Linda Martinez, as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Roy Martinez, Appellant-Plaintiff,
Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, Inc., Appellee-Defendant.
from the St. Joseph Superior Court The Honorable Jenny Pitts
Manier, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 71D05-1803-CT-140
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Daniel H. Pfeifer James P. Barth
Jeffrey J. Stesiak South Bend, Indiana
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Robert J. Palmer Mishawaka, Indiana
The issue presented in this appeal is whether the claim in
this case alleges facts that fall under Indiana's Medical
Malpractice Act ("the Act"), or whether the facts
allege pure negligence or premises liability outside the
definitions of the Act. The St. Joseph Superior Court granted
Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, Inc.'s ("Oaklawn")
motion to dismiss under Trial Rule 12(B)(1) for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. Linda Martinez, as the personal
representative of the estate of Roy Martinez ("the
Estate"), appeals the dismissal, arguing that Oaklawn is
liable based on the theory of premises
and Procedural History
After five months of inpatient treatment for mental illness,
on February 2, 2017, Roy Martinez ("Martinez") was
admitted to Metcalf House, a voluntary group home operated by
Oaklawn that offers supervised living for patients
who do not require inpatient services. Metcalf House is
licensed as a Supervised Group Living home through the
Indiana Department of Mental Health and Addictions and is a
qualified health care provider in accordance with Indiana
Code section 34-18-2-24.5. Appellant's Conf. App. p. 44.
Oaklawn employees at Metcalf House called "residential
assistants" are responsible for helping residents
develop or improve their ability to function independently.
Specifically, resident assistants help the residents
establish and maintain routines and manage daily activities
like hygiene, self-administering medication, and
transportation. Metcalf House residential assistants are
trained annually in non-violent, verbal de-escalation
strategies. Appellant's Conf. App. p. 79. Residential
assistants are also trained to call 911 when medical
attention is required and to remove themselves from possibly
violent situations. Appellant's Conf. App. p. 92.
The Estate's complaint arises from an incident that
occurred between Martinez and residential assistant Kennedy
Kafatia ("Kafatia"). At approximately 12:30 a.m. on
August 3, 2017, the South Bend Police Department responded to
a reported assault at Metcalf House. Kafatia reported to the
responding officer that he had walked into the living room
where Martinez was watching television around midnight and
told Martinez he had to go to bed because it was past curfew.
Martinez allegedly refused and stated that he wanted to
finish his show and drink first. Kafatia said that he walked
near Martinez to turn off the lamp, and a struggle for the
lamp ensued. When both men dropped the lamp, Kafatia
explained that Martinez attempted to charge at him, and in
response, Kafatia fell back slightly, extended his right
foot, and kicked Martinez, causing a large laceration to his
right shin. Martinez reportedly fell backwards into his
chair, and his shin started bleeding. Martinez then walked to
the kitchen and called 911. Rather than following Martinez
into the kitchen, Kafatia remained in the living room to wait
for the police, which was consistent with Oaklawn's
protocol for handling altercations with the psychiatric
patients of Metcalf House.
The responding officer observed Martinez sitting on a chair
in the kitchen with a large amount of blood around him.
Martinez was still breathing and making grunting noises but
was unconscious. While waiting for medics to respond,
Martinez suddenly stopped breathing. Two officers began CPR
until medics arrived and took over, and Martinez was
transported by ambulance to a local hospital. At
approximately 1:41 a.m., Martinez was pronounced dead.
Kafatia was transported to the police department where he was
arrested for battery resulting in death. Appellant's
Conf. App. pp. 50-51.
On March 23, 2018, the Estate filed a complaint alleging that
Kafatia, acting in the course and scope of his employment,
"negligently or recklessly" injured Martinez,
resulting in his death. The complaint states that
"[a]fter [Martinez] began bleeding, neither the employee
supervising and working at Metcalf House nor employees of
[Oaklawn] exercised reasonable care by providing basic first
aid to [Martinez] or attempting to procure other medical aid
or assistance. Appellant's App. pp. 16-17. The Estate
also asserts that Oaklawn is "vicariously liable for
[Kafatia's] actions, as well as any other employees or
supervisors who failed to assist [Martinez]."
Appellant's App. p. 17.
Specifically, the Estate alleged that Oaklawn is separately
liable to Martinez for:
A. Negligently supervising Martinez;
B. Negligently supervising Kafatia;
C. Failing to provide a safe living environment for Martinez;
D. Failing to provide adequate personnel and staffing to
supervise the residents of Metcalf House;
E. Failing to provide proper training to the staff on the use
of first aid and when to use first aid;
F. Failing to properly train staff on when to call for
G. Failing to provide safety and protection for Martinez and
the residents of Metcalf House.
Appellant's App. pp. 17-18.
On May 15, 2018, Oaklawn filed its Answer and Affirmative
Defenses, stating in relevant part that "[t]his court
lacks the requisite subject matter jurisdiction over this
Complaint because [the Estate] has raised allegations of
medical malpractice, but has failed to proceed through the
medical review panel process." Appellant's App. p.
22. Thereafter, Oaklawn filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to
Trial Rule 12(B)(1) on September 7, 2018.
The trial court held a hearing on the motion on October 23,
2018. On November 27, 2018, the trial court entered an order
finding that "[w]hether the conduct of [Oaklawn] and/or
[Kafatia] was negligent, or the exercise of professional
judgment compromised, the conduct alleged is not
'unrelated to the promotion of a patient's health or
the provider's exercise of professional expertise, skill,
or judgment.'" Appellant's App. p. 15 (citation
omitted). Therefore, the trial court determined that the
Estate's claims fell under the Act and granted
Oaklawn's motion to dismiss. Id. The Estate now
The standard of review on an appeal of a case like this,
which is decided under Trial Rule 12(B)(1), is an unusual,
but critical, component of our decision-making process. A
trial court ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction under Trial Rule 12(B)(1), unlike a trial
court ruling on a motion to dismiss under Trial Rule
12(B)(6), may consider not only the complaint, but also any
affidavits or other evidence presented and submitted on the
issue of subject matter jurisdiction. B.R. ex rel. Todd
v. State, 1 N.E.3d 708, 712 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013),
trans. denied. If such evidence is presented, the
trial court may weigh the evidence to resolve the
jurisdictional issue. Id. On appeal, our standard of
review depends on what occurred in the trial court, that is,
whether the trial court resolved disputed facts, and if the
trial court resolved disputed facts, whether it conducted an
evidentiary hearing or ruled on a "paper record."
If the facts before the trial court are not in dispute, then
the question of subject matter jurisdiction is purely one of
law. Under those circumstances no deference is afforded the
trial court's conclusion because appellate courts
independently, and without the slightest deference to trial
court determinations, evaluate those issues they deem to be
questions of law. Thus, we review de novo a trial court's
ruling on a motion to dismiss under Trial Rule 12(B)(1) where
the facts before the trial court are undisputed.
If the facts before the trial court are in dispute, then our
standard of review focuses on whether the trial court
conducted an evidentiary hearing. Under those circumstances,
the court typically engages in its classic fact-finding
function, often evaluating the character and credibility of
witnesses. Thus, where a trial court conducts an evidentiary
hearing, we give its factual findings and judgment deference.
And in reviewing the trial court's factual findings and
judgment, we will reverse only if they are clearly erroneous.
Factual findings are clearly erroneous if the evidence does
not support them, and a judgment is clearly erroneous if it
is unsupported by the factual findings or conclusions of law.
However, where the facts are in dispute but the trial court
rules on a paper record without conducting an evidentiary
hearing, then no deference is afforded the trial court's
factual findings or judgment because under those
circumstances a court of review is in as good a position as
the trial court to determine whether the court has subject
matter jurisdiction. Thus, we review de novo a trial
court's ruling on a motion to dismiss where the facts
before the court are disputed and the trial court rules on a
GKN Co. v. Magness, 744 N.E.2d 397, 401 (Ind. 2001)
(citations and internal quotations omitted). In this case,
the trial court considered the following evidence in the
record: the affidavit of Laurie Nafziger, the president and
CEO of Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, Inc., the South Bend
Police Department's case report, and the deposition of
Lisa Johnson, Kafatia's supervisor and the team leader of
supervised group living at Oaklawn.
The facts set forth above are undisputed. Moreover, although
the trial court held a hearing on the motion to dismiss, the
hearing was simply an oral argument, as the parties presented
no additional evidence and no witnesses were sworn.
Accordingly, we apply a de novo standard of review based on
the paper record before us. See B.R. ex rel. Todd, 1
N.E.3d at 713 (applying de novo standard where ...