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Florida Fourth DCA reverses trial court's dismissal of complaint in personal injury lawsuit on statute of limitations grounds

On March 22, 2017, in Jane Doe No. 3 v. Nur-Ul-Islam Academy, No. 4D15-4722, the Florida Fourth DCA reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a complaint in a personal injury lawsuit on statute of limitations grounds, finding that there were insufficient facts pled in the complaint to permit the trial court to conclude that the allegations demonstrated that the action was barred by the statute of limitations. Although the trial court did not actually state a reason for dismissing the complaint, the parties agreed on appeal that the reason was due to the statute of limitations defense asserted by the defendant, which in turn was based on the complaint having been filed approximately ten years after the alleged tortious conduct. The Fourth DCA concluded that since the complaint did not state a date when the cause of action accrued, and because the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the alleged tortious conduct, the statute of limitations did not begin running until the earlier to occur of (i) her reaching age 18, or (ii) when her parents knew or should have known about the cause of action. See S.A.P. v. State, 704 So. 2d 583, 585-86 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997); Drake By and Through Fletcher v. Island Community Church, Inc., 462 So. 2d 1142 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984). Because the complaint was silent about either factor, the Fourth DCA concluded that the four corners of the complaint did not allege sufficient facts to permit the trial court to dismiss the complaint.