Montana court holds that state court can hear malpractice case

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that a state District Court has jurisdiction to hear a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the widow of a citizen of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes against a physician and a Polson Montana clinic.

The ruling reverses a decision by District Judge Ted Lympus that dismissed a suit Diane Morigeau filed against Doctor David Gorman and the Polson Montana Family Medical Clinic over the February 2003 death of her husband.

Judge Lympus agreed with Gorman and the clinic that the case should have been filed in tribal court because it involved a tribal citizen and the medical care occurred in Polson, which is on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

In a 7-0 ruling, the Supreme Court said it has repeatedly affirmed the right of Indian plaintiffs to sue non-Indians in state court.

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