Dismissal of $2.5 million lawsuit upheld because filing fee was two-dollars short

Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “How can an attorney help me with my Divorce or Separation in North Carolina?”


A parcel placed in the mail is just that: placed. Placement in a mailbox does not guaranty delivery.

Two Dollar Bill Mecklenburg Injury Lawyer Charlotte wrongful death AttorneyOf course, most—maybe all—postal services provide a “guaranteed” service. Ask any lawyer the meaning of “guaranty,” however, and one is liable to hear a list of hypotheticals in which the guaranty is broken. Things get lost in the mail. It does not happen often, but it happens.

We live in a society in which people and businesses have the ability to engage in the near-instantaneous exchange of communications and documents.

The law is catching up. Many county Registers of Deeds in North Carolina now accept online submission of deeds and other legal documents. Clerk’s offices in the state’s judicial circuits are moving in that direction. Much of appellate and federal-court filings are made online.

Most lawsuits, however, are still filed in person, whether by litigant, by attorney, by paralegal, clerk, or courier. And some holdouts still rely on the good old mail service.

A recent opinion from the Virginia Supreme Court has underlined the potential perils of using the mail to file a lawsuit, especially when the statute of limitations is looming.

Statutes of limitation are rules that prescribe the last date upon which an injured person can bring a lawsuit. Most personal injury actions in North Carolina are subject to a three-year statute of limitation, meaning if an injured party brings suit more than three years after an injury, the lawsuit is subject to dismissal.

Statutes of limitation are extremely complicated, and depending on the unique circumstances of one’s case, shorter or longer limitations periods may apply.

In the Virginia case—titled Landini v. Bil-Jax—a lawyer prepared a lawsuit seeking $2.5 million. The lawyer or someone working for the lawyer called the local clerk’s office to ask how much the filing fee would be. The lawyer sent the lawsuit with the fee, via overnight mail, to the Powhatan County clerk on September 2. The clerk received the lawsuit and check on September 3—six days before the statute of limitation ran.

For reasons unknown, the clerk sat on the lawsuit for six days, then called the attorney on September 9 to let her know that the filing fee was actually $346, not $344, because Powhatan County had increased its “library fee” that same year. According to the attorney who handled the case on appeal, the clerk only asked for two more dollars; she failed to mention that the lawsuit was being held until the additional fees were received.

Eventually the two-dollar shortfall was received and the lawsuit was filed—on September 13. Later the defendants moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the statute of limitations had expired. A trial court ruled in the defendants’ favor. The plaintiff appealed, but eventually the Virginia Supreme Court sided with the defendants, ruling that the plaintiff’s suit was time-barred.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone’s negligent or intentional conduct, it is essential that you contact one of the experienced personal-injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina today. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.



About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

As a board-certified Family Law Specialist, Mr. Arnold’s professional practice focuses on Family Law actions such as divorce and child custody, although his practice encompasses a wide range of civil practice areas.

Mr. Arnold is a member of the North Carolina State and Mecklenburg County Bars, and is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in Federal District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.








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