James T. Horejs, James Harris, and Robert Horejs, as Co-Administrators of the Estate of Laura A. Shaner, Deceased Appellants (Plaintiffs below),
Albert Milford, D.O., St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers, Inc., and TRC-Indiana LLC d/b/a Comprehensive Renal Care-Munster d/b/a DaVita, Inc. Appellees (Defendants below).
Argued: October 25, 2018
from the Lake Superior Court No. 45D11-0711-CT-195 The
Honorable Diane Kavadias Schneider, Judge.
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals No.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS Timothy S. Schafer Timothy S.
Schafer, II Todd S. Schafer Schafer & Schafer
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE ALBERT MILFORD, D.O. Jason A. Scheele
Edward L. Murphy Rothberg Logan & Warsco LLP Fort Wayne,
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE ST. MARGARET MERCY HEALTHCARE CENTERS,
INC. Libby Yin Goodknight Krieg DeVault LLP Indianapolis,
Indiana Shannon L. Noder Julie Ann Rosenwinkel Krieg DeVault
LLP Merrillville, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE TRC-INDIANA LLC Leslie B. Pollie
Travis W. Montgomery Kopka Pinkus Dolin PC Carmel, Indiana
occasion, a case arises that demonstrates the enduring
importance of drafting a will. This is one such case. The
present dispute arises out of a wrongful death suit initiated
by David Shaner after his wife Laura's death due to
complications with the administration of dialysis treatments.
David sought two categories of damages contemplated by
Indiana's wrongful death statute: damages related to
medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses and
additional damages including loss of consortium, lost
earnings and wages, and loss of additional employment
benefits. During litigation, David died intestate, leaving no
immediately ascertainable heirs. Defendants, Dr. Albert
Milford, St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers, Inc., and
TRC-Indiana, LLC, moved for partial summary judgment on
David's claim for damages related to loss of consortium,
arguing any damages in excess of medical, hospital, funeral,
and burial expenses would be punitive in nature because David
left no heirs. The trial court granted the Defendant's
motion and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
grant transfer today to reverse the trial court's grant
of partial summary judgment and hold that the wrongful death
and survival statutes enable David's claim to survive
regardless of the existence of an heir. Because we are not
convinced the proper party is maintaining David's claim,
however, we also instruct the trial court to determine
whether there is a proper party to continue the action as
contemplated by the relevant statutes.
and Procedural History
2005, Laura Shaner underwent surgery performed by Defendant
Albert Milford, D.O. ("Milford") at St. Margaret
Mercy Healthcare Center ("St. Margaret") in Dyer,
Indiana, for the repair of an abdominal hernia.
Unfortunately, complications arose after the surgery, which
necessitated Laura's dialysis treatments at TRC-Indiana,
LLC d/b/a Comprehensive Renal Care-Munster d/b/a DaVita, Inc.
("TRC"). Laura died on January 4, 2006, after
problems from administration of the dialysis and was survived
by her husband David Shaner.
individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Laura A.
Shaner, brought suit against Milford, St. Margaret, and TRC,
asserting Defendants were liable in negligence for
Laura's death. David sought two categories of damages
resulting from the wrongful death of Laura: "final-
expense damages" including medical, hospital, funeral,
and burial expenses, and "survivor damages" for the
loss of consortium, including the loss of Laura's
earnings and wages, and her services, love, affection,
companionship, society, support, and protection.
While these claims were pending, David died intestate on
October 30, 2015, leaving no known surviving heirs.
David's estate escheated to the State of Indiana.
2016, Laura's father, James T. Horejs, was appointed
successor administrator of Laura's Estate, and
Laura's brothers, Robert Horejs and James Harris, were
appointed as co-administrators (collectively
"Horejs"). These co-administrators continued to
claim both final-expense and survivor damages flowing from
the wrongful death claim. TRC, joined by St. Margaret and
Milford, moved for partial summary judgment on the survivor
damages claim, arguing that, because of David's death,
there was no evidence to support a claim for loss of
consortium damages. Because David left no will, had no
dependents or next of kin, and there was no evidence
available to calculate damages for a loss of consortium
claim, the trial court granted ...