Virginia E. Alldredge, et al. v. The Good Samaritan Home - 1/9/13

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Wednesday  January 9, 2013 
11:00 AM  EST

11 a.m. 82A01-1206-CT-249. Nearly three years after being told that Venita Hargis died from complications of a fall at a nursing home owned and operated by appellee-defendant, The Good Samaritan Home, Inc. (“Good Samaritan”), appellants-plaintiffs Virginia E. Alldredge and Julia A Luker learned that Hargis’s death had actually resulted from another patient attacking her.  Twenty-three months later, Alldredge and Luker, as co-personal representatives of Hargis’s estate, filed an action against Good Samaritan under Indiana’s Wrongful Death Statute, Indiana Code section 34-23-1-1.  Treating Good Samaritan’s motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment, the trial court found that Good Samaritan’s fraudulent concealment had equitably tolled the time by which the complaint needed to be filed, but that the action was nonetheless barred because Alldredge and Luker had failed to file their complaint within a reasonable time.


On appeal, Alldredge and Luker argue that the two-year timeframe required by Indiana’s Wrongful Death Statute for the filing of claims is a statute of limitations, not a condition precedent, and that Indiana Code section 34-11-5-1 applies to toll the statute of limitations such that the two years begins when the fraudulent concealment is discovered.  Furthermore, Alldredge and Luker argue that public policy considerations require this interpretation because the reasonable time standard used by the trial court violates equal protection.

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