Negligence claim barred on account of occurrence-based limitations period

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Boehm, Justice.

The IMMA provides for an occurrence-based statute of limitations, i.e., a medical malpractice claim must be filed within two years after the act or omission alleged to constitute malpractice. We have held that the statute is constitutional on its face but may violate the Indiana Constitution if applied to a plaintiff who despite exercise of reasonable diligence does not learn of the injury or malpractice before the period expires. We elaborate what exercise of reasonable diligence requires when, as here, the limitations period is occurrence-based. Limitations issues in most cases are resolved as a matter of law. There may, however, be genuine issues of material fact as to when the plaintiff in exercise of reasonable diligence should learn of the injury or disease and that it may be attributable to malpractice. If limitations issues cannot be resolved as a matter of law on summary judgment, factual disputes are to be submitted to the trier of fact.

Conclusion (slip op. at 12):  The trial court’s grant of summary judgment is affirmed.

Key Analysis (slip op. at 11):  In sum, claims based on negligence in the May 6, 2002 surgery are barred because Herron failed as a matter of law to pursue his claim with reasonable diligence within the period required by the statute.

Dickson, J., dissents with separate opinion in which Rucker, J., concurs:  “I dissent, believing that the majority today would create an unprecedented new and rigorous barrier preventing injured patients a reasonable opportunity to access the courts to seek remedy for medical malpractice claims . . .”

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Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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