Miss. to Mull Medical Malpractice Rules

By JACK ELLIOTT JR.
http://www.forbes.com

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Supreme Court will consider a federal appeals panel’s request to clarify when the clock starts ticking on the filing of certain medical malpractice claims.

The case is among dozens the Supreme Court will consider during the March-April term.

In November, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it believed there was confusion in Mississippi law and court decisions on the statute of limitations.

Specifically, the panel asked the Mississippi court to clarify how the statute of limitations applies in circumstances “where the alleged negligence is either the administration of a drug by a physician or the physician’s failure to disclose about the risks of a drug, and experts disagree as to whether the drug caused the plaintiff’s injuries.”

In 2006, the 5th Circuit overturned a medical malpractice verdict for Barbara Huss, who had sued a Memphis, Tenn., clinic over medical treatment provided during her pregnancy. Huss lives in Mississippi and filed her lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oxford.

Huss sued after a difficult pregnancy in 1998, from which she claimed to have experienced complications into 1999. Huss’ initial lawsuit was dismissed in 1999 and she refiled in 2000 against the clinic and Dr. John Gayden.

Huss contended she was prescribed a drug during her pregnancy that later led to heart and lung problems. A federal jury in Mississippi awarded Huss $3.5 million in damages.

The defendants claimed Huss waited too late to file her lawsuit, citing Mississippi law that gave a plaintiff two years to file a lawsuit after a condition was diagnosed.

The 5th Circuit sided with the defendants and threw out the jury award. However, the new 5th Circuit panel in November said the statute of limitations should be clarified.

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