Before any Indiana personal injury case reaches trial, the parties must go through the pre-trial discovery stage. During the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit, the parties are required to exchange relevant evidence, including documents, witness names, and other information, that is requested by the opposing party.
Some relevant evidence that is otherwise discoverable, however, is exempt from the rules of discovery if it is covered by one or more privileges. A privilege attaches to a certain class of evidence and is usually based on some public policy concern. For example, the attorney-client privilege protects correspondence between an attorney and his client, based on the idea that a client should trust that he can be honest with his attorney without risking the attorney disclosing the substance of the conversation.
A recent appellate court opinion in a nursing home negligence case upheld the nursing home’s asserted privilege that was based on a state statute.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff’s son was a resident in the defendant nursing home. One day, the plaintiff’s son was attacked by a fellow resident and died from the injuries he sustained in the attack. The plaintiff then filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home.
The plaintiff filed a pre-trial discovery request, seeking information regarding the following:
- The nursing home’s insurance limits,
- Any similar cases that had been filed against the nursing home,
- Information regarding the home’s knowledge of any previous aggressive actions by the person who attacked the plaintiff’s son, and
- The results of the nursing home’s internal investigation of the plaintiff’s son’s death.
The nursing home objected to each of the requests, claiming that certain statutes or privileges protected the information.
The Court’s Decision
The court determined that each of the discovery requests must be followed, with the exception of the request seeking the results of the nursing home’s internal investigation. The court concluded that the state’s “quality assurance” privilege covered the results of the internal investigation because the investigation was conducted to determine the cause of the incident and how future incidents could be prevented. This, the court held, is exactly the type of information that the legislature intended to be protected from discovery because requiring a party to disclose this type of information may discourage nursing homes from trying to improve care through internal investigations of incidents.
Is Your Loved One at Risk?
If you have a loved one in an Indiana nursing home, and you believe that they have been subjected to abuse or neglect, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled Indiana personal injury attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience representing nursing home residents and their families in claims against abusive and negligent nursing homes and their employees. We offer free consultations to Indiana nursing home residents and their families to determine which claims they can bring against nursing homes. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated attorney to discuss your case.
Court Resolves Statute of Limitations Argument in Favor of Defendant in Recent Premises Liability Lawsuit, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, October 4, 2017
Court Upholds Jury’s Fault Determination in Favor of Plaintiff in Recent Product Liability Case Brought Against Vehicle Manufacturer, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, September 18, 2017