U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Birth Injury Lawsuit Under the Federal Tort Claims Act Because of the Statute of Limitations

A federal district court judge has ruled that the two-year statute of limitations for Dominique Woodson’s medical malpractice claim against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) started running on Dec. 7, 2013. Her son, P.W., was born with a left arm that “sagged down to his side.”

According to Woodson, the allegedly negligent doctor, Keith Ramsey M.D., told P.W. “may get better” and that he “may grow into it.”

On appeal to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from an order that granted the government’s request for summary judgment, Woodson argued the discovery date was May 30, 2014, when she hired an attorney. If so, her FTCA notice of claim, dated Feb. 19, 2016, was on time. However, the 7th Circuit affirmed the dismissal with a dissent.

All the appeals panel judges agreed that “a negative outcome of medical care is not proof of negligence,” and that “something more” is required for inquiry notice. The majority concluded that “other circumstances” established that Woodson’s claims “accrued shortly after P.W. was born.” The dissenting appeals panel justice, Justice Hamilton, cautioned: “Today’s decision creates a significant risk that the poor medical outcome alone may be deemed sufficient to start the statute of limitations clock.”

Although the dissent written by Justice Hamilton was persuasive, he remained a minority and thus the majority of two other justices prevailed, which dismissed the case. It was noted that P.W. may still have a valid claim in state court for the injuries he suffered.

P.W. Woodson v. United States, No. 20-1142 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth trauma injury lawsuits, cerebral palsy lawsuits, brachial plexus injury lawsuits, and brain damage lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 45 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Mount Prospect, Skokie, Antioch, Schaumburg, Barrington, South Barrington, Calumet City, Deerfield, Evanston, Elmhurst, Franklin Park, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Inverness, Joliet, Kenilworth, Long Grove, Mundelein, Chicago (Edgewater, Edison Park, Douglas Park, Chinatown, Little Italy, Back of the Yards, Uptown, Streeterville, Washington Park, Lincoln Square, Humboldt Park, Gold Coast, Portage Park, Archer Heights, Austin, Lakeview, Old Town), New Lenox, Lemont, Prospect Heights and Olympia Fields, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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