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Fort Wayne Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer and Attorney Blog

Alleged Medical Malpractice Leads to Federal Civil Rights Claim

By Jack H. FarnbauchSeptember 7, 2017

What started as a simple medical malpractice case has turned into a Federal Civil Rights case involving racism as the heart of the issue. In May 2011, Dexter Rogers’ mother, Carrie Bell Rogers, died. Dexter filed a medical malpractice claim with the Indiana Department of Insurance, claiming Parkview Hospital Inc. was negligent in its care of his mother, resulting in her death. Specifically, Rogers alleged his mother, a black woman, was provided care that was inferior to the care white patients in similar situations received.

During the case against Parkview, the Allen Superior Court ordered Parkview to produce certain documents and make its CEO available for a discovery deposition. Parkview fought the order and it was ultimately decided that Dexter Rogers could not compel Parkview to turn over the information requested in discovery. 

Rogers alleged that Parkview had failed to justify its refusal to produce its CEO for testimony, and further argued the Court of Appeals’ decision had violated his due process rights. He sought transfer with the Indiana Supreme Court, which was denied. Rogers then alleged the denial of transfer of his case was also a violation of his due process rights. 

After the Supreme Court denied transfer, counsel for Parkview contacted John Whiteleather Jr., who had been selected as chair of the medical review panel, and asked him to set a schedule for evidentiary submissions to the panel. Rogers, however, claimed he was not yet prepared to proceed to the panel hearings based on the Court of Appeals’ decision. Rogers then alleged Whiteleather attempted to move the panel process forward because Rogers was black and Parkview’s counsel was white.

Rogers filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, naming Parkview, Whiteleather and all five justices of the Indiana Supreme Court as defendants. He asked the district court to “issue a judgment declaring that the acts of the Defendants were unlawful and unconstitutional, award him damages, restrain the Defendants from violating the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and issue a preliminary injunction.”

Parkview argued multiple theories to dispose of Rogers’ case including a discovery issue involving Rogers’ complaint. Northern District Court Judge Theresa L. Springmann ruled in favor of Parkview and wrote that “the Complaint does not set forth factual allegations that raise the Plaintiff’s right to relief above the speculative level”

You can read the entire synopsis of the case here.