Legal Memorandum: Constitutionality of the Statute of Repose

Issue: Whether the statute of repose may be regarded as unconstitutional in a malpractice situation because it deprives a plaintiff access to the courts.

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Statute of repose; Medical malpractice
Jurisdiction: Iowa
Cited Cases: 507 N.W.2d 405; 281 N.W.2d 616; 692 N.W.2d 694; 580 N.W.2d 723; 652 N.W.2d 462; 514 N.E.2d 709; 339 N.W.2d 392; 808 S.W.2d 809; 522 N.W.2d 607
Cited Statutes: Iowa Code § 614.1, § 614.1(11), § 614.1(9), § 614.1(9)(a); Iowa Const. art. I, § 1
Date: 08/01/2011

The statute of limitations or repose that is potentially applicable in a malpractice situation is set forth in Iowa Code § 614.1:

9. Malpractice.


a. Except as provided in paragraph “b”, those founded on injuries to the person or wrongful death against any physician and surgeon, osteopathic physician and surgeon, dentist, podiatric physician, optometrist, pharmacist, chiropractor, physician assistant, or nurse, licensed under chapter 147, or a hospital licensed under chapter 135B, arising out of patient care, within two years after the date on which the claimant knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known, or received notice in writing of the existence of, the injury or death for which damages are sought in the action, whichever of the dates occurs first, but in no event shall any action be brought more than six years after the date on which occurred the act or omission or occurrence alleged in the action to have been the cause of the injury or death unless a foreign object unintentionally left in the body caused the injury or death.


Iowa Code § 614.1(9)(a) (emphasis added).  A defendant may move for summary judgment based on the emphasized language in the cited provision—the so-called statute of repose—that “in no event shall any [medical malpractice] action be brought more than six years after the date [of the act or omission at issue].”*FN1  According to the Iowa […]

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