Under Massachusetts law, medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to both a statute of limitations and a statute of repose. The statute of limitations controls the time during which a claim may be filed after an action accrues, but the statute of repose allows a set amount of additional time in certain instances, including when the injured party is a minor.
Generally speaking, a person hurt by an alleged act of medical negligence must file a claim with three years of the negligent act, but those who are under the age of six years at the time of the act of malpractice have until their ninth birthday to file suit.
While in theory this gives an injured child up to nine years to file suit, there is an additional requirement that all malpractice claims must be brought within seven years of the wrongful act (including claims by young children).
Facts of the Case
In the recent (unreported) case of Moeng v. Thacker, the plaintiff was a patient who filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendant physician. The physician filed a motion to dismiss the patient’s case on the basis that it was time-barred by the seven-year statute of repose for minors found at Massachusetts Gen. Laws ch. 231, § 60D.
Resolution of the Issues
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the superior court’s judgment. The court first noted that the allegedly negligent acts about which the patient complained occurred in May 2007 and that her complaint was filed in April 2014. However, the plaintiff’s original complaint incorrectly listed the doctor’s first name as “Vasant,” when his name was actually “Neelam.” The trial court allowed the plaintiff to substitute the correct first name but not until July 2014, approximately seven years and 10 weeks after the events at issue.
The court found that the patient’s claim was effectively filed on the date that she moved to substitute the defendant’s first name. Since this date was more than seven years after the event giving rise to the case, the patient’s cause of action was time-barred by the statute of repose. In so holding, the court stressed that the patient’s amendment substituted an entirely different person. The two doctors had the same last name but very different ages, educational backgrounds, and experience.
The patient’s argument that the general statute of repose for minors did not govern cases brought by “mentally incapacitated minors” was likewise rejected.
Get Help in Filing a Timely Claim for Medical Malpractice on Cape Cod
Claims that are not filed within the statute of limitations or the statute of repose are almost always dismissed. Although there are a few exceptions to this general rule, they are few and far between. To talk to an experienced Cape Cod medical malpractice lawyer about your medical negligence or other personal injury claim, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at (888) 262-6664 today. Since we work on a contingency fee arrangement, there is no need to wait until you can pay legal fees upfront in order to get your case started.
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