Published on:

Newkirk v. Bethlehem Woods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC. (898 N.E.2d 299)

Indiana-nursing-home-neglect-elderly-woman-200x300Articles: Indiana

Newkirk v. Bethlehem Woods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC. (898 N.E.2d 299)

CASE:
Newkirk v. Bethlehem Woods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC. (898 N.E.2d 299)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Newkirk, representing the estate of Martha O’Neal
Defendant (Appellant) – Bethlehem Woods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC
COURT:
Supreme Court of Indiana (2008)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Plaintiff’s estate sued Bethlehem for the wrongful death of Martha O’Neal asserting claims under the Nursing Home Reform Act, Wrongful Death Act, Indiana Survival Act, and breach of contract. Bethlehem moved for summary judgment arguing that the Statute of Limitations had run. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court of Indiana then took the case up for review.
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
Martha O’Neal was admitted to Bethlehem Woods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on September 10, 2001 for rehab following surgery. On September 22, 2001, a Bethlehem employee found O’Neal lying in a pool of her own blood. She was transferred to the hospital and later died on November 6, 2001. The estate of Martha O’Neal filed a complaint under the Wrongful Death Act on October 22, 2003, more than 2 years after the medical negligence occurred, but within 2 years of Martha’s death. The complaint alleged that Bethlehem’s negligent medical care ultimately lead to O’Neal’s death. Bethlehem moved for summary judgment arguing that the action was barred by the requirement to bring an action for medical malpractice within 2 years of the alleged act or omission.
OUTCOME AT TRIAL:
The trial court granted Bethlehem’s motion.

The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Estate’s claim arose under the Indiana Professional Services Statute (“PSS”), not the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act (“MMA”) because Bethlehem was not a “qualified provider” under the MMA

 

ISSUES ON APPEAL:
Must a plaintiff file a wrongful death claim under the PSS within two years of the medical malpractice that ultimately caused the death of the plaintiff?
SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
The Supreme Court applied Ellenwine, 846 N.E.2d 657, holding that :

“If the death was caused by the malpractice, (a) the malpractice claim (whether brought by the patient or another as the representative of the patient) terminates at the patient’s death; and (b) a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the occurrence of malpractice.”

Client Reviews

  • Having worked in the medical field, I appreciated the way that Mr. Rosenfeld and his staff approached my family’s situation. The combination of medical knowledge and legal expertise was indeed the winning combination for our case.
    ★★★★★
  • While nothing can change the way our mother was treated at a nursing facility, I do feel a sense of vindication that the facility was forced to pay for their treatment. I am certain that they would never have done had my attorneys not held their feet to the fire.
    ★★★★★
  • I was very nervous about initiating a claim against my mother’s nursing facility, but Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers took care of everything from getting the medical records to going to court. I felt like I had real advocates on my side. That meant a lot to me.
    ★★★★★
  • After a horrific episode at a nursing home, my sister and I spoke to a number of law firms. No one took the time to answer our questions and explain the legal process like Mr. Rosenfeld. He did a tremendous job on our case and I can see why he’s earned the praise he has from clients and peers.
    ★★★★★
  • I liked the fact that I could call the office and ask questions about the legal process at anytime. I could tell that my case was in good hands. I think that this was reflected in my father’s settlement was more than I anticipated the case ever being worth.
    ★★★★★