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Court clarifies responses under T.R. 56(I)

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The Indiana Court of Appeals used a decision today to clarify that when a nonmoving party has received an enlargement of time pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 56(I), any response must be made within the additional time period granted by the trial court.

The issue arose in Marvin Jay Miller, M.D. v. Tiffany Brook Yedlowski, deceased, Mario Yedlowski and Kim Rinehart, No. 49A02-0901-CV-78, in which Dr. Marvin Jay Miller appealed of the denial of his motion for summary judgment. Tiffany Yedlowski's parents, Mario Yedlowski and Kim Rinehart, filed a complaint against Miller following the death of Tiffany while under his care at Larue Carter Hospital in Indianapolis.

Miller filed a motion for summary judgment; the parents filed a motion for enlargement of time to respond to his motion. They were granted a Sept. 4, 2008 deadline to respond to the motion.

Six days after the deadline, the parents filed a second motion for enlargement of time, requesting five more days to get their expert's report. Miller again filed for summary judgment, arguing he was entitled to it as a matter of law since the plaintiffs' hadn't responded or filed a continuance within the time limit set by the trial court.

The trial court denied Miller's motion, granted the parents' second motion for enlargement of time, and then allowed the parents to file their response more than ten days after their Sept. 4 deadline.

On interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals determined the trial court erred in granting the second motion for enlargement of time because it wasn't filed by the deadline imposed by the court. The Indiana Supreme Court, in HomEq Servicing Corp. v. Baker, 883 N.E.2d 95, 98 (Ind. 2008), established a bright-line rule that prohibits a trial court from considering summary judgment filings after the 30-day period, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

Even though the plaintiffs filed their first motion within the 30-day period, their second one wasn't within the time period defined by the first motion for enlargement of time, so their response shouldn't have been allowed, per Thayer v. Gohil, 740 N.E.2d 1266, 1269 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001).

"The rationale behind the rule requiring a nonmoving party to respond to a motion for summary judgment ... within thirty days does not vanish because the trial court has happened to grant one extension of time," wrote the judge. "That is, the nonmoving party should not be rewarded and relieved from the restriction of responding within the time limit set by the court because he or she has had the good fortune of one enlargement of time."

Because the parents' response was filed late, it can't be considered by the trial court and leaves no evidence to oppose Miller's motion for summary judgment. The appellate court remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of the doctor.

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