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Malpractice complaint hobbled by ongoing foot pain

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A woman who suffered with a troubled toe for four years got her medical malpractice claim booted by the Indiana Court of Appeals for waiting too long to file the complaint.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of the doctor’s summary judgment motion in Anonymous Physician v. Diana Wininger and Stephen Robertson, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Insurance and Douglas J. Hill, Panel Chair, 59A04-1303-MI-103. It found the patient’s medical malpractice complaint was barred by the two-year statute of limitations.  

To relieve Diana Wininger’s pain in her right foot, the anonymous physician shortened her second toe and corrected a deformity in March 2007. However, by July, her toe was standing up at a 45 degree angle and the foot pain continued.

When Wininger sought a second opinion in April 2009, she was told her toe was too short and she should have another operation.

Wininger filed a malpractice claim in March 2011. She argues she was within the statute of limitations because she did not know something was wrong until she consulted the second doctor.

The physician contended since Wininger knew there was a problem in October 2007, she should have filed the complaint within two years of the surgery date.   

Citing Johnson v. Gupta 762 N.E.2d 1280, 1283 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), the Court of Appeals noted a plaintiff does not need to be told malpractice has occurred to trigger the statute of limitations. Wininger continued to have pain after her surgery and knew by October 2007 she should seek another opinion.

Therefore, the COA found the statute of limitations was not tolled and Wininger’s complaint was not timely filed.
 

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  1. Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in December, but U.S. District Judge Robert Miller later reduced that to about $540,000 to put the damages for suffering under the statutory cap of $300,000.

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