On Jan. 15, 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in the case of Plank vs. Community Hospitals of Indiana. The unanimous court ruled that Plank waited too long to raise his legal challenge to the constitutionality of the medical malpractice damages cap.
Thus, by waiting until after trial and after the verdict, Plank “forfeited any opportunity he otherwise may have been afforded to conduct an evidentiary hearing.” Absent an unlikely re-hearing on the court’s decision, the Plank case is concluded; this constitutionality challenge will not go forward. The Court did not opine on the constitutionality of the law.
As reported, a second constitutionality challenge, Matthews v. Lupton, was “stayed” by the trial court judge pending the Plank outcome. The parties will now seek a ruling as to whether the Matthews plaintiffs are entitled to their requested evidentiary hearing under the facts of their case. No timeline exists for that decision.
The Indiana Supreme Court left open the possibility for other medical malpractice plaintiffs to timely seek an evidentiary hearing on constitutionality of the malpractice damages cap. So, this decision is a testament to the need for ISMA’s continued efforts in these cases.
For questions, contact Julie Reed, ISMA general counsel.