Expert Testimony is Often Crucial in an Indiana Medical Malpractice Action

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of a number of medical providers after a plaintiff failed to provide expert testimony in support of his case. In Perry v. Anonymous Physician 1, a man filed a proposed complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance alleging he was harmed as a result of medical malpractice that was committed by a number of doctors and a hospital. After reviewing the proposed complaint, a medical review panel found that each defendant except the hospital complied with the appropriate standard of care. In addition, the panel stated the hospital’s breach was not responsible for the man’s alleged harm.

The health care providers next sought summary judgment in their favor. In general, a motion for summary judgment asks a court to rule that there is no genuine issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Although the man filed a short response to the medical professionals’ motion, he failed to offer any contrary expert testimony. As a result, the trial court granted the medical providers’ motion and entered judgment in their favor. After the trial court denied the injured man’s motion to correct the error, he filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Indiana.

On appeal, the court stated that a medical malpractice plaintiff must demonstrate the defendant owed him a duty, the defendant failed to provide the plaintiff with the requisite standard of care, and the plaintiff was injured as a result of this failure. Next, the court said the opinion of the medical review panel satisfied the health care providers’ burden of demonstrating there was no breach of the prevailing standard of care. The appeals court then said it was up to the injured man to show that an issue of fact existed. In order to do so, the court stated a medical malpractice plaintiff must normally present the testimony of a medical expert, due to the complexity of a patient’s diagnosis and treatment.

Next, the appellate court stated the Indiana Supreme Court’s holding in Hughley did not apply to medical malpractice actions. There, the court held that a perfunctory affidavit was sufficient to establish a question of fact that was sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. According to the Court of Appeals, a medical malpractice lawsuit is different from a typical negligence case because the acceptable standard of care involves professional judgment beyond the usual reasonable person test. Because of this, whether or not a physician exercised the prevailing standard of care must generally be proven through testimony that is provided by a medical expert.

Since the injured man failed to provide conflicting expert testimony in response to the medical providers’ motion, the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

If you were injured by an Indiana medical provider’s negligent act, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your rights as soon as you are able. To discuss your situation with a seasoned Merrillville medical malpractice lawyer today, call Theodoros & Rooth, P.C. at (219) 212-2462 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Perry v. Anonymous Physician 1, Ind: Court of Appeals 2014