Malpractice defense accused of ‘egregious mischaracterization’ of record

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Defense attorneys who asked for a rehearing from the Indiana Court of Appeals panel that earlier affirmed a trial court medical malpractice jury verdict failed to sway judges who took the opportunity to call out their “egregious mischaracterization” of the record.

The panel affirmed in all respects its opinion of May 20 that upheld a trial court jury’s verdict against Dr. Roger Jay Piatek in a medical malpractice case. In doing so, the panel had harsh words for attorneys from the Fort Wayne firm of Murphy Ice & Koeneman LLP.

"On rehearing, Piatek argues the trial court should have given a contributory negligence instruction because Beale did not provide Piatek with an accurate medical history. Before we consider that argument, we must address Piatek’s egregious mischaracterization of the record in the Petition for Rehearing," Judge Melissa May wrote for the court in Roger Jay Piatek, M.D., and The Piatek Institute v. Shairon Beale, 49A04-1209-CT-463.

Beale won her medical malpractice complaint against Piatek filed after she developed toxic epidermal necrolysis that was believed to have been caused by the medications Piatek prescribed for weight loss. The rehearing brief claims “Beale herself” asserted the doctor’s lack of accurate medical history was the proximate cause of harm.

"Piatek directs us to three places in the trial transcript, none of which reflect Beale ever made any such assertion, or even suggest she might have. Not only is there no support at those places in the transcript for Piatek’s statement, the pages to which Piatek directs us do not even include evidence,” May wrote. “Rather, all are from opening or closing statements by counsel. It is axiomatic that the arguments of counsel are not evidence.

“We note this misrepresentation in Piatek’s petition for rehearing came after we noted a number of deficiencies in the brief Piatek’s counsel submitted on appeal. Those deficiencies included raising allegations not referred to in the Statement of the Issues as required by Indiana Appellate Rule 46(A)(4),” May continued. Those included a transcript submitted with pages out of order, allegations of error unsupported by explanation or citation to legal authority and mischaracterization of certain testimony.


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