The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that L. Thomas Booth from northeast Indiana can move forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging Lasik eye surgery left him nearly blind in one eye.
In 2001, L. Thomas Booth sued Dr. Robert G. Wiley, Dr. Ronald Norlund and Midwest Eye Consultants in Wabash, but an Allen Superior Court trial judge found the man had not filed within the statute of limitations and dismissed the case.
The key issue of the legal argument is when Booth should have known enough to suspect that a Lasik eye surgery first performed in November 1998 might have contributed to severe impairment in his right eye.
Wiley performed the laser surgery on Booth at that time and again in February 1999 based on a referral from Dr. Norlund. According to court records, Norlund suggested the surgery despite Booth’s history of glaucoma and cataracts.
After the Lasik surgery, Booth underwent several other eye operations in relation to his cataracts.
Under medical malpractice law, Booth had two years from the date of the original surgery or until November 2000 to claim malpractice. However Booth’s attorneys argued that he didn’t understand the connection between his worsening eyesight and Lasik surgeries until after that period. In December 2000 another doctor told Booth that Lasik surgery should not have been performed because of his pre-existing conditions and might have complicated his cataracts. After this assessment, Booth sued in July 2001.
The Indiana Supreme Court – in a split 3-2 decision – found the evidence does not “indisputably establish that Mr. Booth discovered the malpractice and resulting injury, or acquired knowledge sufficient to lead a reasonably diligent person to discover the malpractice and resulting injury, until Dec. 4, 2000.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard issued a dissent in the case in which he accused his colleagues of stretching the bounds of Indiana law on medical malpractice.
via Fort Wayne [www.fortwayne.com]
Stretching the statute of limitations can potentially open up a really big can of worms in medical malpractice lawsuits.