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Sexual misconduct doesn't fall under MedMal act

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The Indiana Court of Appeals today affirmed a trial court determination that an employee's sexual conduct with a patient can't constitute a rendition of health care or professional services, so a negligent hiring complaint against a hospital based on that conduct doesn't fall under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act.

In Fairbanks Hospital v. Dan Harrold, Eva Harrold, Natalie Harrold, and Indiana Department of Insurance, No. 49A02-0712-CV-1055, the Court of Appeals had to consider whether a complaint alleging negligent hiring, training, and supervision of a hospital employee falls within the act if the underlying tort allegedly committed by the employee was unwanted sexual advances.

Eighteen-year-old Natalie Harrold was admitted to Fairbanks' adolescent unit for inpatient substance abuse treatment. Adolescent guidance counselor Larry Shears participated in Harrold's care in September 1997. Shears later hugged, kissed, and patted Natalie on her buttocks on more than one occasion and urged her to call him. After she was discharged, Natalie reported Shears behavior; he was later fired.

The Harrolds' filed a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance and in Marion Superior Court, including an allegation of negligent supervision against Fairbanks. Fairbanks sought a ruling as a matter of law that the Harrolds' claims fall within the scope of the state's Medical Malpractice Act.

Citing Winona Memorial Hospital, Ltd. Partnership v. Kuester, 737 N.E.2d 824 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), the appellate court wrote that both allegedly tortious acts - that the hospital was negligent and the employee's alleged negligence - that comprise a patient's claim of malpractice must sound in medical malpractice and not merely ordinary negligence, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

In the instant case, Shears sexual misconduct with Natalie doesn't constitute a rendition of health care or professional services, so a claim based on the conduct doesn't fall under the act, wrote the judge. Because Shear's conduct doesn't fall under the act, the negligence claim against Fairbanks also can't fall within the scope of the act.

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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