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Court finds facilities have immunity in suit over detention

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The three unidentified entities involved in the detention of a Bloomington man for several days after he refused in-patient treatment for alcoholism are entitled to immunity in his lawsuit alleging medical malpractice, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Thomas and Cathy Haggerty filed the lawsuit against the entities identified by the court as Anonymous Party 1, 2 and 3 after Thomas Haggerty refused to stay at the AP1 facility and threatened to walk home to Bloomington from Indianapolis on a cold winter night. Haggerty had been hospitalized for complications due to alcoholism and was to receive in-patient treatment in Indianapolis. He did not want to stay, which led to AP2 being called. AP2, a nearby medical facility, picked up Haggerty and detained him. AP3, a corporate entity related to AP2, was also named in the Haggertys’ proposed complaint for medical malpractice and subsequent lawsuit.

All three parties argued they were immune from liability under I.C. 12-26-2-6, which grants immunity to those who assist or participate in proceedings for an individual’s detention or commitment. The trial court granted AP1’s motion for summary judgment, but denied it related to the other parties. The Haggertys appealed the grant of summary judgment. AP2 and AP3 filed a belated motion to certify the trial court’s order for interlocutory appeal. The trial court granted the belated motion, and the COA accepted jurisdiction over the combined appeal.

The Haggertys argued that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the issue of immunity because that issue was reserved for the medical review panel, as well as that none of the anonymous parties are entitled to immunity under Indiana law because they violated Haggerty’s personal or civil rights.

The COA found the trial court had jurisdiction to rule on the issue of immunity because it is an affirmative defense.

“The trial court did not need an expert opinion to determine whether the anonymous parties could claim immunity under Section 12-26-2-6; this is a legal determination that the court was capable of making on its own,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

All three judges on the panel agreed AP1 is entitled to immunity. Vaidik and Judge Ezra Friedlander found AP2 and AP3 are entitled to immunity and reversed the denial of their motions for summary judgment.

But Judge John Baker dissented from his colleagues’ decision to grant summary judgment for AP2 and AP3 on the immunity issue. Baker believed Haggerty’s testimony that he was placed in a small bathroom for four hours before being admitted to AP2 creates a genuine issue of material fact. This is the type of issue the medical review panel should assess to determine whether the actions of AP2 were appropriate, he wrote.

The case is Thomas Haggerty and Cathy Haggerty v. Anonymous Party 1, Anonymous Party 2, and Anonymous Party 3, 53A01-1210-CT-472.

 

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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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