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Medical Malpractice

Columbus Regional Hospital v. Amburgey (Ind. Ct. App. Sept. 19, 2012)

This medical malpractice case involves an important issue of law not previously explicitly addressed by Indiana Courts: whether a plaintiff may pursue a claim against a principal based on an apparent agency relationship where the party did not sue the agent and the statute of limitations against the agent has run. This panel of the Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff may maintain such an action, relying on cases from Wisconsin and Tennessee. The Court did not cite or discuss cases from other jurisdictions holding that plaintiffs may not maintain such suits. In fact, the majority view appears to be that such suits are improper. The Court also did not discuss Indiana cases holding that if a suit against an agent is barred, the suit against the principal is also barred. It will be interesting to see if this decision remains the last word by our appellate courts on this issue.

This case is important in the medical malpractice context, in which plaintiffs often attempt to hold hospitals and other healthcare providers liable under the apparent agency doctrine. This decision also arguably applies outside the medical malpractice context and is therefore important for any practitioners faced with an apparent agency issue.

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