Medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits go through several phases before the case is submitted to a jury at trial. Two of the most important pre-trial phases are the discovery phase and the summary judgment stage. The discovery phase is where the parties exchange relevant information to the case that the opposing party may not have or know to exist. Certain discovery, even of unfavorable information, is mandatory.
The summary judgment stage is where either party can ask the court to enter judgment on a case before the case is submitted to a jury. In order for a judge to determine whether summary judgment is appropriate, she looks at all the evidence and determines if either party is legally entitled to judgment in their favor. This is only the case when there are no “issues of material fact,” meaning that there are no legal issues that can be resolved in favor of the non-moving party that could result in that party’s victory.
Defendant’s Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Case Reversed on Appeal
In a recent case in front of the Indiana Supreme Court, the court corrected a lower court’s error in granting summary judgment to a defendant when it was not legally appropriate. In the case, Siner v. Kindred Hospital Limited Partnership, the plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a women who died a short time after being treated at the defendant hospital. The plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, claiming that the poor treatment at the defendant’s hospital resulted in the death of their loved one.
The defendant asked the court to dismiss the case by granting their summary judgment motion, and the lower court agreed to do so. Not satisfied, the plaintiffs appealed to a higher court.
The plaintiffs’ evidence consisted in part of an opinion from a medical review board indicating that the defendant hospital violated a duty of care and that this violation could have resulted in an injury to their loved one. The defendant’s evidence consisted of the same opinion, as well as a separate opinion by one of the doctors who was on the panel. That doctor’s opinion was that the defendant’s conduct could not have caused an injury to the plaintiffs’ loved one.
The court ruled that summary judgment was not appropriate because the evidence submitted to the court presented contradictory theories that should be resolved at a trial: namely whether the defendant’s conduct was the cause of an injury to the plaintiffs’ loved one. As noted above, summary judgment is not appropriate when there are competing theories. In this case, the court noted, it was the defendant’s own evidence that gave rise to the contradiction.
Have You Been Injured in Any Kind of Indiana Medical Malpractice Incident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Indiana accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, it is likely that your case will have to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense. Do not be caught off guard. Consult with a dedicated Indiana medical malpractice attorney about your case prior to filing by calling 888-532-7766 and setting up a free consultation to discuss your case. Calling is free and will not result in your receiving a bill for our services unless we can help you obtain compensation.
Appellate Court Determines When Evidence of a Party’s Lack of Insurance is Admissible at Trial, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, May 2, 2016
Recent Appellate Court Opinion Finds in Favor of Plaintiff in Road Rage Case, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, April 1, 2016