Statute of Limitations Prevents Redress in Malpractice Death

Statute of Limitations Prevents Redress in Malpractice Death

A judge has dismissed the medical malpractice wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died when surgeons left a sponge in his abdomen because the family filed the lawsuit one day too late.

According to the statute of limitations in Wisconsin, a person cannot file a lawsuit over medical malpractice if more than three years have elapsed since the time of the injury.

One issue of contention was whether the date of injury from which the statute of limitations would count down was the day the sponge was removed in a second surgery, or the day the man died, which was three days later.

The Ruling

The Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Daniel George found that the three-year-long statute of limitations began on the day the sponge was removed in the second surgery.

The lawsuit was filed by Kathy Genrich, and in it, she claims that Meriter Hospital is responsible and liable for the death of her husband.

The hospital’s attorneys admitted that hospital staff negligently left the sponge in Genrich’s abdomen.

But they argue that the lawsuit came one day too late. “The statute of limitations started to run no later than Aug. 8, 2003, and it expired on Aug. 8, 2006, one day before the lawsuit was filed,” they said.

The attorney of the Genrich family, Jason Studinski, has said that the sponge was discovered on the 8th, but argued that the date of death – Aug. 11, 2003 – and not the date of the sponge removal should be considered the date of injury.

Studinkski said, “A closer examination of the law and facts exposes the fallacy of the defense’s arguments and reveals that the statute of limitations did not start running until Aug. 11, 2003, such that it would have run until Aug. 11, 2006,” in a rebuttal.

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