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Steven J. Klearman
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Nevada Supreme Court Addresses Equitable Indemnity/Contribution Limitations Period

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The Nevada Supreme Court addressed the applicability of NRS 41A.097, Nevada’s medical malpractice statute of limitations, to equitable indemnity and contribution claims.

In Saylor v. Arcotta, 126 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 9 (March 4, 2010), a taxicab passenger was injured when his cab was in an accident. The passenger died during surgery after being hospitalized for a heart attack two weeks after the taxicab accident.

The passenger’s heirs sued Jack Saylor, the taxicab driver, and the cab company, Deluxe Taxi Cab Service. Saylor and the Deluxe Taxi learned through discovery that medical malpractice may have been the cause of the passenger’s death. Saylor and Deluxe Taxi filed a third-party complaint against the passenger’s treating physicians, respondents Dr. Karen Arcotta, Dr. Muhammad Bhatti, and Dr. Nancy Donahoe, for equitable indemnity and contribution.

The one year statute of limitations for medical malpractice imposed by NRS 41A.097 had already passed. The issues presented to the Court were what limitations period applied to the third-party actions for equitable indemnity and contribution.

Equitable Indemnity

The Court held that "equitable indemnity claims that arise out of medical malpractice allegations are not subject to NRS 41A.097(2)’s limitations period for medical malpractice claims, but are instead subject to NRS 11.190(2)(c)’s limitations period for actions on implied contracts."

Contribution

The Court explained that "a contribution claim arises ‘where a judgment has been entered in an action against two or more tortfeasors for the same . . . wrongful death.’ " Pursuant to NRS 17.285(3), a contribution claim must be filed within 1 year after the judgment has become final by lapse of time for appeal or after appellate review.

Thus, the Court concluded that "once a contribution claim arises, it is subject to a one-year statute of limitations."

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