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Cranston v. New Process Fibre Co.

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex County

July 18, 1950

CRANSTON
v.
NEW PROCESS FIBRE CO.

Caleb M. Wright, of Georgetown, for plaintiff.

Houston Wilson, of Georgetown, for defendant.

[45 Del. 371] CAREY, Judge.

The sole question raised for decision herein concerns the reasonableness of the period allowed by the quoted statute for the commencement of actions upon causes which had accrued prior to its effective date. Plaintiff attacks the six-months provision as being unreasonably short and argues that the former three-year statute controls this case. Under his theory, the present motion would have to be denied since the action was started seven days less than three years after the last payment.

Certain basic principles are beyond dispute. A state may constitutionally reduce the time within which an action may be brought upon rights previously accrued, provided a reasonable time is allowed for the bringing of such an action. Primarily, the Legislature is the judge of what is reasonable time, and its determination will not be set aside by the Courts unless the time allowed is so insufficient that it amounts to a denial of justice. It is said to be sufficient if substantial opportunity is afforded to the party affected to assert his rights after the passage of the law. In deciding the question, the Court must consider the statute in the light of the class of cases to which it applies. 34 Am.Jur. 27 etc.; II Cooley on Constitutional Limitations (8th ed.) 764; 16 C.J.S., Constitutional Law, § 628, p. 1238.

Although there appear to be no Delaware cases on this point of reasonableness, a great number of rulings from other jurisdictions are to be found. The mere listing of them would require much space. The interested reader will find the earlier ones cited in Lamb v. Powder River Live Stock Co., 10 Cir., 132 F. 434. Later ones are collected in Kozisek v. Brigham, 169 Minn. 57, 210 N.W. 622, 49 A.L.R. 1263 and Steele v. Gann, 197 Ark. 480, 123 S.W.2d 520, 120 A.L.R. 758. Some of the very recent decisions are Reid v. Solar Corp., D.C.1946, 69 F.Supp.[45 Del. 372] 626; Gillespie v. Pickens County, 1941, 197 S.C. 217, 14 S.E.2d 900; Central Mo. Tel. Co. v. Conwell, 8 Cir., 1948, 170 F.2d 641; Kendall v. Keith Furnace Co., 8 Cir., 1947, 162 F.2d 1002; Ferki v. Frantz' Transfer Co., 1943, 152 Pa.Super. 267, 31 A.2d 586; Allen v. Dovell, Md.1949, 66 A.2d 795. Depending always upon the nature of the class of cases affected, clean-up periods for accrued causes of action as short as thirty days have been approved, although periods as long as one year have been disapproved. By far the greatest number of cases involving a six-months period hold it

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These are McGahey v. Virginia (In re Brown),
135 U.S. 662 10 S.Ct. 972 34 L.Ed. 304 Blevins v. N. W. Carolina Utilities, 209 N.C. 683 184 S.E. ...

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