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Gloyna v. Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America, Inc.

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

January 29, 2014

DENNIS GLOYNA, Co-Executor Of the Estate of Ray Ann Gloyna, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TOYOTA MOTOR MANUFACTURING NORTH AMERICA, INC., ET AL, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM O. BERTELSMAN, District Judge.

This is an action under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, diversity of citizenship. The jurisdictional requirements of complete diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy have been met.

This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to all claims based on either Kentucky's or Texas's statute of limitations. (Doc. 42).

The Court heard oral argument on January 24, 2014. Nicholas Farnolo represented the Plaintiffs. Linsey West and Randy Bibb represented Defendants. Official court reporter Joan Averdick recorded the proceedings.

FACTS

On April 9, 2007, Ray Ann Gloyna was driving a 2001 Toyota Avalon in Abilene, TX, when she failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of FM 1750 and TX 36, struck the trailer portion of a tractor-trailer, and was killed. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 8, 9). Dennis Gloyna, individually and as Co-Executor of Ray Ann Gloyna's estate, as well as Myrick Gloyna, Co-Executor of Ray Ann Gloyna's estate (collectively the "Plaintiffs"), have filed several state law claims against Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America, Inc., Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc., and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (collectively the "Defendants"). The Defendants manufactured and sold to Ray Ann Gloyna the 2001 Avalon (the "Avalon") she was driving when the accident causing her death occurred. Plaintiffs allege "the Avalon suddenly, unexpectedly and without warning accelerated, causing it to become uncontrollable and sped [sic] through a stop sign." (Doc. 1 ¶ 9).

Plaintiffs' claims rest on the theory that the accident occurred due to a defect in Defendants' 2001 model Avalon that caused a sudden unintended acceleration ("SUA") of the vehicle.

Plaintiffs point to facts that they allege show Defendants' fraudulent concealment. For example, Plaintiffs argue Defendants' failure to include the 2001 Avalon in December 2009 and January 2010 recalls, customer complaints about 2001 Avalon's SUA problems (all submitted after the January 2010 recall), statements from Toyota officials occurring around the 2010 recall including one stating "WE HAVE A tendency for MECHANICAL failure in accelerator pedals of a certain manufacturer on certain models... We need to come clean, " and statements from whistleblowers show Defendants' fraudulent concealment.

ANALYSIS

A. Kentucky's Statutes of Limitation Apply To All Claims

Statutes of limitation are generally thought of as procedural law and, as such, the forum applies its state law. Gil Ruehl Mech., Inc. v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 164 S.W.3d 512, 514 (Ky. Ct. App. 2004) (stating most statutes of limitations are procedural); CSX Transp., Inc. v. Moody, 313 S.W.3d 72, 79 (Ky. 2010) ("The substantive law that governs a FELA action is federal, whether brought in state or federal court, but the law of the forum governs procedural matters."). Thus, this Court looks to Kentucky law to determine the proper statutes of limitation.[1]

Plaintiffs' negligence, strict liability, wrongful death, and failure to warn claims have a one year statute of limitations under KRS § 413.140(a)(1); Plaintiff's loss of consortium claim has a one-year statute of limitations under KRS § 411.140(1)(a); Plaintiff's claim construed as a breach of contract for sale has a four-year statute of limitations under KRS § 355.2-725; and fraud has a ten-year statute of repose under KRS 413.130(3).

Plaintiffs' negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, and wrongful death claims all began to run upon appointment of an executor of Ray Ann Gloyna's estate. KRS § 413.180(1). Dennis Gloyna and Myrick Gloyna were appointed co-executors on June 14, 2007. The statute of limitations on these claims thus ran on June 14, 2008.

Plaintiff Dennis Gloyna's loss of consortium claim has a one-year statute of limitations. KRS § 411.140(1). His loss of consortium claim arose on April 9, 2007 upon his wife's death ...


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