CURTIS MOTLEY, JR., AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF LAURA MOTLEY, DECEASED APPELLANT
MICHAEL SIFFORD, M.D. APPELLEE
FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT
[NO. 16JCV-16-26] HONORABLE PAMELA HONEYCUTT, JUDGE
Etherly, for appellant.
Phelps Puryear Mayfield & McNeil, P.A., by: Jeffrey W.
Puryear and Ryan M. Wilson, for appellee.
M. GLOVER, Judge
Motley, Jr., appeals from the trial court's dismissal
with prejudice of his complaint against Dr. Michael Sifford,
alleging medical malpractice in the death of his mother,
Laura Motley. We find no error and affirm.
essential facts of this case are undisputed. Laura Motley
died on September 17, 2012. On August 29, 2014, Curtis
Motley, Sr., her husband and special administrator of her
estate, filed suit against Dr. Sifford within the two-year
statute of limitations; however, Curtis, Sr., died on
November 29, 2014, before Dr. Sifford was served with the
complaint on December 14, 2014. Although an amended complaint
was filed on February 5, 2015, it merely changed the name of
the plaintiff in the case from Curtis, Sr., to Curtis, Jr.,
as special administrator of Laura's estate. No order of
substitution or revivor was entered in the case. Dr. Sifford
moved to strike the amended complaint and to dismiss it for
failure to revive the action, which also rendered service of
the complaint defective. Curtis, Jr., then moved to
substitute himself as the plaintiff in the action. Following
a hearing, the trial court entered its July 8, 2015 order
dismissing the complaint without prejudice, but it did not
order the substitution of Curtis, Jr. No appeal was taken.
January 13, 2016, Curtis, Jr., refiled the action as special
administrator of his mother's estate. Dr. Sifford was
served on September 2, 2016, and again moved to dismiss,
contending the action had not been properly revived, it was
barred by the statute of limitations, and service was
defective. Following a hearing, the trial court entered its
April 28, 2017 order, dismissing the complaint with
prejudice. This appeal followed.
sole point of appeal, Curtis, Jr., contends the trial court
erred in granting Dr. Sifford's motion to dismiss the
amended complaint with prejudice. We disagree.
the current case in context, in dismissing the original
complaint without prejudice, the trial court explained in its
July 2, 2015 letter opinion:
The facts impacting these motions are straightforward.
Separate Defendant maintains that the Special Administrator,
Curtis Motley, died after filing the Complaint (on August 29,
2014) but before achieving service on Separate Defendant (on
December 15, 2014). Separate Defendant argues as follows: (a)
the lawsuit abated when Curtis Motley died, necessitating a
revivor which has yet to occur; (b) service occurring after
the death of Curtis Motley is void which warrants dismissal;
and (c) all pleadings filed after the death of Curtis Motley
should be stricken. Separate Defendant contends that the
dismissal should be with prejudice. Plaintiff opposes such
and argues that dismissal is not warranted.
trial court concluded that the death of Curtis, Sr., rendered
service of the lawsuit defective but did not deprive the
plaintiff of the savings statute; the trial court
specifically found "that the service in this case was
timely completed, but was ultimately defective due to the
death of the special administrator." In accordance with
that reasoning, the court granted Dr. Sifford's motion to
dismiss but did so without prejudice. As acknowledged by
Curtis, Jr., however, neither the letter opinion nor the
order dismissing without prejudice specifically says anything
about substituting Curtis, Jr., as special administrator for
forward, the April 28, 2017 order of dismissal clearly sets
forth the trial court's rationale for dismissing the case
1. The original suit filed by Curtis Motley, as Special
Administrator of the Estate of Laura Motley, deceased,
Craighead County Circuit Court, No. CV-14-433, was never
properly revived following the death of Curtis Motley, Sr.
2. The applicable statute of limitations for this medical
malpractice claim is two (2) years, according to Ark. Code
Ann. § 16-114-203. This lawsuit was filed by Curtis
Motley, Jr. more than two (2) years following the death of
Laura Motley; ...