Cleary v. Manning, 884 N.E.2d 335 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008)

Paul Manning went to the Ball Memorial Hospital for the purpose of having surgery to remove tumors from his neck and ear. The surgeon was Dr. Cleary, and the anesthesiologist was Dr. Caldwell. At some point during the procedure, a spark from electrocautery device ignited the oxygen, causing a flash fire. Manning suffered burn injuries to his chest and neck as a result.

Paul Manning and his wife filed a medical malpractice complaint with the state’s Department of Insurance. Before the medical panel reviewed the case, Dr. Caldwell settled with the Mannings. The medical panel then found that both Dr. Cleary and the hospital met the applicable standard of care. The Mannings then filed a lawsuit against Dr. Cleary and the hospital. The hospital and Dr. Cleary filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court denied the motion, which was appealed to the Court of Appeals.

The plaintiffs did not submit expert witness evidence or reports in support of their medical malpractice claim. Instead, they relied on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means that the facts surrounding the injury may give rise to a presumption of negligence. The appellate court found that the facts surrounding this case were enough to allow res ipsa loquitur to be invoked against the remaining defendants. The summary judgment was properly denied.

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