OLYMPIA, Wash. -

Washington's Supreme Court says a Benton County man's medical malpractice lawsuit could proceed, after finding that a state provision barring him from doing so was unconstitutional.

The 7-2 decision Thursday came in the case of Jayrd Schroeder, who sued a radiologist and medical facility in Richland for allegedly failing to detect a medical condition when he was a young child.

The majority of the justices said the trial court erred in dismissing Schroeder's claim on the grounds it was filed after the statute of limitations.

Schroeder's appeal argued that a state law exempting minors from delaying the period of time set by the statute of limitations in medical malpractice claims violated the state constitution. The high court agreed.

Writing the dissenting opinion, Justice James Johnson said the legislative intent was clear and that state had wanted to reduce medical malpractice insurance rates and prevent defendants from defending stale claims.