In its opinion filed on March 23, 2017, the Supreme Court of Mississippi (“Mississippi Supreme Court”) held that only when someone who is qualified to bring a wrongful-death suit actually files a wrongful-death suit on the minor beneficiaries’ behalf will the minors savings clause not apply, because, once the suit is filed, the running of the statute of limitations is immaterial. Therefore, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that the minors savings clause clearly applied in the case it was deciding because the deceased’s oldest child had two years from when she reached the age of majority to file a wrongful-death suit based on medical negligence, and she did so.
The Mississippi Supreme Court overruled one of its prior decisions to the extent that it held that the mere existence of a person of majority age with statutory standing to file a wrongful-death suit prevents the application of the minors savings clause. In the prior case, the plaintiff actually had filed suit on behalf of all the wrongful-death beneficiaries and thus, it was the filing of the suit that triggered the “one-suit” rule and rendered the statute of limitations, and any tolling thereof, irrelevant, so long as the suit was pending.
Mississippi Statute Of Limitations For Medical Malpractice Claims
Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36 (Rev. 2012) provides a two-year statute of limitations for medical-negligence claims. For wrongful-death actions, the statute of limitations for the alleged cause of death applies—in this case medical negligence. Miss. Code Ann. § 11-7-13 (Supp. 2016).
Mississippi Minors Savings Clause
Mississippi Code Section 15-1-59 contains a savings clause for minors: “If any person entitled to bring any of the personal actions mentioned shall, at the time at which the cause of action accrued, be under the disability of infancy . . . , he may bring the actions within the times in this chapter respectively limited, after his disability shall be removed as provided by law.”
The Mississippi Supreme Court held in the case it was deciding: “Section 15-1-59 tolled the statute of limitations to bring a wrongful-death suit based on Tina’s death until her daughter Tyteanna reached the age of majority. Ellis’s mere existence as a person with statutory standing to bring a wrongful-death suit did not prevent Section 15-1-59’s application. Thus, Tyteanna’s suit—filed within two years of her turning twenty-one—was timely. For this reason, we affirm the circuit court’s order, which denied Pioneer Hospital and Dr. Boka’s statute-of-limitations-based motion for summary judgment.”
Source Pioneer Community Hospital of Newton and Dr. Bernard Boka v. Tyteanna D. Roberts, Individually, and on Behalf of all Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Tina Roberts, Deceased, 2015-IA-01874-SCT.
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