Ohio Court Rules Statute of Repose Portion of 2003 Medical Malpractice Tort Reform Unconstitutional

side note: This is a ruling that could have significant impact on the cost of medical liability insurance in Ohio. In this case, an appellate court found that the state’s statute of repose was unconstitutional. Like a statute of limitations, a statute of repose imposes a deadline for filing a claim. In Ohio, the statute of repose says that if a plaintiff has not discovered an alleged negligent act after four years, they cannot sue. The appellate court ruled  the statute of repose unconstitutional because “it bars the claim before the plaintiff could have reasonably known one existed.”

Tort reform proponents argue that the statute of repose is necessary to establish actuarial predictability, which in turn allows medical professional liability insurers to anticipate claims volume and keep physicians’ premiums down. Without the statute of repose, Ohio doctors will be exposed to unending lawsuits. This is a case almost certain to reach the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio State Medical Assn. and others are asking the Supreme Court of Ohio to review a lower court’s ruling they say exposes physicians to an endless risk of negligence claims.

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