A major issue in Indiana medical malpractice law will be presented to the Indiana Supreme Court on November 12. On that date, the court will hear arguments in the case of Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund v. Patrick. Among the issues presented by the case is the question of whether emotional distress claims may be pursued under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act.
In the Patrick case, Gary Patrick witnessed the death of his adult son, Christopher, as a result of medical malpractice. Because Christopher had no wife or dependent children, recovery for his death was limited under Indiana law to $300,000 plus funeral and burial and medical expenses. However, Gary contended that he was entitled to bring a claim for his own emotional distress in addition to the claim for the death of his son. The trial court agreed and awarded Gary the maximum amount allowable for the death of his son, plus an additional $600,000 for Gary’s independent emotional distress claim. The total judgment was $916,531.66. The Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund appealed, arguing that the emotional distress claim could not be pursued under Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act. The trial court’s ruling was affirmed by the court of appeals and the supreme court has now agreed to hear the case.
If the Fund’s argument is accepted by the supreme court, it will effectively give doctors immunity for a number of claims. Indiana medical malpractice lawyers Garau Germano Hanley & Pennington, P.C. are representing Gary Patrick and will be arguing the case before the supreme court.