ILNews

Proposed med mal complaint fee divides Court of Appeals

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

In a dissent from Judge Nancy Vaidik involving a proposed medical malpractice complaint filed with the Department of Insurance before filing fees were paid, Vaidik claimed Judge James Kirsch created a new test to determine whether a complaint is timely filed and shifted the burden of ensuring fees are paid to the Department of Insurance instead of the attorney.  

In Ann L. Miller and Richard A. Miller v. Glenn L. Dobbs, D.O., and Partners in Health, 15A05-1108-CT-431, the majority reversed the grant of summary judgment for Dr. Glenn Dobbs and Partners in Health on the issue of whether Ann and Richard Miller’s proposed medical malpractice complaint was timely filed with the DOI. Ann Miller had a stroke a few weeks after giving birth.

The complaint was mailed March 18, 2008, within the two-year statute of limitations, but the $7 filing fee was not included. The attorney sent the fee on the date the statute of limitations expired, and the department file-stamped the proposed complaint April 7, 2008.

Indiana Code 34-18-7-3(b), in the Medical Malpractice Act, provides that, “A proposed complaint under IC 34-18-8 is considered filed when a copy of the proposed complaint is delivered or mailed by registered or certified mail to the commissioner.” Indiana Code 34-18-8-2 provides that the filing fees “must accompany each proposed complaint filed.”

Kirsch decided the matter is not controlled by Supreme Court precedent, which has said filing fees must be filed with the complaint within the statute of limitations or the complaint is considered untimely. He wrote the case should be decided on the merits and can proceed two ways: treat the proposed complaint as unfiled until the fees are paid, or treat the complaint as filed and issue a show cause to the plaintiffs that they must pay the fee “in short order.” He went with the second option as it will allow the parties to proceed to determine the complaint on the merits.

Judge Elaine Brown concurred in result, writing, “… under the MMA, filing the proposed complaint by delivering or mailing by registered or certified mail, by itself, tolls the statute of limitations.” Under I.C. 34-18-7-3(b), the limitations period was tolled beginning on that date, and under I.C. 34-18-8-2, the Millers had to pay the $7 in fees to commence their action, which they satisfied in short order, she wrote.

Vaidik argued that Kirsch’s opinion creates a new test that is “fraught with problems.” She questioned where the line would be drawn in his test in other cases regarding how late the fees were paid and how much was owed. Requiring the trial courts and DOI to file show-cause orders to ensure that filing and processing fees are paid goes “too far,” and that burden should remain on attorneys, she wrote.

She believes Supreme Court precedent applies to this case, and that the statute is clear that a proposed medical malpractice complaint isn’t considered filed until the fees are paid.

“We should expect a minimum level of competence from the attorneys who practice in this State, and this minimum level of competence includes knowing that the filing and processing fees must be included with a proposed complaint in order for it to be considered filed,” she wrote.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

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. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

ADVERTISEMENT