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Court preserves woman's day in court despite delays

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a trial judge’s order to dismiss a woman’s medical malpractice case because of her failure to comply with discovery deadlines and trial rules, finding that the decision to deny her a day in court was too harsh.

In Sharon Wright and Leslie Wright v. Anthony E. Miller, D.P.M. and Achilles Podiatry Group, No. 54A01-1107-CT-302, the appellate panel reversed a ruling by Montgomery Superior Judge David Ault and sent the action back for further proceedings.

Sharon Wright brought a medical malpractice claim against Dr. Anthony Miller and Achilles Podiatry Group in Crawfordsville for an allegedly negligently performed bunion surgery in 2004.

After the medical review panel found in her favor, Wright brought the case to court in 2009. Discovery began, but Wright asked for continuances because she was not able to secure her expert witnesses and for personal medical reasons. In January 2011, the defendants asked for dismissal because of the delays.

The trial court struck Wright’s expert witness and dismissed her claims under Indiana Trial Rule 37(B) for failure to comply with discovery orders and Indiana Trial Rule 41(E) for failure to prosecute and failure to follow court orders. Specifically, the court noted Wright did not identify her expert witness on time and would have to proceed without the expert testimony at trial, and that all led to a lack of evidence in her case and warranted dismissal.

Although on appeal the judges noted their typical deference to the trial judges and a local court’s right to run its calendar efficiently, the appellate panel weighed that obligation with the individual litigant’s right to have her day in court. The delays in her being able to secure an expert witness were ultimately out of Wright’s control because of medical reasons, the appellate court noted, and the trial court hadn’t issued an order compelling discovery or warning that dismissal was on the horizon. Wright also wasn’t trying to deceive anyone, the appellate court found.

The appellate court found this case is unlike past cases where delays and missed deadlines were egregious and the sole fault of the offending party.

“We do not mean to suggest or imply by our opinion that the timely observance of pre-trial deadlines is unimportant, only that when all factors are considered, the extent to which Wright failed to comply with several deadlines was not sufficiently onerous or egregious to justify striking her expert and dismissing her claims without warning,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

 

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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