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Whitaker v. Hill Nursing Home, Inc. (210 P.3d 877)

nursing-home-abuse-Oklahoma-elderly-woman-300x193Articles: Oklahoma

Whitaker v. Hill Nursing Home, Inc. (210 P.3d 877)

CASE:
Whitaker v. Hill Nursing Home, Inc. (210 P.3d 877)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Christine Whitaker, Personal Representative for the Estate of James Richard (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Hill Nursing Home, Inc.
COURT:
Court of Appeals of Oklahoma (2009)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Whitaker, granddaughter of James Richard (deceased), brought wrongful death and breach of contract suit against Hill Nursing Home, Inc. on March 29, 2007. Hill filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the suit was barred by a two- year statute of limitations. The trial court granted Hill’s motion. Plaintiff appealed.
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
Mr. Richard moved into Hill Nursing Home in January of 2003. On May 12, 2004, he was transferred to McCurtain Memorial Hospital where he died on May 19, 2004. Plaintiff filed a petition on March 29, 2007 alleging that the nursing home engaged in a pattern of “ongoing neglect” and that the nursing home’s “continuing course of repeated negligence” including its “failure to take the precautions necessary to ensure the decedent’s health and safety, failure to provide proper and timely services” resulted in mental and physical injury, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and ultimately his death. The claim also asserts claims for breach of contract and negligence per se on the basis that the nursing home violated the Oklahoma Nursing Home Care Act.
OUTCOME AT TRIAL:
The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, ruling that the suit was barred by a two- year statute of limitations.
ISSUES ON APPEAL:
Did the trial court properly apply the two- year statute of limitations set forth in 76 O.S. § 18?
SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“An action for damages for injury or death against any physician, health care provider or hospital licensed under the laws of this state, whether based in tort, breach of contract or otherwise, arising out of patient care, shall be brought within two (2) years of the date the plaintiff knew or should have known, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, of the existence of the death, injury or condition complained of…”

– 76 O.S. § 18

 

The Court also relied on the Oklahoma Nursing Home Care Act in finding that Hill did in fact qualify as a healthcare provider:

 

“any person or other entity who is licensed pursuant to the provisions of Title 59 or Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes…to render health care services in the practice of a profession or in the ordinary course of business.”

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