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Indiana Supreme Court Denies Transfer of Case Involving Altercation at Psychiatric Center with Nurse

By Jack H. FarnbauchApril 1, 2020

The Estate of Roy Martinez sued Oaklawn after Martinez died from injuries sustained in an altercation with Kennedy Kafatia, a resident assistant. Martinez had defied Kafatia’s order to go to bed, so Kafatia kicked him in the shin. Martinez suffered a leg injury, and the laceration led to his death.

The estate filed suit under the Wrongful Death Act, but the St. Joseph Superior Court granted Oaklawn’s motion to dismiss because the claims should have been raised under the Medical Malpractice Act.

After hearing oral arguments in June 2019, the Court of Appeals affirmed the motion to dismiss in July, 2019. Then in September, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed its holding on rehearing, though it agreed in its rehearing opinion there was a dispute as to whether Martinez or Kafatia was the initial aggressor.

The majority justices denied transfer Friday in the case of Linda Martinez v. Oaklawn Psychiatric Center Inc., 18A-CT-2883, letting stand an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Oaklawn Psychiatric Center. Two justices dissented from the holding that the ensuing wrongful-death litigation should be brought under the Medical Malpractice Act.

In a dissent to the transfer denial, Justice Steven David said he would reverse the trial court’s dismissal. Justice David wrote “I believe this is a case that sounds in ordinary negligence. … The only tie between this matter and medical malpractice is the fact that (the RA) happened to be employed by a healthcare facility. The provision of healthcare here is asking Martinez to go to bed.”

You can read more about this case here