No summary judgment on issue of whether complaint was timely filed

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of a doctor in a medical malpractice action, finding there are questions around whether the plaintiff timely filed the proposed complaint.

Tomika Johnson filed the malpractice complaint against Drs. David Sullivan and Jose Arias and Deaconess Hospital following the death of Barton Johnson. Barton was transferred to the hospital Dec. 22, 2006, and had a CT scan. Sullivan interpreted the CT scan and signed a radiological report. The next day, Barton died. On Dec. 26, Sullivan issued another report on the CT scan, with a second page subtitled “appended report,” noting the case was reviewed in retrospect.

The proposed complaint was postmarked Dec. 23, 2008. In 2010, the trial court granted summary judgment to Sullivan, who alleged Johnson failed to file the proposed complaint within the two-year statute of limitations period.

The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for Sullivan with regards to Johnson’s arguments that the doctrine of “continuing wrong” precluded summary judgment, Sullivan had been involved in the case after Dec. 22, 2006, and the doctor fraudulently concealed an otherwise valid claim from Johnson. But the judges did find an issue of material fact regarding whether the proposed complaint was actually filed Dec. 22, 2008, despite the Dec. 23 postmark.

An affidavit from Johnson’s attorney’s legal assistant claims that the assistant took the proposed complaint to the post office Dec. 22.

“Under the Medical Malpractice Act, the date of delivery or mailing, not the date of postmarking, is the date a proposed complaint is considered filed,” wrote Judge Cale Bradford in Tomika Johnson, et al. v. David Sullivan, M.D., et al., No. 82A05-1102-MI-108. “While it may be that a postmark indicates the date on which an item was mailed in the vast majority of cases, there is no indication in the record that this is always so. We hold today that evidence of mailing on a particular date, even if it contradicts a postmark, is competent to prove filing on that date for purposes of the Medical Malpractice Act.”

Judge John Baker concurred in a separate opinion, encouraging that the issue of whether the complaint was timely mailed might be tried first. Only if the answer is yes should the parties then “undertake the expense of conducting discovery and presenting their proof of the remaining issues,” which would potentially save “both public and private resources,” he wrote.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.