This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
The disabilities of the plaintiff enumerated by statute must, in the absence of specific statutory provision, exist when the cause of action accrues. If when the cause of action accrues the plaintiff is competent to maintain the action, and subsequently, while the period of limitations is still running, he becomes subject to one of the disabilities enumerated in the statute, such disability does not prevent the statute of limitations from continuing to run against him.1 If a cause of action accrues in favor of an adult, his death does not stop limitations from running even though the persons who succeed him in interest are minors.2 This rule has been applied where the right to bring a proceeding in error accrued to an adult and before the time limited had expired he died and his interests descended to minors.3 So if the creditor is sane when the cause of action accrues his subsequent insanity does not prevent limitations from running.4 Furthermore, all the disabilities which can be used to prevent the running of the statute of limitations must exist when the cause of action accrues. Hence, if the plaintiff suffers under one disability, when the cause of action accrues, and before such disability ceases, he becomes subject to another disability, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the cessation of the first disability, and continues to run even though the plaintiff may during the whole time be under some form of disability. The attempt to prevent the statute of limitations from running by adding the successive disabilities, is what is known as " tacking disabilities," and is forbidden.5 Thus if, when a right of action in ejectment accrues, plaintiff is a minor, and she subsequently marries before coming of age, her coverture does not prevent limitations from running against her when she comes of age.6 So if a woman is a feme covert when the cause of action accrues, and subsequently her husband dies and she then remarries, limitations continues to run notwithstanding her second marriage.7 If a cause of action in favor of a person under a disability passes either by operation of law or by act of the parties to a person also under a disability, the periods covered by the two disabilities cannot be added.8 Thus in an ejectment suit if the claimant living when the right of action accrues is a feme covert and she subsequently dies and her interests descend to a minor heir, the periods covered by these two disabilities cannot be added ;9 and so if the ancestor was insane when the cause of action accrues and on his death his interest descends to minor heirs.10 So if a party to the contract is under no disability when the cause of action accrues his subsequent assignment of the contract to an assignee who is under disability does not prevent the statute from operating.11 If, however, the plaintiff suffered under several disabilities at the time when his cause of action accrued, limitations does not begin to run against him until the last of the disabilities from which he was then suffering has ceased to operate.12
628. In Earle v. Dickson, 1 Dev. L. (N. C.) 16, the expression "beyond the seas" was construed literally; the court holding that the legislature referred to British creditors.
1 McDonald v. Hovey, 110 U. S. 619; McLeran v. Benton, 73 Cal. 329; 2 Am. St. Rep. 814; 14 Pac. 879; Beattie v. Whipple, 154 111. 273; 40 N. E. 340; Black v. Ross, 110 la. 112; 81 N. W. 229; Daniells v. Daniells, 92 Mich. 208; 52 N. W. 303; Kelley v. Gallup, 67 Minn. 169; 69 N. W. 812; Jones v. Lemon. 26 W. Va. 629; Swearingen v. Robertson. 39 Wis. 462; Bliler v. Boswell, 9 Wyom. 57: 59 Pac. 798; 61 Pac. 867.
2 Gibson v. Herriott, 55 Ark. 85; 29 Am. St. Rep. 17; 17 S. W. 589; Castro v. Geil, 110 Cal. 292; 52 Am. St. Rep. 84; 42 Pac. 804; McLeran v. Benton, 73 Cal. 329; 2 Am. St. Rep. 814; 14 Pac. 879; Grether v. Clark, 75 la. 383; 9 Am. St. Rep. 491; 39 N. W. 655; Pim v. St. Louis, 122 Mo. 654; 27 S. W. 525; Hardy v. Riddle, 24 Neb. 670; 39 N. W. 841.
3 Hinde v. Whitney, 31 O. S. 53.
4 Grady v. Wilson, 115 N. C. 344; 44 Am. St. Rep. 461; 20 S. E. 518. And see for similar facts Oliver v. Pullam, 24 Fed. 127.
5 McDonald v. Hovey, 110 U. S. 619; Doyle v. Wade, 23 Fla. 90; 11 Am. St. Rep. 334; 1 So. 516; Hibernian Banking Association v. Bank, 157 111. 524; 41 N. E. 919; Manion v. Titsworth, 18 B. Mon. (Ky.) 582; Clark v. Jones, 16 B. Mon. (Ky.) 121; Demarest v. Wynkoop, 3 Johns. Ch. (N. Y.) 129; 8 Am. Dec. 467; Patton v. Dixon, 105 Tenn. 97; 58 S. W. 299; White v. Latimer, 12 Tex. 61; McFarland v. Stone. 17 Vt. 165; 44 Am. Dec. 325. "Disabilities which bring a person within the exceptions of the statute cannot be piled one upon another; but a party claiming the benefit of the proviso can only avail himself of the disability existing when the right of action first accrued." Syllabus in Mercer v. Selden, 1 How. (U. S.) 37; quoted in Cozzens v. Farnan, 30 0. S. 491, 497; 27 Am. Rep. 470.
6 Cozzens v. Farnan, 30 O. S. 491; 27 Am. Rep. 470. For similar facts see Sims v. Gay, 109 Ind. 501; Downing v. Ford, 9 Dana (Ky.) 391; Eager v. Commonwealth, 4 Mass. 182; Demarest v. Wynkoop, 3 Johns. Ch. (N. Y.) 129; 8 Am. Dee. 467.
7 Mitchell v. Berry, 1 Met. (Ky.) 602.
8 Whitney v. Webb, 10 Ohio 513.