Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Statute of Limitations As Compared to Statute of Repose

In its recent decision in the case of Dubose v. Quinlan, No. 22 EAP 2016 (Pa. Nov. 22, 2017) (Op. by Mundy, J.)(Baer, J., Concurring and Dissenting)(Saylor, C.J., Dissenting), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reviewed the differences between the statute of limitations and a statute of repose in the context of a medical malpractice case.  

Concisely, the court found that statute of limitations create a time limit for bringing suit, based upon the date the claim accrued.  In contrast, statutes of repose may limit when suits may be brought, not on the basis of an accrual of a claim, but from some other cut-off date.  

The court noted that only statutes of limitation are subject to equitable tolling under Pennsylvania law.  

This decision is also notable in its holding that the statute of limitations for both wrongful death and survival claims in a medical malpractice case is two (2) years from the date of death.  

The court also noted that the MCARE Act modified the applicable statue of limitations in medical malpractice cases such that, in wrongful death actions arising out of a medical malpractice claim, the claim only accrues at death, not from earlier injuries.   The court found that, as the more specific statute on the issue presented, the MCARE provisions prevailed over the general tort statute of limitations.  

Anyone wishing to review the Majority Opinion may click this LINK.

Justice Baer's Concurring and Dissenting Opinion can be viewed HERE.

Chief Justice Saylor's Dissenting Opinion can be viewed HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck, of the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith for bringing this case to my attention.  

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