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Justices revive malpractice suit alleging doctor’s failure to warn patient not to drive

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A medical malpractice suit arising from a debilitating head-on automobile crash should not have been disposed of through summary judgment in favor of the doctor, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday. Justices reversed the order and sent the case back to the trial court.

Mary Alice Manley was severely injured in a car crash in 2006 after which she overheard the driver of the other car, Kimberly Zehr, say she shouldn’t be driving because of her medical condition. Manley was hospitalized and suffered permanent, debilitating injuries. A personal-injury suit against Zehr settled for an undisclosed sum, according to the record.

In 2008, Manley filed a proposed medical malpractice claim with the Indiana Department of Insurance that asserted Dr. Ryan Sherer and Sherer Family Practice in Huntingburg were negligent for failing to warn Zehr not to drive while she was on medication.

The trial court granted the defense motion for summary judgment on its assertion that the malpractice claim wasn’t timely filed, and that the claim lacked an element of causation.   

In Mary Alice Manley, and Gary Manley v. Ryan J. Sherer, M.D., and Sherer Family Medicine, P.C., 59S01-1205-PL-249, the court reversed summary judgment granted by Special Judge Terrence Cody in Orange Circuit Court, as had a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals.   

“Finding genuine issues of material fact (1) as to when the plaintiffs either, (a) knew of the alleged malpractice, or (b) learned of facts that, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should lead to the discovery of the malpractice and resulting injury; and (2) as to the absence of the element of causation necessary to establish liability, we conclude that the defendants’ motion for summary judgment should have been denied,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote for the unanimous court.

“The judgment of the trial court is therefore reversed and this cause remanded for further proceedings.”
 
 

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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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