577 A.2d 1173 (Me. 1990), Maine Medical Center v. Cote

Citation577 A.2d 1173
Opinion JudgeGLASSMAN,
Party NameMAINE MEDICAL CENTER, et al. v. Karen L. COTE and Beau Cote.
AttorneyGerald Petruccelli (orally), Petruccelli, Cox & Martin, Robert Hanson, Norman, Hanson & Detroy, Ernest Babcock, Friedman & Babcock, Portland, for plaintiffs. Kenneth W. Hovermale, Elizabeth Mulvey (orally), Bornstein & Hovermale, Portland, for defendants., George W. Beals, Portland, for amicus cu...
Judge PanelBefore McKUSICK, C.J., and ROBERTS, WATHEN, GLASSMAN and CLIFFORD, JJ.
Case DateJuly 11, 1990
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Maine

Page 1173

577 A.2d 1173 (Me. 1990)

MAINE MEDICAL CENTER, et al.

v.

Karen L. COTE and Beau Cote.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

July 11, 1990

Argued May 29, 1990.

Page 1174

Gerald Petruccelli (orally), Petruccelli, Cox & Martin, Robert Hanson, Norman, Hanson & Detroy, Ernest Babcock, Friedman & Babcock, Portland, for plaintiffs.

Kenneth W. Hovermale, Elizabeth Mulvey (orally), Bornstein & Hovermale, Portland, for defendants.

Page 1175

George W. Beals, Portland, for amicus curiae Maine Trial Lawyers Ass'n.

Before McKUSICK, C.J., and ROBERTS, WATHEN, GLASSMAN and CLIFFORD, JJ.

GLASSMAN, Justice.

The defendants, Karen Cote and her minor son Beau Cote, appeal the judgment on the pleadings entered in the Superior Court (Cumberland County, Alexander, J.) in favor of the plaintiffs, Maine Medical Center, Christiane Northrup, M.D., and Allan C. McLean, M.D., in their action for a declaratory judgment that the Cotes' medical malpractice claims against the plaintiffs were barred by the provisions of 24 M.R.S.A. § 2902 (1990). 1 We find no error in the record and affirm the judgment.

In September 1988, the Cotes served the plaintiffs with notices of claims, pursuant to 24 M.R.S.A. § 2903 (1990), alleging that due to the plaintiffs' negligent medical care Beau Cote has suffered from cerebral palsy since his birth on August 28, 1979. The plaintiffs filed this action seeking a declaration that the Cotes' claims were time-barred. After a hearing, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion for a judgment on the pleadings and also granted their motion to quash the Cotes' subpoena of the plaintiffs' liability insurers and ordered the protection of those insurers from the Cotes' inquiry as to their financial condition. The stated purpose of the Cotes' proposed inquiry was to demonstrate that these insurers had misled the Legislature concerning the necessity for the enactment of tort reforms in 1986. The Cotes now appeal, challenging both the declaratory judgment and the protective order.

In 1986, the Legislature repealed former section 2902 and replaced it with the present section as part of a tort reform package. See P.L.1985, ch. 804. The present section 2902, effective August 1, 1988, modifies a longstanding statutory recognition that the statutes of limitations applicable to various actions were tolled during the minority of a claimant. 14 M.R.S.A. § 853 (Supp.1989). 2 The Cotes challenge section 2902 on several constitutional grounds.

The Cotes first contend that section 2902 violates article I, section 19, the "open courts" provision of the Maine Constitution. Section 19 states that "[e]very person, for an injury inflicted on the person or the person's reputation, property or immunities, shall have remedy by due course of law; and right and justice shall be administered freely and without sale, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay." 3 The Cotes assert that this constitutional provision is an independent, substantive guarantee of specific rights. They argue that section 2902 effectively forecloses a child under the age of twelve years at the time of the accrual of an action for the alleged professional negligence of a health care provider from ever bringing an action in the child's own name, thus violating this substantive guarantee.

Page 1176

The open courts provision means the courts must be accessible to all persons alike without discrimination, at times and places designated for their sitting, and afford a speedy remedy for every wrong recognized by law as remediable in a court. We do not construe section 19 as prohibiting reasonable limits on the time within which a claimant must seek redress in the courts. The absence of a tolling provision for a legal disability thus making a claimant dependent on another to assert his rights does not per se offend article I, section 19 of the Maine Constitution. See McCutchen v. Currier, 94 Me. 362, 47 A. 923 (1900) (disability arising after accrual of cause of action barred by two-year statute of limitations). The only issue of...

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20 practice notes
  • 808 A.2d 508 (Md. 2002), 2, Piselli v. 75th Street Medical
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 8 Octubre 2002
    ...minor can file his or her own lawsuit, and that the action need not be brought by a parent or next friend); Maine Medical Center v. Cote, 577 A.2d 1173 (Maine S.Ct.1990); Plummer v. Gillieson, 44 Mass.App.Ct. 578, 583, 692 N.E.2d 528, 532, rev. denied, 427 Mass. 1107, 699 N.E.2d 851 (1998) ......
  • 900 S.W.2d 316 (Tex. 1995), 94-0541, Weiner v. Wasson
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court of Texas
    • 8 Junio 1995
    ...courts); Smith v. Cobb County-Kennestone Hosp., 262 Ga. 566, 423 S.E.2d 235, 239-40 (1992) (access to courts); Maine Med. Ctr. v. Cote, 577 A.2d 1173, 1175-76 (Me.1990) (open courts); Bissell v. Kommareddi, 202 Mich.App. 578, 509 N.W.2d 542, 544 (1993) (open courts); Thompson v. Franciscan ......
  • 438 S.E.2d 15 (W.Va. 1993), 21362, Whitlow v. Board of Educ. of Kanawha County
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
    • 23 Noviembre 1993
    ...P.2d at 283. [13] However, for the contrary view, see Douglas v. Stallings, 870 F.2d 1242 (7th Cir.1989), Maine Medical Center v. Cote, 577 A.2d 1173 (Me.1990) and Halverson v. Tydrich, 156 Wis.2d 202, 456 N.W.2d 852 (1990). [14] See W.Va.Code, 55-2-3 and -4 (1923). [15] See W.Va.Code, 55-2......
  • Piselli v. 75th St. Medical, 100802 MDCA, 2m/01
    • United States
    • 8 Octubre 2002
    ...file his or her own lawsuit, and that the action need not be brought by a parent or next friend); Maine Medical Center v. Cote, 577 A.2d 1173 (Maine S.Ct. 1990); Plummer v. Gillieson, 44 Mass. App. Ct. 578, 583, 692 N.E.2d 528, 532, rev. denied, 427 Mass. 1107, 699 N.E.2d 851......
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20 cases
  • 808 A.2d 508 (Md. 2002), 2, Piselli v. 75th Street Medical
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 8 Octubre 2002
    ...minor can file his or her own lawsuit, and that the action need not be brought by a parent or next friend); Maine Medical Center v. Cote, 577 A.2d 1173 (Maine S.Ct.1990); Plummer v. Gillieson, 44 Mass.App.Ct. 578, 583, 692 N.E.2d 528, 532, rev. denied, 427 Mass. 1107, 699 N.E.2d 851 (1998) ......
  • 900 S.W.2d 316 (Tex. 1995), 94-0541, Weiner v. Wasson
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court of Texas
    • 8 Junio 1995
    ...courts); Smith v. Cobb County-Kennestone Hosp., 262 Ga. 566, 423 S.E.2d 235, 239-40 (1992) (access to courts); Maine Med. Ctr. v. Cote, 577 A.2d 1173, 1175-76 (Me.1990) (open courts); Bissell v. Kommareddi, 202 Mich.App. 578, 509 N.W.2d 542, 544 (1993) (open courts); Thompson v. Franciscan ......
  • 438 S.E.2d 15 (W.Va. 1993), 21362, Whitlow v. Board of Educ. of Kanawha County
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
    • 23 Noviembre 1993
    ...P.2d at 283. [13] However, for the contrary view, see Douglas v. Stallings, 870 F.2d 1242 (7th Cir.1989), Maine Medical Center v. Cote, 577 A.2d 1173 (Me.1990) and Halverson v. Tydrich, 156 Wis.2d 202, 456 N.W.2d 852 (1990). [14] See W.Va.Code, 55-2-3 and -4 (1923). [15] See W.Va.Code, 55-2......
  • Piselli v. 75th St. Medical, 100802 MDCA, 2m/01
    • United States
    • 8 Octubre 2002
    ...file his or her own lawsuit, and that the action need not be brought by a parent or next friend); Maine Medical Center v. Cote, 577 A.2d 1173 (Maine S.Ct. 1990); Plummer v. Gillieson, 44 Mass. App. Ct. 578, 583, 692 N.E.2d 528, 532, rev. denied, 427 Mass. 1107, 699 N.E.2d 851......
  • Request a trial to view additional results