Attorney Edwin Palmer successfully obtained dismissal of a personal injury claim for a client based on the failure to join an indispensable party. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that he fell on snow and ice and broke his hip after falling at a transloading terminal. However, rather than suing the owner of the property, Plaintiff sued the parent corporation, a separately incorporated and distinct entity. The statute of limitations expired two days after Plaintiff filed suit.
Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to join an indispensable party, arguing that the subsidiary of the named Defendant, as the property owner and operator of the transloading terminal, was an indispensable party to the action which the Plaintiff had failed to join. Further, Defendant contend that because the statute of limitations had expired, the Plaintiff was unable to join the property owner and his case must be dismissed.
After oral argument, the Trial Court granted the Defendant’s motion to dismiss, accepting Burns White’s argument that Plaintiff “may not amend a pleading to add a new and distinct party once the statute of limitations had expired.” Citing Pennsylvania precedent, the Trial Court noted that the purpose of this rule was to prevent a party from attacking assets that were not originally subject to liability after the statute of limitations has run. The Trial Court concluded that the named defendant did not own or operate the premises in question and that the subsidiary property owner was a separate and distinctly owned and managed entity with its own separate and distinct assets and that dismissal was therefore required.