United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
ORDER AND OPINION
MELINDA HARMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Scott Technologies, Inc.'s
(“Scott's”) Motion to Dismiss (Document Nos.
14, 15). Plaintiffs have filed a Response (Document No. 19),
and Scott filed a Reply. (Document No. 21). Having reviewed
these filings, the facts, and the relevant law, the Court
determines that Scott's Motion to Dismiss (Document No.
14) will be granted.
claims in this suit arise from a motel fire on May 31, 2013,
which severely injured or killed several responding
firefighters. (Document No. 1-3 at 4). During the fire,
Plaintiffs Robert Bebee, Robert Garner, Anne Sullivan and
Matthew Renaud died, and Robert Yarbrough was severely
injured. Id. Therefore Plaintiffs Sabina Bebee,
Nicole Garner, Mary Sullivan, and David Renaud have brought
suit individually and as representatives of the
decedent's estates. Id. at 1. The wife of Robert
Yarbrough, Amy Yarbrough, and the parents of Matthew Renaud,
Xavier Renaud and Barbara Perez, have also brought suit.
Id. at 1-2. Plaintiffs originally filed this suit in
state court, on February 8, 2016, and amended their petition
on March 10, 2016. Plaintiffs generally allege that Motorola
and “Scott Safety system radios and components”
used by the firefighters were defective, and caused or
contributed to their deaths and injuries. Id. at
4-5. Therefore, Plaintiffs have brought claims against Scott
regarding “(a) design, marketing and product defects
with respect to the radios designed, marketed, and/or
instructed in their use by the defendants in this case, (b)
negligence, (c) gross negligence, (d) breach of express and
implied warranties, and (e) deceptive trade practices under
the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (the
‘DTPA').” (Document No. 19 at 2; Document No.
1-3 at 9-12). In response to Plaintiffs' claims, Scott
has filed a Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). (Document
statute of limitations may support dismissal pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) when it is evident from a plaintiff's pleadings
that the action is time-barred and the pleadings fail to set
forth or raise some basis for tolling the statute.”
Peacock v. AARP, Inc., 181 F.Supp.3d 430, 434 (S.D.
Tex. 2016) (citing Jones v. Alcoa, Inc., 339 F.3d
359, 366 (5th Cir. 2003)). The statute of limitations is a
strict deadline, and the Court will dismiss suits
“filed even a few days after the limitations
date.” Id. (citations omitted).
injury and wrongful death claims
Scott argues that Plaintiffs' personal injury and
wrongful death claims are barred by the statute of
limitations. (Document No. 15 at 2). Texas has a two-year
statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death
(a) Except as provided by Sections 16.010, 16.0031, and
16.0045, a person must bring suit for trespass for injury to
the estate or to the property of another, conversion of
personal property, taking or detaining the personal property
of another, personal injury, forcible entry and detainer, and
forcible detainer not later than two years after the day the
cause of action accrues.
(b) A person must bring suit not later than two years after
the day the cause of action accrues in an action for injury
resulting in death. The cause of action accrues on the death
of the injured person.
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.003. The
statute of limitations begins to run when the action accrues,
which occurs “when the legal wrong is completed and the
plaintiff is entitled to commence suit, even if the party is
unaware of the wrong.” Porterfield v. Ethicon,
Inc., 183 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 1999) (citation
omitted). Because Plaintiffs' personal injury and
wrongful death claims accrued on the date of the fire, May
31, 2013, Scott argues that the claims are barred by the
two-year statute of limitations.
do not contest the application of this statute of limitations
to the Yarbrough Plaintiffs. (Document No. 19 at 5). However,
Plaintiffs argue that the claims of the other Plaintiffs were
tolled for one year after the fire, due to their deaths.
Id. Texas law provides:
(a) The death of a person against whom or in whose favor
there may be a cause of action suspends the running of an
applicable statute of limitations ...