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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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