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A defendant may be estopped to plead the statute of limitations where plaintiff was induced by fraud, misrepresentations or deception to refrain from filing a timely action.
The defendant doctor performed a surgical excision of a node on the patient's neck. When she experienced numbness and pain surrounding the neck area, the doctor told her that the symptoms would disappear upon continued physiotherapy. Four years later, the patient obtained a second opinion, wherein the alleged negligence of the doctor was revealed. The patient brought an action claiming negligence and that the doctor intentionally misinformed her as to her physical condition after the surgery and misrepresented that the physiotherapy was a cure. The patient’s complaint was dismissed for being barred by the statute of limitations. The patient appealed.
Was the patient’s medical malpractice claim against the defendant doctor barred by the three-year statute of limitations of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(6)?
The court found that the medical malpractice claim was not barred by the three-year statute of limitations of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(6). The complaint's allegations fell within a shelter to the rule because the patient relied on the doctor's misrepresentations, which caused her to fail to institute her action within the requisite time period. The court found that the patient brought the action within a reasonable time after her discovery of the alleged negligence.