Campbell v. Eckman/Freeman & Associates, 71A04-9602-CV-67

Decision Date19 September 1996
Docket NumberNo. 71A04-9602-CV-67,71A04-9602-CV-67
Citation670 N.E.2d 925
CourtIndiana Appellate Court
PartiesPatrick J. CAMPBELL, Appellant-Plaintiff, v. ECKMAN/FREEMAN & ASSOCIATES, Appellee-Defendant.

RILEY, Judge.


Plaintiff-Appellant Patrick J. Campbell appeals from the grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Eckman-Freeman & Associates in his suit for negligence.

We affirm.


Campbell raises one issue: Whether the trial court erred in finding that Eckman-Freeman owed no duty to Campbell as a matter of law.


This case arises from medical care and treatment provided to Campbell following a work-related injury. Campbell suffered an injury to his arm while at work and medical treatment was provided pursuant to the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act. Ind.Code 22-3-2 et. seq. Eckman-Freeman is a company that provides a case monitoring service to insurance companies, employers and clients involved in worker's compensation claims and other claims for physical injuries brought against them. Essentially, Eckman-Freeman provides services to assist and monitor the care given to injured employees while the employee is receiving medical care and rehabilitation. In this case, an Eckman-Freeman Rehabilitation Specialist, Sherrie Brewington, was assigned to monitor Campbell's worker's compensation claim against Manpower with the goal of returning him safely to work. Brewington attended doctor's appointments with Campbell, monitored his physical therapy, and monitored his compliance with treatment plans.

Campbell initiated this lawsuit by filing a medical negligence form complaint against J. Michael Kelbel, M.D. and Eckman-Freeman & Associates. Campbell was not represented by counsel at the time. Upon motion by Dr. Kelbel, the trial court dismissed him from the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, due to Campbell's failure to first submit the case to the medical review panel as required by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. See Ind.Code 27-12-8-4 (1993). Subsequently, the matter was submitted to the medical review panel, which found the evidence did not support the conclusion that Dr. Kelbel failed to meet the applicable standard of care as charged in the complaint.

Thereafter Eckman-Freeman filed a motion captioned Motion For Summary Judgment Or In The Alternative, Motion To Dismiss For Lack Of Subject Matter Jurisdiction. Specifically, Eckman-Freeman argued that there were no genuine issues for trial, or in the alternative, that the exclusivity provision of the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act mandated dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Campbell filed his response and Eckman-Freeman filed its reply by the end of 1994, and a hearing was held in January of 1995. In November 1995, the trial court granted Eckman-Freeman's motion for summary judgment finding that "there [was] no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Eckman/Freeman owed to Plaintiff Campbell a duty of care ... " (R. 182). The trial court did not address Eckman-Freeman's 12(B)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Campbell appeals.


Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Ind.Trial Rule 56(C); L.K.I. Holdings, Inc. v. Tyner, 658 N.E.2d 111, 118 (Ind.Ct.App.1995), reh'g denied, trans. denied. When reviewing summary judgment rulings, we may consider only those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, matters of judicial notice, and any other matters designated to the trial court by the moving party for purposes of the motion for summary judgment. T.R. 56(C), (H); Rosi v. Business Furniture Corp., 615 N.E.2d 431, 434 (Ind.1993). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of making a prima facie showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Hermann v. Yater, 631 N.E.2d 511, 513 (Ind.Ct.App.1994), reh'g denied. Once the movant satisfies this burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to produce specifically designated facts showing the existence of a genuine issue. Id.

When reviewing the trial court's decision on a motion for summary judgment, we apply the same standard as the trial court. Gilliam v. Contractors United, Inc., 648 N.E.2d 1236, 1238 (Ind.Ct.App.1995), trans. denied. We liberally construe all designated evidentiary material in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Haas Carriage, Inc. v. Berna, 651 N.E.2d 284, 287 (Ind.Ct.App.1995). Any doubt as to the existence of a factual issue should be resolved against the moving party. T.R. 56(C); Cowe v. Forum Group, Inc., 575 N.E.2d 630, 633 (Ind.1991). Summary judgment is rarely appropriate in negligence actions. Kelly v. Ladywood Apartments, 622 N.E.2d 1044, 1046 (Ind.Ct.App.1993), reh'g denied, trans. denied.


Due to the manner in which Campbell filed this action, there are threshold procedural issues that we feel compelled to address. Campbell's "Proposed Complaint" against Dr. Kelbel and Eckman-Freeman is a form complaint used by the Indiana Department of Insurance for claims brought under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. It is alleged in the complaint that Dr. Kelbel as well as Eckman-Freeman are health care providers as defined in the Act, and that due to their negligence, Campbell suffered nerve and muscle damage to his right shoulder and arm which caused him pain and suffering, loss of wages and mental anguish.

As noted above, Dr. Kelbel was initially dismissed from the action due to Campbell's failure to submit the case to a medical review panel. Eckman-Freeman did not elect to move for dismissal under this premise because they are not health care providers as defined under the Medical Malpractice Act. Rather, Eckman-Freeman moved for summary judgment, or in the alternative for dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under T.R. 12(B)(1). The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Eckman-Freeman, and did not rule on the T.R. 12(B)(1) part of the motion.

I. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
A. Medical Review Panel As Procedural Requisite to Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

The first threshold issue is whether the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction due to Campbell's failure to submit the cause to the Department of Insurance and obtain an opinion from a medical review panel before filing his complaint with the trial court. It is fairly clear that although Campbell, acting pro se at the time of filing the complaint, filed a complaint alleging medical negligence, his claim is one for ordinary negligence. We treat pleadings according to their content rather than their caption. Ground v. Methodist Hosp. of Indiana, Inc., 576 N.E.2d 611, 613 (Ind.Ct.App.1991), reh'g denied, trans. denied. As such, Campbell's complaint alleged an ordinary negligence claim and therefore was not governed by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act.

Pursuant to section 27-12-8-4 of the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, submission of a proposed complaint to the medical review panel is a condition precedent to filing a medical malpractice claim in Indiana. "[I]f the defendant is a qualified health care provider under the Act, a proposed complaint submitted to the medical review panel and a decision by the medical review panel upon the complaint is required prior to instituting an action in an Indiana state court of general jurisdiction." Putnam County Hosp. v. Sells, 619 N.E.2d 968, 970 (Ind.Ct.App.1993) (quoting St. Anthony Medical Center, Inc. v. Smith, 592 N.E.2d 732, 735 (Ind.Ct.App.1992), trans. denied ).

Although Brewington is a registered nurse, she was not providing health care when acting in the capacity of rehabilitation specialist for Eckman-Freeman, nor does she fall within the definition of health care provider as provided in the Malpractice Act. See Ind.Code 27-12-2-14 (1996). Therefore, Campbell's failure to submit the cause to a medical review panel did not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction.

B. The Exclusivity Provision of the Worker's Compensation Act

The second threshold issue as we see it is whether Campbell's sole remedy lies within the Worker's Compensation Act and whether the trial court had subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate his negligence claim. Eckman-Freeman contends that because they were hired by Manpower's worker's compensation carrier, CNA Insurance, to monitor Campbell's worker's compensation claim, the exclusivity provision of the Act applies thereby precluding Campbell from bringing any common law claim against Eckman-Freeman.

Our supreme court has recently held in a series of decisions that the use of a summary judgment motion is inappropriate where the Act's exclusivity provision is raised as a bar to plaintiff's complaint. Perry v. Stitzer Buick GMC, Inc., 637 N.E.2d 1282, 1286 (Ind.1994), reh'g denied; Foshee v. Shoney's, Inc., 637 N.E.2d 1277, 1280 (Ind.1994). Subject-matter jurisdiction is the power of a court to hear and decide a particular class of cases. Putnam County Hosp., 619 N.E.2d at 970. Subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be waived, and may be raised by the parties or the court at any time, including on appeal. Id.

The Worker's Compensation Act provides compensation to employees for injuries by accident which arise out of and in the course of their employment. Ransburg Industries v. Brown, 659 N.E.2d 1081, 1082 (Ind.Ct.App.1995), reh'g denied.

The Act's exclusive remedy provision provides that

The rights and remedies granted to an employee subject to IC 22-3-2...

To continue reading

Request your trial
19 cases
  • Riley v. Debaer
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 2, 2002
    ...against a non-employer and non-coworker defendant. The Court of Appeals of Indiana addressed the same issue in Campbell v. Eckman/Freeman & Assoc., 670 N.E.2d 925 (Ind.App.1996), as did the Supreme Court of Oregon in Nicholson v. Blachly, 305 Or. 578, 753 P.2d 955 (1988). In both of those c......
  • Hayes Lemmerz Int'l Inc. v. Ace American Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • August 31, 2010 that law. E.g., Turner v. Richmond Power & Light Co., 756 N.E.2d 547, 552-53 (Ind.App.2001); Campbell v. Eckman/Freeman & Associates, 670 N.E.2d 925, 929-30 (Ind.App.1996); Reboy v. Cozzi Iron & Metal, Inc., 9 F.3d 1303, 1304-05, 1308 (7th Cir.1993) (Indiana law). HLI and Huntington knew......
  • Z.D. v. Cmty. Health Network, Inc.
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • October 6, 2022
    ...claim"), trans. denied (2016). "We treat pleadings according to their content rather than their caption." Campbell v. Eckman/Freeman & Assoc. , 670 N.E.2d 925, 929 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996), trans. denied (1997). The preamble of Z.D.’s complaint, which is incorporated by reference into Counts 1 ......
  • Turner v. Richmond Power and Light Co.
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • October 5, 2001
    ...whose injury meets the jurisdictional requirements of the Act to the rights and remedies provided therein. Campbell v. Eckman/Freeman & Assoc., 670 N.E.2d 925, 929 (Ind.Ct.App.1996), trans. denied. Thus, if an employee's injury occurred by an accident which arose out of and in the course of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT