ILNews

Court rules gynecologist can’t testify on mental competency

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A bank is able to foreclose on a mortgage against the estate of a deceased 95-year-old woman who opened the line of credit to pay her granddaughter to take care of her. But the elderly woman’s daughter argued the granddaughter unduly influenced Mildred Borgwald to open the account.

Borgwald insisted on remaining on her own in her home despite failing health and limited sight. Raelynn Pound, Borgwald’s granddaughter, agreed to take care of her grandmother around the clock for $650 per week. The two went to Old National Bank to open an equity line of credit against her home in the amount of $36,000. Nearly a third of this was paid to Pound within a week of opening; $650 was paid out weekly from November 2007 through June 2008. Borgwald died in August 2008.

Her daughter, Lana McGee – who is also Pound’s mother – opened Borgwald’s estate. The bank filed a claim for $36,274.54, seeking to foreclose on the home’s mortgage. The estate filed a petition to recover assets from Pound and asserted fraud and undue influence.

After holding a bench trial, the court found Borgwald had the mental capacity to enter into the contract with the bank and was not unduly influenced by Pound. ONB was entitled to have the mortgage foreclosed as a valid and paramount lien on Borgwald’s property.

The estate appealed, arguing its proffered expert witness Dr. Robert Lalouche should have been included. But Lalouche, a gynecologist, had never treated Borgwald and formed his opinions only based on the medical records submitted by the estate.

“Although Dr. Lalouche relies in his report on the conclusions by Mildred’s treating psychiatrist and internist, he does not profess an independent competency in neurological diseases or age-related mental deficiencies and his conclusion with respect of Mildred’s ability to comprehend the mortgage process is of no assistance to the trier of fact,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote in In the Matter of the Supervised Estate of Mildred Borgwald, Deceased v. Old National Bank and Raelynn Pound, 84A01-1302-ES-80.

The judges found the estate was not denied the opportunity to make an offer of proof and the trial court properly excluded references to expert opinions and medical diagnosis because the estate sought to admit Borgwald’s medical records through the testimony of McGee. But McGee is a lay witness and not a medical expert under Evidence Rule 702.

Finally, the Court of Appeals declined to find the line of credit was invalid because the bank customer service representative’s notary did not read every single word of the document to Borgwald, as required under I.C. 33-42-2-2(4).  But the estate never called the notary as a witness, and the judges pointed out that a mortgage does not need to be notarized in order to be enforceable in Indiana.

“Even assuming that the mortgage was not read to Mildred and that Mildred could be characterized as being blind and not merely ‘having trouble seeing,’ the validity of the mortgage would not be affected, only the notary’s signature. Therefore, we decline the Estate’s invitation to invalidate the mortgage,” Riley wrote.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

ADVERTISEMENT