Justices deny 19 petitions to transfer

The Indiana Supreme Court has denied 19 cases on petition to transfer, rejecting a handful of cases involving medical malpractice, school threats and sentence modifications.

Justices unanimously denied transfer in The Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County d/b/a Eagle Valley Meadows and American Senior Communities, LLC v. Sharon Dial, as Administrator for the Estate of Robert McFerran, Deceased, 20A-CT-2382.  In that case, the Court of Appeals of Indiana was confronted with a question of first impression. Namely, whether a proposed complaint filed before the Indiana Department of Insurance by the deceased administrator of an alleged malpractice victim’s estate tolls the statute of limitations.

Following the death of Robert McFerran and the subsequent death of his wife, Betty McFerran, an attorney filed a proposed complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance on Betty’s behalf, individually and as wife of Robert. It alleged Eagle Valley Meadows, where Robert was living when he died, provided negligent medical care to Robert and, as a result, he suffered permanent injuries, pain, emotional distress and death.

Sharon Dial was later appointed successor administrator of her father’s estate and filed a complaint in Marion Superior Court alleging negligence resulting in her father’s death at the nursing home.

The COA allowed the IDOI claim in the name of Dial’s deceased parents to proceed, concluding that while a party must be alive to initiate a complaint in state or federal court, the cases Eagle Valley cited did not answer whether a proposed complaint filed before the IDOI by the deceased administrator of the alleged malpractice victim’s estate tolls the statute of limitations.

It also held that Robert was the victim of the alleged malpractice, the administrator of his estate is the real party in interest and is therefore required to bring suit in state court because the administrator stands to recover and distribute whatever judgment may be entered against Eagle Valley.

Supreme Court justices denied the remainder of the cases before the high court up for review last week, but split in deciding two of those.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush voted to grant transfer in K.Y. v. State of Indiana, 21A-JV-330. In that case, Knox County teenager K.Y. sent a threatening social media message to numerous middle school students involving guns. She was subsequently found to be a delinquent child who had committed acts that would constitute intimidation as a Class A misdemeanor and as a Level 6 felony if committed by an adult.

While it agreed there was sufficient evidence to support K.Y.’s felony intimidation adjudication, the COA ordered the juvenile court to vacate her misdemeanor adjudication after concluding she could not be adjudicated delinquent for both offenses. But the appellate court disagreed with K.Y. that her message was the equivalent of a “juvenile antic” intended as a joke.

Justices also parted ways in denying transfer to memorandum decision Lyndal Woosley, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 21A-CR-351, with Justice Steven David and Rush voting to take the case.

The COA affirmed the denial of a motion to correct error filed by Lyndal Woosley, Jr. after the Harrison Superior Court denied his motion for a sentence modification. Woosley argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to correct error because he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his motion for a sentence modification. However, the appellate court found Indiana Code section 35-38-1-17 does not require the trial court to conduct a hearing before denying a motion for sentence modification.

The COA also concluded that Woosley didn’t  have a due process right to such a hearing and that neither Woosley’s plea agreement nor the trial court’s sentencing order obligated the trial court to conduct a hearing.

The full list of transfer decisions for the week ending Dec. 3 can be found here.

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