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Missed Statute of Limitations Results in Dismissal

For the second time in less than two months, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court's dismissal of a wrongful death case in a medical negligence case. On May 30, 2013, the court issued its opinion in Hammen et al. v. Lynette I. Iles, M.D. and Washington County Hospital and Clinics. In Hammen, the parents of an infant boy brought suit in their name after their son died from complications suffered during birth. The two year statute of limitations ran on on June 10, 2011. While the parents had filed suit in their name prior to this date, an estate for their infant son had not yet been opened when the statute of limitations ran. The parents later opened an estate and tried to amend their lawsuit to add the estate's claims. The trial court ruled, and the Iowa Court of appeals affirmed, that since no estate was in existence on the date that the statute of limitations ran that the estate was not entitled to maintain a wrongful death claim and the case was dismissed. The Hammen case illustrates the importance of naming the proper party as well as the importance of filing a wrongful death lawsuit caused by medical negligence within two years of learning of the the death. It also illustrates the importance of seeking legal advice from a law firm experienced in prosecuting medical negligence cases.  Fortunately for the parents, the entire case was not dismissed and the parents' claims for loss of their son's consortium was allowed to continue, despite the Defendants' efforts to dismiss those claims.

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