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GavelThere is a statue of limitation on every civil action in the United States. This refers to a restriction of the number of years from the time an action takes place until it can be prosecuted through the courts. Failure to act in a timely manner cost one family millions of dollars.

For twenty years before her death at the age of 104, copper heiress Huguette Clark lived in a private room at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. When she died in 2011, it appeared that there may not have been any medical reason for her to have been confined to her room.

Her executor filed a lawsuit against the medical center alleging that it had unnecessarily bilked Clark out of millions of dollars due to the confinement and through smarmy friendships. In total, the estate was seeking $95 million from the hospital.

According to The New York Post‘s article, "Hospital doesn't owe Huguette Clark's estate due to loophole," the case has been thrown out because it was not brought within the statute of limitations. It is important to note that this is not a decision on the merits of the case.

Even if the case had not been dismissed because of the statute of limitations, Clark's estate still would have had to prove its case against the hospital. The statute operates to block the estate from getting to argue the case on its merits.

The lesson here is that anytime you think that you have a potential legal action against someone else, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. This is especially true for people administering an estate because they can potentially be held personally liable for mistakes made in the administration.

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Reference: New York Post (August 24, 2015) "Hospital doesn't owe Huguette Clark's estate due to loophole."