Employee-Doctor’s Conduct That Is Not Barred by Limitations May Be Basis for Medical Practice’s Vicarious Liability

A man went to his doctor’s office, a medical practice employing various healthcare providers, complaining of chest pain and swollen extremities. The nurse practitioner who examined him told him to go home.  Two days later he died at home of cardiac arrest. 


The man’s widow, individually and as the administratrix of his estate, sued the medical practice for medical malpractice and wrongful death on the theory that it was vicariously liable for the acts of the nurse practitioner and a doctor who was involved in the man’s care. The practice moved for summary judgment. The trial court allowed the case to proceed with regard to the practice’s vicarious liability for the nurse practitioner’s acts, but not the doctor’s conduct. The court reasoned that all claims related to the doctor where barred by the statute of limitations. 


However, the Ohio Court of Appeals held that the claims against the doctor were not barred by the statute of limitations and, thus, the man’s widow should have been allowed to pursue claims against the medical practice based on vicarious liability for the doctor’s acts. This was not harmless error because the jury was not allowed to assign any liability to the doctor, and the man’s widow may wish to present additional evidence related to the doctor’s liability.


See: Scott v. McCluskey, 2012 WL 2023342 (Ohio App. 9 Dist., June 6, 2012) (not designated for publication).