King v. Albemarle Hospital AuthorityAnnotate this Case
The trial court’s appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL) on behalf of a minor removes that minor’s disability of minority and starts the running of the statute of limitations. Therefore, the failure of a court-appointed GAL to pursue the minor’s claim within the statute of limitations bars the claim.
In the instant case, a minor plaintiff, by and through a court-appointed GAL, filed an action against defendant-health providers, alleging that Defendants’ medical negligence led to Plaintiff’s brain injury. The trial court dismissed the claims as time barred. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the plain language of N.C. Gen. Stat. 1-17(b) tolled the limitations period until Plaintiff reached the age of nineteen. The court of appeals agreed and reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the appointment of the GAL removed Plaintiff’s disability of minority, which eliminated the tolling and started the running of the applicable three-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims.