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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. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

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