In its opinion filed on June 25, 2018, the Court of Appeals of Ohio Third Appellate District Wyandot County (“Ohio Appellate Court”) held that “based on the different motivations of a statute of limitations and a statute of repose, any argument asserting that Ohio’s medical-claim statute of repose does not apply to wrongful-death actions because wrongful-death actions and medical-malpractice actions are separate causes of action is erroneous.”
The Ohio Appellate Court stated “a statute of limitations governs the time in which a plaintiff may assert a cause of action. A cause of action is based on a plaintiff’s injury. Conversely, a statute of repose focuses on a defendant’s alleged acts and governs the time in which a defendant may be held accountable for his or her alleged negligent acts. Based on that distinction, any separate-causes-of-action argument necessarily fails. Accordingly, because statutes of repose and limitation are fundamentally different, any reasoning based on the interplay of two statute of limitations is not persuasive.”
Under Ohio’s medical malpractice statute of repose, a person must file a medical claim no later than four years after the alleged act of malpractice occurs or the claim will be barred. The statute establishes a period beyond which medical claims may not be brought even if the injury giving rise to the claim does not accrue because it is undiscovered until after the period has ended.
In the case the Ohio Appellate Court was deciding, the Ohio Appellate Court held that there is no genuine issue of material fact that the plaintiff estate filed its wrongful-death action well outside Ohio’s medical claim statute of repose, and therefore the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.
The Ohio Appellate Court stated that the Supreme Court of Ohio has held that Ohio’s medical-claim statute of repose clearly and unambiguously bars “any action” bringing a medical claim commenced more than four years after the occurrence of the act or omission constituting the basis for the claim. Because any action bringing a medical claim is barred by Ohio’s medical-claim statute of repose if it is not timely commenced, “we conclude that wrongful-death actions fall within the scope of ‘any action’ and are subject to the time restraints of the statute of repose.”
The Ohio Appellate court concluded: “wrongful-death actions based on medical claims are barred by Ohio’s medical-claim statute of repose for an act or omission allegedly constituting medical malpractice that took place more than four years earlier.”
Source Smith v. Wyandot Mem. Hosp., 2018-Ohio-2441.
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