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Brown v. Simpson Pasadena Paper Co.
July 23, 1992
Unpublished Opinion

Brown v. Simpson Pasadena Paper Co.

Court of Appeals of Texas,

Houston (1st Dist.).

Terry L. BROWN, Appellant,



No. 01-91-00919-CV.


July 23, 1992.

On Appeal from the 23rd District Court Brazoria County, Trial Court Cause No. 90C1473.



COHEN, Justice.

*1 This is an appeal from a take-nothing summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a personal injury case. The trial court ruled the suit was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Appellant contended that limitations did not begin to run because he was of unsound mind. We affirm.

On March 18, 1988, Brown was hurt while working for Maencor, Inc., a contractor, on the appellee’s premises. He filed suit more than two years later, on June 28, 1990. Brown swore his supervisor threatened to give him a lower paying job if he sued Maencor’s customer, Simpson Pasadena Paper Co. Appellant was under a doctor’s care until May 23, 1988, when he was released to return to work. That same day, his supervisor fired him.

Appellee asserts the trial court erred in granting the summary judgment because his proof established that he was of unsound mind from March 18, 1988 until April, 1989, thus tolling the statute of limitations. Appellant contends that the fear of losing his job, combined with his injuries and the prescription medications he was taking, upset him to the point of being mentally unsound.

Appellee had to prove there was no genuine issue of material fact and that it was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Weaver v. Witt, 561 S.W.2d 792, 793 (Tex. 1977).

Appellee conclusively established its limitations defense. section 16.003(a) barred his claim.

In order to toll the statute of limitations, appellant relies on TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 16.001 (Vernon 1986), which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) For the purposes of this subchapter, a person is under a legal disability if the person is: ...

*2 (2) of unsound mind.

(b) If a person entitled to bring a personal action is under a legal disability when the cause of action accrues, the time of the disability is not included in a limitations period.

In appellant’s pleadings, he cited “duress” as the cause of his legal disability, and attached his affidavit, set out below. The same affidavit was the only summary judgment evidence supporting the claim of unsound mind. It provides, in relevant part:

During the entire period from my date of injury on March 18, 1988, until my release by Dr. Thompson on May 23, 1989, I was coerced into foregoing any legal action against Simpson Pasadena Paper Company by explicit and implicit threat from Tom Sawyer and other Maencor employees, that any such exercise of my legal rights against Simpson Pasadena Paper would result in the loss of my job with Maencor. This threat created an overriding fear in my mind that the loss of my job with Maencor would result in destitution for myself and my family under the circumstances, I felt I had no choice but to forego legal action against Simpson Pasadena Paper Company....

Although I had requested and received a full release to return to work, I was physically unable. I was not of sound mind when I requested the full release to go to work. I had done so only out of fear of not being able to provide for my wife who was then seven months pregnant. I did not seek the help of an attorney after I was fired because I had always heard that people who did so would be placed on a black list and would not be hired by any contractor. I have a skill that only a handful of contractors require and I did not want to jeopardize my chances of being hired by any of them....

The second doctor treated my back pain with heavy doses of medication. This medication added to my fears ... I got so depressed I was forced to seek the help of drug rehabilitation professionals. They successfully treated me for my dependence upon the prescription medications but this did little to resolve the issue of whether or not I would ever be able to work in my chosen field again....

In approximately November or December of 1988, ... I contacted an attorney ... to ... get my workers compensation benefits reinstated.... It was then that [the attorney] informed me that I only had two years in which to take legal action for my injuries. That revelation didn’t help me any. It only added to my stress. Finally, around April of 1989, I was told by Dr. Lionberger that I would never be able to do the type of work I had previously done ... That is when I decided to take some legal action....

(Emphasis added.)

The allegations that appellant was under duress from his supervisor, had financial difficulties, and feared a blacklist is no evidence of an unsound mind. His statement that he was “not of sound mind” is a legal conclusion that is insufficient to raise an issue of fact. Smith v. Erhard, 715 S.W.2d 707, 709 (Tex. App.-Austin 1986, writ ref’d n.r.e.).

*3 All points of error are overruled. The judgment is affirmed.


End of Document