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Moryl v. Ransone

Supreme Court of Indiana

March 10, 2014

BONNIE MORYL, AS SURVIVING SPOUSE AND PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF RICHARD A. MORYL, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
CAREY B. RANSONE, M.D., LA PORTE HOSPITAL, DAWN FORNEY, RN, WANDA WAKEMAN, RN BSBA, B. PRAST, RN, AND CAROL CUTTER, IN HER CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE, Appellees (Defendants)

Page 1134

Appeal from the LaPorte Superior Court, No. 46D03-1009-CT-550. The Honorable Richard R. Stalbrink, Jr., Special Judge. On Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 46A04-1112-CT-710.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Doug A. Bernacchi, Michigan City, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR DOCTOR, APPELLEE: Michael E. O'Neill, Kelly K. McFadden, Kathleen M. Rose, O'Neill McFadden & Willett LLP, Dyer, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR HOSPITAL AND NURSES, APPELLEE: Mark A. Lienhoop, Newby, Lewis, Kaminski & Jones, LLP, La Porte, Indiana.

Dickson, Chief Justice. Rucker, David, Massa, Rush, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 1135

Dickson, Chief Justice.

This case presents a question of first impression: whether, under Indiana's Medical Malpractice Act,[1] a proposed medical malpractice complaint is considered " filed" upon deposit with a private delivery service or upon receipt. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment, finding tat such proposed complaint is filed upon receipt. We now grant transfer and hold that the commencement of a medical malpractice action occurs when a copy of the proposed complaint is deposited for mailing by registered or certified mail or by certain private delivery services and that the plaintiff's action was timely filed in this case.

The plaintiff-appellant's husband, Richard Moryl, a patient at LaPorte Hospital, died on April 20, 2007, while under the defendant-appellees' care.[2] On Sunday, April 19, 2009, the plaintiff sent her proposed complaint to the Indiana Department of Insurance (" the Department" ) via FedEx Priority Overnight. The Department received the proposed complaint on Tuesday, April 21, 2009, and file-stamped it that same day. Both parties agree that April 21st was one day after the expiration of the applicable two-year statute of limitations.

The defendants filed separate motions for summary judgment, claiming that the plaintiff's proposed complaint was filed outside the statute of limitations imposed by the Medical Malpractice Act. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment, finding that the date of filing was governed by Indiana Code section 34-18-7-3(b), a provision in the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, rather than the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure.[3] The Court of Appeals affirmed. Moryl v. Ransone, 987 N.E.2d 1159, 1164 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013), reh'g denied . The plaintiff sought rehearing and for the first time cited Indiana Code section 1-1-7-1 as support. The Court of Appeals denied rehearing without comment.

On transfer, the plaintiff again argues that the Court of Appeals' decision conflicts with Indiana Code section 1-1-7-1. We now grant transfer to review this previously undecided question of law.

To support their summary judgment motions asserting the statute of limitations, the defendants argue that the plaintiff's medical malpractice action was belatedly commenced because it was sent by commercial courier rather than mailed by registered or certified mail. The plaintiff responds that whether so mailed or otherwise deposited with a commercial courier, the date of commencement of the action is the same: the date of such mailing or deposit. ...


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