Spunt v. Oak Hill Nursing Home, Inc. (509 A.2d 463)

rhode-island-nursing-home-neglect-abuse-elderly-woman-300x196Articles: Rhode Island

Spunt v. Oak Hill Nursing Home, Inc. (509 A.2d 463)

CASE:
Spunt v. Oak Hill Nursing Home, Inc. (509 A.2d 463)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Jerome Spunt, Executor of the Estate of David Spunt (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Oak Hill Nursing Home, Inc.
COURT:
Supreme Court of Rhode Island (1986)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
On November 23, 1982, the plaintiff, Jerome Spunt, filed a complaint for wrongful death and personal injury stemming from the death of his father. On August 1, 1983, the defendant, Oak Hill Nursing Home, Inc., filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that it was barred by a two- year statute of limitations that was in effect at the time of decedent’s death. The trial court granted the motion. Plaintiff appealed.

 

SUMMARY OF FACTS:
David Spunt was a resident of Oak Hill Nursing Home. While under the care of the nursing home, David developed a decubitis ulcer on his right leg. The condition became so bad that David had to have the leg amputated. The procedure led to David’s death on May 20, 1980. At the time of David’s death, Rhode Island had a two- year statute of limitations for wrongful death actions. On May 12, 1981, the state legislature amended the law to allow for a three year statute of limitations for wrongful death actions. Plaintiff filed his wrongful death action on November 23, 1982, two- and- a- half years after his father’s death.
OUTCOME AT TRIAL:
The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss based on the two- year statute of limitations that was in effect at the time of decedent’s death.
ISSUES ON APPEAL:
Did the court err in not retroactively applying the amended three year statute of limitations?
SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“43-3-22.1. Enlargement of statutes of limitation- Effect on actions not yet expired.

– Whenever any time limitation for the commencement of any cause of action is enlarged, such amendment shall be construed to enlarge the new time limitation all of those causes of action which accrued within the new limitation of time.”

o P.L. 1984, ch. 410, §§ 2 and 3

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