Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Appeals Court Rules '03 Malpractice Law Unconstitutional

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Appeals Court Rules '03 Malpractice Law Unconstitutional

Article excerpt

A 2003 law designed to protect physicians from certain lawsuits unconstitutionally deprives medical negligence plaintiffs of due process, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled last week.

The Oklahoma passed Senate Bill 629 in 2003, which requires anyone filing a medical liability lawsuit to serve a summons on the defendant within 180 days. If the summons is not served within the allotted time period, the lawsuit must be dismissed. The law, found in Title 12 section 150 of the Oklahoma statutes, only applies to medical liability lawsuits.

In the case of Lisa K. Jones vs. Integris Baptist Medical Center, Jones filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her late husband. Jones argued on appeal that the law used to dismiss her original case is unconstitutional because it denies medical plaintiffs equal protection and due process.

Usually, the appeals court will not consider a constitutional challenge on appeal if the plaintiff had failed to raise the issue in the trial court, but in the Jones case the Court of Civil Appeals found it in the public interest to make an exception.

The appeals court referred to the Oklahoma Supreme Court's 2006 ruling in Zeier v. …

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