Law School Case Brief
Dasha by Dasha v. Me. Med. Ctr. - 665 A.2d 993 (Me. 1995)
A cause of action for medical malpractice accrues on the date of the act or omission giving rise to the injury. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 2902 (1990).
According to the prepared statement of facts, the center diagnosed the brother with a fatal brain tumor and recommended, after consultation with a neuropathologist at another hospital, that he undergo a series of radiation treatments. While the victim was in control of his faculties during and immediately after the radiation treatments, shortly thereafter his mental abilities declined. The parties agreed he had been mentally incompetent since March 1989, when he executed a power of attorney to his sister. In May 1992, the guardian notified the center of her intent to file a lawsuit for the misdiagnosis. In July 1992, she was appointed legal guardian.
Would equitable principles estop the medical center from pleading the statute of limitations?
The court found that the cause of action accrued, pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 24, § 2902 (1990), on the date of the alleged misdiagnosis in June 1988. The victim was competent at this time, so the tolling statute did not pertain. Further, the court found that the center could raise the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense under principles of equitable estoppel because the elements of equitable estoppel were not satisfied in the absence of any action on the center's part to induce delay in instigating suit.
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