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Federal Court in Tennessee Partially Dismisses Hernia Mesh Injury Case as Untimely but Denies Summary Judgment on Several Product Liability Claims

One of the most important considerations in a Tennessee personal injury lawsuit is, “When does the statute of limitations run?” While it is sometimes easy to determine this very important date, the issue can be very complicated in some cases.

If the plaintiff’s suit is found to be filed after the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations has expired, his or her claim will be dismissed by the court – even if he or she would have otherwise had a very strong case of liability against the defendant(s). Thus, it is extremely important that anyone has been hurt by the negligence, recklessness, or other wrongful conduct of others consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that the necessary paperwork can be filed in a timely fashion.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the plaintiff was a woman who alleged that she had suffered numerous personal injuries and complications following a mesh hernia repair surgery that took place in June 2008. In May 2018, She brought a product liability lawsuit against the defendants (the manufacturer of the mesh and the manufacturer’s subsidiary), asserting claims for negligence, strict product liability, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of implied warranty, failure to warn, and fraud. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on grounds that the plaintiff’s claims were time-barred by the applicable statutes of limitation.

Decision of the Court

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Knoxville Division, granted the motion in part and denied it in part. The court first noted that the majority of the plaintiff’s claims were subject to a one-year statute of limitations under Tennessee law. At the latest, the plaintiff claims accrued in September 2012 when she had the mesh device removed due to an infection; insomuch as her suit was not filed until May 2018, the usual limitations period for these claims had run. With regard to the plaintiff’s argument that the “discovery rule” extended the period during which she could file a claim, the court found that the plaintiff was “clearly aware of her injury” when the device was removed but agreed that may not have been aware of the exact cause of her injury. Thus, the court denied summary judgment with regard to the plaintiff’s personal injury claims, stating that further discovery on the issue was warranted. With regard to the plaintiff’s breach of warranty claim, however, the court agreed with the defendant that there was no discovery rule that extended the limitations period under the circumstances presented in the case and thus this claim was time-barred.

The court went on to discuss whether Tennessee’s statute of repose, which contains additional rules concerning the timeliness of certain product liability actions, was applicable. Generally, the statute of repose prevents suit against a manufacturer of an allegedly defective product if the claim is made more than six years after a plaintiff’s injury or more than 10 years after the product was first purchased for use or consumption. Assuming that the plaintiff’s injury occurred immediately prior to the removal surgery, her suit was filed within 6 years of her injury. The court noted that the date that the mesh was “first purchased for use or consumption” was a more complicated issue. If the date was the date that the mesh was implanted in the surgery, then her suit was timely; if it was earlier (the defendant argued that the applicable date was the day upon which the hospital initially purchased the mesh for future use on a patient), her suit may have been barred by the statute of repose. Under these circumstances, the court held dismissal of the plaintiff’s suit on this ground was not appropriate.

Consult a Knoxville Injury Lawyer

If you or a person close to you has been hurt in an accident that was caused by the negligent conduct of another person, a business, or a governmental entity, it is critically important that you file a claim before the statute of limitations expires. To find out more about the legal requirements for filing a Tennessee personal injury or wrongful death claim, contact the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C., today at 865-524-5657. We offer a free consultation and, in most cases, do not require any legal fees to be paid upfront in order to get your case started.

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