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Court of Appeals reverses medical malpractice ruling

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Determining that a question exists about when the statute of limitations started running on a proposed medical malpractice complaint, the Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a decision in a case involving the death of a woman at an Indianapolis hospital after receiving medication prior to heart surgery.

In Irmina Gradus-Pizlo, M.D. and Select Specialty Hospitals Indianapolis, Inc. v. Donald Acton, No. 49A02-1106-CT-503, the appellate court reversed a decision by Marion Superior Judge Cynthia Ayers.

Myrtle Acton became Dr. Irmina Gradus-Pizlo’s patient in February 2006, and a year later the doctor determined the woman was a candidate for surgical correction of a heart defect. The doctor put her on a medication prior to surgery and Acton ended up suffering from ventricular tachycardia before going into full cardiac arrest at Methodist Hospital’s intensive care unit. She was stabilized and taken off the original medication, but subsequently died on April 12, 2006.

On April 1, 2008, her husband, Donald, filed a medical malpractice complaint against Dr. Gradus-Pizlo and Select Specialty Hospitals, and in 2010 the defendants filed summary judgment motions alleging that Acton had failed to comply with the Medical Malpractice Act statute of limitations. The trial court denied both motions after a hearing, finding genuine issues of material fact with regard to the trigger date of the two-year statute of limitations.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with Acton that he couldn’t have learned of any malpractice until after his wife’s death April 12, 2006. The claim specifically involves the enhanced medicine regime that Gradus-Pizlo ordered in March of that year, and the discovery date about the medicine’s implications was when she had the ventricular tachycardia on March 29, 2006. Since Acton’s complaint came three days later, he’s barred by the statute of limitations.

Addressing the doctrine of continuing wrong that Acton used to sidestep the statute of limitations argument, the appellate court determined that Myrtle Acton stopped receiving the medication at issue on March 29, and so the continuation of any possible wrong ended at that time.

The court found a similar result in looking at the allegations against Select Specialty Hospitals, finding that the hospital stopped giving her the medication on March 29 and that makes the medical malpractice complaint untimely. The panel didn’t address Acton’s argument about the continuation of a prescription by a doctor not in Select Specialty Hospital’s employment being considered medical malpractice on the hospital’s part.

The appellate court reversed and granted summary judgment to Gradus-Pizlo and the hospital.

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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