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Sartain v. Trilogy Healthcare of Hamilton II, LLC

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 26, 2019

Joann G. Sartain, by and through her attorney-in-fact, Cindy Harding, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Trilogy Healthcare of Hamilton II, LLC d/b/a Prairie Lakes Health Campus, Appellee-Defendant

          Appeal from the Hamilton Superior Court, The Honorable William J. Hughes, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 29D03-1511-PL-9242

          Attorneys for Appellant H. Kennard Bennett Sara M. McClammer Bennett & McClammer Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellee Christopher D. Simpkins Thomas D. Perkins Stephanie L. Grass Mackenzie E. Skalski Paganelli Law Group Indianapolis, Indiana.

          VAIDIK, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Joann Sartain filed a four-count complaint against Trilogy Healthcare of Hamilton II, LLC d/b/a Prairie Lakes Health Campus ("Prairie Lakes"). Prairie Lakes moved to dismiss Counts I and III, which the trial court granted. The parties continued to litigate Counts II and IV but eventually filed a stipulation to dismiss the case "in its entirety." Sartain now seeks to appeal the dismissal of Counts I and III. Prairie Lakes argues that the appeal must be dismissed. We agree. Because Sartain explicitly stipulated to the dismissal of the case in its entirety, there was no final judgment, and we lack jurisdiction. We therefore dismiss the appeal.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] In November 2015, Sartain, by and through her daughter and attorney-in-fact, Cindy Harding, filed a lawsuit against Prairie Lakes, a nursing facility in Noblesville. Sartain suffers from dementia and resided at Prairie Lakes from February 2012 until February 2014, when Prairie Lakes discharged her to a hospital. Sartain's complaint made four claims: Count I, Negligence - Improper Discharge; Count II, Negligence - Substandard Care; Count III, Abuse of Process; and Count IV, Breach of Contract.

         [¶3] Prairie Lakes moved to dismiss Counts I and III, claiming that Sartain had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. The trial court granted that motion in May 2016. The trial court certified its order for interlocutory appeal, but this Court declined jurisdiction.

         [¶4] Litigation continued on Counts II and IV until June 2019, when the parties filed a Stipulation of Dismissal. The stipulation provided that the parties, "pursuant to Rule 41(A)(1)(b) of the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, stipulate and agree to the dismissal of the above-referenced cause of action, in its entirety, each party to bear their own attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses." Appellee's App. Vol. II p. 5. The parties also submitted a proposed Order of Dismissal, which provided:

The Court, being duly advised in the premises and having reviewed the parties' Stipulation of Dismissal, now ORDERS that the above-referenced cause of action is hereby dismissed, with each party bearing their own attorney's fees, costs, and expenses.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Plaintiff's cause of action against Defendant is hereby dismissed in its entirety.

         Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 146. The trial court signed the order.

         [¶5] Three weeks later, Sartain filed a notice of appeal with this Court. She indicated that she is appealing the May 2016 order dismissing Counts I and III and that the "Basis for Appellate Jurisdiction" is "Appeal from a Final Judgment, as defined by Appellate Rule 2(H) and 9(I)." Appellee's App. Vol. II p. 3. Prairie Lakes moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the trial court never issued a final judgment and that therefore this Court ...


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