Each state has its own way of handling medical malpractice claims. However, what one state does can easily influence what another state does, so it is always helpful to watch medical malpractice cases when they reach the top courts of other states. Unfortunately, a recent ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court might negatively influence medical malpractice claims here in the mid-Atlantic, through its narrow reading of a saving statute that many medical malpractice claims rely on.
Antoon v. Cleveland Clinic
The case started on January 8, 2008, when David Antoon got a prostatectomy at the Cleveland Clinic. The surgery did not go well, though, and Antoon suffered side effects that required nearly a year of additional treatment.
Antoon, working without the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney, filed several lawsuits. He timely filed a medical malpractice claim in state court, but then decided that his chances of success were better in federal court. He dismissed the medical malpractice claim in state court, and then filed a fraud claim in federal court seven months later for violation of the False Claims Act. This federal court lawsuit did not mention medical malpractice, but was based on the same events and included the Cleveland Clinic as a defendant. Before Antoon hired an attorney to help, however, the federal court had dismissed his fraud claim.
Antoon then went back to state court to make a medical malpractice claim, arguing that his lawsuit was still within the statute of limitations because Ohio's saving statute prevented the clock from running while it was pending in the federal court. The court rejected Antoon's argument, and Antoon appealed all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Dismisses Medical Malpractice Claim
The Supreme Court, unfortunately, also disagreed with Antoon's argument and, in doing so, drastically limited the application of Ohio's saving statute.
Many states have saving statutes that prevent a statute of limitation from running out while a case is in federal court. Ohio's allows a lawsuit to be filed in state court within one year of a “substantially similar” lawsuit being dismissed from federal court. Because some medical malpractice lawsuits include violations of federal and state law, some are filed in federal court first, relying on the saving statute to let them bounce back to state court if the federal one decides it does not have jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court of Ohio, however, decided that Antoon's fraud claim was not “substantially similar” enough for the saving statute to apply, despite the fact that both stemmed from the same medical procedure and both were against the Cleveland Clinic. This narrow notion of what kinds of claims fall under the protection of a saving statute could have dire repercussions for medical malpractice claims in Ohio and, if other states follow Ohio's lead, elsewhere as well.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Medical malpractice is a complex lawsuit to make, with numerous procedural hoops to jump through. Having medical malpractice attorneys on your side from the start to ensure that your case gets heard is essential to its success. Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian online or at (800) 529-6162.