A case was brought before the Mississippi Supreme Court to review the interplay between the state’s wrongful-death statute and the “minors savings” clause. The minor savings clause tolls the applicable statute of limitations until the child reaches the age of majority. Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-59 states that:
“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 or unsoundness of mind, he may bring the actions within the times in this chapter respectively limited, after his disability shall be removed as provided by law. However, the saving in favor of persons under disability of unsoundness of mind shall never extend longer than twenty-one (21) years.”
The court had ruled both for and against tying the savings clause to wrongful death actions in the past. In finding a reason not to apply the minors savings clause (Curry v. Turner), the court ruled that the minor savings clause and the wrongful death statutes were “at irreconcilable odds with one another where there exists a person qualified under the wrongful death statute to bring suit.”
In the current lawsuit, defendants relied on the Mississippi Supreme Court’s ruling that the two statutes could not co-exist and that the statute of limitations had expired. An argument was made that the minor savings clause did not apply because the minor beneficiaries had a maternal aunt who would have been able to bring the lawsuit within the applicable timeframe.
However, the Mississippi Supreme Court found a major distinction between the Curry case and the lawsuit presently being decided. The court reasoned that in Curry the minor beneficiaries’ mother filed the original wrongful-death action and that because of the one-suit rule, the minor beneficiaries’ could not apply the minor savings clause to file what would amount to a second wrongful-death lawsuit. In the current case, the minor beneficiaries’ aunt, who was qualified to file, never filed a wrongful-death lawsuit. Therefore, the only suit filed was by the minor beneficiaries.
The major takeaway from the ruling is that the minor savings clause can co-exist within a wrongful-death action so long as someone who is qualified to bring a wrongful-death suit does not actually file a wrongful-death lawsuit on the minor beneficiaries’ behalf.
The court found that once one of the children reached the age of majority, they had two years from when reaching the age to file a wrongful-death action.
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