a required element of the discovery rule. DeMartino v. Albert Einstein Medical Center, 313 Pa. Super. 492, 460 A.2d 295 (1983).
We conclude therefore, that the two year statute of limitations under the discovery rule began to run in January 1978 on all immediate consequences of the movement of the IUD, the puncture of the vaginal wall, and the resultant infection and treatment. Action on all these matters would be barred after January 30, 1980.
However, we find a second cause of action that is not so barred.
According to the plaintiff's affidavit she began developing new internal symptoms in November 1979, and for the next eleven months she had several hospital admissions under the care of a variety of medical specialists, including an internist, two general surgeons, a gastric specialist, and others. The general diagnosis for these admissions included chronic hepatitis, cause unknown, and chronic colocystitis. A colon resection was performed.
These medical episodes from November 1979 through October 1980 appear to be different from those experienced from December 1977 through July 1978. Whether or not they are related to the IUD appear to be contested issues of fact. There is no evidence in this record that supports any conclusion that the uterine problems of 1977 and 1978 and the gastric problems of late 1979 and 1980 were the product of the same chain of causation. Plaintiff may contend that the two conditions were caused independently by the same IUD.
Plaintiff is not entitled to a new limitations period to begin with the appearance of each new injury or complication. The limitations period begins to run when damage is inflicted which is "physically objective and ascertainable." Ragan v. Steen, 229 Pa.Super. 515, 520, 331 A.2d 724 (1974). Although the limitations period is tolled until an action is discoverable, once that occurs and the cause of action has become a reality, the injured party may not then sleep on that cause of action until further injuries appear. An injured party "may not unduly postpone an action until the full extent of his damage is ascertained." Shadle v. Pearce, 287 Pa.Super. 436, 441, 430 A.2d 683 (1981); Caldwell v. A.H. Robins Co., 577 F. Supp. 796 (W.D. Pa. 1984), aff'd, 735 F.2d 1347 (3d Cir. 1984). While Shadle noted a different result for a separate and distinct injury, p. 441, n.3, in Caldwell we noted at p. 798, f.n.1, that we "conclude[d] that plaintiff's alleged injuries are sufficiently similar, all arising with plaintiff's reproduction organs, that they do not justify any exception to the holding described above." However, the nature of the complaints, diagnoses, and treatments between the two episodes in the present case differ.
It is still a genuine issue of material fact whether plaintiff knew that she might have a claim against the manufacturer of the IUD for her illness of November 1979 to October 1980. Her suit was filed June 15, 1982, and the statute would bar injuries or disease manifested before June 15, 1980, unless the causal element were discovered later. There is no evidence in this record to establish that the plaintiff knew or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known that the symptoms which she began to suffer in November 1979 and which caused her to be hospitalized for substantial periods through October 1980 were related to the IUD. While both diseases may be attributable to the same exposure, they are separate and distinct. There is nothing here to show that the second disease could be a reasonably certain consequence of the first such as to allow damages for future consequences in a timely suit for the first injury, or in the alternative to deny recovery on the second illness because of an award in a suit on the first illness.
Because plaintiff has set forth distinct and separable causes of action, suit on the second illness would not be barred by the statute of limitations. See, Wilson v. Johns-Manville Sales Corp., 221 U.S. App. D.C. 337, 684 F.2d 111 (D.C. Cir. 1982); Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566 (3d Cir. 1976). A genuine issue of material fact exists.
An appropriate order will be entered.
AND NOW this 17 day of October, 1984, having reviewed defendant's motion for summary judgment and plaintiffs' response thereto and the supporting evidentiary material,
IT IS ORDERED that in the trial of the within action claims for damages for wife-plaintiff's illness during 1977 and 1978 are barred by the statute of limitations, but that the action may proceed on the claims for illness and disability beginning November 1979 and thereafter in accordance with Fed.R.Civ. P. 56(d).
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