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Malpractice statute of limitations at issue before Supreme Court

As we have discussed before in this blog, Ohio law sets a time limit on filing a personal injury claim, such as a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations, and it prevents medical professionals having to defend themselves from malpractice claims long after the alleged incident occurred.

Whether or not the statute of limitations has run out, or “tolled,” is often a point of contention in personal injury litigation. Such a case has reached the Ohio Supreme Court, pitting the Cleveland Clinic against a former patient who claims his prostate surgery was botched, forcing him to retire from his job.

The operation occurred in January 2008, and the version of the suit before the Supreme Court was filed earlier this year. Ohio law generally provides a four-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice suits, so it would seem that the case was filed too late.

However, the patient and his wife say that the Cleveland Clinic delayed the litigation past the statute of limitations point by not granting access to evidence during the discovery phase. The plaintiffs originally filed suit in 2010, but dropped the suit the following year, allegedly due to the Clinic’s “obstruction,” the patient said in an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Since then, the plaintiff has filed numerous lawsuits and regulatory complaints. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited the Clinic in 2010 for its reaction to the original lawsuit.

None of this has to do with the merits of the lawsuit itself. The current dispute is over whether the plaintiff gets to sue the Cleveland Clinic, or if his window has closed.

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