McSwane v. Bloomington Hospital and Healthcare System

916 N.E.2d 906 (2009)

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McSwane v. Bloomington Hospital and Healthcare System

Indiana Supreme Court
916 N.E.2d 906 (2009)

  • Written by Haley Gintis, JD

Facts

In November 2002, Malia Vandeneede and her ex-husband, Monty Vandeneede, sought medical treatment for Malia from Dr. Jean Eelma (defendant) at Bloomington Hospital and Healthcare System (hospital) (defendant). Although Malia stated that she was injured after falling off a horse, the medical staff believed that Malia was a domestic-violence victim. A nurse tried to discreetly give Malia a domestic-violence form without Monty’s knowledge. Malia refused the form. Although Monty was not present while the hospital staff prepared Malia for surgery, Malia continued to state that she had been injured by falling off a horse. Malia’s mother, Ava McSwane (plaintiff) arrived at the hospital to inform the hospital staff that she believed Monty had attacked Malia. As Monty and Malia were leaving the hospital, the hospital security took Monty aside to search him for weapons and perform a sobriety test. During this time, Malia’s nurse and McSwane spoke to Malia privately and asked her not to leave the hospital with Monty. Malia became angry at their request and left the hospital with Monty. Shortly after, Monty fatally shot Malia and himself. McSwane sued the hospital and Eelma for medical malpractice for discharging Malia into Monty’s custody. The trial court dismissed the suit on the ground that the staff did not owe Malia a duty and because Malia was contributorily negligent by leaving the hospital with Monty. The matter was appealed. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed. The matter was appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shepard, C.J.)

Dissent (Rucker, J.)

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