Martin v. Naik, No. 101,146.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM:
Citation300 P.3d 625,297 Kan. 241
Docket NumberNo. 101,146.
Decision Date03 May 2013
PartiesMacie MARTIN, Individually and as Representative of the Estate of Curley Martin, Deceased, Appellant, v. Sandip NAIK, M.D., and Specialty Hospital of Mid–America, Appellees.

297 Kan. 241
300 P.3d 625

Macie MARTIN, Individually and as Representative of the Estate of Curley Martin, Deceased, Appellant,
v.
Sandip NAIK, M.D., and Specialty Hospital of Mid–America, Appellees.

No. 101,146.

Supreme Court of Kansas.

May 3, 2013.


[300 P.3d 626]



[297 Kan. 241]Syllabus by the Court

1. In a negligence action, summary judgment is generally proper if the only questions presented are questions of law.

2. An appellate court's review of a district court's grant of summary judgment where the facts are uncontroverted, including one based on a statute of limitations defense, is unlimited and de novo.

3. A cause of action for wrongful death accrues on the date of death unless information regarding the fact of death or the wrongful act that caused the death was concealed, altered, falsified, inaccurate, or misrepresented. Crockett v. Medicalodges, Inc., 247 Kan. 433, 799 P.2d 1022 (1990), which held a wrongful death action accrues at the time of the wrongful act that causes the death, is overruled.

4. In K.S.A. 60–513(c), which controls when a statute of limitations begins to run in a medical malpractice action, the legislature stated an objective standard when it provided that a cause of action accrues at the time of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of action “unless the fact of injury is not reasonably ascertainable.” Consequently, the fact a particular patient is incapacitated, which would be a subjective factor, does not affect whether the fact of injury was reasonably ascertainable.


Stephen G. Dickerson, of the Dickerson Law Group, of Olathe, argued the cause and was on the briefs for appellant Macie Martin.

Timothy P. McCarthy, of Gilliland & Hayes, P.A., of Overland Park, argued the cause and was on the briefs for appellee Sandip Naik, M.D.


Roger W. Slead, of Horn, Aylward & Brandy, LLC, of Kansas City, Missouri, argued the cause, and Richard M. Acosta, of the same firm, was with him on the briefs for appellee Specialty Hospital of Mid–America.

PER CURIAM:

[297 Kan. 242]This appeal raises issues regarding when the statute of limitations begins to run in a wrongful death and survival action brought against a physician and hospital. We first determine that a cause of action for wrongful death accrues on the date of death unless information regarding the fact of death or the wrongful act that causes the death was concealed, altered, falsified, inaccurate, or misrepresented. Second, in construing K.S.A. 60–513(c), which controls when the statute of limitations period begins to run in a medical malpractice action, we hold that the legislature stated an objective standard when it provided that a cause of action accrues at the time of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of action “ unless the fact of injury is not reasonably ascertainable.” Consequently, the fact a particular patient is incapacitated, which would be a subjective factor, does not affect whether the fact of injury was reasonably ascertainable.

Facts and Procedural Background

Macie Martin, both individually and as the representative of the estate of her husband,

[300 P.3d 627]

Curley Martin (Curley), filed a lawsuit against defendants Sandip Naik, M.D., and Specialty Hospital of Mid–America (Hospital), in which she raised wrongful death and survival claims based on alleged medical malpractice. Both defendants filed motions for summary judgment in which they argued the statute of limitations barred both causes of action. The relevant facts were uncontroverted for purposes of the motions. In the order granting the defendants summary judgment, the district court made the following findings and conclusions:

On March 31, 2004, Curley, who was diabetic, was admitted to the Hospital under Naik's care. At that time, Curley “was unable to participate in his care” because of his medical condition.

On April 7, 2004, a nurse who was an employee of the Hospital administered insulin to Curley. Martin, who was at Curley's bedside, observed the nurse having difficulty and then heard another nurse say that the nurse who administered the insulin “did not know how to perform that care for him or was struggling to competently perform that care.” Curley's condition became more serious, and Martin alleges the Hospital's employees failed to competently[297 Kan. 243]assess Curley's condition after the faulty insulin administration and failed to notify Naik of the deterioration in Curley's condition.

Nevertheless, “[t]hese perceived deficiencies did not ... result in actionable harm until the morning of April 8, 2004, when [Curley's] condition[ ] had greatly deteriorated.” Curley “suffered irreversible brain damage and other injuries.” On April 8, Martin and her daughters had Curley “emergently transferred” to Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC). It is alleged the Hospital and Naik negligently delayed the transfer.

While Curley was at SMMC, a physician told Martin and her family that the Hospital's staff allowed Curley to go into a diabetic coma and essentially killed him. Although Curley's “catastrophic conditions were stabilized at SMMC and he was subsequently moved to at least one other care facility before his death, he remained from April 8, 2004, until his death [on] October 25, 2004, incapacitated.”

On the second anniversary of Curley's death, Martin filed suit. After limited discovery, the Hospital and Naik filed motions for summary judgment, arguing that Martin's claims were barred by the 2–year limitation period provided by K.S.A. 60–513(a)(5) and (a)(7).

In granting the Hospital's and Naik's motions, the district court concluded Martin's “causes of action here for medical negligence in the survival action and the wrongful death claim accrued April 8, 2004,” the last date on which the defendants' negligence could have occurred and the date on which Curley's injuries were first reasonably ascertainable. Further, the court found a 2–year statute of limitations applied under K.S.A. 60–513(a)(5) and (a)(7). As a result, the court concluded that, unless the statute of limitations was tolled, both the survival and wrongful death claims expired on April 8, 2006, more than 6 months before Martin filed suit. The district court noted there was a potential for tolling because Curley was disabled. Nevertheless, the court concluded that K.S.A. 60–515, the tolling provision relating to disabled parties, would only have extended the limitation period 1 year past Curley's death—to October 25, 2005. Because the tolling provision effectively shortened[297 Kan. 244]the limitation period, the district court concluded the tolling provision should not be applied. Consequently, the district court agreed with the Hospital's and Naik's assertions and found that the wrongful death and survival causes of action were barred when this case was filed on October 25, 2006.

Court of Appeals' Decision

The Court of Appeals reversed the district court's order in Martin v. Naik, 43 Kan.App.2d 591, 228 P.3d 1092 (2010). The court held that neither Martin's wrongful death action nor the survival action was barred by the 2–year limitation period provided by K.S.A. 60–513(a)(5) and (a)(7).

With regard to the wrongful death claim, the Court of Appeals concluded that the basis for Martin's lawsuit did not accrue, and thus the statute of limitations did not begin to

[300 P.3d 628]

run, until Curley's death. Martin's wrongful death action, therefore, was timely because it was filed within 2 years of the death. Martin, 43 Kan.App.2d at 602, 228 P.3d 1092.

As to the survival action, the Court of Appeals determined Curley's medical condition rendered him unable to reasonably ascertain the fact of his injury. Consequently, the court considered the disability tolling provision in K.S.A. 60–515. The court concluded:

“[B]ecause Curley could not reasonably ascertain the fact of his injury, his medical malpractice claim (the survival action) did not accrue so as to start the statute of limitations clock running until his death, so the 2–year limitation period of K.S.A. 60–513 did not commence to run at any time during the period of Curley's incapacity. The relevant portion of K.S.A. 60–515, its tolling provision, stops the clock that is running on an accrued but unfiled cause of action. Here, the clock was not running. It had not yet started. There was nothing for the statute to toll.” Martin, 43 Kan.App.2d at 600, 228 P.3d 1092.

The court held that Naik and the Hospital were not entitled to summary judgment on either claim. Based on its ruling, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. Martin, 43 Kan.App.2d at 605, 228 P.3d 1092.

Naik and the Hospital filed petitions for review, which this court granted. This court has jurisdiction under K.S.A. 20–3018(b) (petition for review).

[297 Kan. 245]Analysis

In a negligence action, summary judgment is generally proper if the only questions presented are questions of law. Thomas v. Board of Shawnee County Comm'rs, 293 Kan. 208, 220–21, 262 P.3d 336 (2011). Here, the district court granted summary judgment to the defendants by applying legal conclusions regarding the application of the statute of limitations to uncontroverted facts. On appeal to the Court of Appeals, neither party contended there was a genuine issue of material fact that precluded summary judgment, leading the Court of Appeals to consider only issues of law under a de novo or unlimited standard of review. Martin, 43 Kan.App.2d at 593, 228 P.3d 1092.

In supplemental briefs filed after the petition for review was granted, Martin argues there is a question of fact. She now suggests Curley's injury was not reasonably ascertainable until the physician at SMMC told Martin and other family members of the long-lasting effects of Curley's injury. This point in time—the date on which a reasonable person would have ascertained Curley's injury—is the date on which the statute of limitations began to run, at least according to the...

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68 practice notes
  • Mashaney v. Bd. of Indigents' Def. Servs., No. 108,353
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • August 28, 2015
    ...assistance. 276 Kan. 116, Syl. ¶ 2. Accordingly, any legal malpractice claim does not accrue until that point. Cf. Martin v. Naik, 297 Kan. 241, 255, 300 P.3d 625 (2013) ("[B]ecause an anticipatory wrongful death action cannot be brought, an accrual of the action before death would be unrea......
  • Dawson v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 112,925
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 24, 2020
    ...of 'justice.'" However, the reasonable-person standard is objective; it does not vary based on a community's values. See Martin v. Naik, 297 Kan. 241, 245, 300 P.3d 625 (2013); State v. Ta, 296 Kan. 230, 240, 290 P.3d 652 (2012). Further, the fundamental rule governing closing arguments is ......
  • Dawson v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 112,925
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 21, 2020
    ...of ‘justice.’ " However, the reasonable-person standard is objective; it does not vary based on a community's values. See Martin v. Naik , 297 Kan. 241, 245, 300 P.3d 625 (2013) ; State v. Ta , 296 Kan. 230, 240, 290 P.3d 652 (2012). Further, the fundamental rule governing closing arguments......
  • Schreiner v. Hodge, No. 117,034
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • November 9, 2017
    ...does challenge the legal conclusions drawn from the facts. In other words, this case boils down to a question of law. See Martin v. Naik, 297 Kan. 241, 246, 300 P.3d 625 (2013).The police receive two phone calls, a month apart, about the same truck.In May 2014, the Mission, Kansas, police r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
67 cases
  • Mashaney v. Bd. of Indigents' Def. Servs., No. 108,353
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • August 28, 2015
    ...assistance. 276 Kan. 116, Syl. ¶ 2. Accordingly, any legal malpractice claim does not accrue until that point. Cf. Martin v. Naik, 297 Kan. 241, 255, 300 P.3d 625 (2013) ("[B]ecause an anticipatory wrongful death action cannot be brought, an accrual of the action before death would be unrea......
  • Dawson v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 112,925
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 24, 2020
    ...of 'justice.'" However, the reasonable-person standard is objective; it does not vary based on a community's values. See Martin v. Naik, 297 Kan. 241, 245, 300 P.3d 625 (2013); State v. Ta, 296 Kan. 230, 240, 290 P.3d 652 (2012). Further, the fundamental rule governing closing arguments is ......
  • Dawson v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 112,925
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 21, 2020
    ...of ‘justice.’ " However, the reasonable-person standard is objective; it does not vary based on a community's values. See Martin v. Naik , 297 Kan. 241, 245, 300 P.3d 625 (2013) ; State v. Ta , 296 Kan. 230, 240, 290 P.3d 652 (2012). Further, the fundamental rule governing closing arguments......
  • Schreiner v. Hodge, No. 117,034
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • November 9, 2017
    ...does challenge the legal conclusions drawn from the facts. In other words, this case boils down to a question of law. See Martin v. Naik, 297 Kan. 241, 246, 300 P.3d 625 (2013).The police receive two phone calls, a month apart, about the same truck.In May 2014, the Mission, Kansas, police r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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