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Medmal claim sent via FedEx before deadline was timely filed

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A medical malpractice complaint was timely filed when an attorney delivered it to Federal Express a day before the statutory deadline, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled, reversing lower court orders and remanding the complaint to the trial court.

Justices reversed a grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants that was issued by a LaPorte Superior Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals in Bonnie Moryl, as Surviving Spouse and Personal Representative of the Estate of Richard A. Moryl v. Carey B. Ransone, M.D., La Porte Hospital, Dawn Forney, RN, Wanda Wakeman, RN BSBA, et al., 46S04-1403-CT-149. 

In a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Brent Dickson, justices settled an issue of first impression, holding “that the commencement of a medical malpractice action occurs when a copy of the proposed complaint is deposited for mailing by registered mail or by certain private delivery services and that the plaintiff’s complaint was timely filed in this case.”

Richard Moryl died under the defendants’ care at LaPorte Hospital on April 20, 2007, and the proposed malpractice complaint was sent via FedEx to the Indiana Department of Insurance on April 19, 2009. The department received and file stamped the complaint April 21, one day after the filing deadline, and the trial court granted summary judgment on the basis of untimely filing.

Justices analyzed conflicting statutes that until recent years were ambiguous as to whether cases were deemed filed when provided to a courier or third-party carriers other than the U.S. Postal Service. Longstanding Indiana law has provided that matters are filed when they are delivered or mailed by certified or registered mail.
 
"Our decision constitutes a refusal to elevate form over substance," Dickson wrote. "We see no substantive difference between a proposed medical malpractice complaint mailed via FedEx Priority Overnight, tracking and return receipt requested, and a proposed complaint mailed via USPS registered and certified mail. And neither does the Indiana General Assembly, as evident by their adoption of Indiana Code section 1-1-7-1."
 
 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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