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Justices accept two cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer in two cases, one examining medical malpractice liability evidence for damages and another examining how Marion County’s mass tort litigation rules impact the overall goal of orderly and speedy justice in an asbestos case.

At its private conference on Friday, the justices denied transfer in 29 appeals and accepted two cases – Stephen W. Robertson, Indiana Commissioner of Insurance as Administrator of the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund, et al. v. B.O., a minor, by his parents and next friends, Lisa and Kevin C. Ort, No. 49S04-1111-CT-671; and Sharon Gill, on her own behalf and on behalf of the estate of Gale Gill, deceased v. Evansville Sheet Metal Works, Inc., No. 49S05-1111-CV-672.

In B.O., the Indiana Court of Appeals in May ruled on an issue of first impression about medical malpractice liability evidence being introduced to determine damages even after someone enters into a settlement with the healthcare provider on that underlying claim. A Marion Superior judge last year granted partial summary judgment for B.O. on grounds that the fund’s expert witness testimony couldn’t be introduced. But on interlocutory appeal, an appellate panel reversed that ruling based on language in the state’s Medical Malpractice Act and recent guidance from the Indiana Supreme Court in Atterholt v. Herbst, 907 N.E.2d 528 (Ind. 2009), which re-evaluated some precedent and held that the fund may introduce evidence of a claimant’s pre-existing risk of harm if it’s relevant to establishing the amount of damages.

The justices also accepted Gill, a case the Indiana Court of Appeals decided in December 2010. The appellate court found that a Marion County trial court shouldn’t have adhered to its local rule because it failed to achieve “the ultimate end of orderly and speedy justice,” when deciding that a woman’s claim against her deceased husband’s former employer was time-barred by a 10-year statute of limitations. Sharon Gill sued the contractor on claims that her husband had been exposed to asbestos on the job and that he died from a related disease. The appellate court noted its concern with the application of the Marion Circuit Court’s mass tort litigation rules and instructed the court not “blindly adhere” to all of the local rules without keeping the ultimate goal of orderly and speedy justice in mind.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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