D.J.S.-W., a minor

The plaintiff was injured during birth. She was born at Sharon Regional Health center under the care of Dr. John Gallagher. Her family retained counsel to pursue a tort claim against the hospital. The attorney wanted to wait to learn more about the injury and how it developed, and he intended to rely on 18 Pa.C.S. § 5533(b)(1), which tolls a minor plaintiff’s action until she turns 18. But it turns out the doctor was employed by Primary Health Network, a federal entity that helps make sure under served communities have access to medical care. As such, he was covered by the Federal Tort Claims Act coverage and any action against the doctor must be made pursuant to that act and that act does not have a corollary to Pennsylvania’s Section 5533(b)(1). So the plaintiff argued that she should benefit from equitable tolling because she did not know the doctor was acting as a federal employee. The 3rd Circuit rejected that argument, holding that the plaintiff had not been diligently pursuing her rights and no extraordinary circumstances stood in her way.

D.J.S.-W.-a-minor