Supreme Court of Ohio confirms that the statute of repose for medical claims applies to wrongful death claims 


medical; healthcare; doctor; medicine

By: Jessica L. Gillis and Kevin M. Norchi

On December 28, 2023, the Ohio Supreme Court resolved the split among the Ohio appellate district decisions holding that the statue of repose for medical claims means what it says – the term “medical claim” as used in the statute of repose applies “clearly and unambiguously to wrongful death claims based upon medical care.” Everhart v. Coshocton Cnty. Meml. Hosp., 2023-Ohio-4670, ¶ 1.  

R.C. 2305.113(C) states that “no action upon a medical *** claim shall be commenced more than four years after the occurrence of the act or omission constituting the alleged basis of the medical *** claim.” The statute broadly defines a medical claim as “any claim that is asserted in any civil action against a physician *** and that arises out of a medical diagnosis, care or treatment of any person. R.C. 2305.113(E)(3).  

Everhart arose out of the alleged failure to follow-up and inform the decedent, Todd Everhart, of a lung abnormality seen in x-rays taken in 2003. In December 2003, Mr. Everhart was involved in a car accident, and was transported to Coshocton County Memorial Hospital, where doctors obtained chest x-rays. The x-rays showed increased opacity in Mr. Everhart’s right lung, thought to be a lung contusion. 

Almost three years later, Mr. Everhart returned to Coshocton Hospital with complaints of abdominal pain, blood in his urine, and a cough. X-rays showed a right lung mass. Additional testing established that Mr. Everhart had advanced-stage lung cancer, and he died two weeks later.  

In 2008, five years after the underlying care, Mr. Everhart’s wife, in her individual capacity and as administrator of her husband’s estate, filed a cause of action asserting medical malpractice and wrongful death claims alleging failure to follow up and inform Mr. Everhart of the opacity in his right lung.  

The defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, claiming that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the four-year statute of repose outlined in R.C. 2305.113(C). The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, and the Tenth District Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the statute of repose does not apply to wrongful-death claims.  

The Ohio Supreme Court, applying the plain language of R.C. 2305.113(C) reversed the Tenth District’s holding. The Court held that the statute of repose means what it says, “[w]rongful-death claims based on medical care are clearly and expressly included in R.C. 23015.113(E)(3)’s definition of ‘medical claim.’” Everhart, at ¶ 13.  

This decision is a victory for medical providers in Ohio, who should raise this defense wherever applicable. 

For more information, please contact Jessica Gillis at, Kevin Norchi at, or your local FMG attorney