Statute of Repose Bars Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Alabama decided a case discussing how a statute of repose can prevent a plaintiff’s case from proceeding forward to trial, even if the evidence against the defendant is very strong. In the case, Cutler v. University of Alabama Health Services Foundation, the court determined that since the plaintiff’s case was filed too late, he would not be permitted to seek compensation for the injuries allegedly caused by the defendant’s failure to tell him he noticed a tumor on his brain.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a serious motorcycle accident and was taken to the hospital afterward. While at the hospital, he was treated by the defendant doctor, who ordered an MRI to be performed. After looking at the results of the MRI, the doctor told the plaintiff that it looked like a bruise. However, in the doctor’s notes, there was evidence that he found a tumor on the plaintiff’s brain and noted that someone from the neurology department should follow up with the patient.

None of this was conveyed to the plaintiff, and no one followed up with him. It was not until about 10 years later, when he was involved in another car accident, that it was discovered that the plaintiff suffered from a brain tumor. Indeed, that accident was caused when the plaintiff had a seizure that was caused by the brain tumor. Once he found out about the tumor, another doctor determined that it was the same tumor that was present on the previous MRI. The tumor was then determined to be malignant. The plaintiff sued the doctor who ordered the MRI, claiming it was medical negligence to not tell the plaintiff about the tumor.

The issue at trial was when the “injury” accrued, and whether the case was filed past the statute of repose. A statute of repose is similar to a statue of limitations in that it puts a hard limit on when a case must be filed. In this case, the statute of repose was four years after the accrual of the injury. In the plaintiff’s claim, he asserted that the injury took place at some time within the statute of repose, although he couldn’t specify when because it was not discovered until he was involved in the accident.

In making its decision, the court looked at the language of the plaintiff’s complaint, specifically when it alleged the injury arose. Since the complaint claimed that the injury arose within the statute of repose, the four years began from that date. And since the subsequent case was filed more than four years from the end of the statute of repose, the case was time-barred. Thus, the court dismissed the case.

Have You Been Injured by an Act of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by what you believe to be the negligent act of a doctor, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. The skilled attorneys at the Maryland and Washington, D.C. personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of collective experience representing clients in all kinds of medical malpractice cases. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

State Court Finds Premises Liability Case against Government Sufficient to Proceed Toward Trial, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 20, 2016

Plaintiff’s Procedural Mistake Results in Dismissal of Premises Liability Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 30, 2016

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