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Crumpton v. Humana, Inc

    Brief Fact Summary. Crumpton (Plaintiff) filed suit against a nurse and the hospital for injuries sustained when the nurse improperly lowered Plaintiff’s hospital bed. The District Court of Lea County (New Mexico) granted summary judgment for Defendants, citing that the statute of limitations had run. Plaintiff appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The statute of limitations commences running from the date of the injury or the date of the alleged malpractice.

    Facts. Plaintiff was in the care of Llano Estado Medical Center. She alleged that in February, 1979, she sustained injuries when the nurse lowered her hospital bed. She brought suit more than three years later, arguing that the delay was due ongoing settlement negotiations with the hospital.

    Issue. Does the statute of limitations toll while parties are engaged in settlement negotiations?

    Held. No. In most jurisdictions, a three-year statute of limitations commences from the date of injury. The Supreme Court of New Mexico upheld the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, finding Plaintiff’s appeal “to be frivolous and entirely without merit.”

    Discussion. An attorney who fails to file a meritorious suit within the statute of limitations may be liable for malpractice. As the court noted, “[t]he limitation period begins to run from the time the injury manifests itself in a physically objective manner and is ascertainable.”


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