COA reverses trial court in malpractice case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has sided with the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance in a medical malpractice case.

In Commissioner of the Indiana Dept. of Insurance v. Tim Black, as Husband and Personal Rep. of Kay Black, Deceased, No. 64A05-1104-CT-240, the commissioner contended the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. However, for the first time on appeal, Tim Black disputes the characterization of the commissioner’s motion as a motion to dismiss pursuant to Ind. Trial Rule 12(B)(6). He asserts that because additional supporting documents were attached to the motion to dismiss, the commissioner’s motion was converted into a motion for summary judgment pursuant to T.R. 56. The appellate court agreed.

Indiana’s medical review panel had unanimously concluded that Dr. Fred Harris of Porter Memorial Hospital failed to comply with the appropriate standard of care with regard to Tim Black’s wife, Kay Black. Kay Black had gone to the hospital’s emergency room in 2000, complaining of severe chest pain radiating down her left arm and nausea. An abnormal blood enzyme test indicated she might have suffered a heart attack, but when consulted by phone, Harris did not order heart monitoring or repeat enzyme testing. Hours later, Kay Black suffered a severe cardiac arrest that resulted in her needing a heart transplant.

Kay Black died in 2008 of an unrelated cause. In 2009, Tim Black, as his wife’s personal representative, filed a petition for payment of damages from the Patient Compensation Fund, asserting that Harris had agreed to make payment of his liability limit in the amount of $250,000, thereby establishing liability of the PCF under the Medical Malpractice Act.

The COA held that Black failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish an agreement with Harris and remanded on the motion for summary judgment for further proceedings.



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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

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  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise