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Denial of summary judgment affirmed in wrongful death case

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A doctor and a South Bend healthcare facility must stand trial on a wrongful death claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday, affirming a trial court’s denial of summary judgment.

Leslie Wren died of acute mixed drug intoxication in 2008 as she recovered from total abdominal colectomy with proctectomy and ileostomy performed due to complications from Crohn’s colitis.

In James E. Whitfield, M.D. and St. Joseph Primary Care, LLC v. Jerry Wren, Individually and As Personal Representative of The Wrongful Death Estate of Leslie Wren, et al., 34A02-1307-CT-660, Whitfield, who was director of the rehabilitation center where Wren died, claimed on interlocutory appeal that the trial court erred in denying summary judgment. Wren’s estate has named multiple other defendants in the wrongful death suit who are not parties to the instant case.

The court noted that a doctor provided an affidavit to a medical review panel asserting his opinion that Whitfield’s performance “was a breach in the standard of care and more likely than not caused or contributed to Leslie Wren’s death.”

“Wren’s Submission specifically stated that it was Dr. Whitfield’s responsibility ‘to intervene if something were to go wrong with Leslie’s fluid and electrolyte balance, blood sugars, and general medical condition,’ and accordingly it appears that among the defendant parties, the statement was directed to Dr. Whitfield. In any event, it is clear that evidence relevant to this breach was presented to the Panel as required by the Act,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the panel.




 

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