Seventh Circuit Holds that State Court Limit on Medical Expert Testimony Does Not Apply to FTCA Claim in Federal Court

Although product liability actions are governed by state tort law, they frequently find their way into federal court on diversity jurisdiction. In such actions, federal law provides the procedural rules and state law provides the rule of decision. Although the distinction between procedure and substance is often clear, it can sometimes be nuanced and unintuitive; for example, statutes of limitations are typically viewed as procedural, whereas statutes of repose are viewed as substantive. In Love v. United States, — F.4th — (7th Cir. 2021), 2021 WL 5119342, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals provides another such illustration of this nuanced distinction and further guidance on the subject in the context of the admissibility of expert opinions.

The Plaintiff in Love brought suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging that a nurse employed by the Veterans Administration negligently failed to order additional tests after receiving the results of a urinalysis. Plaintiff alleged that the lack of testing allowed an infection to go undiagnosed and untreated, leading to a heart attack and extended hospitalization.

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Pennsylvania Appellate Court Rejects Application of the Statute of Repose in Effect in the State Where an Injury Occurred Under Pennsylvania’s Borrowing Statute, But Leaves Open Possible Application Under Substantive Choice of Law Rules

The Pennsylvania Superior Court, the state’s mid-level appellate court, recently held in Kornfeind v. New Werner Holding Co., 2020 PA Super 266, that Pennsylvania’s “borrowing statute” applies only to foreign statutes of limitation and therefore does not require application of a statute of repose enacted in the state where the plaintiff used the product and was injured. But the Court also held that statutes of repose are substantive under Pennsylvania law, and therefore the statute of repose from the state of use and injury may bar the claim in a Pennsylvania court if Pennsylvania’s choice of law rules support application of that state’s law.

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