Fitzgerald v. Congleton
In Fitzgerald v. Congleton, 155 Vt. 283, 291-93, 583 A.2d 595 (1990), the plaintiff asserted in Fitzgerald that, as a result of the defendant's legal malpractice committed more than three years earlier, she had suffered "emotional distress" and "personal humiliation" through the loss of custody of her son, 155 Vt. at 289, 583 A.2d at 599, as well as "the costs incurred by her to secure the return of her child, including such expenses as her attorney's fees." Id. at 293, 583 A.2d at 601.
The Court concluded, accordingly, that "the nature of the harm alleged to have been done to plaintiff herein is mixed - some of her alleged injuries are personal injuries within the meaning of 512(4), while some are not." Id. at 290, 583 A.2d at 599.
In such a case, the Court explained, "a single complaint may contain multiple causes of action, some of which are time-barred and some not." Id.
Finding that plaintiff's complaint fell into the category just described, we held that the plaintiff's emotional distress claim was governed by the three-year limitations period of 512(4), and therefore time-barred, while her claim for costs and expenses was controlled by the six-year provision of 511, and therefore timely. Id. at 293, 583 A.2d at 601.
The Court held that claims resulting in "mental anguish, emotional distress, and personal humiliation" were covered under 12 V.S.A. 512(4)'s three-year statute of limitations, id. at 291, 583 A.2d at 599-600, but that damages sought by plaintiff for "economic losses that do not constitute personal injuries" fell under 12 V.S.A. 511's six-year limitation. Id. at 293, 583 A.2d at 601.
In Fitzgerald, the plaintiff's claim of malpractice sought personal injury damages for emotional distress but "some of the damages sought by plaintiff . . . were for economic losses that do not constitute personal injuries." Id.
The Court determined that the plaintiff's claim included costs incurred by her to secure the return of her child.