ISMA presents on COVID immunity statute during AMA meeting
    ISMA Past President Elizabeth Struble, MD, gives a presentation during the AMA Annual Meeting.
Photo courtesy of Ted Grudzinski.

ISMA gave a special presentation at the AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago on a recent legal win for Indiana physicians.

On June 10, ISMA Past President Elizabeth Struble, MD, spoke to a national audience on Indiana’s COVID-19 immunity statute, sharing how ISMA wrote an amicus curiae brief that helped lead the Indiana Court of Appeals to uphold the dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit against a physician and medical group. The case was the first of its kind in the Hoosier State.

ISMA filed the brief in Carol Fluhr, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Ed Fluhr, Deceased v. Anonymous Doctor 1, et al., earlier this year, and the AMA, through its Litigation Center, joined in the brief. 

“ISMA thought it was really important to get ahead of this and start planting a flag in these cases,” Dr. Struble said. “We expect plenty more of these types of cases, and we fully expect a constitutionality challenge to this statute at some point.  That’s also why having the AMA Litigation Center is so important and why we appreciated their support so much.”  

In its May 9 published opinion, the court concluded that the health care providers in the case were acting under policies intended to prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19 such that they are immune from civil liability as a matter of law. The court thanked the ISMA and the AMA “for their helpful brief.”

“I want to acknowledge the excellent work of the ISMA staff and outside counsel on this case,” Dr. Struble said during her presentation. “ …  The brief explained to the courts that the exact reason for the statute was to prevent us from second guessing in 2024 the extreme measures we had to take to protect our patients, our workforce, and society in 2020. If the health care provider’s alleged act or omission was due to ‘the implementation of policies and procedures to . . . prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19,’ the provider cannot be sued for negligence.”

ISMA remains committed to defending the COVID-19 immunity statute and will keep its members updated on further developments.