Alicea v. Cordova Iturregui

In Alicea v. Cordova Iturregui, 117 P.R. Dec. 676 (1986), the Puerto Rico Supreme Court struck down P.R.Laws Ann. tit. 26, 4109(1), a Medico-Hospital Professional Liability Insurance Act (MHPLIA), companion provision to section 4105, which established a maximum two-year statute of limitations for all medical malpractice claims, without regard to whether the injury was discoverable within the two-year limitations period. The court noted that section 4109 created different (albeit non-suspect) classifications for patients who sustained patent injuries and patients with latent injuries. Id. at 688. The court reaffirmed its earlier statement in Torres "that the right to commence a civil action is a fundamental right," and went on to conclude that "any legislative classification affecting such right will have to withstand the strict judicial scrutiny analysis." Id. at 690 (citing Torres, 111 P.R. Dec. at 801-02). In Alicea, the court held that the Commonwealth lacked a sufficiently "compelling state interest" to justify even this non-suspect classification, and that the purported goals of the MHPLIA--assuring the general availability of medical malpractice insurance and avoiding the increasing medical costs and declining quality of care associated with exorbitant malpractice insurance premiums--would not do. Id. at 693.