Does Filing a Writ of Summons Toll the Limitation Period for Commencing a Lawsuit ?
In Witherspoon v. City of Philadelphia, 564 Pa. 388, 768 A.2d 1079 (2001), the supreme court "granted allowance of appeal to consider the extent of the inquiry to be made regarding a plaintiff's efforts to serve process for purposes of determining whether the filing of a writ of summons tolled the limitation period for commencing an action." Witherspoon, 564 Pa. at 389-90, 768 A.2d at 1079.
The lead opinion in Witherspoon, which was a plurality decision by only two justices, said that where commencement of an action and service of original process "straddle" the statute of limitations, the writ must be served within the thirty days allowed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, and if service cannot be made, the process must be "immediately and continually reissued until service is made." Id. at 397-98, 768 A.2d at 1084.
However, this "immediately and continually" standard was rejected by the remaining five justices.