Plaintiff’s claims barred by statute of limitations and immunity provisions of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act.
The defense prevailed on preliminary objections in Philadelphia County as the court found that the case involved a medical malpractice action involving the plaintiff’s allegations of an alleged assault by three patients while the plaintiff was a patient at a behavioral health hospital. In the complaint, the plaintiff pleaded ordinary negligence. Preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer were filed by the defendant, raising immunity under the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act since there was no claim of gross negligence. After the preliminary objections were filed, the plaintiff attempted to cure the defect in the original pleading by filing an amended complaint, which added allegations of gross negligence and additional facts, in an attempt to support the claim of gross negligence. We again filed preliminary objections, arguing that the allegation of gross negligence was a new cause of action that was now barred by the statute of limitations. Since the amended complaint was filed more than two years after the event at issue and raised a new claim, the applicable two-year statute of limitations barred the claim. We also argued that the amended complaint failed to provide any factual support for gross negligence or willful misconduct and, therefore, the hospital was immune from suit. Plaintiff’s counsel did not file a response in opposition. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas agreed that the new claim was barred by the statute of limitations and the immunity provisions of the Mental Health Procedures Act, and dismissed the case with prejudice.