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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court: "Delayed malpractice claim OK’d"

"Delayed malpractice claim OK’d: High court lets Wabash man sue 3 years after Lasik" is the headline to a story today by Niki Kelly in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, relating to the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday in L. Thomas & Norma Sue Booth v. Robert G. Wiley, M.D., Ronald K. Norlund, O.D., and Midwest Eye Consultants, P.C. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Friday that a northeast Indiana man can move forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging Lasik eye surgery left him nearly blind in one eye.

In 2001, L. Thomas Booth sued Dr. Robert G. Wiley, Dr. Ronald Norlund and Midwest Eye Consultants in Wabash, but an Allen Superior Court trial judge found the man had not filed within the statute of limitations and dismissed the case.

The crux of the legal argument is when Booth should have known enough to suspect that a Lasik eye surgery first performed in November 1998 might have contributed to severe impairment in his right eye. * * *

Under law, Booth had two years from the date of the original surgery or until November 2000 to claim malpractice. But Booth’s attorneys argued he didn’t understand there was a connection between his worsening eyesight and the Lasik surgeries until after that period lapsed.

It wasn’t until December 2000 that another doctor told Booth that Lasik surgery should not have been performed because of his pre-existing conditions and might have complicated his cataracts. After this assessment, Booth sued in July 2001.

The Indiana Supreme Court – in a split 3-2 decision – found the evidence does not “indisputably establish that Mr. Booth discovered the malpractice and resulting injury, or acquired knowledge sufficient to lead a reasonably diligent person to discover the malpractice and resulting injury, until Dec. 4, 2000.” Therefore, he is allowed to pursue his claim in court. * * *

Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard issued a dissent in the case in which he accused his colleagues of stretching the bounds of Indiana law on medical malpractice. He said it “takes us light years away” from previous precedent and “turns the medical malpractice statute of limitations into a very liberal rule without so much as a word about why the Indiana Constitution requires the result.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 31, 2005 08:16 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions