Recent New Mexico Appellate Court Decision Harmful to Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs, Increases Importance of Quickly Consulting an Attorney
In a disappointing decision by the New Mexico Court of Appeals in October of last year, a plaintiff's bad drug and medical malpractice claim against his doctor was dismissed because the statute of limitations expired before the suit was filed. The Court's ruling in Chavez v. Delgado, 2014-NMCA-014 (2014), is important because it determined that the three year statute of limitations period for a medical malpractice claim begins when an injured plaintiff is prescribed an allegedly harmful medication, and not when he or she suffers a related injury or dies.
According to the Court's recitation of the facts, Jose Chavez was prescribed the generic version of Zocor by his doctor on November 11, 2008. When prescribing the medication, Dr. James Delgado failed to notice a dangerous drug interaction between Zocor and another of Mr. Chavez' prescribed medications. On December 3, 2008, Chavez filled the prescription for Zocor and began to take the medication. After consuming the dangerous combination of drugs, he became ill and was hospitalized with drug induced rhabdomyolysis. Within 14 months, Jose Chavez was dead.
The Liability for Mr. Chavez' Death
Mr. Chavez was survived by his wife and multiple children, the plaintiffs in a suit against the doctor and clinic for medical malpractice. The lawsuit alleged that before he prescribed the Zocor, Dr. Delgado had a duty to check for harmful interactions with Chavez' other medications. The family claimed Delgado was liable for Chavez' illness and death, and requested damages as a result of the doctor's negligence. In their defense, Dr. Delgado and the clinic argued that the case be dismissed because it was not filed within three years of the date that Dr. Delgado wrote the prescription for the Zocor.