala. C i v . App. 1998) respect to negligence ("Alabama has ... and only to cases The So. the 'discovery rule' the 104 with running § 6-2-3, A l a . Code fraudulent e x i s t e n c e of a cause of a c t i o n . 2d 97, " d i s c o v e r y r u l e " i n Alabama f r a u d a c t i o n s , see involving plaintiff"); a c t i o n s t h a t would t o l l of the l i m i t a t i o n s p e r i o d . " ) . applies no the concealment See DGB, 1975, of LLC v. H i n d s , the supra. In t h i s case, S h u l e r B r o t h e r s s p e c i f i c a l l y a l l e g e d i n i t s t h i r d - p a r t y complaint t h a t i t s c h i p p e r m o t o r s u f f e r e d damage i n December 2009, on o r a b o u t F e b r u a r y 22, 2010, 11, was 2010. I t a l s o a l l e g e d t h a t , a f t e r AEC down t h e m o t o r on M a r c h 23, it 2010, to prevent and forced to l i n e p r o b l e m and t h a t t h e l i n e m e n " d i s c o v e r e d and arcing damage." complaint as incoming- replaced on t h e i n c o m i n g s i d e o f t h e m e t e r and t h a t were l o o s e , c r a c k e d We true." H o u s i n g , L.L.C., 828 and showing s i g n s of recent "must accept Creola Land So. 2d 285, 12 the Dev., 288 shut f u r t h e r damage, c o n t a c t e d the U t i l i t i e s Board to i n v e s t i g a t e the crimped connectors' on M a r c h '3 pole and old a l l e g a t i o n s of the Inc. v. ( A l a . 2002) . Bentbrooke Clearly, 1111558 S h u l e r B r o t h e r s knew a b o u t t h e damage t o t h e c h i p p e r m o t o r , a t the l a t e s t , on M a r c h 11, 2010. Shuler Brothers' contentions a b o u t i t s l a c k o f k n o w l e d g e as t o t h e c a u s e o f t h e damage a n d as to which party's negligence caused the damage n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g , b e c a u s e t h e r e i s no a l l e g a t i o n o r e v i d e n c e o f fraudulent concealment arguments c o n c e r n i n g are unavailing. 2 in this case, Shuler Brothers' the a p p l i c a t i o n of the "discovery At the l a t e s t , b e g a n t o r u n on M a r c h 11, 2010. rule" the statute of l i m i t a t i o n s Therefore, n e g l i g e n c e c l a i m a g a i n s t the U t i l i t i e s Board, Shuler Brothers' w h i c h was filed more t h a n two y e a r s l a t e r on M a r c h 27, 2012, i s b a r r e d b y t h e s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s a n d s h o u l d be d i s m i s s e d . I n i t s b r i e f , Shuler B r o t h e r s c i t e s cases t h a t are c l e a r l y i n a p p l i c a b l e , i n c l u d i n g t o x i c - s u b s t a n c e - e x p o s u r e cases and e q u i t a b l e - t o l l i n g c a s e s , s e e , e . g . , G a r r e t t v. R a y t h e o n Co., 368 So. 2d 516 ( A l a . 1 9 7 9 ) , o v e r r u l e d b y G r i f f i n v. U n o c a l C o r p . , 990 So. 2d 291 ( A l a . 2 0 0 8 ) ; a p l u r a l i t y o p i n i o n t h a t a d d r e s s e d q u e s t i o n s r e g a r d i n g d i s c o v e r y o f t h e damage, r a t h e r t h a n t h e c a u s e o f t h e damage o r t h e p a r t y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e damage, s e e D e s o u z a v. L a u d e r d a l e , 928 So. 2d 1035 ( A l a . C i v . App. 2 0 0 5 ) ; a n d a f e d e r a l d i s t r i c t c o u r t c a s e t h a t r e f u t e s i t s arguments by s t a t i n g t h a t a n e g l i g e n c e cause o f a c t i o n a c c r u e s when t h e i n j u r y o c c u r s a n d f u r t h e r s t a t i n g t h a t , i n Alabama, t h e d i s c o v e r y r u l e a p p l i e s o n l y t o f r a u d actions. 2 13 1111558 B. The erred Utilities in denying Board i t s motion breach-of-contract The Utilities B r o t h e r s t o be also c l a i m on argues to that dismiss the trial Shuler statute-of-limitations Board argues t h a t the court Brothers' grounds. c l a i m a l l e g e d by Shuler a b r e a c h - o f - c o n t r a c t c l a i m a c t u a l l y sounds i n t o r t , to which the two-year l i m i t a t i o n s p e r i o d s e t f o r t h i n § 6 - 2 - 3 8 ( l ) , A l a . Code 1975, In i t s amended applies. third-party 3 We disagree. complaint, Shuler Brothers alleged: "[Shuler Brothers] avers that a contract e x i s t e d / e x i s t s between the [ U t i l i t i e s Board] and [Shuler Brothers] whereby the [ U t i l i t i e s Board] had/has the d u t y t o p r o v i d e e l e c t r i c a l p o w e r / s e r v i c e i n a manner c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e s a f e and proper operation of [Shuler Brothers'] manufacturing f a c i l i t y as c o n t r a c t e d . S a i d c o n t r a c t e x i s t s by v i r t u e of the [ U t i l i t i e s Board] u n d e r t a k i n g the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to provide e l e c t r i c a l power/service to [ S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ' ] f a c i l i t y and t h e t i m e l y and c o n s i s t e n t payments made by [ S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ] t o t h e [Utilities Board] for the electrical power consumed." The U t i l i t i e s B o a r d r e l i e s p r i m a r i l y on some o f t h e r e a s o n i n g u s e d i n B a i l e y v. L i b e r t y M u t u a l I n s u r a n c e Co., 451 So. 2d 279 ( A l a . 1 9 8 4 ) , t o s u p p o r t i t s a r g u m e n t . However, t h e r e a s o n i n g i n t h a t c a s e and t h e l i n e o f c a s e s upon w h i c h i t was b a s e d were d i s a v o w e d by t h i s C o u r t i n B e r r y v. D r u i d C i t y H o s p i t a l B o a r d , 333 So. 2d 796 ( A l a . 1976), i n which t h i s C o u r t o v e r r u l e d S m i t h v. H o u s t o n C o u n t y H o s p i t a l B o a r d , 287 A l a . 705, 255 So. 2d 328 (1971). 3 14 1111558 Shuler Brothers "breached this also alleged contract by p o w e r / s e r v i c e i n t h e manner that failing the to Utilities provide Board electrical contracted." "The question before us i s simply whether the p l a i n t i f f has s t a t e d a c a u s e o f a c t i o n f o r b r e a c h o f implied contract. The p l a i n t i f f n e e d s t a t e o n l y a claim for r e l i e f containing a short and plain statement of the c l a i m showing t h a t the p l e a d e r i s e n t i t l e d t o r e l i e f and a demand f o r j u d g m e n t f o r t h e r e l i e f t o w h i c h he deems h i m s e l f e n t i t l e d . [ A l a . R. C i v . P.] 8 ( a ) . " Berry v. Druid C i t y Hosp. Bd., 333 So. 2d 796, 800-01 (Ala. 1976). "'An i m p l i e d c o n t r a c t a r i s e s where t h e r e are circumstances which, a c c o r d i n g to t h e o r d i n a r y c o u r s e o f d e a l i n g and common understanding, show a m u t u a l i n t e n t t o c o n t r a c t . Such a c o n t r a c t must c o n t a i n a l l t h e e l e m e n t s o f an e x p r e s s c o n t r a c t , w h i c h r e s t s on c o n s e n t , and i s t o e v e r y i n t e n t and purpose an agreement between the p a r t i e s , and i t c a n n o t be f o u n d t o e x i s t u n l e s s a c o n t r a c t s t a t u s i s shown.'" Radiology 1020, 275 Assocs., 1021 A l a . 35, P.A. ( A l a . 1990) 38, 151 v. St. (quoting So. 2d 767, Clair T i m b e r Co., Broyles 770 v. (1963)). 563 Brown Eng'g "The be 452 So. i m p l i e d from the 2d 1331, 1332 facts." 15 1984). Co., contract W a t t s Homes, I n c . v. ( A l a . C i v . App. 2d manner o f p e r f o r m a n c e as w e l l as t h e t e r m s o f p e r f o r m a n c e o f a may So. Finally, Alonzo, "'[i]t 1111558 i s a general is r u l e i n c o n t r a c t s f o r work o r s e r v i c e s t h a t implied a duty to perform with the particular Homes, 452 So. trade 2d for 1332-33 S t e v e n s , 53 A l a . App. Shuler which 436, alleged Board, contract that the or skill in one degree is C.P. 301 that, v i e w e d most s t r o n g l y i n S h u l e r implied skill (quoting 432, Brothers of those of o r d i n a r y w o r k m a n s h i p w h i c h i s p o s s e s s e d by that there So. employed.'" Watts Robbins & Assocs. 2d 196, when t h e Brothers' 199 (1974)). allegations favor, there was from the Utilities terms contract required that of the proper of operation [Shuler t h a t the U t i l i t i e s t h e manner r e q u i r e d u n d e r t h e Brothers'] o f l i m i t a t i o n s , and See c l a i m was filed contract. within that § 6 - 2 - 3 4 ( 9 ) , A l a . Code 1975. and Board f a i l e d to perform i n Such a l l e g a t i o n s limitations Therefore, -¬ statute the t h i r d - p a r t y c o m p l a i n t w i t h r e s p e c t timely the manufacturing o f a b r e a c h o f c o n t r a c t -- a r e g o v e r n e d by a s i x - y e a r this an services " i n a manner c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e s a f e and are for e l e c t r i c a l s e r v i c e s be p r o v i d e d facility," v. to period. the d e n i a l of the U t i l i t i e s Board's motion to d i s m i s s w i t h regard to the b r e a c h of-contract c l a i m was proper. 16 1111558 Conclusion For t h e above-stated judgment Shuler denying Brothers' reasons, the U t i l i t i e s we a f f i r m t h e t r i a l court's Board's dismiss breach-of-contract motion claim; we to reverse the t r i a l c o u r t ' s judgment d e n y i n g t h e U t i l i t i e s Board's m o t i o n t o dismiss Shuler Brothers' negligence case f o r proceedings c l a i m ; a n d we remand t h i s consistent with this opinion. AFFIRMED I N PART; REVERSED I N PART; AND REMANDED. Stuart, JJ., Bolin, Parker, Murdock, Main, Wise, and B r y a n , concur. Shaw, J . , c o n c u r s specially. Moore, C . J . , c o n c u r s i n p a r t a n d d i s s e n t s i n p a r t . 17 1111558 SHAW, J u s t i c e ( c o n c u r r i n g specially). I concur i n the main o p i n i o n . two to observations. discuss in First, i t s brief I w r i t e s p e c i a l l y t o make Shuler Brothers, the proper Inc., wholly statute applicable to i t s breach-of-contract of a c t i o n , and fails limitations i t does not d i s p u t e t h e U t i l i t i e s B o a r d o f t h e C i t y o f Opp's argument t h a t Shuler claim. Brothers' I n o t e t h a t "we the t r i a l I n c . , 782 affirm breach-of-contract the 2d 188, judgment of s u p p o r t e d by any not before argued reason. ( A l a . 2000) ('[T]his the trial i f that court Court CTB, must judgment i s the trial court or this 903 So. was Court.')." 2d 769, 780 2004). B a i l e y v. (Ala. Ex p a r t e v a l i d l e g a l ground, even i f t h a t ground Second, a l t h o u g h in See 191 P a t t e r s o n v. L i b e r t y N a t ' l L i f e I n s . Co., (Ala. tort have a d u t y t o a f f i r m t h e j u d g m e n t i f c o u r t i s c o r r e c t f o r any So. claim i s actually a 1984), the U t i l i t i e s Board argues t h a t language L i b e r t y Mutual indicates due Insurance that, care in when the Co., a So. contract 2d 279 does not expressly require performed, a c l a i m t h a t the performing t h e a c t sounds i n t o r t and n o t c o n t r a c t , t h e a c t u a l failure 18 act 451 contracted t o e x e r c i s e due to be care in 1111558 c o n t r a c t a t i s s u e i n B a i l e y e x p r e s s l y d i s c l a i m e d any d u t y o f due care. Thus, the language Utilities Board appears correctly relies on the to from be cited by The main opinion dicta. rationale stated C i t y H o s p i t a l B o a r d , 333 So. 2d 796 i n W r i g h t v. S e a r s , Roebuck & Co., Bailey i n B e r r y v. 1981) (plurality); I n c . , 400 So. 2d 369 Taylor Druid ( A l a . 1 9 7 6 ) , and c o n f i r m e d 355 So. 2d 353 H o l l e y v. S t . P a u l F i r e & M a r i n e I n s u r a n c e Co., (Ala. the v. Baptist ( A l a . 1978); 396 So. 2d 75 Medical Center, ( A l a . 1 9 8 1 ) ; P l a n t a t i o n S o u t h Condominium A s s ' n , I n c . v. P r o f i l e Management C o r p . , 842 So. 2d 663 ( A l a . C i v . App. 1331 2 0 0 1 ) ; and W a t t s Homes, I n c . v. A l o n z o , 452 (Ala. Civ. App. 1984), which indicates that B r o t h e r s ' c l a i m sounds i n c o n t r a c t and n o t i n t o r t . 19 So. 2d Shuler 1111558 MOORE, C h i e f part). I Justice (concurring i n part concur i n a f f i r m i n g the t r i a l and dissenting in court's order as t o b r e a c h - o f - c o n t r a c t c l a i m a s s e r t e d a g a i n s t the U t i l i t i e s of the City of Opp by Shuler Brothers, Inc. to reverse the Brothers' negligence I do court's order as Court's to Shuler claim. not b e l i e v e t h a t S h u l e r B r o t h e r s ' n e g l i g e n c e accrued before known trial Board ("Shuler B r o t h e r s " ) . However, I r e s p e c t f u l l y d i s s e n t f r o m t h e decision that S h u l e r B r o t h e r s knew o r r e a s o n a b l y i t was C o n s t . 1901, the legally injured. Article I, claim s h o u l d have § 10, Ala. g u a r a n t e e s " [ t ] h a t no p e r s o n s h a l l be b a r r e d f r o m p r o s e c u t i n g o r d e f e n d i n g b e f o r e any t r i b u n a l i n t h i s s t a t e , himself or by counsel, any civil cause to which he is by a p a r t y . " S i m i l a r l y , A r t . I , § 13, g u a r a n t e e s " [ t ] h a t a l l c o u r t s s h a l l be open; and t h a t e v e r y p e r s o n , in his lands, goods, persons, remedy by due process of law; administered without or and sale, f o r any i n j u r y done reputation, shall r i g h t and denial, or justice delay." him, have shall 4 a be These T h i s C o u r t has o f t e n c o n s t r u e d § 10 and § 13 t o g e t h e r . See, e.g., Ex p a r t e W e t z e l , 243 A l a . 130, 133, 8 So. 2d 824, 825 ( 1 9 4 2 ) ; Q u i c k v. W e s t e r n Ry. o f A l a . , 207 A l a . 376, 377, 92 So. 608, 609 (1922). 4 20 1111558 c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o v i s i o n s guarantee the r i g h t to b r i n g a c i v i l action bring f o r an an injury action i f he r e a l i z e t h a t he has cause of done t o action a person. does n o t realize But or been l e g a l l y i n j u r e d ? can accrue only how cannot I n my when can a someone reasonably view, then, person knows a or r e a s o n a b l y s h o u l d have known t h a t he has b e e n l e g a l l y i n j u r e d . Thus, a s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s i s u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l as applied u n d e r §§ statute 10 and 13 i f a cause of a c t i o n to which the a p p l i e s a c c r u e s when a p a r t y i s i n j u r e d b u t b e f o r e he knows o r r e a s o n a b l y s h o u l d have known t h a t he has and been l e g a l l y t h i s a c c r u a l c a u s e s h i s a c t i o n t o be b a r r e d . Alabama Cemetery Ass'n, 413 So. 2d 1067, that her mother's accrue u n t i l remains were C f . Payne v. 1072 ( h o l d i n g t h a t a cause of a c t i o n f o r n e g l i g e n t b o d i l y remains d i d not 5 i n her 694 ( A l a . C i v . App. for negligence accrued 911 2004) ( h o l d i n g t h a t a c a u s e o f when the plaintiff 1982) of discovered grave); F a r m e r s Coop., I n c . v. P r i c e w a t e r h o u s e C o o p e r s , LLP, 689, (Ala. destruction the p l a i n t i f f not injured Alabama So. 2d action discovered the By c o n t r a s t , a s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s t h a t does n o t a l l o w a cause of a c t i o n to accrue u n l e s s and u n t i l t h e party d i s c o v e r s t h e i n j u r y i s n o t u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l u n d e r §§ 10 and 13. See, e.g., § 6-2-3, A l a . Code 1975 (providing a discovery rule for fraud actions). 5 21 1111558 injury), r e v e r s e d on o t h e r g r o u n d s , Ex p a r t e A l a b a m a F a r m e r s Coop., I n c . , 911 So. 2d 696 ( A l a . 2 0 0 4 ) . In this discover 2012, Shuler the U t i l i t i e s Brothers alleges that Board's negligence until when i t was s e r v e d w i t h t h e c o m p l a i n t Electric Company, allegations dismiss, could case, Inc. as t r u e Because January 19, f i l e d by Alabama must accept these a ruling on a m o t i o n t o I would h o l d t h a t Shuler B r o t h e r s ' cause o f a c t i o n not accrue i n reviewing we i t d i d not until brought i t s negligence January 19, 2012. S h u l e r Brothers c l a i m on M a r c h 27, 2012, w e l l w i t h i n the two-year s t a t u t e o f l i m i t a t i o n s ; t h e r e f o r e , I would a f f i r m the t r i a l c o u r t ' s o r d e r on t h i s 22 c l a i m as w e l l .