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June 30, 2017

MSC: Supreme Court “adds” extra day to statute of limitations period for medical malpractice actions

The Michigan Supreme Court, in Haksluoto v. Mt. Clemens Regional Medical Center, No. 153723, reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and held that when a timely notice of intent (NOI) is filed, it preserves the day it was filed as one to be used after the required notice period of 182 days ends and the statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions resumes.
 
MCL 600.5805(6) sets a two-year limitations period for medical malpractice actions, and MCL 600.2912b(1) requires a potential medical malpractice plaintiff to provide notice of at least 182 days to a potential defendant before filing suit. The two-year statute of limitations period may be tolled if a potential plaintiff files a timely and proper NOI, and there is still time in the statute of limitations to toll. The court found that even when the NOI is filed on the last day of the limitations period, the limitations period is still tolled and the law of fractional days preserves the day a NOI is filed as an “extra” one to be used after the notice period concludes.
 
In reversing the Court of Appeals’ decision, the Michigan Supreme Court first determined that the even though a NOI was filed on the final day of the two-year limitations period, it still triggered tolling of the period. The Court then considered the common law interpretation of the law of fractional days to determine how partial, or fractional, days are counted. It found that MCL 8.6 provides that when computing days, the first day is excluded and the last day is included, to ensure that each party is receiving the full amount of time to which he or she is entitled, even leaning towards providing more time than would be given if partial days were counted. Thus, the first fractional day—the day that the NOI triggers the notice period—is excluded from the 182-day notice period. Furthermore, the entire day on which the NOI is filed is preserved for use in the limitations period, after the notice period ends.
 
Therefore, in Haksluoto, the Court found that even though the plaintiffs filed on the last day of the limitations period, the limitations period was tolled. Furthermore, because they filed the NOI during the day and because Michigan does not count fractions of days, an additional day was added for the plaintiffs to file their complaint after the notice period ended and the limitations period resumed. Therefore, the plaintiffs complaint was timely filed and legally sufficient.

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