September 27, 2022
Kernan v. Regents of University of California
Plaintiff sued for medical malpractice after she delivered a stillborn baby. Her doctors informed her they could not determine the cause. Months later, after an autopsy had been ordered and plaintiff’s doctor did not respond to her requests to review the autopsy report, discussions with a different doctor made plaintiff suspicious that medical negligence was the cause of her child’s death.
The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant, finding that plaintiff’s action was time-barred under the one-year statute of limitations in Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5. Plaintiff appealed.
The Court of Appeal reversed, holding there were triable issues of fact regarding whether plaintiff suspected wrongdoing on the date of the injury, thereby triggering the limitations period. The court noted it was unclear when the autopsy was ordered, plaintiff was told by doctors that the cause of the stillbirth was unknown, and hospital records demonstrated that reasonable minds could differ as to whether plaintiff should have suspected medical negligence on the day the injury occurred.