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Statutes of Limitation Archives

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.

Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case Statute of Limitations

On April 10, 2013, the Iowa Court of Appeals, affirmed the trial court's dismissal of a Plaintiff's wrongful death case in a medical malpractice lawsuit for failing to file the suit in the name of the proper plaintiff before the two year statute of limitations had run. In Lightfoot et al. v. Catholic Health Initiatives, et al., the Plaintiff filed the wrongful death action, allegedly caused by negligent medical treatment, in the name of the surviving spouse rather than in the name of the administrator of the decedent's estate.  While the initial lawsuit naming the surviving spouse was timely filed, it was subject to dismissal as the surviving spouse was not the proper party. Rather, the Court of Appeals held that the proper plaintiff was the administrator of the decedent's estate.  Since the administrator of the estate was not appointed until after the two year statute of limitations had run, the trial court properly dismissed the case.  In so ruling, the Court of Appeals affirmed that the two year statute of limitations in wrongful death cases caused by medical malpractice begins to run from the date on which the plaintiff learns of the death. The court rejected Plaintiff's argument that the statute of limitations should only begin to run from the date the Plaintiff learned of the cause of the wrongful death. This 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 death. It also illustrates the importance of seeking legal advice from a law firm experienced in prosecuting medical negligence cases.

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