HOUSTON — A Texas state appeals court has upheld a lower court's judgment that a personal injury suit against a tire worker and his place of employment cannot go forward because it violated the statute of limitations.
Christina Molina filed suit against John Gears, All-Star Tire Co. Inc. and All-Star owner Robert Morin in connection with an auto accident involving Ms. Molina and Mr. Gears that occurred Nov. 8, 2011. Mr. Gears, an employee of All-Star, was driving a vehicle owned by Mr. Morin at the time.
On Sept. 5, 2013, Ms. Molina sued Mr. Gears for negligence, according to the opinion handed down March 20, by the Texas 14th Court of Appeals.
Ms. Molina retained process servers to serve Mr. Gears with notice of the lawsuit, according to the document. The process servers tried to serve Mr. Gears with the papers at least two dozen times, and one claimed to finally have served him on Sept. 22, 2014, at his parents' home.
Meanwhile, Ms. Molina amended her lawsuit in April 2015 to include Mr. Morin and All-Star. Mr. Morin and All-Star pleaded they were not served with notice of the suit within the two-year statute of limitations, the appeals court opinion said.
Mr. Gears did not answer Ms. Molina's suit until February 2016, and in April he filed for summary judgment, the opinion said.
He said he never lived at any of the addresses the process servers listed, except for his parents' home. He also said he was not at his parents' home on Sept. 22, 2014, so he was not personally served with the lawsuit on that date, the court said.
The 295th District Court for Harris County, Texas, granted summary judgment to Mr. Gears, Mr. Morin and All-Star in July 2016.
In affirming the lower court's judgment, the appeals court stated that the lower court was correct in ruling that Ms. Molina erred in not ensuring that the defendants were served with notice of the lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
"Although a plaintiff is not required to use the highest degree of diligence to procure service, she is required to use the degree of diligence that an ordinarily prudent person would have used under the same or similar circumstances," the appeals court said.