Sanchez v. United States, No. 13-1333 (1st Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Rafaela Sanchez died due to hemorrhaging after giving birth to her third child. Plaintiff, Sanchez’s husband, sued Rafaela’s doctors for medical malpractice. Plaintiff’s lawyers waited more than two years before presenting Plaintiff’s claim. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff and his counsel, the doctors were deemed to be federal employees, against whom claims are barred unless brought within the two-year limitations period allowed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, as opposed to the three-year period allowed for medical malpractice claims in Massachusetts. The United States removed the case to federal court and substituted itself as the defendant. The district court dismissed the suit, finding it time-barred. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that although the doctors’ status as federal employees was not readily apparent to one who undertook no such investigation, based on a prior controlling holding in Gonzalez v. United States, the district court did not err in dismissing the lawsuit.