Colon v. Cooper
A suit can qualify as "commenced" even if the defendant has passed away and the suit is void ab initio. On Nov. 6, 2009, Dard McCoy allegedly collided with the plaintiffs' motor vehicle. On Oct. 5 and 11, 2011, the plaintiffs arranged for service of process via abode service and certified mail to McCoy. Unbeknownst to the plaintiffs, Dard McCoy passed away on Jan. 3, 2010, before the plaintiffs filed their complaint. A court dismissed the plaintiffs' suit against Dard McCoy. On Feb. 23, 2012, the plaintiffs arranged for service of process on the defendant, Gary Cooper, as the administrator of McCoy's estate. Cooper filed a motion for summary judgment and argued that the February 2012 complaint was not filed timely, because the two-year statute of limitations for suits that allege negligence expired in November 2011. The plaintiffs objected that the accidental-failure-of-suit statute, Connecticut General Statutes §52-592, saved the present suit. The defendant administrator argued that the 2011 suit was void ab initio and was never "commenced," as required by the accidental-failure-of-suit statute. C.G.S. §52-592 provides, "If any action, commenced within the time limited by law, has failed one or more times to be tried on its merits . . . because the action has been dismissed for want of jurisdiction . . . the plaintiff may commence a new action . . . for the same cause at any time within one year after the determination of the original action or after the reversal of the judgment." The court found that the plaintiffs' 2011 suit was commenced. "[T]he plaintiffs," wrote the court, "were entitled to rely on §52-592 as the basis for the commencement of the instant action even though the §§52-584 and 45a-375 statutes of limitations earlier had expired." The court denied the defendant administrator's motion for summary judgment.