Garren v. Commercial Union Ins. Co.

Decision Date10 December 1976
Citation340 So.2d 764
PartiesMildren GARREN v. COMMERCIAL UNION INSURANCE COMPANY et al. SC 1743.
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Edward L. Hardin, Jr. and John W. Haley, for Hardin, Stuart, Moncus & Noojin, Birmingham, for appellant.

Danny D. Henderson for Camp, Williams & Spurrier, Huntsville, for appellee, S & R Folding Machine Co., Inc.

Harold F. Herring and E. Cutter Hughes, Jr., for Lanier, Shaver & Herring, Huntsville, for appellee, Commercial Union Ins. Co.

EMBRY, Justice.

The controlling principle in this case is that, in a negligence action brought by an injured employee against third parties pursuant to Code of Ala., Tit. 26, §§ 312 and 313(42), the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the injury, which is defined in § 313(42) as the date of the last exposure to the hazards of the disease which gave rise to the injury. We find the trial court's judgment in accord with this principle and affirm.

Plaintiff, Mildred Garren, claims to be permanently and totally disabled as a consequence of continuously breathing dust and lint discharged from a contour trim machine which she operated for several years prior to the date of her last employment with the Van Heusen Company. She first became aware of her pulmonary problem in the summer of 1973. Her illness became progressively worse and forced her to quit work April 23, 1974. She filed suit April 22, 1975, against the manufacturer of the machine, S & R Folding Company, on a products liability theory, and against her employer's insurance carrier, Commercial Union Insurance Company, on the theory that it had negligently rendered safety inspections. Before filing this action, plaintiff had received $17,710.37 in Workmen's Compensation benefits.

Both defendants were granted partial summary judgments on the grounds that plaintiff's claims for relief, seeking to recover damages for injuries suffered more than one year prior to April 22, 1975, are barred by the one-year statute of limitations; further, any Damages to which plaintiff might otherwise be entitled could not include those for any injuries suffered by plaintiff more than one year prior to April 22, 1975. Plaintiff appeals from these partial summary judgments. Rule 54(b), ARCP. We affirm.

Code of Ala., Tit. 7, § 26 presents a one-year period in which to bring actions for personal injuries. It is applicable to actions against third parties where recovery is sought for injuries sustained as a result of continuous exposure to harmful events, such as repeated blasting or flooding. Lehigh Portland Cement Co. v. Donaldson, 231 Ala. 242, 164 So. 97 (1935); Birmingham Electric Co. v. Meacham, 27 Ala.App. 471, 175 So. 316, cert. den. 234 Ala. 506, 175 So. 322 (1937). The statute of limitations begins to run when injury occurs or damage accrues, not from the date of the act causing injury or damage. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen v. Hammett, 273 Ala. 394, 140 So.2d 832 (1962). The date of injury is the last day on which plaintiff was exposed to the danger. Tit. 26, § 313(42).

The clear meaning and application of the limitations period as set...

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11 cases
  • Cline v. Ashland, Inc.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • January 5, 2007
    ...158, 174 So. 624 (1937); American Mut. Liab. Ins. Co. v. Agricola Furnace Co., 236 Ala. 535, 183 So. 677 (1938); Garren v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 340 So.2d 764 (Ala.1976); and Minyard v. Woodward Iron Co., 81 F.Supp. 414, (N.D.Ala.1948), aff'd 170 F.2d 508 (5th Howell simply commented i......
  • Griffin v. Unocal Corp.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • January 25, 2008
    ...158, 174 So. 624 (1937); American Mut. Liab. Ins. Co. v. Agricola Furnace Co., 236 Ala. 535, 183 So. 677 (1938); Garren v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 340 So.2d 764 (Ala.1976); and Minyard v. Woodward Iron Co., 81 F.Supp. 414 (N.D.Ala.1948), aff'd 170 F.2d 508 (5th Howell simply commented in......
  • Beasley v. Alabama State University
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • June 9, 1997
    ...must cross threshold of outrageous conduct], and because the allegations were of an ongoing pattern of conduct"); Garren v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 340 So.2d 764 (Ala.1976) (date of injury is the last day on which plaintiff was exposed to danger in continuous exposure case); Garrett v. R......
  • Jerkins v. Lincoln Elec. Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • March 2, 2012
    ...the “date of injury,” 368 So.2d at 520, which is “the last day on which plaintiff was exposed to the danger.” Garren v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 340 So.2d 764, 766 (1976). The parties in this case have stipulated that Jerkins's exposure to welding fumes was essentially continuous from 197......
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