WA Legal Roundup: Division III
Ms. Cox brought a complaint against her ex-employers for a multitude of things. Unfortunately she brought the claims too late and the trial court found that they were barred by the statute of limitations. But lets shake the dirt out in this case.
Cox worked for Ms. I and Mr. S at Oasis Physical Therapy. Shortly after Cox started working at Oasis in 2004, she sought treatment for neck pain. Mr. S provided the treatment to Cox. Mr. S used a method “recognized throughout the world,” which involved Cox removing her bra and Mr. S massaging her chest for 45 minutes. “Recognized throughout the world.” Right. Maybe throughout Perv-World!
Cox refused to have anymore treatment from Mr. S, but continued to work for the facility. About one year later, Cox was fired. Cox filed her complaint in December 2007.
One of the causes of action that Cox filed against Oasis was for medical negligence. Medical negligence claims must be filed within three years of the act or omission OR one year from the date that the patient discovered or should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the act or omission, whichever period expires later. However, the statute of limitations can also be tolled by intentional concealment.
So Cox claimed that she didn’t realize that the 45 minute breast massage wasn’t medical negligence because Mr. S told her this was an accepted method of treatment. However, Mr. S didn’t tell Cox this to conceal what he did to her; he told her this to conceal the treatment he had provided to other patients. Thus, Cox could not rely on this concealment as facts to show intentional concealment for her case.
Cox also argued that she didn’t discover the treatment was not medically necessary until a Dept. of Health investigation in 2007. I mean who wouldn’t know that a 45 minute breast massage is not medically necessary for neck pain? So the discovery portion of the statute of limitations didn’t fly either.
Cox attempted to apply the statute of limitations discovery rule to several other of her claims, but the Court of Rules didn’t buy it. However, the Court of Appeals did buy the argument that Cox’s sexual harassment and discrimination claims did fall within the three year statute of limitations because the acts complained of fell within the three years. The acts were part of the same actionable hostile work environment practice and thus if one of the acts fell within the three year period, they all were timely brought. Finally, one that stuck!
Affirmed in part, reversed in part.