OPINION OF THE COURT
ADAMS, Circuit Judge.
After trial, but prior to the presentation of the case to the jury, the district court in this diversity case granted defendants' motion for a directed verdict on the ground that Ohio law barred recovery. Because we are persuaded by a careful review of the Ohio decisional law, as well as other relevant sources, that the Supreme Court of Ohio would not construe its statute of limitations so as to preclude recovery in this case, we reverse.
James and Sondra McKenna brought this suit for negligence, misrepresentation, and products liability against Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation (Ortho). The plaintiffs charged that Mrs. McKenna suffered severe personal injury and permanent disability as a result of ingesting Ortho-Novum, an oral contraceptive manufactured and marketed by Ortho. Following the birth of the McKennas' second child, Mrs. McKenna began using Ortho-Novum in January 1965, after receiving assurances both from Ortho's published brochure and from her personal physician, that the drug was safe and posed no serious risks. In 1967, Mrs. McKenna developed severe headaches and also experienced two attacks of transient ischemia. While hospitalized in 1969 for a stomach ailment involving vessel wall damage, Mrs. McKenna was told that she had high blood pressure, which was characterized as hypertension. In June 1969, Mrs. McKenna ceased using the oral contraceptives. Three years later, in March 1972, she suffered a catastrophic cerebrovascular stroke that left her severely and permanently paralyzed.
Prior to trial, the district court denied Ortho's motion for summary judgment on the ground that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the McKennas knew, or reasonably should have known, more than two years prior to the commencement of the suit, that Mrs. McKenna's injuries resulted from the ingestion of Ortho-Novum. During the four weeks of jury trial, the McKennas introduced expert witnesses who testified that the cerebrovascular stroke was the ultimate result of either vessel-wall damage or high blood pressure, and that both of these conditions, as well as the headaches and transient ischemia attacks, were caused by Mrs. McKenna's ingestion of Ortho-Novum. At the close of trial, but prior to submission of the case to the jury, the district court granted Ortho's motion for a directed verdict on the ground that the action was barred under Ohio's statute of limitations. The district court concluded that the Ohio statute began to run, at the latest, in 1969 when Mrs. McKenna developed high blood pressure, and that the cause of action was accordingly barred because it was filed more than two years after that time. It is this conclusion that we review here.
Although Pennsylvania courts ordinarily apply the statute of limitations of the forum state,
The district court, in granting Ortho's motion for a directed verdict, reasoned that the Pennsylvania statute borrowed not only Ohio's two-year limitations period, but also Ohio's law governing the determination when the cause of action arises. In their appeal, the McKennas contend that this was
The McKennas premise their argument on this Court's prior decision in Mack Trucks, Inc. v. Bendix-Westinghouse Automotive Air Brake Company.
Mack Trucks' application of the Pennsylvania "borrowing statute," the McKennas claim, depended upon the ascertainment of where the cause of action arose, which in turn was based on the prior determination of when it accrued. In support of this interpretation, the McKennas rely on Prince v. Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania,
The crux of the justification offered for this construction of Mack Trucks is the assertion that we determined when the cause of action arose in that case by references to Pennsylvania law. But, as the most recent decision addressing this issue points out, "Mack Trucks relied not only on Pennsylvania cases but also on cases from other jurisdictions."
We are persuaded, rather, that the apparent purpose of the Pennsylvania "borrowing statute" requires us to look to the law of the state where the cause of action arose to determine not only the prescribed period of limitations but also the point at which the statute begins to run. By its terms, the "borrowing statute" bars a plaintiff from suing in Pennsylvania "when [the] cause of action has been fully barred by the laws of the state . . . in which it arose . . .." In our view, the essential question posed under the "borrowing statute" is whether the action in question is precluded by the laws of the state in which it accrued, and the answer to that question also must be based on the law of the state in which the claim arose. To do otherwise might well revive an action which is "fully barred by the laws" of another state. Accordingly, because the McKennas' cause of action arose in Ohio, we must look to Ohio law to determine when Ohio's statute of limitations commenced to run. And the question for decision, then, is whether Ohio's statute of limitations commenced to run prior to the date Mrs. McKenna knew,
Given that Ohio law governs the question for decision, the task remains to determine what the pertinent Ohio law is and then to apply it to this controversy. The question of how a federal court is to ascertain and apply state decisional law to a particular case has provoked considerable comment from courts and commentators alike.
In those few instances in which the highest state court has recently spoken to the precise question at issue in a particular setting, the duty of the federal court to determine and apply state law is easily met. After all, "[t]he State's highest court is the best authority on its own law."
An accurate forecast of Ohio's law, as it would be expressed by its highest court, requires an examination of all relevant sources of that state's law in order to isolate those factors that would inform its decision. The primary source that must be analyzed of course, is the decisional law of the Ohio Supreme Court. In the absence of authority directly on point, decisions by that court in analogous cases provide useful indications of the court's probable disposition of a particular question of law. It is important to note, however, that our prediction "cannot be the product of a mere recitation of previously decided cases."
Considered dicta by the state's highest court may also provide a federal court with reliable indicia of how the state tribunal might rule on a particular question.
In sum, a federal court attempting to forecast state law must consider relevant state precedents, analogous decisions, considered dicta, scholarly works, and any other reliable data tending convincingly to show how the highest court in the state would decide the issue at hand. The rule of Erie calls on us to apply state law and not, as the dissent notes, "to participate in an effort to change it"
In support of its conclusion that Ohio's statutes of limitation bar the McKennas' actions, the district court relied, as does the dissent here, primarily on Wyler v. Tripi,
The "termination of treatment" concept was developed very early in Ohio law
It was this kind of issue with which the Ohio Supreme Court was confronted in Wyler. The plaintiff there alleged that improper treatment by her physician ultimately resulted in the manifestation of asceptic necrosis, necessitating the replacement of her hip and the subsequent removal of her leg. Because the plaintiff failed to discover the alleged negligence within a year after she left the care of her physician, application of either the traditional rule or the "termination of treatment" exception would not prevent what the Wyler majority itself termed "the unconscionable result that the injured party's right to recovery can be barred by the statute of limitations before [s]he is even aware of its existence."
Although the court's examination of the cases persuaded it that "there is much to recommend the adoption of the discovery rule,"
Notwithstanding this extensive pronouncement of the court's position, this same court during the following year employed the discovery rule in Melnyk v.
Although the Melnyk court took great pains, as does the dissent in this case, to distinguish Melnyk from Wyler on the ground that the former did not involve the "problems faced in the defense of a `stale' claim for medical malpractice,"
Melnyk's implicit rejection of the Wyler rationale—that only the state legislature may properly decide whether to apply the discovery rule—appears well justified. As evidence of the alleged intent of the legislature to eschew the discovery rule, Wyler referred to the legislature's failure to enact legislation modifying the court's prior decisions that interpreted the statute of limitations for medical malpractice.
It is claimed, nonetheless, that "Melnyk does not overrule Wyler," but "merely carves out a very specific and narrow exception"
In our view, the Ohio Supreme Court's decision in Melnyk not only abandoned the sole justification proffered for its opposition in Wyler to the adoption of the discovery rule, but also manifested a recognition that this approach alone avoids the harsh and inequitable results of applying the traditional rule in such cases. "Certainly a federal court sitting in diversity should not mechanically follow precedent and blindly apply principles of stare decisis when it appears that the corresponding state court would adjust its common law to meet changing conditions."
The task of a federal court sitting in diversity is often difficult, for it must forsake its own expertise and assume that of the foreign state. Required as we are to predict how the Ohio Supreme Court would decide the present case, however, we believe that the Court would hold that the applicable statutes of limitation in this case were tolled until the McKennas knew, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the cause of Mrs. McKenna's injuries. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the district court, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
SUPPLEMENTAL OPINION SUR THE DENIAL OF THE PETITION FOR REHEARING
ADAMS, Circuit Judge.
Shortly after the opinions in this matter were filed, Counsel for Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation brought to the attention of the Court the fact that the Governor of Ohio on March 13, 1980, signed into law a bill amending § 2305.10 of the Ohio Rev. Code. While that section still states, as before, that "[a]n action for bodily injury or injuring personal property shall be brought within two years after the cause thereof arose," the amendment now provides further that:
Relying primarily on this amendment, Ortho submitted a petition for rehearing claiming that this provision removes the basis for our decision that "the Ohio Supreme Court would extend the discovery rule set forth in Melnyk v. Cleveland Clinic, 32 Ohio St.2d 198, 290 N.E.2d 916 (1972) to include the type of personal injury action present here." (Majority opinion typescript at 666-667). The panel requested the Mc-Kennas to file an answer to Ortho's petition. After reviewing the parties' briefs in light of the amendment to § 2305.10, we adhere to our original position.
Prior to the amendment in question, § 2305.10 required that an action for bodily injury "shall be brought within two years after the cause thereof arose." Regarding the question when a cause of action arises, however the statute was silent. In amending this provision, the legislature specifically stipulated that a cause of action for bodily injury caused by exposure to asbestos or to chromium arises upon the date on which the plaintiff is informed or reasonably should have become aware that he was injured by the exposure.
Ortho argues that this amendment represents a clear legislative pronouncement that the "Ohio courts are to apply a discovery rule in the two enumerated categories of cases and none other." Invoking the precept of expressio unius est exclusio alterius, Ortho relies on 50 Ohio Jurisprudence 2d § 188 to support its contention that in Ohio the specific enumeration by the legislature of items in a statute implies the exclusion of others. Ortho then concludes, in effect, that the legislature, in specifically postponing the time when a cause of action arises in cases involving injury resulting from asbestos or chromium, thereby precluded application of the discovery rule in all other cases.
As the section immediately following that relied on by Ortho points out, however, "[t]he maxim `expressio unius est exclusio alterius' is not of universal application and caution should be exercised in its use," id. § 189 at 166-67. In our view, the cautious and more reasonable construction of the amendment, a well as the one we believe the Ohio Supreme Court would embrace, is that it was not meant to preclude judicial adoption of the discovery rule in appropriate circumstances. Adoption of the contrary
Even if the amendment to § 2305.10 does—by indicating specifically when a cause of action arises in cases of asbestos or chromium poisoning—effectively establish just when a cause of action must arise in all other cases, however, that would not affect our decision here. For we accepted the district court's determination that the McKennas' causes of action arose at the time consequential injury resulted from Mrs. McKenna's ingestion of Ortho-Novum. Nevertheless, we held that the Ohio Supreme Court would decide that the applicable statutes of limitation were tolled until the McKenna's knew, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the cause of Mrs. McKenna's injuries. In so doing, we expressly followed the distinction drawn by the Ohio Supreme Court in Melnyk between the question when a cause of action arises and the determination whether the statute of limitations may, for some reason, be tolled on such action. Since the amendment at issue, even if it implicates the question when a cause of action for bodily injury from birth control pills arises, does not affect the determination whether the statute of limitations respecting that action may be tolled, we adhere to our prior opinion.
Judge Hunter joins in this opinion.
A. LEON HIGGINBOTHAM, Jr., Circuit Judge, dissenting.
With all due respect to my colleagues, I believe that they err in their continuing adherence to their view on the roles of Ohio's legislative and judicial branches in the alteration of Ohio's statute of limitations. As I indicated earlier, it is my belief that the Ohio courts have in the past and will in the future adhere to the view that "statutes of limitation are a legislative prerogative and their operation and effect are based upon important legislative policy." Wetzel v. Weyant, 41 Ohio St.2d 135, 323 N.E.2d 711, 713 (1975).
As is noted by the majority, the Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation brought to the attention of this court legislation which amends Ohio's statute of limitations, § 2305.10 Ohio Rev.Code, to include a discovery period for two types of injury, those caused "by exposure to asbestos or to chromium." This legislation is irreconcilable with the panel's rationale. It clearly evidences an intention of the Ohio legislature to reject a general discovery rule that would encompass the plaintiffs' suit and to continue their traditional role in the area of statutes of limitation.
I agree with the majority that the Ohio Supreme Court would not blindly follow the rule of expressio unius est exclusio alterius; however, I believe that it would be followed here. First, Wyler v. Tripi, 25 Ohio St.2d 164, 267 N.E.2d 419 (1971), where Ohio's Supreme Court rejected a general discovery rule, is an implicit application of expressio unius est exclusio alterius. The following passage indicates that the Ohio Supreme Court would apply the rule, adverse to the plaintiffs, when it reflected upon the new amendment to § 2305.10 of the Ohio Rev. Code.
The majority's argument that legislative prerogative extends only to the issue of "when" a statute starts to run and not to whether it is "tolled" is simply a semantic one. The key issue here is which branch of government decides whether these plaintiffs' suit is timely. Unlike the relationship between many state appellate courts and their respective legislatures, the Ohio courts have more frequently deferred to the Ohio General Assembly in cases of this type. On this record I believe they would also defer to the Ohio legislature and so should the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Thus, I would grant the petition for rehearing and affirm the decision of the lower court.
A. LEON HIGGINBOTHAM, Jr., Circuit Judge, dissenting.
Although I am as moved as my colleagues are by the alleged tragic effects from Mrs. McKenna's ingestion of appellee's birth control pills and while I am as convinced as they are that the discovery rule is a humane and desirable component of medical malpractice law,
With respect, I submit that the majority disregards Ohio's current (though archaic) doctrine and announces a rule of law that Ohio should adopt. In 1971 the Ohio Supreme Court firmly and resolutely rejected the discovery rule. Wyler v. Tripi, 25 Ohio St.2d 164, 267 N.E.2d 419 (1971). Because I conclude that the Ohio Supreme Court would adhere to the Wyler v. Tripi decision, I must dissent.
Ohio courts have long held that the plaintiff's inability to discover the tortious act of the defendant has no relevance to the running of the applicable statute of limitations. E. g., Kerns v. Schoonmaker, 4 Ohio 331 (1831) (negligent acts of justice of the peace); 34 Ohio Jurisprudence 2d 536. This doctrine was reaffirmed by the Ohio Supreme Court in Wyler v. Tripi in 1971 and applied to medical malpractice actions. In Wyler v. Tripi, the court rejected an explicit request of the plaintiff to overrule that harsh precedent. In declining the invitation, the court recognized that its action could "lead to the unconscionable result that [an] injured party's right to recovery [would] be barred by the statute of limitations before he is even aware of its existence." 267 N.E.2d at 421. The court relied neither on a policy justification for a short
Id. at 423.
In spite of this explicit statement the majority declines to follow Wyler. It argues that the Wyler rationale would be abandoned in a 1980 decision of the Ohio Supreme Court and thus it feels free to include the discovery rule in its decision. I do not agree. None of the materials the majority cites persuades me that an abandonment of the Wyler rationale is in the wind, nor have I unearthed any materials that foretell such an event.
The primary source of the majority's view is Melnyk v. The Cleveland Clinic, 32 Ohio St.2d 198, 290 N.E.2d 916 (1972), a decision of the Ohio Supreme Court, decided one year after Wyler. In an opinion by Justice Herbert, who also wrote the Wyler opinion, the court stated:
290 N.E.2d at 918.
Melnyk does not overrule Wyler; it merely carves out a very specific and narrow exception: when surgical instruments are left in a patient's body a discovery period tolls the running of the statute of limitations. The Melnyk court did not "abando[n] the rationale" of Wyler when it created this exception. Majority Opinion Typescript, at 666. The court held that the case before it did not disturb the legislative judgment. Justice Herbert noted that the limitations period in most malpractice cases reflected a balancing of the interests of physicians and patients and that the Ohio legislature had struck the balance in favor of physicians because of
The following language from the beginning of the Melnyk opinion further suggests the court was reaffirming the legislature's authority in this area.
Id. at 917 (footnotes omitted).
The validity of the Wyler rationale is underscored by a decision of the Ohio Supreme Court five years later, Amer v. Akron City Hospital, 47 Ohio St.2d 85, 351 N.E.2d 479 (1976). There the court deferred to the legislative judgment on statutes of limitations. In Amer a husband brought an action for loss of consortium because of an alleged medical malpractice upon his wife. The court held that the applicable statute of limitations "is not tolled until termination of the physician-patient relationship." 351 N.E.2d at 480. (quotation is from the court's syllabus) (emphasis added).
The Amer decision was rendered over the dissent of Justice Herbert, the author of the Wyler and Melnyk opinions. Justice Celebrezze also dissented and argued that the statute of limitations should not run until the physician-patient relationship terminated. He stated:
351 N.E.2d at 485.
In spite of this plea, he was unable to persuade a majority of the court to reject the legislative decision.
The Amer decision convinces me that the Ohio Supreme Court has not abandoned its decision not to "interfere in the affairs of [its] sister branch [of] government." Melnyk, 290 N.E.2d at 918. Further it shows that whether or not the Oregon courts feel that legislative inaction "is a weak reed upon which to lean," Berry v. Braner, 245 Or. 307, 421 P.2d 996, 998 (1966), quoted in Majority Opinion Typescript, at 665, the Ohio Supreme Court has chosen to lean on it.
Finally, I am convinced that the majority reading of the Melnyk decision is incorrect
The instant case reflects the inherent disadvantage of a plaintiff making the tactical decision to litigate a diversity case in a federal court
For the reasons expressed above I respectfully dissent.
This provision was replaced by a similar provision which provides that:
42 Pa.Const.Stat.Ann. § 5521 (eff. June 27, 1978).
Section 39 remains determinative in this action, because of a savings clause which provides:
Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 586, No. 142, § 25(b), reprinted in 42 Pa.Cons.Stat.Ann. § 5521 note.
The pertinent statute for James McKenna's derivative claim is Ohio Rev.Code Ann. § 2305.09 (Page 1954), which provides in part:
It is regrettable that Ohio has not yet established a certification procedure that would enable this Court to obtain a definitive answer to the crucial question in this case from the Ohio Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court has expressed its approval of such a procedure. Lehman Bros. v. Schein, 416 U.S. 386, 390-91, 394-95, 94 S.Ct. 1741, 1743-44, 1745-46, 40 L.Ed.2d 215 (1974).
The Ohio Supreme Court's consideration of the application of the "discovery rule" to statutes of limitations thus far has occurred solely in the context of actions for medical malpractice involving Ohio Rev.Code Ann. § 2305.-11 (Page 1954), rather than in the context of personal injury negligence actions under Ohio Rev.Code Ann. 2305.10 (Page 1954). The Ohio Supreme Court has noted, however, that the limitation-of-action question "obtains, in principle, irrespective of whether the case is treated as belonging under R.C. 2305.10 or under R.C. 2305.11." Melnyk v. Cleveland Clinic, 32 Ohio St.2d 198, 201 n. 1, 290 N.E.2d 916, 917 n. 1 (1973).
In the present case, the district court determined that consequential injury or damage resulting from Mrs. McKenna's ingestion of Ortho-Novum manifested itself, at the latest, in 1969 when Mrs. McKenna developed hypertension. Although the classification of this development, rather than the occurrence of Mrs. McKenna's transient ischemia attacks or excruciating headaches or, for that matter, the occurrence of the cerebrovascular stroke in 1972, as the first manifestation of consequential injury or damage seems somewhat arbitrary, it nonetheless appears consistent with the applicable principles of Ohio law.
Moreover, without deciding the issue the court in Melnyk suggested that as a result of an amendment to the Ohio Constitution, Ohio's statutes of limitation may now have "become the sole demesne of the [Ohio Supreme] Court." 32 Ohio St.2d at 200 n. 3, 290 N.E.2d at 917 n. 3. As amended, Article IV, Section 5(B) of the Ohio Constitution now provides in part: "The supreme court shall prescribe rules governing practice and procedure in all courts of the state, which rules shall not abridge, enlarge or modify any substantive rights."
267 N.E.2d at 423.
Here, unlike Huddell, there is recent viable Ohio precedent. But we have been asked to predict that such recent precedent will be overruled.