The lawsuit filed against Graham Regional Medical Center by Graham resident John Russell was thrown out in district court Tuesday during a hearing that lasted about 20 minutes.

According to the order of dismissal, “After considering the foregoing and arguments of the counsel, the Court grants Defendants’ Plea to the Jurisdiction and dismisses this case for lack of jurisdiction.”

The original lawsuit was filed back in January by plaintiff Russell. In the suit, Russell stated that after a surgery performed on him at GRMC, a surgical towel was left inside his abdomen. The procedure was performed in August of 2009, but he did not begin experiencing problems until August of 2013. He went to another doctor and x-rays confirmed the presence of the object. Russell then underwent surgery in Wichita Falls a few weeks later to have the towel removed.

James Stouffer, the Fort Worth attorney representing GRMC, said that the motion to dismiss the case was within a narrow principal under the Texas Tort Claims Act, which has a strict requirement stating that in order for a person to pursue a claim against an entity such as GRMC, that person must provide notice to the entity within six months of the episode leading to the claim.

“Mr. Russell didn’t do that, and the statute is clear on that point,” Stouffer said. “There have been cases reported in the law in Texas that the requirement is jurisdictional, meaning that if it’s not met, legally the court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case.”

District Judge Stephen Bristow dismissed the case based on that legal principal, Stouffer said.

Russell’s attorneys were not available for comment as of press time, but Stouffer said that during the hearing, the plaintiff’s counsel asked the court to find an exception to the statute within the Texas Tort Claims Act, presenting a theory called “a continuing tort.”

Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.