Crawford v. Custom Sign CompanyAnnotate this Case
Michael Crawford sued defendants Alex Jordan, Morris Transportation, and Custom Sign Company (Custom) based on a motor vehicle accident. Initially, Crawford filed a petition to perpetuate testimony to depose Jordan and Morris Transportation in an attempt to identify any additional defendants. The case was removed to federal court. After removal, Crawford filed a complaint in federal court. Crawford subsequently was granted leave from the federal court to file a complaint in the Circuit Court of Coahoma County against Jordan, Morris, and Custom. The case was later dismissed by the federal court based on premature removal since removal occurred before Crawford had filed a complaint. Thereafter, Crawford filed an amended complaint in circuit court, styled as a separate cause of action. Defendants then moved to have both the original complaint and first amended complaint dismissed based on the argument that the federal-court action was dismissed rather than remanded, which would bar Crawford from proceeding on either complaint in circuit court. Alternatively, Defendants asserted that the suit was barred by the general three-year statute of limitations. Defendants also alleged that the one-year savings statue did not apply because the federal court granted Crawford's voluntary motion to dismiss, which was not a dismissal for a matter of form in accordance with Mississippi Code Section 15-1-69. The trial court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, and Crawford appealed. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal, finding that the federal court's dismissal was for a matter of form (lack of subject-matter jurisdiction). The Mississippi Supreme Court also found that the original complaint filed during Crawford's leave from federal court was a nullity, since the case ultimately was dismissed rather than remanded by the federal court. Nevertheless, the first amended complaint was filed after the federal court's dismissal; therefore, it was deemed valid and timely filed within one year after the dismissal; thus the savings statute applied. Accordingly, the case was remanded. On remand, Crawford settled with Jordan and Morris Transportation. Custom filed its answer and motion for summary judgment, submitting that Crawford's claims were barred by the statute of repose. The trial court granted Custom's motion based on the statute of repose being applicable. Crawford unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration, and thereafter appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing: (1) the statute of repose does not apply in this case; or alternatively, (2) Custom waived the right to such defense. Finding this cause of action should be reversed and remanded for further factual determinations regarding the applicability of the statute of repose, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in granting summary judgment when genuine issues of material fact existed and needed resolution before ruling out the statute of repose argument.