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COA: Patient not notified doctor was independent contractor

March 31, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled a man was never notified that the doctor treating him was an independent contractor and not an employee and therefore reversed summary judgment to the hospital and remanded the man’s vicarious liability case to the trial court.

Robert Ford was experiencing pain and swelling of his leg in 2009 and was diagnosed with a large blood clot. He was admitted to Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services, treated by Dr. Shad Jawaid and released two days later. He was also treated at a different hospital for the same thing, and continues to have health issues from the clot.

In 2011, he filed a medical malpractice complaint and amended it in 2013 with the Indiana Department of Insurance. The medical review panel found Jawaid failed to comply with the appropriate standard of care and his conduct was a factor, but the hospital was not at fault for his injuries.

In 2014, Ford filed a medical malpractice complaint against the hospital, and the hospital filed for summary judgment. Ford submitted evidence to support his claims, but most of the evidence was struck after motions from the hospital. Later the trial court granted the hospital’s motion for summary judgment and Ford appealed.

The COA said the trial court was right in dismissing most of Ford’s evidence because each of the documents was unsworn and unverified.

Ford also claimed the hospital was directly liable for negligence. However, to prove negligence, the plaintiff needs expert testimony, and Ford didn’t have any. Therefore the court was right in granting summary judgment on the negligence claim.

However, the COA did find that granting summary judgment to the hospital on Ford’s vicarious liability claim was not justified. It said Ford was not properly notified that Jawaid was an independent contractor at the hospital and not an employee. Ford signed a form that said some employees may be independent contractors, but the form never specified which ones were and Ford was never told.

The case is Robert Prescott Ford v. Dr. Shad Jawaid M.D. and Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services, 22A04-1506-CT-575.

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