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COA refuses to rule defendants get blanket immunity

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that an arrestee brought to the hospital by police who was forced to have a catheter to obtain a urine sample can’t sue the health-care providers under the Medical Malpractice Act. The appellate judges also ruled the health-care providers weren’t entitled to blanket immunity, based on Indiana Code Section 9-30-6-6.

Larz Elliott was taken to Rush Memorial Hospital by a deputy sheriff for a blood sample and urine sample. The deputy said he had a court order, but produced no written authorization. Elliot was handcuffed to a bed and had his pants forcibly removed when he couldn’t produce the urine sample and was catheterized.

He filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint against the hospital and medical staff that performed the catheterization alleging battery and negligence. The trial court found Elliot hadn’t stated any claims that required evaluation and that the defendants were immune from liability under I.C. Section 9-30-6-6.

In Larz A. Elliott v. Rush Memorial Hospital, Carrie Tressler, R.N., Philip Kingma, M.D., No. 70A01-0911-CV-533, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling because Elliot’s claims fall outside the act. Caselaw has held the act requires a person’s medical treatment was sought out or was necessary for the person’s own benefit. Elliot’s catheterization wasn’t for his own medical benefit, nor was it related to any treatment he needed for disease or injury. It was carried out solely for law enforcement purposes, wrote Judge Michael Barnes. He wasn’t a “patient” of the defendants for purposes of the act.

The Court of Appeals also declined to endorse a broad sweep of immunity for health-care providers under I.C. Section 9-30-6-6, as the trial court ruled. The statue requires that officers have certified in writing probable cause to get the sample and that not more than reasonable force be used to obtain the sample. The statute also says that the sample shall be taken in a medically accepted manner.

Indiana courts haven’t discussed whether these two subsections place limitations on when health-care workers can claim immunity for getting a bodily sample at an officer’s request. Addressing a similar issue involving Indiana’s Shoplifting Detention Act, the appellate court decided that I.C. Section 9-30-6-6’s grant of immunity doesn’t apply to samples that aren’t obtained in accordance with all of the statute’s provisions.

The catheterization also presents legitimate questions of fact as to whether forced catheterization is a “medically acceptable manner” to get a sample or if it’s unreasonable force in this situation. There are medical risks associated with using a catheter.

“The position that the trial court and the Defendants offer is that once a police officer requests a health care provider to obtain a bodily substance sample from someone, the health care provider has no choice but to comply, regardless of the circumstances,” wrote Judge Barnes. “Particularly at this point in the litigation, we will not endorse such a broad sweep of immunity.”


 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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