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Proposed med mal complaint fee divides Court of Appeals

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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.

 

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  1. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  2. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  3. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

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  5. Dear Fan, let me help you correct the title to your post. "ACLU is [Left] most of the time" will render it accurate. Just google it if you doubt that I am, err, "right" about this: "By the mid-1930s, Roger Nash Baldwin had carved out a well-established reputation as America’s foremost civil libertarian. He was, at the same time, one of the nation’s leading figures in left-of-center circles. Founder and long time director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Baldwin was a firm Popular Fronter who believed that forces on the left side of the political spectrum should unite to ward off the threat posed by right-wing aggressors and to advance progressive causes. Baldwin’s expansive civil liberties perspective, coupled with his determined belief in the need for sweeping socioeconomic change, sometimes resulted in contradictory and controversial pronouncements. That made him something of a lightning rod for those who painted the ACLU with a red brush." http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/roger-baldwin-2/ "[George Soros underwrites the ACLU' which It supports open borders, has rushed to the defense of suspected terrorists and their abettors, and appointed former New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237 "The creation of non-profit law firms ushered in an era of progressive public interest firms modeled after already established like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") and the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") to advance progressive causes from the environmental protection to consumer advocacy." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cause_lawyering

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