Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Health | Law
8th Circuit dismisses IHS birth switch lawsuit


Two women who were switched at birth at an Indian Health Service hospital waited too long to sue the federal government, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

Rowena Madrigal and Beverly Bowker were born less than three hours apart on July 27, 1946, at a hospital on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota. DNA tests in 2002 and 2004 confirmed they were raised by each others' biological parents.

The women, along with Bowker's biological father, sued the government for negligence. But the 8th Circuit said a two-year statute of limitations started running when the women first suspected they were switched at birth, not when the DNA tests were conducted.

"The statute of limitations is designed to guard against just the sort of difficulties that would be presented by attempting to litigate this case more than sixty years after the alleged injuries occurred," the opinion stated.

Get the Story:
Lawsuit dismissed for women switched at birth (AP 7/23)
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8th Circuit Decision:
Ryan v. US (July 22, 2008)