Abstract: The decision by the BGH was based on the following facts. The plaintiff, born in 1982, claimed material and immaterial damages for the destruction of his milk teeth denture. He maintained that, during the first two years of his life, he had been fed a tea product made by the defendant by way of “permanent suckling”. In doing so, a plastic feeding bottle, which has also been distributed by the defendant and which lacked a proper warning, had been used. In 1985 the mother of the plaintiff learnt from the dentists treating her child that the damage to the milk teeth may have been caused by the consumption of the tea. In 1993 she was informed about the possibility of claiming damages from the tea producer by her health insurance. In 1996 the plaintiff lodged a claim for damages against the defendant and the co-defendants, some of her senior staff members (such as members of the executive board, the authorized officer, and head of departments) whom the plaintiff thought jointly responsible for the development, production and distribution of the tea product causing the damage to his teeth. The defendants raised the objection of limitation of the plaintiff’s claim.
The previous Courts dismissed the claim due to the objection raised by the defendants. However, the plaintiff succeeded with his appeal in respect of the co-defendants. The BGH argued that the requirements for the period of limitation and its commencement have to be verified for each co-defendant separately. If several persons may have caused the damage, the period of limitation starts to run for each of them as from the point in time the aggrieved party has become aware of the respective person causing the damage. It is therefore possible that the period of limitation may start to run, and expire, from different points in time, notwithstanding the fact that the underlying claim is based on the same event and damage. This also holds true in respect of co-defendants being an enterprise on the one hand, and its legal representatives or senior staff on the other hand, who are liable for the enterprise according to Â§31 or Â§831 BGB.European Review of Private Law