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Bradway v. American National Red Cross

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Bradway (plaintiff) sued American National Red Cross (defendant) for negligence.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A claim for medical malpractice can expire under the statute of repose even if the plaintiff did not discover the injury inflicted by tortfeasor.

    Facts.

    After the Plaintiff had surgery she was required to have a blood transfusion, with the units of blood being supplied by the defendant. Later, the Plaintiff was diagnosed with AIDS and sued the defendant, arguing that the negligently screened the units of blood used for her previous transfusion. Under Georgia law, cases involving claims of medical malpractice have a statute of limitation of 2 years and a statute of repose of 5 years. The defendant moved to dismiss the case, arguing that claims were barred under the statute of repose of 5 years. In response, the plaintiff argued that the case was one of ordinary negligence and not medical malpractice. If the case was one of ordinary negligence, the plaintiff’s claims would not be time barred. The Georgia Supreme Court held the claims were for medical malpractice and are time barred under the 5-year statute of repose.

    Issue.

    Whether a claim for medical malpractice can expire under the statute of repose even if the plaintiff did not discover the injury inflicted by tortfeasor?

    Held.

    Yes. A claim for medical malpractice can expire under the statute of repose even if the plaintiff did not discover the injury inflicted by tortfeasor.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    The principal behind statute of repose is that its puts a definitive deadline on when a tort plaintiff may bring their claims from an injury. Even if a plaintiff does not know about an injury until after the expiration of the statute of repose, their claims will still be barred. This case is not one of ordinary negligence, as the Georgia Supreme Court noted, because the claims involve medical judgment, and constitutes a medical malpractice claim. Thus, the plaintiff’s claims are covered under the statute of repose and it is irrelevant that she did not discover she had AIDS until after the statute had expired. While in certain situation the statute of limitations may be tolled and won’t begin to accrue until the injury is discovered, this is not the case for statute of repose.


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