In Wade v. Danek Med., Inc., 182 F.3d 281 (4th Cir. 1999), in 1985, the injured plaintiff underwent back surgery, and the defendant's medical screws caused her to sustain additional pain and contract a disease. Wade, 182 F.3d at 284.
A class action was filed in the Pennsylvania U.S. District Court in 1993 against the defendants--manufacturers, and although the plaintiffs were not named parties, they were "putative" parties. Id.
Thereafter, in 1995, the Pennsylvania U.S. District Court denied the class action certification, and the plaintiffs filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ("Virginia U.S. District Court"). Id.
The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, averring that the statute of limitations had expired, and the Court granted the motion. Id.
On appeal, the Fourth Circuit determined "whether a state court would engage in equitable tolling during the pendency of a class action in another court." Id. at 287.
The Fourth Circuit stated:
First, and most importantly, the Commonwealth of Virginia simply has no interest, except perhaps out of comity, in furthering the efficiency and economy of the class action procedures of another jurisdiction, whether those of the federal courts or those of another state. Second, if Virginia were to adopt a cross-jurisdictional tolling rule, Virginia would be faced with a flood of subsequent filings once a class action in another forum is dismissed . . . . Third, if Virginia were to allow cross-jurisdictional tolling, it would render the Virginia limitations period effectively dependent on the resolution of claims in other jurisdictions, with the length of the limitations period varying depending on the efficiency (or inefficiency) of courts in those jurisdictions (additional citations omitted). Id. at 287-88.
Accordingly, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the Virginia Supreme Court would not recognize cross-jurisdictional equitable tolling, and affirmed. Id. at 288.