Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Indiana Supreme Court
Plank v. Cmty. Hosps. of Ind., Inc.
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
Allen v. Clarian Health Partners, Inc.
Patients Abby Allen and Walter Moore sought medical treatment at Clarian North Hospital, which was owned by Clarian Health Partners. After Allen, who was uninsured and not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, received services, the hospital billed Allen its "chargemaster" rates in accordance with a contract between Allen and Clarian. Patients' class action complaint alleged breach of contract and sought declaratory judgment that the rates the hospital billed its uninsured patients were unreasonable and unenforceable. The trial court granted Clarian's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the issue of reasonableness required resolution by a fact-finder. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that Patients' agreement to pay the hospital for the medical services they received in the context of a contract they formed with Clarian was not indefinite and referred to Clarian's chargemaster. As a result, the Court could not impute a "reasonable" price term into the contract. View "Allen v. Clarian Health Partners, Inc." on Justia Law
Robertson v. B.O.
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
Woodruff ex rel. Legacy Healthcare, Inc. v. Ind. Family & Social Servs. Admin.
After an inspection revealed deplorable health conditions for its residents, an intermediate care facility for the developmentally disabled was decertified for Medicaid reimbursement. As a result, until the State appointed a receiver nine months later, the facility operated without receiving federal or state funds. This case was a common-law claim for expenses the facility laid out in the meantime for the individuals still residing there. The trial court denied the facility restitution for the unpaid months under a theory of quantum meruit, afforded relief under related breach of contract claims, but offset that judgment by the amount the State paid for its receiver. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's ultimate judgment, which resulted in neither party taking anything from the action, holding (1) the facility exhausted its administrative remedies; (2) the facility's quantum meruit claim failed; and (3) the state was entitled to set off the amount owed to the facility on the breach of contract claim against the amount the State paid in operating the receivership of the facility and which the facility then owed. View "Woodruff ex rel. Legacy Healthcare, Inc. v. Ind. Family & Social Servs. Admin." on Justia Law
Ramsey v. Moore
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).
Spangler v. Bechtel
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.
Indiana Spine Gp., PC v. Pilot Travel Ctrs., LLC
Appellant Indiana Spine Group provided medical services to employees of various businesses for injuries the employees sustained arising out of and during the course of their employment. The employers authorized the services and made partial payments. In each case, more than two years after the last payments were made to the injured employee, Appellant filed with the worker's compensation board an application for adjustment of claim seeking the balance of payments. The Board dismissed the applications as untimely. In each case the court of appeals reversed and remanded. At issue on appeal was what limitation period was applicable to a medical provider's claim seeking payment of outstanding bills for authorized treatment to an employer's employee when the Worker's Compensation Act was silent on the question. The Supreme Court reversed the Board, holding (1) the limitation period contained in the general statute of limitation enumerated in Ind. Code 34-11-1-2 controlled; and (2) because Appellant's claim was timely under the statute, the Board erred by dismissing Appellant's application.
Ind. Patient’s Comp. Fund v. Brown
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.
McCabe v. Comm’r, Ind. Dep’t of Ins.
Following the death of his mother, Jeffery McCabe asserted a medical malpractice claim against his mother's medical care providers, who agreed to a settlement sufficient to allow McCabe to petition Indiana Patient's Compensation Fund for additional compensation. McCabe then filed an action pursuant to the Adult Wrongful Death Statute (AWDS), seeking additional recovery from the Fund for, inter alia, medical expenses and attorney fees. The trial granted granted partial summary judgment to the Fund, finding that the AWDS does not allow recovery of attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the entry of partial summary judgment, holding that reasonable attorney fees incurred in the prosecution of an action under the AWDS are within the damages permitted by the statute. Remanded.
Hematology-Oncology of Ind., P.C. v. Fruits
Defendant Hematology-Oncology of Indiana, a health care provider, appealed a trial court judgment awarding attorney fees and litigation expenses brought under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute (AWDS) and the Medical Malpractice Act (MMA). The trial court entered judgment against defendants for $108,509 in attorney fees and litigation expenses in addition to a $229,148 judgment on the jury verdict for damages exclusive of attorney fees and expenses. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted transfer, holding (1) the trial court's award of attorney and litigation expenses was authorized by the AWDS; and (2) the total judgment, including both the jury's damage verdict and the attorney fees and expenses, exceeded the cap limiting damages against individual providers under the MMA. The Court affirmed in part and remanded to limit the provider's aggregate liability to the $250,000 cap prescribed by the MMA.