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Medical Malpractice

Adams v. Poudre Valley Hospital District, 476 P.2d 565 (Colo. 1970).

(Statute of Limitations, Staphylococcus Infection, Negligence, Breach of Contract)

Jane Adams brought a suit against Poudre Valley Hospital on three counts claiming that she contracted a staphylococcus infection from surgery. She claimed that: 1. The hospital was negligent, 2. Based on a theory of res ipsa loquitur, that the injury would not have occurred without negligence and 3. That the "hospital had agreed to supply said facilities and warranted expressly or impliedly, that said facilities would be fit for the use intended" by Adams and that the hospital had breached that contract. The district court granted the hospital's motion for summary judgement on all three counts because the statute of limitations set by the governing statute of two years had run out. Adams appealed. Adams claimed that the statute dictating the statute of limitations did not apply to hospitals, as it does not specifically mention hospitals, only "licensed health establishments." C.R.S.1963 87-1-6. This statute imposes a two year statute of limitations for all actions "sound in tort or implied contract." The Supreme Court of Colorado held that, in light of legislative history as well as the fact that Poudre Valley was licensed under provisions of the same statute, "hospitals" were clearly intended to be within the scope of the statute of limitations. Because of this fact, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Poudre Valley on counts one and two. However, they found that the lower court erred in granting summary judgement on count three because Adams had pled that the warranty was implied or in the alternative expressed. The two-year statute of limitation imposed by this section does not, then, govern claims of breach of express contract. Because there was a material issue of fact as to whether or not there was, in fact, an express contract, summary judgment was not appropriate for count three. They remanded the case back to the lower court for further proceedings on count three.

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