from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2016-050010
The Honorable Susan M. Brnovich, Judge.
Office of Donald Smith, PLLC, Glendale By Donald H. Smith
Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants
Campbell, Yost, Clare & Norell, PC, Phoenix By Margaret
F. Dean Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Banner Health
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, PA, Phoenix By Vincent
J. Montell, Rita J. Bustos Counsel for Defendants/Appellees
Raj D. and Sevitri Savajiyani
Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Judge Paul J. McMurdie and Judge David D.
Lorenza Kopacz appeals the superior court's grant of
summary judgment, arguing the court erred by rejecting her
contention that her temporary inability to consider bringing
a medical malpractice claim tolled the statute of
limitations. For the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On December 20, 2013, Kopacz, then 80 years old, went to the
emergency room at Banner Health, complaining of chest
heaviness and shortness of breath. The next day, Dr. Raj
Savajiyani examined her and told her she needed a cardiac
catheterization, which he performed on December 23 by
accessing her right femoral artery and vein through an
incision in her right groin.
The hospital discharged Kopacz on December 25. A day later, a
nurse examined Kopacz at her home and discovered that
subcutaneous bleeding and swelling had developed around the
incision site. The area was soft and not tender to the touch,
but the nurse told Kopacz and her daughter to watch the area
and call if the symptoms worsened. The next morning, December
27, the same nurse examined Kopacz at her home and found she
was in severe pain in her hip and groin; the area around the
incision had become hard and painful to the touch, with
severe subcutaneous bleeding and swelling.
An ambulance took Kopacz back to Banner, where a scan showed
a large hematoma in her groin, thigh and buttock area and
indicated a possible pseudoaneurysm in her femoral artery. A
surgeon recommended surgery, but before the surgery could
commence, Kopacz began suffering additional complications,
including cardiogenic shock and atrial fibrillation, and she
was admitted to intensive care. She underwent emergency
surgery early the next morning to relieve the complications
from the hematoma that had developed after the
Kopacz remained hospitalized until January 8, 2014, when she
was released to a rehabilitation center. She continued to
receive extensive wound care there until January 20, when she
was readmitted to Banner with severe sepsis and hypotension.
She was discharged from the hospital on February 1, but
continued to have significant pain, and returned to the
hospital once again for five days in late February when she
experienced pressure in her chest. Her medical condition
finally stabilized between March and July 2014.
On January 21, 2016, Kopacz and her spouse filed suit against
Banner and Savajiyani and his spouse, alleging medical
malpractice arising out of her medical treatment on December
21 and 23, 2013. The defendants moved for summary judgment,
arguing that the two-year statute of limitations applicable
to Kopacz's claim under Arizona Revised Statutes
("A.R.S.") section 12-542(1) (2018) had
expired. In her response and at oral argument on
the motion, Kopacz argued defendants breached the applicable
standard of care by failing to obtain her informed consent
for the cardiac catheterization. The superior court granted
the motion, finding that "the claim accrued no later
than December 28, 2013," and therefore was time-barred.
Kopacz timely appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to
Article 6, Section 9, of the Arizona Constitution, and A.R.S.