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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. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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