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Judges find no misconduct by hospital

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a woman’s motion to correct error and relief from judgment following a verdict in favor of Clarian Health Partners on her medical malpractice complaint. The court found that Clarian’s counsel did not commit misconduct by not supplementing the deposition testimony of one of its doctors – a nonparty to the case – prior to trial.

Deborah Cleveland filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance against Clarian – now known as Indiana University Health – and the doctors who treated her husband, Robin, after he came to the hospital in 2002 suffering traumatic injuries from a fall. One of the physicians was second-year resident Dr. Jennifer Choi. Robin Cleveland arrived at the hospital at 9:53 a.m., but did not go into surgery until around 10:45 a.m. He bled to death while in surgery.

The 2004 deposition and 2011 trial testimony of Choi are at issue in this appeal. In her deposition, Choi sometimes gave specific times for when the decision was made to move Robin Cleveland to surgery; at other times, she gave vague answers or said she was unsure. The medical review panel found no malpractice occurred. Deborah Cleveland then filed a lawsuit in Marion Superior Court. All the defendants were eventually dismissed except Clarian.

At the trial, Choi’s testimony didn’t always match up to her deposition, and some of her answers changed. She said this was in part due to a review of the operative log and records. She even admitted her recollection of the events may have been incorrect at the time of the deposition.

Deborah Cleveland lost her suit; the trial court denied her motion to correct error and for relief from judgment. She argued that Ind. Trial Rule 26(E)(2) imposes a duty on a party to amend a nonparty witness’s deposition testimony when that party learns of a change in the testimony before trial; and that Clarian’s counsel committed misconduct under Trial Rule 60(B)(3) when counsel did not supplement Choi’s deposition testimony prior to trial. Robin Cleveland cited the dram shop case Outback Steakhouse of Florida v. Markley, 856 N.E.2d 65, 72 (Ind. 2006), to support her argument.

But the Court of Appeals found Outback distinguishable. In the instant case, Choi’s trial testimony was not directly contradictory, as was the testimony at question in Outback.

“When Dr. Choi’s deposition testimony is considered in its entirety, there is an insufficient factual basis in the record to conclude that there was a clear, substantial, and material change in her testimony that, if Trial Rule 26(E)(2) applied, would have triggered any duty on Clarian’s attorneys to amend that testimony prior to trial,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Deborah A. Cleveland, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Robin W. Cleveland v. Clarian Health Partners, Inc., 49A02-1110-CT-948.
 
There is also no factual basis to show that Clarian knew or should have known that Choi’s trial testimony would render her prior responses incorrect, so the hospital did not have a duty to supplement the deposition testimony and did not commit misconduct by failing to amend that testimony, he continued.
 

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. 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.

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