Adams v. Gottwald
In Adams v. Gottwald, 179 S.W.3d 101 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 2005, pet. denied), fourteen-year-old Sage Adams underwent dental treatment in November and December of 2000.
In November of 2003, Sage's parents sued the dentist and her professional corporation for medical malpractice. Id.
The dentist and her professional corporation moved for summary judgment based on the limitations provision set forth in Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code section 74.251(a) of the Code, and the trial court granted the motion. Id.
On appeal, the Adamses argued the trial court erred in granting the motion for summary judgment because the limitations provision set forth in section 74.251 violated the open courts provision contained in article I, section 13 of the Texas Constitution. Id. at 102-03; see also Tex. Const. art I, 13 ( "All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him, in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law.").
The Court first noted section 74.251 provided:
"Notwithstanding any other law, and subject to subsection (b), no health care liability claim may be commenced unless the action is filed within two years from the occurrence of the breach or tort or from the date the medical or health care treatment that is the subject of the claim or the hospitalization for which the claim is made is completed; provided that, minors under the age of 12 years may have until their 14th birthday in which to file, or have filed on their behalf, the claim. Except as herein provided, this section applies to all persons regardless of minority or any other legal disability." Id. at 103 (quoting Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 74.251 (West 2003)).
The Court then noted section 74.251 was virtually identical to section 10.01 of the Medical Liability Act which the Texas Supreme Court held was unconstitutional when applied to a minor because it violated the open courts provision of the Texas Constitution. Id.
Concluding that this court was bound by Sax and Weiner, this court held "that, as applied to minors like Sage Adams, section 74.251 of the Code is unconstitutional under the open courts provision contained in article I, section 13 of the Texas Constitution." Id.