Pinilla v. United States (U)

A tort claim for a minor child’s birth injury accrued when physicians could have identified the cause of the injury, not when the parents – laypersons – suspected medical malpractice.

Three and a half years after the birth, the child’s guardian ad litem initiated this suit. Because the attending physician’s then-employer received federal grant money, he was a federal employee for purposes of the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court erroneously defined “knowing” in this case as mere suspicions by a layperson, unaided by an expert-provided diagnosis. This decision inappropriately credited the suspicions of a concerned parent who lacked medical training to trigger claim accrual under the Act. According to unrebutted reports from several experts, physicians could not have identified the cause of injury until he was two years old. This suit was filed within two years of that time and thus is not time-barred.

Reversed and remanded.

Pinilla v. United States (U), No. 17-1992, Jan. 23, 2019. 4th Cir. (per curiam) from DSC at Columbia (Anderson). 

Categories: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Opinions, Unpublished

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