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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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