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Justices: Claim not allowed under MedMal act

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Because claims for emotional distress aren’t allowed under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute, a father can’t bring this type of derivative claim under the Medical Malpractice Act, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.

Gary Patrick brought a claim, individually and as representative of his son’s estate, under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute for his son Christopher’s death caused by negligence of health-care providers after Christopher was injured in a car accident. The hospital discharged him despite complaints of pain and Christopher later died of a ruptured colon at the home he shared with his father.

Patrick also brought a derivative claim under the Medical Malpractice Act for his own emotional distress.

After settling with the health-care providers, Patrick filed his petition for payment of excess damages with the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund.

The trial court found the AWDS applied to Patrick’s claim as personal representative of Christopher’s estate and awarded him more than $300,000 in damages for loss of love and companionship and other expenses. The trial court also awarded him $600,000 for his emotional distress claim. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed.

In Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund v. Gary Patrick, No. 49A02-0909-CV-402, Patrick argued he’s entitled to bring a claim for his own emotional distress under the MMA. The MMA doesn’t define “bodily injury” and the Supreme Court declined to define it in the same manner it has in caselaw dealing with insurance polices. The high court has also held that the requirement for bodily injury or death in the MMA applies to the actual victim of the malpractice and not derivative claimants.

And, based on Chamberlain v. Walpole, 822 N.E.2d 959 (Ind. 2005), Patrick can’t seek damages for emotional distress. The MMA serves as a procedural mechanism for claims of medical malpractice and a derivative claimant can only pursue claims allowed at common law or under applicable statutes, wrote Justice Frank Sullivan. The MMA doesn’t create new causes of action that don’t otherwise exist, so whether Patrick has a claim for emotional distress depends on the AWDS.

“It was Son who was the victim of the medical malpractice; therefore, any claim in Father’s own right is a derivative claim. As discussed above, any derivative claim that Father has depends upon the AWDS,” wrote the justice. “Because claims for emotional distress are not allowed under the AWDS, Father may not bring this type of derivative claim under the MMA.”

The justices also clarified that were the claim underlying the MMA action one for which damages for emotional distress were available, the MMA doesn’t preclude derivative claims of emotional distress by those whom the law refers to as “bystanders.”
 

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

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  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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