Hall v. Teipie-Ching Chi

In Hall v. Teipie-Ching Chi, So. 2d (Ala. 2000) the decedent had undergone hip-replacement surgery, and the surgery had caused paralysis. Several months later, he died. The statutory limitations period for filing a medical-malpractice claim, based on the alleged malpractice that had caused the paralysis, had not yet run on the decedent's claim at the time of his death. See 6-5-482, Ala. Code 1975. His wife, as personal representative of his estate, filed a wrongful-death action against the doctors who had performed the surgery, as well as other defendants. That action was not filed within two years of the alleged negligence, but was filed within two years of the death. The wife claimed that the defendants' acts and omissions constituted negligence, and that that negligence had caused her husband's death. The defendants argued that the malpractice claim alleged in the wrongful-death action should have been presented in an action filed within two years after the alleged malpractice had occurred. However, the wife filed her wrongful-death action within two years from the date of the decedent's death. In Hall, the Court held that "if a decedent has a viable medical-malpractice claim at the time of his death, his personal representative has two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful-death claim based on the alleged malpractice." (So. 2d at 7.)