Thursday, September 28, 2023

Court Finds Medical Malpractice Claim To Be Barred By Statute of Limitations

In the case of Swart v. UPMC Pinnacle Hospital, No. 2020-CV-10091 MM (C.P. Dauph. Co. May 3, 2023 McNally, J.), the Plaintiff appealed a trial court Order which dismissed her medical malpractice Complaint based upon the application of the statute of limitations.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff alleged medical negligence relative to hip replacement surgeries. The Plaintiff asserted that the doctor utilized prosthetics that were too short during each of the Plaintiff’s surgeries, causing a painful limp. The Plaintiff also alleged that she consulted a different doctor, who performed a third surgery, and concluded that the prosthetics that the Defendant had implanted were too short and made the Plaintiff’s legs uneven.

In this matter, there was a dispute between the parties as to when the Plaintiff’s cause of action arose.

The Defendants asserted that the latest date that the Plaintiff’s cause of action could have accrued was around July of 2018 when the Plaintiff obtained a third opinion confirming that her hip replacement surgery caused her to have a shorter right leg and corresponding pain.

The Plaintiffs asserted that the discovery rule should be applied such that the accrual of the cause of action would not be until after the third surgery was completed in October of 2018 when the first doctor’s alleged negligence was allegedly confirmed.

The trial court considered the discovery rule and concluded that the Plaintiff’s cause of action accrued no later than July of 2018 as evidenced by the record and the Plaintiff’s own deposition testimony. 

More specifically, the record indicated that the Plaintiff was, at that point, aware of significant harm and a causal connection between the harm and the doctor’s actions, even though the Plaintiff did not have complete knowledge of the injury’s full extent or precise cause of the same. 

The court confirmed that the Plaintiff testified at her deposition with admissions that she knew by July of 2018 that she was suffering pain, leg length discrepancy, and physical limitations after the second surgery and that she believed that the doctor’s surgeries were responsible.

Accordingly, since the Plaintiff filed suit beyond the two (2) year statute of limitations, the court ruled in favor of the Defendants and dismissed the Complaint.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 22, 2023).

Source of image:  Photo by Anna Shvets on

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