ILNews

Portion of malpractice statute of limitations ruled unconstitutional in some cases

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A woman’s malpractice lawsuit against the estate of a Marshall County doctor who died more than two decades ago will go forward, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The court found the two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims unconstitutional in certain cases.

Stacy Kaufman filed a proposed medical malpractice claim against the estate of anonymous physician Dr. K in 2009, 35 years after Dr. K delivered her. The doctor ordered a blood test for phenylketonuria (PKU), and although the blood test revealed that Stacy had PKU, Dr. K. never communicated the result to Kaufman’s parents, according to court records.

Indiana Code 34-18-7-1(b) “violates Article 1, Section 23 and Article 1, Section 12 of the Indiana Constitution in cases where a plaintiff, within the two-year period, does not know, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence could not have discovered, that he or she had sustained an injury as a result of malpractice,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote in a unanimous opinion.

Kaufman didn’t discover that she he PKU – a condition in which a person cannot break down a certain amino acid which can lead to a toxic buildup in the body. It can cause severe malformation and mental retardation in children.

Kaufman gave birth to C.K. in November 2005. C.K. was born with microcephaly – a small head –  and dysmorphic facial features. It wasn’t until 2007 that a neurologist diagnosed C.K. as having PKU. Kaufman’s mother, Mary, in September 2007 obtained Stacy’s birth records, and discovered the test confirming PKU that had not been communicated.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of Marshal Circuit Judge Curtis Palmer, who declined to grant the estate’s request for summary judgment on the statute of limitations. Palmer found an issue of fact as to when the diagnosis was discovered and properly denied summary judgment for the estate.

“We are, of course, fully cognizant that we are permitting a nearly four-decade old claim of malpractice to proceed at this time. Nonetheless, it is not unheard of in our jurisprudence to permit lawsuits based upon decades-old acts of negligence to proceed, under very limited circumstances. See, e.g., Jurich v. Garlock, Inc., 785 N.E.2d 1093, 1095 (Ind. 2003),” Barnes wrote.

Meanwhile, the court declined to reverse Palmer’s ruling that Dr. K did not owe a duty to Kaufman’s child, C.K.

“Recognizing duty in a case such as this could extend a physician’s potential liability for several decades after an alleged negligent act. This would contravene the Act’s purpose of placing reasonable limits upon a physician’s exposure to malpractice claims. Additionally, there is no doubt a strong public policy in favor of ensuring that infants are properly tested for PKU and that any such test results be expeditiously conveyed to the infant’s parents. However, the original patient him- or herself is directly harmed and sustains injury if a positive PKU test result is not conveyed and the patient may state a claim for malpractice against the doctor,” Barnes wrote.

“We acknowledge some tension between our holding on this issue and on the statute of limitations issue, particularly with respect to our concerns regarding the time period between the alleged original negligence and the filing of this lawsuit. Nevertheless, the two issues are governed by different legal standards and, as such, has led to two different results.”


 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • MALPRACTICE
    My brother and his friend received bad blood transfusions at different times from the same major hospital in Ohio about 30 years ago, and just recently discovered the transfusion was a result of their Cirrhosis of the Liver. 1. Can Ohio’s Statue of Limitation be challenged to be held unconstitutional, as in the opinion in Houser v. Kaufman and Hardy v. VerMeulen? 2. Can a malpractice case be brought under Medical negligence liability under the consumer protection act citing, it is unconstitutional to time bar this matter.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
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

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

ADVERTISEMENT