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Dotson v. Stryker Corp.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

August 3, 2018

Kathy Dotson, Appellant-Plaintiff,
Stryker Corporation, Brad Bolinger, Patrick Reagan, Jeffrey M. Sheedy, M.D., Rochester Orthopedics, P.C., and Woodlawn Hospital, Appellees-Defendants.

          Appeal from the Fulton Circuit Court The Honorable A. Christopher Lee, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 25C01-1610-PL-585

          Attorney for Appellant John Johnston Johnston & Johnston, PC Wabash, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellees - Stryker Corporation & Patrick Reagan Douglas B. Bates Chelsea R. Stanley Stites & Harbison PLLC Jeffersonville, Indiana.

          Attorney for Appellee - Brad Bolinger Matthew W. Melton Norris Choplin Schroeder LLP Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellees - Jeffrey M. Sheedy, M.D., Rochester Orthopedics, P.C., & Woodlawn Hospital Jason A. Scheele Dustin J. Tirpak Rothberg Logan & Warsco LLP Fort Wayne, Indiana.

          Najam, Judge.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Kathy Dotson appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Stryker Corporation ("Stryker"), Brad Bolinger, Patrick Reagan, Dr. Jeffrey M. Sheedy, Rochester Orthopedics, P.C. ("Rochester"), and Woodlawn Hospital ("Woodlawn"). Dotson raises three issues for our review, which we consolidate and restate as the following two issues:

1. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it considered Dotson's deposition on summary judgment when Dotson had not reviewed or signed her deposition at the time of its designation.
2. Whether the trial court erred when it entered summary judgment on the grounds that Dotson had filed her complaint outside of the relevant statute of limitations.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] In February of 2014, Dotson went to Woodlawn for knee-replacement surgery, which was to be performed by Dr. Sheedy. Shortly before she went under anesthesia, Dotson observed Bolinger and Reagan in her operating room with Dr. Sheedy and other Woodlawn medical personnel. Dotson could tell from their dress that Bolinger and Reagan were not medical personnel-they were in fact employees of Stryker, and they were present in the room ostensibly to discuss Stryker products with Dr. Sheedy as they related to knee replacements. Their presence in the operating room made Dotson uncomfortable, but before she could object she went under anesthesia.

         [¶4] More than two years later, on October 20, 2016, Dotson filed suit against Stryker, Bolinger, Reagan, Dr. Sheedy, Rochester, and Woodlawn. Her complaint alleged that the defendants had committed invasion of privacy when Bolinger and Reagan had been permitted in the operating room during her February 2014 knee-replacement surgery. Dotson further alleged that she had "first learned that [Bolinger and Reagan] were present during the left knee replacement surgery . . . after Defendant [Woodlawn had] mailed copies of [Dotson's] medical records to [her] counsel on or after October 21, 2014." Appellant's App. Vol. 2 at 18.

         [¶5] In January of 2017, Dr. Sheedy and Rochester moved for summary judgment on the grounds that, prior to her knee-replacement surgery, Dotson had signed an authorization form in which she had "authorized the presence of product representatives . . . during her operation." Id. at 32. Dr. Sheedy and Rochester designated Dotson's signed authorization form along with their motion for summary judgment. The authorization form stated that Dotson "authorize[s] and directs Dr. Jeffrey Sheedy, D[.]O[.] and/or associates or assistants of his/her choice to perform the operation(s) or procedure(s) listed above including whatever incidental procedures and/or additional services, involving anesthesia, radiology, pathology, product representatives, use of biological agents and the like as may be advisable for my well-being." Id. at 39 (emphasis added). Dotson objected to the admissibility of the authorization form, and, in an affidavit she designated in response to the motion for summary judgment, Dotson denied having signed the document.

         [¶6] In April of 2017, Dotson testified in a deposition. On the first day of her deposition, Dotson admitted that she knew at the time of her February 2014 surgery that Bolinger and Reagan were in her operating room, that they were conspicuously not medical personnel, and that their presence in the room made her uncomfortable. She further testified that she did not believe that she had given informed consent to their presence, and that she did not have the opportunity to object to their presence prior to the surgery because, shortly after she had observed Bolinger and Reagan, she was anesthetized.

         [¶7] The first day of Dotson's deposition came to an abrupt end when she became ill, and the second day of Dotson's deposition did not occur until June of 2017. However, in May, between Dotson's two deposition days, Stryker filed its motion for summary judgment. In addition to relying on the authorization form, Stryker also designated and relied on the first day of Dotson's deposition.[1]Relying on that evidence, Stryker argued that Dotson's complaint had been filed outside the relevant statute of limitations. On Dotson's motion, the trial court granted her an extension of time to August 11 to respond to Stryker's motion and designated evidence.

         [¶8] Dotson's second, and last, deposition day occurred on June 5, 2017. During her testimony on that day, Dotson admitted that she had signed the authorization form. However, she testified that she had signed it only after her knee-replacement surgery had already occurred.

         [¶9] On July 12, Reagan moved for summary judgment. Reagan argued both that Dotson had authorized his and Bolinger's presence when she had executed the authorization form and that the statute of limitations had lapsed prior to Dotson filing her complaint. Reagan designated the authorization form and both days of Dotson's deposition. Stryker, Dr. Sheedy, Rochester, and Woodlawn moved to join Reagan's motion for summary judgment, which the trial court permitted. ...

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