State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s Attempt to Extend Statute of Limitations

The Connecticut Supreme Court recently released an opinion discussing their decision to uphold the reversal of a trial court’s ruling that a medical malpractice plaintiff’s claim was time-barred because it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. The most recent ruling held that the plaintiff’s argument for extending the statute of limitations based on the “continuing course of treatment doctrine” should have been addressed by the trial court. Based on the ruling, the plaintiff may be compensated for her malpractice claim.

TimerSurgical Sponge is Left Inside Plaintiff’s Body After She Has Gastric Bypass Surgery

The plaintiff in the case of Cefaratti v. Aranow is a woman who had a gastric bypass surgery performed by the defendant as a treatment for morbid obesity. According to the case summary discussed in the appellate opinion, the woman began suffering from abdominal pain approximately one year after the surgery was performed. After she started feeling the pain, she notified the defendant of her symptoms at several follow-up appointments after the surgery, although the defendant did not diagnose that a sponge had been left in her body.

Nearly five years after the surgery, a CT scan was performed on the plaintiff’s chest and abdomen by a different physician for an unrelated medical issue, and the sponge was discovered. After confronting the defendant about the sponge and having it surgically removed, the plaintiff brought a medical malpractice action against him, seeking damages based on the allegation that he negligently failed to remove the sponge during the gastric bypass surgery.

The Trial Court Dismisses the Plaintiff’s Claim, but the Appellate Courts Disagree

The plaintiff filed her medical malpractice lawsuit nearly seven years after her surgery was performed, 44 months after the three-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Connecticut had expired. In response to the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant moved the trial court to dismiss the case as barred by the statute of limitations. The plaintiff argued that the case should be allowed to proceed under the continuing course of treatment doctrine, which would permit the case to be heard as long as it was filed within three years of the date that the plaintiff was last treated by the defendant for her initial condition. The trial court rejected the plaintiff’s argument and ruled in favor of the defendant, finding that the continuing course of treatment doctrine did not apply to her condition.

The appellate courts found that the continuing course of treatment doctrine could apply to the plaintiff’s case and reversed the trial court decision. The courts ruled that the plaintiff was receiving treatment for morbid obesity when the surgery was performed and that her last follow-up appointment was within three years of the date she filed her complaint. Neither ruling went as far as to determine that the statute of limitations did not bar the case. The court instead remanded the case to the trial court to hear evidence and determine if the plaintiff had sought treatment for symptoms related to the sponge during her follow-up appointments, which would toll the statute of limitations. As a result of the most recent ruling, the plaintiff may receive compensation from the defendant for his alleged negligence.

The Statute of Limitations for Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

South Florida medical malpractice victims generally have two years from the date that an alleged act of medical malpractice is discovered to file a claim, but under some circumstances the time frame can be extended. Regardless of when a patient discovers or should have discovered an act of medical malpractice, Florida law does not permit a malpractice claim to be made more than four years after the alleged malpractice occurred. An exception to the four-year limitation is in cases that involve a defendant committing fraud or intentionally concealing or misrepresenting facts to the plaintiff in order to prevent them from discovering an act of malpractice. Under no circumstances can a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit be filed more than seven years after the alleged medical negligence occurred.

Should You Contact an Attorney?

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice in South Florida, contacting a qualified Miami medical malpractice attorney quickly can increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for your claim. The experienced South Florida negligence attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank can successfully prepare and argue your malpractice case, and we may be able to help you obtain compensation for your claim even if it has been over two years since the malpractice occurred. The medical malpractice lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank represent clients in the Miami area and throughout South Florida in many types of negligence cases, including surgical errors. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. Call toll-free at 877-448-8585 or fill out the online form on our website. Se habla Español / Nou Parlé Creole.

More Blog Posts:

Court Affirms Judgment for Defendant in Case Filed after Fatal Skateboarding Accident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 30, 2016.

State Supreme Court Rules that Post-Mortem Misconduct by Doctor Is Medical Malpractice, Reverses Damages Award, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 13, 2016.

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