Vergara v. Doan
583 N.E.2d 185 (Ind. 1992)

  • Dr. Doan delivered the Vergara’s child. The baby was somehow injured. The Vergara’s sued Dr. Doan for medical malpractice.
  • The Trial Court found for Doan. Vergara appealed.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed. Vergara appealed.
  • The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed.
    • Indiana had a specific way to determine reasonable standard of care for medical malpractice. In Indiana, the standard of care was the standard of care taken by doctors in similar localities (aka the locality rule).
      • In the past, the medical opportunities in poor rural areas were nowhere near the standard available in rich urban areas. So the doctors were only held to a standard of care similar to other doctors in the area.
        • Under strict locality, the standard of care of doctors in that specific locality was used as a guideline.
        • Under modified locality, the standard of care of doctors in similar localities across the country was used as a guideline.
    • The Indiana Supreme Court overturned the locality rule because it permitted a lower standard of care for people who lived in poor communities.
      • Instead, they created a broader mechanism to determine standard of care that includes many factors, including advances in the profession, availability of facilities, type of doctor, and to some extent locality.
    • Despite the modifications to the locality rule, the Court felt that the change would not have resulted in a different verdict by the jury, so the decision was affirmed.