Indiana Appellate Court Rules Estate’s Medical Malpractice Claim Filed Too Late

Court Rules Estate’s Medical Malpractice Claim Filed Too Late: The Court of Appeals of Indiana (“Indiana Appellate Court”) held in its May 11, 2022 Memorandum Decision “because the Estate sued for medical malpractice and possessed the medical records on which it bases its claims against Anonymous Alliance and Anonymous Physician A more than a year before the two-year, occurrence-based statute of limitations had run, the trigger date was well within the statute of limitations. The trial court therefore properly granted summary judgment to Appellees.”

The Underlying Facts

Gerald Morris died on October 1, 2018, after a brief stay at Anonymous Alliance and treatment by Anonymous Physician A. Less than a year later, and after gathering the medical records related to Gerald’s treatment, Faye Morris, as personal representative of Gerald’s Estate (“Estate”), filed a proposed malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance against other medical providers not involved in the appeal. Then, after an expert for one of those defendants claimed Anonymous Physician A misread Gerald’s CT scan, the Estate added Anonymous Alliance and Anonymous Physician A (“Appellees”) as parties to the malpractice complaint on December 10, 2020. But that was more than two years after the alleged malpractice, so the trial court entered summary judgment for Appellees based on the statute of limitations.

The Indiana Appellate Court stated that it is undisputed that when the Estate added Anonymous Alliance and Anonymous Physician A as defendants on December 10, 2020, more than two years had passed since the alleged malpractice—i.e., when Anonymous Physician A read the CT scan on September 30, 2018. Appellees’ summary judgment motions therefore shifted the burden to the Estate to identify a genuine issue of material fact related to a theory that avoids the statute of limitations defense. The Estate’s only argument to sustain its burden was that, even with reasonable diligence, it could not have discovered before September 30, 2020, that Anonymous Physician A allegedly misread Gerald’s CT scan and that this alleged malpractice caused Gerald’s death.

“That argument fails because the Estate had already initiated a lawsuit over a year earlier, on September 12, 2019, alleging malpractice caused Gerald’s death … So the Estate knew of Gerald’s death, it believed medical malpractice caused his death, and it possessed all the medical records on which it bases its claim against Anonymous Alliance and Anonymous Physician A more than a year before the statute of limitations ran … [the Estate argued] it was the Estate’s reasonable reliance on Anonymous Physician A’s alleged misreading of the CT scan which led the Estate to focus on other defendants, and it was only when another defendant pointed to the CT scan that the Estate could have discovered any alleged malpractice on the part of Anonymous Physician A and Anonymous Alliance, along with a connection between that malpractice and Gerald’s death. The problem with this argument is the Estate had long stopped accepting the propriety of Gerald’s medical treatment at face value and was suing for medical malpractice. So this is not like the many cases the Estate cites where the plaintiff had no reason to suspect an injury was connected to negligence until after the statute of limitations ran, or where inquiry into potential malpractice was deflected. The only thing preventing the Estate from completing the same sort of medical records review which a defense expert later undertook was the Estate’s desire to minimize litigation costs.”

Source Morris v. Anonymous Physician A, Court of Appeals Case No. 21A-MI-01903.

If you or a loved one were harmed as a result of medical malpractice in Indiana or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Indiana medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice malpractice case, if appropriate.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, July 30th, 2022 at 5:21 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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