COA reiterates Indiana has no private right of action in child abuse cases

Despite a mother’s assertion that she was actually filing a medical malpractice complaint, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled her complaint was a private right of action for failure to report child abuse, which is not recognized in Indiana.

Kelli Sprunger filed a complaint for medical malpractice after her baby died of alleged child abuse at the hands of her cousin. Sprunger argued John Egli, M.D., who treated her daughter, failed to diagnose the abuse.

However, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of Egli in Kelli Sprunger v. John A. Egli, M.D., 44A04-1412-CT-567. The panel held Sprunger was essentially alleging a failure to report child abuse.

“Assuming Dr. Egli had sufficient reason to believe that (Sprunger’s daughter) was a victim of abuse, as Sprunger contends, Sprunger’s claim rests on more than a misdiagnosis of the injuries,” Judge Margret Robb wrote. “It inescapably rests on the additional premise that had the misdiagnosis not occurred, Dr. Egli would have reported the child abuse pursuant to the mandatory reporting statutes.

“…As Sprunger herself demonstrates, Dr. Egli’s alleged failure to report the abuse is logically inseparable from his alleged failure to diagnose it,” Robb concluded.   


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