ILNews

Court upholds dismissal of battery claim against medical student

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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An emergency medical technician student sued for battery after incorrectly performing a procedure on a patient did not commit battery, the Indiana Supreme Court has decided.

The 5-0 decision came in W. Ruth Mullins and Johnce Mullins, Jr. v. Parkview Hospital, Inc., et al., http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/05020701fsj.pdf, No. 02S04-0608-CV-292, reversing a Court of Appeals decision that the student had battered patient Ruth Mullins, who was undergoing a hysterectomy in 2000 at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne. During the procedure, the student, LaRea VanHoey, performed an intubation and lacerated her esophagus, despite Mullins' lack of consent to have a student in the operating room. She had a second surgery to correct the procedure.

A medical review panel dismissed a subsequent malpractice action against the hospital and surgeons and, because the Indiana Malpractice Act doesn't apply to students, the Mullins initiated this battery claim against VanHoey and the other parties.

The trial court granted summary judgment to all defendants because of no evidence the student intended harmful contact with the patient, but the Court of Appeals reversed that decision in June 2005 to all defendants except Parkview Hospital. The court held that the couple had sufficiently stated a battery claim against the student and physicians.

"We disagree," Justice Frank Sullivan wrote in Wednesday's decision, relying on the Restatement (Second) of Torts §13 (1965), which provides in part that an actor is "subject to liability to another for batter if (a) he acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other or a third person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact."

Justice Sullivan wrote, "Because there is no genuine issue of material fact as to VanHoey's intent to cause a harmful contact with Ruth (Mullins), VanHoey was entitled to summary judgment on the Mullinses' battery claim."
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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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