… “We summarize the undisputed record facts. During her pregnancy with the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s mother took the prescription drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) to prevent a threatened miscarriage. The plaintiff was born on April 14, 1948. In 1969 the plaintiff underwent an operation for a malignant vaginal tumor, during which a colostomy was performed as well as a radical hysterectomy. The complaint in this action was filed approximately fourteen years later on March 23, 1983. The question is whether, on the summary judgment record, there is a dispute of material fact as to whether the three-year statute of limitations had run before this action was commenced.
BOWEN v. ELI LILLY & CO., Leagle, 1990612408Mass204_1595, August 6, 1990.
This court has recognized the unfairness of a rule that holds that the statute of limitations has run even before a plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known that she may have been harmed by the conduct of another. We, therefore, have developed (in the absence of a governing statute) a discovery rule for the purpose of determining when a cause of action accrues, and thus when the statute of limitations starts to run. This rule prescribes as crucial the date when a plaintiff discovers, or any earlier date when she should reasonably have discovered, that she has been harmed or may have been harmed by the defendant’s conduct.” …
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