Vicarious Liability Pursued at the Panel Stage
A former hospital patient in an interlocutory appeal will not be barred from proceeding with his allegations of vicarious liability/physician negligence in his submission to be evaluated by a medical review panel, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed. In May 2016, Mason Spencer, who suffers from Pierre Robbins Syndrome, spent 25 days in a hospital undergoing multiple procedures. Spencer later filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint as a result of the malpractice and negligence on the part of the hospital.
Spencer later tendered his submission to the medical review panel that included assertions of vicarious liability for the physicians who treated him, prompting the hospital to request definitive ruling from the Vigo Superior Court, specifically requesting the court strike the allegations of vicarious liability because no physicians are named in the proposed complaint nor identified in discovery and the statute of limitations has expired.
The trial court initially granted the hospital’s petition, but later changed course and granted Spencer’s motion to reconsider. Current Indiana law does not preclude those claims from proceeding at the medical review panel stage. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed that the vicarious liability claims against the hospital may be presented to and considered by the medical review panel, affirming in a Thursday interlocutory appeal in the case of Anonymous Hospital v. Mason Spencer and Steve Robertson, Commissioner of The Indiana Dept. of Insurance, and Doug Hill, Medical Review Panel Chair, 20A-CT-393.
“In this case, we agree with the trial court that, based upon these rulings, Spencer’s failure to name or identify any physicians individually prior to the running of the statute of limitations is not fatal to his vicarious liability claims against the Hospital. In other words, Spencer may proceed with his arguments and allegations of physician negligence/vicarious liability in his submission to the MRP even though those physicians are not named in the proposed complaint and are now individually immune from suit,” Judge Terry Crone wrote in the interlocutory appeal.
“The Hospital has yet to even craft its own submission to the MRP, and it has ample notice and opportunity to respond to all alleged instances of negligence, physician or otherwise, presented by Spencer in his submission.”
It concluded that Vigo Superior Court’s order denying the Hospital’s motion for preliminary determination of law and granting Spencer’s motion to reconsider is affirmed.