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Premises liability.

Premises liability. The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a hospital is not liable for the attack of one patient by another. The court ruled that while a hospital must provide adequate security, it cannot be held responsible for the unforeseeable Un`fore`see´a`ble

a. 1. Incapable of being foreseen.

Adj. 1. unforeseeable - incapable of being anticipated; "unforeseeable consequences"
unpredictable - not capable of being foretold

 attacks of third parties.

On February 28, 2002, Mae Belle Lane was waiting with her son-in-law in St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center's emergency room. While she waited, a teenaged boy ("D.G.") arrived with his mother. Without warning, the teenager Teenager
See also Adolescence.

Ah, Wilderness!

high-school senior has problems with girls and his father. [Am. Drama: O’Neill Ah, Wilderness! in Sobel, 15]

Aldrich, Henry

teenaged film character of the 1940s. [Am.
 rose, walked to Lane, and began punching her. Lane's son-in-law jumped up and hit D.G., knocking him to the floor. The attack stopped.

Lane sued the hospital for negligence negligence, in law, especially tort law, the breach of an obligation (duty) to act with care, or the failure to act as a reasonable and prudent person would under similar circumstances. , claiming that hospital staff should have protected her from the attack. The medical center requested summary judgment--a hearing based on the facts of a case without a trial. The St. Joseph Superior Court granted the summary judgment. Lane appealed the decision.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed af·firm  
v. af·firmed, af·firm·ing, af·firms
1. To declare positively or firmly; maintain to be true.

2. To support or uphold the validity of; confirm.

 the lower court's decision based on the fact that the attack was unforeseeable, even to the victim, who testified that she was "surprised" when D.G. assaulted her. (One judge issued a dissenting opinion dissenting opinion n. (See: dissent) , arguing that the foreseeability issue should be decided by a jury.)

However, the court noted that under Indiana law, businesses such as hospitals owe their patrons a duty to exercise reasonable care in keeping their premises safe. The court also pointed out that emergency rooms can be a particular concern. "There can be little dispute that a hospital's emergency room can be the scene of violent and criminal behavior ... in some cases, the violence spills into the emergency room itself and measures must be taken to control the situation."

The security situation at the hospital was not addressed by the court because the basis of the case was not whether security was adequate but whether the attack on Lane was foreseeable fore·see  
tr.v. fore·saw , fore·seen , fore·see·ing, fore·sees
To see or know beforehand: foresaw the rapid increase in unemployment.
. (Mae Belle Lane v. St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, Indiana Center is a town in southeastern Howard County, Indiana, USA. Center is a suburb of Kokomo, Indiana. It is part of the 'Kokomo, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area'. Education
School Districts
  • Taylor Community Schools Corporation
 Court of Appeals, No. 71A05-0310-CV-525, 2004)
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Title Annotation:U.S. JUDICIAL DECISIONS; case of hospital liability for attack of one patient by another.
Author:Anderson, Teresa
Publication:Security Management
Geographic Code:1U3IN
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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