State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar, No. SC 95858

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtPatricia Breckenridge, Judge
Citation543 S.W.3d 582
Docket NumberNo. SC 95858
Decision Date03 April 2018
Parties STATE EX REL. Dr. Patrick GOLDSWORTHY, Dr. Aston Goldsworthy, Dr. Patrick Goldsworthy, D.C., P.C., Relators, v. The Honorable James F. KANATZAR, Respondent.

543 S.W.3d 582

STATE EX REL. Dr. Patrick GOLDSWORTHY, Dr. Aston Goldsworthy, Dr. Patrick Goldsworthy, D.C., P.C., Relators,
v.
The Honorable James F. KANATZAR, Respondent.

No. SC 95858

Supreme Court of Missouri, en banc.

Opinion issued April 3, 2018


The doctors were represented by Timothy M. Aylward, Bradley M. Dowd, Diana M. Jordison and Noah K. Garcia of Horn, Aylward & Bandy LLC in Kansas City, (816) 421-0700.

The family members were represented by Kenneth B. McClain, Michael S. Kilgore and Jonathan M. Soper of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain PC in Independence, (816) 836-1301.

Patricia Breckenridge, Judge

Relators Dr. Patrick Goldsworthy, Dr. Aston Goldsworthy and Patrick Goldsworthy D.C., P.C., ("doctors") seek a writ from this Court prohibiting the respondent, the Honorable James F. Kanatzar, from taking any action other than granting their motion to dismiss the underlying wrongful death suit as barred by the statute of limitations. Specifically, the doctors assert the plaintiffs' wrongful death claims are

543 S.W.3d 584

time-barred by section 537.1001 because the suit was filed after the three-year statute of limitations lapsed and the statute’s savings provision is not applicable.

This Court granted a preliminary writ. The savings provision in section 537.100 provides a one-year savings period following the nonsuit of an action filed within the limitations period. It does not provide for an additional savings period following the nonsuit of an action filed within the savings period. Here, after voluntarily dismissing their timely filed first action, the plaintiffs utilized the savings provision in section 537.100 to file a second action. After the second action was dismissed without prejudice, the plaintiffs filed a third action within one year of the nonsuit of the second action, but not within one year of the nonsuit of the first action. Because the third action was not filed within one year of the nonsuit of the first action—the only action filed within the limitations period—the savings provision does not apply and the third suit is time-barred. The doctors are entitled to have the suit against them dismissed with prejudice. The preliminary writ of prohibition is made permanent.

Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiffs Paul Lang and Allison Boyer are the children of Michael Lang, who died December 7, 2009. The plaintiffs timely filed their initial action for wrongful death against the doctors on December 21, 2010, claiming his death was caused by the doctors' negligent chiropractic treatment. This was the only action the plaintiffs filed within the three-year statute of limitations in section 537.100.

The plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed on March 22, 2013. As permitted by the savings provision in section 537.100, the plaintiffs filed a second action March 19, 2014, within one year of the nonsuit of the first action. The circuit court dismissed their second action without prejudice on December 29, 2014, because the plaintiffs failed to file a health care affidavit within 180 days, as required by section 538.2252 . The plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to this Court, asserting this statute’s requirement for a health care affidavit violated their constitutional rights to access to the courts and to a jury trial. Lang v. Goldsworthy , 470 S.W.3d 748, (Mo. banc 2015). This Court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal without reaching their constitutional claims. Id.

The plaintiffs filed their third action December 1, 2015. The doctors filed a motion to dismiss on the ground the claims were time-barred by the three-year statute of limitations in section 537.100 and the savings provision was not applicable. After the circuit court overruled their motion to dismiss, the doctors filed a petition for a writ of prohibition in this Court seeking to prevent the circuit court from taking any action other than to dismiss the plaintiffs' petition.

Standard of Review

"Prohibition is a discretionary writ that only issues to prevent an abuse of judicial discretion, to avoid irreparable harm to a party, or to prevent exercise of extrajurisdictional power." State ex rel. Schwarz Pharma, Inc. v. Dowd , 432 S.W.3d 764, 768 (Mo. banc 2014). A writ of prohibition is the proper "remedy to prevent a lower court from proceeding on [a claim] barred by the statute of limitations." State ex rel. Holzum , 342 S.W.3d 313, 315 (Mo. banc 2011). "[P]rohibition will lie if plaintiff’s petition ‘does not state a viable theory of recovery, and relator

543 S.W.3d 585

was entitled to be dismissed from the suit as a matter of law.’ " State ex rel. Union Elec. Co. v. Dolan , 256 S.W.3d 77, 81 (Mo. banc 2008) (internal quotations omitted).

Analysis

The plaintiffs' wrongful death claims are governed by section 537.100, which establishes a three-year statute of limitation. Section 537.100 also contains a "savings provision" allowing a plaintiff, in specified circumstances, to commence a new wrongful death action within one year after a nonsuit. Section 537.100 provides:

Every action instituted under section 537.080 shall be commenced within three years after the cause of action shall accrue; provided ... that if any such action shall have been commenced within the time prescribed in this section, and the plaintiff therein take or suffer a nonsuit, ... such plaintiff may commence a new action from time to time within one year after such nonsuit suffered....

The issue raised by the doctors' writ petition is whether the savings provision of section 537.100 is limited to providing a single one-year period that follows the nonsuit of an action filed within the limitations period, or whether it also provides an additional one-year savings period that follows the nonsuit of an action filed within the savings period.

A wrongful death cause of action accrues at the moment of death. Boland v. St. Luke’s Health Sys. , 471 S.W.3d 703, 708 (Mo. banc 2015). Michael Lang’s death occurred December 7, 2009, so the three-year period for filing suit expired December 7, 2012. After voluntarily dismissing their initial action, the plaintiffs utilized the savings provision to file their second action more than three years after Michael Lang’s death. The plaintiffs claim they may use the statute a second time to file their third wrongful death action. The doctors assert the statutory language compels a contrary conclusion.

"Statutory interpretation is an issue of law that this Court reviews de novo." State v. Johnson , 524 S.W.3d 505, 510 (Mo. banc 2017) (internal quotations omitted). The primary goal of statutory interpretation is to give effect to legislative intent, which is most clearly evidenced by the plain text of the statute. Peters v. Wady Indus., Inc. , 489 S.W.3d 784, 789 (Mo. banc 2016). The legislature is presumed to have intended every word, provision, sentence, and clause in a statute to be given effect. Hyde Park Hous. P’ship v. Dir. of Revenue, 850 S.W.2d 82, 84 (Mo. banc 1993). The plain and ordinary meaning of the words in a statute is determined from the words' usage in the context of the entire statute. Mantia v. Mo. Dep't of Transp. , 529 S.W.3d 804, 809 (Mo. banc 2017).

As noted previously, the first clause of section 537.100 requires a wrongful death claim to be filed within three years. Next is the savings provision: if "any such action shall have been commenced within the time prescribed in this section" and the plaintiff suffers a nonsuit, the "plaintiff may commence a new action from time to time within one year after such nonsuit suffered."3 In referencing an action that suffers a nonsuit, it is preceeded

543 S.W.3d 586

by the word "any" and followed by the word "such."

The word "any," like other general words such as "all," "none," "always," and "never," as it is used in both everyday conversation and by the legislature, is defined by the context in which it is used. See Nixon v. Mo. Mun. Le...

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19 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Swoboda v. Mo. Comm'n on Human Rights, SC99000
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 9, 2022
    ...Nothum v. Walsh, 380 S.W.3d 557, 567 (Mo. banc 2012); 2) intend all words used to have meaning, State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar, 543 S.W.3d 582, 585 (Mo. banc 2018); and 3) does not include unnecessary or superfluous language. Alberici Constructors, Inc. v. Dir. of Revenue, 452 S.W.3d......
  • Fox v. State, SC 98909
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 15, 2022
    ...will not be presumed to have ‘inserted idle verbiage or superfluous language in a statute.’ " State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar , 543 S.W.3d 582, 586 (Mo. banc 2018). While limiting the definition of "survivor" to sexual assault offenses creates some overlap with the definition of "sexu......
  • Sofia v. Dodson, No. SC 97854
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 16, 2020
    ...It permits a plaintiff "to commence a new wrongful death action within one year after a nonsuit." State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar, 543 S.W.3d 582, 585 (Mo. banc 2018) .The single issue before the Court on appeal is whether the plaintiffs took a nonsuit, entitling them to the benefit o......
  • Davis v. Buchanan Cnty., 20-1834
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • July 20, 2021
    ...intent, which is most clearly evidenced by the plain text of the statute." 5 F.4th 910 State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar , 543 S.W.3d 582, 585 (Mo. 2018). Here, the statute does not define the term "purchase," so we give the term its "plain and ordinary meaning as found in the dictionar......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • State ex rel. Swoboda v. Mo. Comm'n on Human Rights, SC99000
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 9, 2022
    ...Nothum v. Walsh, 380 S.W.3d 557, 567 (Mo. banc 2012); 2) intend all words used to have meaning, State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar, 543 S.W.3d 582, 585 (Mo. banc 2018); and 3) does not include unnecessary or superfluous language. Alberici Constructors, Inc. v. Dir. of Revenue, 452 S.W.3d......
  • Fox v. State, SC 98909
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 15, 2022
    ...will not be presumed to have ‘inserted idle verbiage or superfluous language in a statute.’ " State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar , 543 S.W.3d 582, 586 (Mo. banc 2018). While limiting the definition of "survivor" to sexual assault offenses creates some overlap with the definition of "sexu......
  • Lopez v. GMT Auto Sales, Inc., ED110059
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 6, 2022
    ...character about to be indicated" or (2) "previously characterized or specified, aforementioned." State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar, 543 S.W.3d 582, 586 (Mo. banc 2018) (quoting Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged 2283 (1993)). In this anti-waiver provision, "such li......
  • Sofia v. Dodson, No. SC 97854
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 16, 2020
    ...It permits a plaintiff "to commence a new wrongful death action within one year after a nonsuit." State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar, 543 S.W.3d 582, 585 (Mo. banc 2018) .The single issue before the Court on appeal is whether the plaintiffs took a nonsuit, entitling them to the benefit o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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