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Justices analyze occurrence-based limitations

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Two Indiana Supreme Court justices dissented from the majority today in two medical malpractice suits because they believed the majority's reasoning behind the decisions that both plaintiffs' claims are time-barred would foster suspicion and doubt between health-care providers and their patients.

Justices Brent Dickson and Robert Rucker dissented from the majority's decisions in Lloyd Overton v. Marshall Grillo, D.O., et al., No. 64S04-0811-CV-595, and Victor Herron v. Anthony A. Anigbo, M.D., No. 45S03-0811-CV-594. In the opinions, the majority found both Lloyd and Christine Overtons' medical negligence claim for allegedly misreading a mammogram, and Victor Herron's medical malpractice claim for a surgery performed after a fall to be time-barred by the two-year statue of limitations.

In Herron, the Supreme Court analyzed the occurrence-based limitations period for medical malpractice claims, trigger dates, and reasonable diligence by a patient. The majority ruled in both Herron and Overton that the trigger dates in which the parties learned about the possible malpractice or facts that with reasonable diligence should lead to the discovery of malpractice occurred within the two-year statute of limitations. A patient's window in bringing an action is triggered if the patient should know of the possible malpractice even if there is not reason to suspect malpractice. Overton and Herron had time to file a claim because nothing prevented them from filing within the remaining time period. In Overton, Christine Overton knew of her condition when she was diagnosed with cancer a year after her first mammogram and that she had not been previously diagnosed after that first mammogram.

"That is enough to put the plaintiff on inquiry notice of the possibility of malpractice and ... the remaining several months was more than adequate to explore the issue," wrote Justice Theodore Boehm for the majority in Overton. The justices used similar reasoning to reach the same conclusion in Herron.

But Justices Dickson and Rucker disagreed, with Justice Dickson writing a similar dissent in both opinions. Citing Booth v. Wiley, 839 N.E.2d 1168, 1172 (Ind. 2005), the justice feared the majority's ruling in Herron would create an "unprecedented new and rigorous barrier preventing injured patients a reasonable opportunity to access the courts" for medical malpractice claims. He also worried the majority's rationale would foster a climate of suspicion and doubt between a patient and his or her health-care provider.

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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