In its opinion filed on February 1, 2016, the Court of Appeals of Indiana (“Appellate Court”) affirmed the trial court’s granting summary judgment in favor of the Indiana medical malpractice plaintiffs, while also affirming the trial court’s denial of the medical malpractice defendants’ motion to supplement their affidavits filed in opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, finding that the defendants’ own affidavits failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to defeat summary judgment because the affidavits did not explain the standard of care and include facts showing how the defendants met that standard.
The Indiana medical malpractice plaintiffs are husband and wife. The defendant doctors had treated the female plaintiff for an eye condition in March 2010 that the plaintiffs alleged was negligent care and resulted in the female plaintiff suffering a permanent injury to the cornea of her left eye that required a corneal transplant.
The Indiana medical malpractice plaintiffs had submitted their Indiana medical malpractice claim for review by a medical review panel, as required by Indiana medical malpractice law, which unanimously found that the defendant doctors had failed to comply with the appropriate standard of care and that their conduct was a factor of the resultant damages to the female plaintiff. The plaintiffs then filed a medical malpractice complaint in court followed by their motion for summary judgment against the defendant doctors, designating as evidence the opinion of the medical review panel. In their response to the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, the defendant doctors designated as expert evidence only their own conclusory affidavits, according to the Appellate Court’s opinion.
A day before the hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, the defendant doctors filed a motion for leave to supplement their response to the summary judgment motion, designating only their own supplemental affidavits in which they supplemented their original affidavits with facts to support their conclusions. After the motion hearing, the trial court issued an order summarily denying the defendant doctors’ motion for leave to supplement their response and granting the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, finding that the defendant doctors’ affidavits were “insufficient to raise or create specific facts that establish a material issue of fact for trial[.]”
The Appellate Court affirmed, stating that the defendant doctors cited no facts in their affidavits that would support that they met the standard of care or that their conduct did not cause the plaintiffs’ damages but merely restated their denials in their pleadings. The Appellate Court therefore found that the trial court did not err in finding that the defendant doctors’ affidavits do not raise a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment.
With regard to the defendant doctors’ attempt to file supplemental affidavits eighty-one days after the plaintiffs’ reply to the defendant doctors’ response to the summary judgment motion, which was the day before the hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion, the Appellate Court held that the trial court’s denial was not against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before it.
In a footnote to its opinion, the Appellate Court stated, “We leave for another day the issue of whether a defendant doctor’s own affidavit standing alone is sufficient to defeat summary judgment.”
Source Scripture, M.D., et al. v. Roberts, Opinion 49A02-1504-CT-211.
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