ILNews

No summary judgment on issue of whether complaint was timely filed

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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.
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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