COA affirms med-mal suit venue is Monroe, not Marion County

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a venue switch for a medical malpractice case from Marion County to Monroe County on Tuesday, finding Marion County was not a county of preferred venue.

In December 2017, Cynthia Morrison filed a complaint for medical malpractice in Marion County on behalf of her deceased husband, Ernest Morrison, naming as defendants Dr. Ricardo Vasquez and Vascular Center & Vein Clinic of Southern Indiana; Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Fort Wayne Radiology Association, LLC; Dr. Amar Pinto, Premier Healthcare, LLC; Dr. Mohamed Nassar; and Indiana University Health Bloomington, Inc., d/b/a Bloomington Hospital, Inc.

The complaint alleged in part that the care, advice, and treatment of the defendants fell below the acceptable standard of care, proximately resulting in Ernest’s death.

Morrison argued the trial court erred in granting practitioners’ motion to transfer venue from Marion County to Monroe County, contesting Marion County is a preferred venue under Trial Rule 75(A)(4).

In part, Trial Rule 75(A) provides that a preferred venue lies in the county where “the greater percentage of individual defendants included in the complaint resides” or where “either the principal office of a defendant organization is located or the office or agency of a defendant organization.”

Citing Am. Family Ins. Co., 857 N.E.2d at 974, Morrison contended that the registered agent and office of a domestic corporation provide the basis for venue under Rule 75(A)(4), that the address of Bloomington Hospital’s registered agent was an address in Marion County, and thus that Marion County is a county of preferred venue.

However, the appellate court found that the Indiana Secretary of State’s record for Bloomington Hospital showed its principal office address is located in Bloomington.

The appellate court noted that the greater number of defendants, fact witnesses, and medical records were located in Monroe County. Similarly, a medical procedure and the decedent’s death both occurred in Monroe County, and Morrison did not live in Marion County.

Morrison also argued that the complaint was filed on December 20, 2017, that venue is determined as of the time the complaint was filed, and that Ind. Code § 23-0.5-4-12, which became effective on January 1, 2018, did not apply to the case.

But the appellate court found that code to be applicable in Cynthia Morrison, Individually and on behalf of Ernest Morrison, Deceased v. Ricardo Vasquez, M.D., and Vascular Center & Vein Clinic of Southern Indiana, Kevin O'Connor, M.D., et al., 18A-CT-376, because the case was still pending and the court had not yet made a determination regarding venue by the date the code went into effect.

“Pursuant to Ind. Code § 23-0.5-4-12, the address of Bloomington Hospital’s registered agent does not determine venue and Marion County is not a county of preferred venue for purposes of Trial Rule 75(A)(4) on that basis,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the court Tuesday. “Accordingly, we do not disturb the trial court’s order that the case be transferred to the Monroe Superior Court.”

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