Earlier this month, an appellate court in Idaho issued an opinion in a medical malpractice case that illustrates how strictly courts construe statutes of limitations in medical malpractice cases. In the case, English v. Taylor, the court determined that the plaintiffs’ amended complaint, rather than the motion for leave to amend the original complaint, was what “commenced” the case. Since this filing of the amended complaint was past the allowable time under the statute of limitations, the case was dismissed as untimely.
The Facts of the Case
Mrs. English suffered a stroke while undergoing surgery at the defendant’s facility. A little less than two years after her stroke, the Englishes filed a strict product liability case against the manufacturer of one of the medical devices involved in the surgery. At this time, neither the medical facility nor the doctor was named in the lawsuit.
One day before the two-year statute of limitations was set to expire, the Englishes asked a medical review panel to review the performance of the doctor who conducted the surgery. This effectively paused the time from running under the statute of limitations and added 30 days after the review was complete to the allowable time to file. During those 30 days, the Englishes filed a motion asking the judge to allow them to add the doctor and the medical facility as additional parties. That motion was granted.
About 90 days later, the Englishes filed a formal motion, adding the medical facility and the doctor to the complaint. The two recently added defendants asked to be dismissed from the case, since they argued that the statute of limitations had expired. The Englishes responded that the motion asking for leave to name another party had been filed in time, and the court should use that date when determining when the case was filed. The defendants argued that it was not until the motion naming them as defendants was filed that the case against them commenced.
Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of the defendants, finding that the plaintiffs’ motion seeking leave to amend the complaint was not the event that began the case. Instead, the case began when the actual amended complaint itself was filed. Since this was after the relevant two-year statute of limitations, the case was not timely and was properly dismissed.
Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice in the Maryland or Washington, D.C. Area?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of what you believe to be medical malpractice in Maryland or Washington, D.C., you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been through. However, you have only a limited time to file a case. Cases filed after the statute of limitations will almost certainly be dismissed by the court, leaving you with no recourse. Be sure to seek out and meet with a dedicated attorney as soon as you are able. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney in your area today.
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