Is Separate Classification of Statute of Limitation for Medical Malpractice Actions Constitutional ?

In Hamby v. Neurological Assoc., 243 Ga. 698 (256 S.E.2d 378) (1979) the Supreme Court considered a challenge to the constitutionality of Code Ann. 3-1102, the predecessor to O.C.G.A. 9-3-71 (a), which established a two-year statute of limitation for medical malpractice actions. The Court held that "the separate classification of medical malpractice actions is a rational exercise of the legislative power." Thus, the Court held that there was a rational basis for treating loss of consortium claims arising out of medical malpractice differently from other loss of consortium claims. The Court later reaffirmed this decision in Perry v. Atlanta Hosp. &c. 255 Ga. 431 (339 S.E.2d 264) (1986). In 1985, the legislature amended O.C.G.A. 9-3-71 to, among other things, add subsection (b) setting forth the five-year statute of ultimate repose for medical malpractice actions. In Craven v. Lowndes County Hosp. Auth., 263 Ga. 657 (437 S.E.2d 308) (1993) the plaintiff claimed that the statute of repose violated equal protection by arbitrarily distinguishing between different classes of medical malpractice plaintiffs. The Supreme Court rejected this argument, holding that "the purpose of the statute of repose is rational." Id. at 659 (1).