The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the seven-year limit on medical malpractice lawsuits was unconstitutionally violating a family’s right to a trial in court.
The Supreme Court will allow the Yanakos family to go ahead with a liability suit against The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), regardless of the expiration of the statute of repose. The hospital failed to inform them of important details stemming from a liver donation from son to mother, which could have future repercussions for them both.
Susan Yanakos was seeking a liver transplant to relieve her of Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), a genetic liver condition that increases the risk for lung and liver disease. Her son, Christopher Yanakos, underwent testing to see if he was a viable donor, namely that he didn’t also have AATD. Doctor’s went ahead with the operation, so the family assumed Christopher was in the clear. It wasn’t until 11 years later when Susan discovered AATD was still present in her liver that they found out her son was a carrier as well.
The Yanakos family argued in court that they couldn’t have known within the seven-year window that they had a medical malpractice case and that the courts should waive the time limit. The actions of the doctors have kept Susan at risk and left Christopher in a precarious position, since the operations may have made it more difficult for a successful transplant in the future.
Staking a claim
The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the Yanakos makes it possible for the family to proceed with a medical malpractice case against UPMC that has been over a decade in the making. Doctors may not have made important test results available and the family might have avoided complications and future medical costs. These findings and more could all contribute to an eventual payout in their medical malpractice case.