Morris v. Rodeberg, et al
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|Attorney for the Case||Matthew D. Ballew James A. Barnes IV￼ Ryan D. Oxendine|
|Amicus Brief Writers||Gagan Gupta Sam McGee|
A 13-year-old child was injured during an appendectomy. He filed suit after his 18th birthday pursuant to the tolling provisions of N.C.G.S. § 1-17(b). Defendants moved to dismiss the case, arguing that N.C.G.S. § 1-17(c) required Plaintiff to file suit within three years of his injury. Effectively, Defendants’ argument was that the statute of limitations expired while Morris was still a minor. The Court of Appeals majority agreed, and Plaintiff appealed pursuant to the dissent.
NCAJ filed an amicus brief, arguing that the majority opinion of the Court of Appeals violates longstanding protections of children under North Carolina law, and essentially prevents minors of a certain age from bringing medical malpractice cases at all, given that the statute of limitations will run while said children are under the disability of age and not legally competent to file suit. Moreover, the brief argues that the statutory interpretation in the majority opinion leads to serious constitutional questions with regard to the equal protection and open courts provisions of the North Carolina Constitution. Where two reasonable statutory interpretations are presented, courts should follow the rule of construction which mandates adoption of the interpretation that avoids serious constitutional issues like those presented here.