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Craven v. Lowndes County Hospital Authority
Georgia Supreme Court
437 S.E.2d 308 (1993)
In 1986, Craven (plaintiff) had a mole on his back biopsied by Dr. Santos (defendant). Dr. Santos diagnosed the mole as benign. Five years later, a different doctor diagnosed the same mole as malignant. Upon revisiting the earlier biopsy, it was found to have been misdiagnosed. In 1992, Craven sued Dr. Santos and the Lowndes County Hospital Authority (defendants) for malpractice. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 9-3-71(b), medical malpractice suits in Georgia must be brought within two years from when the wrongful act occurred, but in no event later than five years from when the wrongful act occurred. Santos and the hospital moved for summary judgment, arguing that Craven’s claim was barred by the five-year absolute limit, or statute of repose, for medical malpractice claims. The trial court granted the motion and entered judgment in favor of the defendants. Craven appealed. On appeal, he argued, among other things, that the statute of repose in § 9-3-71(b) was unconstitutional. Because the statute of repose distinguished between classes of plaintiffs, specifically between those who discovered their injuries within five years of the date of the negligent act and those who discovered their injuries more than five years after the date of the negligent act, Craven argued that members of the former class were denied equal protection of the laws.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Clarke, C.J.)
Dissent (Benham, J.)
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