McKeen v. Turner

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Justia Opinion Summary

Plaintiff filed a proposed malpractice complaint alleging that Defendant’s medical and surgical treatment of Plaintiff’s wife failed to meet the appropriate standard of care, resulting in her death. In addition to the complaint, Plaintiff submitted to the Medical Review Panel (MRP) his wife’s medical records and a narrative statement. The MRP found that Defendant had met the applicable standard of care. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a complaint in court. Plaintiff named as an expert a hematologist who was expected to testify that Defendant had failed to prescribe the appropriate dosage of anticoagulation medication. Defendant moved to strike the hematologist’s opinion on grounds that Plaintiff’s submission to the MRP did not allege malpractice relating to the anticoagulation medication and so Plaintiff could not pursue the claim in court. The trial court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that Plaintiff was allowed to raise theories of alleged malpractice during litigation following the MRP process. The Supreme Court granted transfer and adopted and incorporated by reference the Court of Appeals opinion, holding that the Court of Appeals’ opinion was consistent with Miller v. Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Inc.

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ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Michael E. O’Neill Nathan D. Hansen O’Neill McFadden & Willett LLP Schererville, Indiana ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE James H. Young Young & Young Indianapolis, Indiana ATTORNEY FOR AMICUS CURIAE INDIANA TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION Jerry Garau Garau Germano, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana ATTORNEYS FOR AMICUS CURIAE DEFENSE TRIAL COUNSEL OF INDIANA Donald B. Kite, Sr. Wuertz Law Office, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana FILED Crystal G. Rowe Kightlinger & Gray, LLP New Albany, Indiana Apr 07 2017, 3:20 pm CLERK Indiana Supreme Court Court of Appeals and Tax Court ATTORNEYS FOR AMICUS CURIAE STEPHEN W. ROBERTSON, COMMISSIONER OF THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE AND ADMINISTRATOR OF THE INDIANA PATIENT’S COMPENSATION FUND Matthew W. Conner Bryan H. Babb Bose McKinney & Evans LLP Indianapolis, Indiana Wade D. Fulford Indiana Department of Insurance Indianapolis, Indiana ______________________________________________________________________________ In the Indiana Supreme Court _________________________________ No. 53S05-1704-CT-202 CHARLES MCKEEN, M.D., Appellant (Defendant below), v. BILLY TURNER , Appellee (Plaintiff below). _________________________________ Appeal from the Monroe Circuit Court, No. 53C06-1201-CT-000088 The Honorable Frances G. Hill, Judge _________________________________ On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 53A05-1511-CT-02047 _________________________________ April 7, 2017 Per Curiam. Billy Turner filed a proposed malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance pursuant to the Medical Malpractice Act, alleging Doctor Charles McKeen’s medical and surgical treatment of Turner’s wife, Rowena, failed to meet the appropriate standard of care. In addition to the complaint, Turner’s submission to the Medical Review Panel (“MRP”) included Rowena’s medical records and a narrative statement describing the records and alleging the delay in exploratory surgery following Rowena’s readmission to the hospital resulted in her death. (Appellant's App. pp. 74, 86.) The MRP issued a unanimous opinion finding the evidence did not support a conclusion that Dr. McKeen had failed to meet the applicable standard of care. Turner then filed a complaint in court. After extensive discovery, Turner filed a supplemental witness list naming an expert hematologist who was expected to testify that Dr. McKeen had failed to prescribe the appropriate dosage of anticoagulation medication, leading to Rowena’s death. Dr. McKeen filed a motion to strike the hematologist’s opinion on grounds Turner’s submission to the MRP did not allege malpractice relating to the anticoagulation medication, and so Turner could not pursue the claim in court. The trial court denied Dr. McKeen’s motion, and this interlocutory appeal followed. Before a plaintiff may pursue a malpractice complaint in court against a qualified healthcare provider, the Medical Malpractice Act requires the plaintiff to present a proposed complaint to a MRP, and the MRP must give its opinion as to whether the provider breached the standard of care.1 See Ind. Code § 34-18-8-4. Dr. McKeen contends Turner is attempting to raise a new claim in the trial court that he did not present to the MRP, in violation of the statute. The Court of Appeals disagreed in an opinion authored by Judge Baker, holding “a plaintiff may raise any theories of alleged malpractice during litigation following the MRP process if (1) the proposed complaint encompasses the theories, and (2) the evidence relating to those theories was before the MRP.” McKeen v. Turner, 61 N.E.3d 1251, 1262 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016). The Court of Appeals concluded Turner met these requirements and may pursue in court his claim related to the anticoagulation medication. We agree with the Court of Appeals, finding its opinion consistent with Miller v. Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Inc., 679 N.E.2d 1329 (Ind. 1997). We thus grant transfer and adopt and incorporate by reference the Court of Appeals opinion. See Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A)(1). We further find K.D. v. Chambers, 951 N.E.2d 855 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), is at odds with Miller on the issue we address today and expressly disapprove K.D. All Justices concur. 1 None of the limited exceptions to this general rule apply here.