Articles Posted in Indiana Supreme Court

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Mary Manley was involved in a head-on automobile collision with Kimberly Zehr. Manley later learned that Zehr had several medical conditions that, combined with medications she had been prescribed by her physician. Dr. Ryan Sherer, may have contributed to the accident. Manley and her husband (Plaintiffs) later filed a proposed complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance against Dr. Sherer and his medical group (Defendants) alleging medical negligence in failing to warn Zehr not to drive while she was taking her medication. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that Plaintiffs' action was untimely brought under the two-year limitation period set forth in the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) it was indiscernible whether Plaintiffs could have pursued their malpractice claim within the two-year statutory limit, or if not, whether they acted within a reasonable time as required by caselaw; and (2) genuine issues of material fact existed as to the absence of the element of causation necessary to establish liability. Remanded. View "Manley v. Sherer" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sent a proposed medical malpractice complaint to the Indiana Department of insurance without including $7 in required statutory filing and processing fees. Plaintiffs subsequently filed their medical malpractice complaint against Defendants. After the Department discovered the fee omission, it sent Plaintiffs a letter stating that if the mandatory fee was not sent, the complaint would not be considered filed with the Department. Plaintiffs sent a check to the Department the day they received the letter. The Department received the processing fees three days after the statutory period ended. The trial court subsequently granted summary judgment for Defendants, finding Plaintiffs' complaint was not timely filed. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs' proposed complaint was timely filed with the Department. View "Miller v. Dobbs" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a malpractice claim against Dr. Anthony Miller and Achilles Podiatry Group seeking damages for the alleged injuries they received after surgery. The trial was delayed due to Plaintiffs' inability to secure an expert witness until after the discovery deadline. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a notice of a new expert witness. The trial court excluded Plaintiffs' expert witness for violation of discovery deadlines and then dismissed the case, concluding that Plaintiffs could not establish their case without the witness. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the witness exclusion was erroneous, and therefore, the granting of Defendants' motion to dismiss was likewise erroneous. View "Wright v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff's wife died after various physicians failed to diagnose and treat her obstructed bowel. Plaintiff, acting individually and as a personal representative of his wife's estate, filed a medical malpractice complaint against Community Hospitals of Indiana, Inc. (Community). A jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and awarded damages in the amount of $8.5 million. Community subsequently made an oral motion to reduce the jury awarded to $1.23 million - the cap imposed by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act (Act). Plaintiff objected to the reduction of the damage award alleging that the cap was unconstitutional and requesting an evidentiary hearing to develop his constitutional challenges. The trial court denied Plaintiff's request and entered judgment in the amount of $1.25 million. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff forfeited his opportunity to conduct an evidentiary hearing to challenge the constitutionality of the Act. View "Plank v. Cmty. Hosps. of Ind., Inc." on Justia Law

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The day after thirteen-month-old I.A. underwent surgery performed by Defendant, I.A. died. Plaintiff, I.A.'s mother, filed a medical malpractice claim against Defendant. After a jury trial, Defendant was held liable in the amount of $1,165,000. The trial court denied Plaintiff's request for pre-judgment interest. Defendant appealed, raising three allegations of error, and Plaintiff cross-appealed the denial of her request for prejudgment interest. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the court of appeals opinion relating to Defendant's issues but reversed the trial court's decision to deny Defendant prejudgment interest based upon a defective settlement letter, holding (1) Defendant's settlement letter did comply with Ind. Code 34-51-4-6; and (2) the award of prejudgment interest is neither automatic nor required and is left to the discretion of the trial court. Remanded. View "Alsheik v. Guerrero" on Justia Law

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At age four, B.O. was diagnosed with a mild form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia. Subsequently, his parents filed a complaint under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, claiming that the healthcare providers who attended B.O.'s birth were negligent. Shortly before trial, B.O.'s healthcare providers settled for a sum allowing B.O. to seek excess damages from the Indiana Patients Compensation Fund (PCF). B.O.'s parents then filed a petition for excess damages, after which the PCF disclosed five expert witnesses prepared to testify either that B.O. did not have spastic diplegia or that if he did, it did not result from the conduct of the healthcare providers at his birth. The parents then sought partial summary judgment seeking to limit the issue at trial, which the trial court granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the PCF was precluded from disputing the existence or cause of B.O.'s claimed injury under Ind. Code 34-18-15-3(5). View "Robertson v. B.O." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Defendants, a doctor and hospital, for medical malpractice. Defendants filed motions for a preliminary determination requesting that the trial court dismiss the complaint due to Plaintiff's dilatory conduct. The trial court denied the request. The court of appeals (1) determined that the trial court's order was a final judgment, and (2) affirmed the trial court's order as to the hospital but reversed as to the doctor. The Supreme Court granted transfer and dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the trial court's order was not a final appealable judgment because it did not dispose of all claims as to all parties and because the trial court's order did not contain the "magic language" of Ind. R. App. P. 2(H)(2). View "Ramsey v. Moore" on Justia Law

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Following the death of their full-term baby daughter in utero during labor, Plaintiffs brought an action against the hospital, the Plaintiffs' nurse-midwife, and the nurse-midwife's alleged employer for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The trial court granted summary judgment to Defendants. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court granted transfer and reversed the trial court, holding (1) Plaintiffs' claims were not precluded by the Indiana Child Wrongful Death Act; (2) Plaintiffs were not precluded from maintaining an action for emotional distress under the bystander rule; and (3) Plaintiffs' actions were not barred by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. Remanded. View "Spangler v. Bechtel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the executor of a decedent's estate, settled medical malpractice claims against several medical care providers for the decedent's wrongful death. Plaintiff then initiated this action against Defendant, the Indiana Patient's Compensation Fund, for damages that exceeded the $250,000 future value of her settlement with the medical providers pursuant to the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. The trial court awarded Plaintiff the full amount. Defendant appealed, challenging the trial court's ruling that damages under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute (AWDS) included expenses of administration, contingent attorney fees, and loss of services. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that such damages may be sought under the AWDS. View "Ind. Patient's Comp. Fund v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Jacob Gordon's mother sued Howard Community Hospital, alleging it committed medical malpractice while caring for her newborn son. In another count of the complaint, the mother sought separate damages for spoliation, alleging that the hospital had lost certain medical records associated with Gordon's care and that this loss made it impossible for Gordon to pursue a medical malpractice claim against one of his doctors, who was also a defendant. The trial court granted the Gordons partial summary judgment with respect to the third-party spoliation claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and reversed the grant of partial summary judgment, holding that because the Court had so far declined to recognize a count alleging spoliation as representing a separate cause of action, the hospital was entitled to summary judgment on that claim. Remanded. View "Howard Reg'l Health Sys. v. Gordon" on Justia Law