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'Continuing wrong' statute makes malpractice claim timely

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A doctor who was the subject of a malpractice claim due to his patient losing consciousness and causing a crash while driving is not entitled to summary judgment, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.

In Mary Alice Manley and Gary Manley v. Ryan J. Sherer, M.D., and Sherer Family Medicine, No. 59A01-1104-PL-190, Gary and Mary Alice Manley sued Dr. Ryan Sherer following a crash on Nov. 27, 2006, that left Mary Alice Manley with permanent debilitating injuries. She was hit head-on by Sherer’s patient, Kimberly Zehr, who lost consciousness while driving due to a medical condition and the effects of medication prescribed by Sherer.

On Nov. 25, 2008, the Manleys filed a proposed complaint against Sherer with the Indiana Department of Insurance. Sherer filed with the trial court a motion for preliminary determination of law and for summary judgment. The trial court subsequently granted summary judgment to Sherer on all of the Manleys’ claims and directed the entry of judgment in favor of Sherer.

Sherer said the Manleys’ complaint was not timely; the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act sets forth a two-year statute of limitations for claims by victims of alleged medical malpractice. That two-year time frame would have begun on Nov. 21, 2006, when Sherer last treated Zehr. But the Manleys claim that their complaint is saved by the doctrine of continuing wrong.

The COA held that a dispute of fact exists as to whether Sherer’s failure to warn Zehr not to drive while she was under his care constitutes a continuing wrong. Under that doctrine, the statute of limitations would be tolled until at least Nov. 27, 2008, which would make the Manleys’ complaint timely.   

The appellate court also held that because Sherer did not warn Zehr to stop driving altogether, there is a dispute of fact on the element of breach of duty, and Sherer is not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on that element. The COA remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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