THE INFANCY TOLL OF THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN CPLR 208 APPLIES TO A WRONGFUL DEATH ACTION WHERE THE SOLE DISTUBUTEES ARE INFANTS; THE TOLL, HOWEVER, DOES NOT APPLY TO A RELATED ASSAULT AND BATTERY ACTION WHICH IS PERSONAL TO THE DECEDENT (FRIST DEPT).

The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Kapnick, determined the infancy toll of the statute of limitations in CPLR 208 applies where the unmarried father of two children dies intestate. The statute of limitations for the ensuing wrongful death action is tolled until the appointment of a guardian of the children’s property. Father was involved in an altercation with a defendant, suffered fatal injuries and died later that day, September 6, 2012. Plaintiffs, the mothers of the two children, were each appointed guardians of the property of their children in 2015. That is when the statute began running on the wrongful death action, rendering the 2016 complaint timely. A wrongful death action directly compensates the distributees, here the children. The assault and battery action, by contrast, is personal to the decedent. Therefore the infancy toll does not apply to the assault and battery cause of action. The First Department explicitly overruled a decision relied upon by the defendants, Ortiz v Hertz Corp., 212 AD2d 374 (1st Dept 1995). (The opinion is comprehensive and can not be fairly summarized here.):

Today we clarify that Ortiz is not good law, because it was based on an incorrect application and interpretation of Hernandez. Therefore, pursuant to the precedent established in Hernandez [78 NY2d 687] … we hold that when the sole distributees of a decedent’s estate are infants, the toll of CPLR 208 applies to a wrongful death claim “until the earliest moment there is a personal representative or potential personal representative who can bring the action whether by appointment of a guardian [of the property of the infant distributee] or majority of [a] distributee, whichever occurs first” … . Machado v Gulf Oil, L.P., 2021 NY Slip Op 01849, First Dept 3-25-21

 

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