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Woman loses appeal over stillbirth medical malpractice claim

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A woman who claimed medical malpractice contributed to a stillborn child failed to persuade the Indiana Court of Appeals that a trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of defendants.

The panel affirmed in Rebecca Stafford, Individually and as Surviving Parent of Drayden Powell, Deceased, and Drayden Powell, Deceased v. James E. Szymanowki, M.D. and Gyn, Ltd., Inc., and Joseph B. Clemente, M.D., 89A01-1401-CT-48. Rebecca Stafford argued that she had pre-existing health issues that required a higher standard of care, that doctors failed to properly analyze tests that indicated decreased fetal activity, and that appropriate tests to assure fetal well-being were not ordered.

Stafford also sought to recover under the Child Wrongful Death Statute that was amended in 2009 to include any fetus that had attained viability.

Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the panel that affirmed Wayne Superior Judge Gregory Horn’s grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants.

“(W)e conclude that the trial court properly concluded that Dr. Brickner’s testimony did not create a genuine issue of material fact as to the liability of Dr.  Szymanowski; (2) GYN cannot be held vicariously liable for the perceived acts of medical malpractice committed by Dr. Smith when Dr. Smith’s conduct was never reviewed by the medical review panel; and (3) the trial court properly concluded that no recovery exists for the 2007 death of a child not born alive under the Child Wrongful Death Statute, as amended,” Riley wrote.

 

 

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