Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia medical malpractice case discussing the state’s statute of repose. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s claim against the physician was filed after the five-year statute of repose, and thus, was untimely.
What Is a Statute of Repose?
A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations in that it provides a timeframe in which a case must be brought. However, unlike a statute of limitations, a statute of repose cannot be tolled and is absolute. While a state of limitations focuses on the timeliness of the plaintiff’s complaint, a statute of repose is concerned with providing defendants immunity from long-term liability. Thus, under OCGA § 9-3-71, notwithstanding the two-year statute of limitations, “in no event may an action for medical malpractice be brought more than five years after the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred.”
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s wife was seen by several doctors at the defendant medical practice while she was pregnant. During a routine prenatal sonogram in April 2012, doctors discovered a mass on the plaintiff’s wife’s right adnexa. However, neither the patient nor his wife was informed of the mass, and the mass was not documented among the issues that needed to be addressed.