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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  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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