OAK RIDGE — Even if a special room for X-rays and CT scans at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge’s new emergency room area lacked a lead-lined section in one wall, complaints by hospital workers alleging excessive radiation exposure were made too late.
The three-judge Tennessee Court of Appeals in a recent filing unanimously upheld the trial court’s earlier ruling tossing out the five lawsuits.
The complaints were filed in January 2014 by five medical technologists, including two who were pregnant at the time. They alleged they were exposed to radiation from CT scans and X-rays that leaked out of the room through the missing lead-lined section., causing health concerns.
The hospital’s new emergency room and X-ray room were declared “substantially complete” by late March 2006.
A state law says lawsuits over construction defects must be made within four years of “substantial completion.” The law is called the “statute of repose.”
“The radiology facilities, while perhaps defective, were used for their intended purpose and were substantially complete,” the appeals court ruled. “The construction statute of repose expired and serves to defeat Plaintiffs’ claims.”
Any legal move to argue the time limit didn’t apply because the missing lead lining was concealed wouldn’t pass muster, said Anderson County Circuit Court Judge Don Elledge, who dismissed the cases on a summary judgment motion.
The missing lead-lined wall was discovered in 2013 after X-rays stored next to the CT scan room “became cloudy from scatter radiation,” Clinton attorney John Agee, who filed the complaints, said at the time the lawsuits were filed.
The workers’ fears were confirmed when they successfully took an X-ray through the wall, Agee said.