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Walter E. Patrick, III v. April J. Henthorn
Case Number: 21A-CT-01436
Judge: Edward W. Najam, Jr.
COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA
On appeal from The Johnson Superior
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Indianapolis, IN - Personal Injury lawyer represented Appellant with appealing the summary judgment for negligence following an automobile accident. .
In 1975, when Henthorn was twelve years old, she was diagnosed with
ornithine transcarbamylase (“OTC”) deficiency, which is an “allergy to
protein.” Appellant’s App. Vol. 2 at 74. Henthorn takes medication for her
OTC deficiency, and she watches her diet by limiting her protein intake. If
Henthorn eats too much protein, she gets “an extremely bad headache that
won’t go away.” Id. at 76. Henthorn has also gotten “dizzy” or “close to
passing out” because of her OTC deficiency. Id. at 77. However, her OTC
deficiency “doesn’t really affect” her on a daily basis, and she “very rarely” has
symptoms. Id. at 75. Doctor Bryan Hainline has treated Henthorn for her
OTC deficiency since 1989.
 On August 18, 2017, Henthorn left her home and travelled north to
Indianapolis. As she approached the intersection of Stop 11 Road and
Meridian Street, she lost control of her vehicle. She then struck one vehicle,
continued on, and struck Patrick’s vehicle. As a result of the accident, Patrick
sustained several injuries, which resulted in medical bills totaling more than
 Thereafter, Patrick filed a complaint against Henthorn in which he asserted that
Henthorn had been negligent. Henthorn filed her answer and, as an affirmative
defense, alleged that she had lost consciousness due to a “sudden emergency
not of [her] own making.” Id. at 13. Henthorn also filed a motion for summary
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Opinion 21A-CT-1436 | March 3, 2022 Page 3 of 13
judgment. In her supporting memorandum of law, Henthorn asserted that she
was entitled to summary judgment because her “sudden loss of consciousness
was not foreseeable.” Id. at 23. Specifically, she asserted that her OTC
deficiency “was well controlled” prior to the accident, she was “under no
driving restrictions,” and she “had not experienced any physical impairments or
ill health” that day. Id. Accordingly, she contended that the “designated
evidence establishes that [she] did not breach any duty” to Patrick. Id.
 Henthorn then designated her affidavit as evidence. In it, Henthorn stated that,
prior to the accident, she “was feeling perfectly fine and in good health.” Id. at
31. She further stated that, “seconds before the crash, [she] suddenly and
unexpectedly felt light-headed, flushed and dizzy” and that she “lost
consciousness and when [she] came to, [her] vehicle was stopped adjacent to
the intersection and beside a telephone pole.” Id. at 31-32. And she stated that
she did not “recall the crash.” Id. at 32.
 In addition, Henthorn designated Dr. Hainline’s affidavit as evidence. In his
affidavit, Dr. Hainline stated that he had reviewed Henthorn’s medical records
following the crash and that it was his opinion that Henthorn “suffered from a
sudden change in mental status with loss of consciousness prior to the collision
that had resulted from an unforeseen elevation in her blood ammonia levels due
to her OTC deficiency.” Id. at 35. He further stated that her condition caused
Henthorn to “become incapacitated just before losing control of her car and
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Opinion 21A-CT-1436 | March 3, 2022 Page 4 of 13
 Thereafter, Patrick deposed Henthorn. During the deposition, Patrick asked
Henthorn about how her OTC deficiency has affected her “in the past.” Id. at
77. Specifically, Patrick asked Henthorn about the frequency with which she
has “episodes” where she gets “light-headed or close to losing consciousness.”
Id. at 78. Henthorn responded that it “hasn’t happened in . . . over 10 years.”
Id. Henthorn further testified that she has not been admitted for in-patient
treatment for her OTC deficiency in the last ten years.
 After having questioned Henthorn about her medical history, Patrick redirected
his inquiry when he stated, “Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about the day of the
accident[.]” Id. at 83. Henthorn then testified that, on that day, she felt “okay”
and had gone to work. Id. at 84. She then testified that she went through the
stoplight at Stop 11 road and “got kind of dizzy, and [her] head had a really
sharp pain on the left side.” Id. at 85. And she testified that the last thing she
remembered was putting her hand up to her head and then waking up next to a
telephone pole. She specifically testified that she “remembered going through
the intersection,” but that she did not remember striking any vehicles or
speaking with police officers. Id. at 86.
 Patrick filed his response in opposition to Henthorn’s motion for summary
judgment and a corresponding memorandum of law. And he designated as
evidence Henthorn’s affidavit, Dr. Hainline’s affidavit, Henthorn’s deposition,
and the accident report. Patrick asserted that Henthorn’s statements in her
deposition were inconsistent with those in her designated evidence.
Specifically, Patrick asserted that Henthorn’s and Dr. Hainline’s affidavits
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Opinion 21A-CT-1436 | March 3, 2022 Page 5 of 13
claimed that Henthorn had lost consciousness because of her OTC deficiency.
However, Patrick claimed that Henthorn testified in her deposition that she had
not had any episode of lightheadedness or loss of consciousness in the past ten
years. Patrick maintained that those “inconsistent statements,” along with her
“different versions of how she felt just prior to the accident” demonstrate that a
genuine issue of material fact exists regarding whether Henthorn actually
suffered from a medical emergency on the date of the accident. Id. at 42.
 In addition, Patrick alleged that Henthorn also “offered several different
versions of the accident itself.” Id. at 43. To support that assertion, Patrick
relied on the portion of Henthorn’s affidavit in which she stated that she had
lost consciousness and did not remember the accident. He also relied on the
portion of Henthorn’s deposition in which she testified that she remembered
going through the intersection. And he stated that the accident report
demonstrates that she hit another vehicle prior to entering the intersection.
Patrick maintained that those inconsistencies precluded the entry of summary
 Following a hearing at which the parties presented oral argument, the court
entered summary judgment in favor of Henthorn. In its order, the court found
that, although Henthorn had testified in her deposition that she had not lost
consciousness in over ten years, “[i]n the context of a deposition about an
accident in which [Henthorn] states that she lost consciousness, it is the
reasonable interpretation that her answer was addressing any other episodes of
loss of consciousness besides the one in question.” Id. at 7 (emphasis in
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original). The court also found that the other alleged inconsistent statements
were either not inconsistent or were not material to the issue. Accordingly, the
court concluded that Henthorn’s “sudden physical incapacity was not
reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances” and that she had “no reason to
foresee that driving that day would put others in peril because of her medical
 Patrick then filed a motion to correct error. He again asserted that, while
Henthorn claimed she had suffered a medical emergency on the date of the
accident, she twice “stated that she had not suffered an episode in the last ten
(10) years.” Id. at 114. He maintained that her answers “were clear and
unequivocal” and that they created a genuine issue of material fact as to
whether she suffered a medical emergency on the date of the accident. Id. The
court denied Patrick’s motion. This appeal ensued.
Discussion and Decision
 Patrick contends that the trial court erred when it entered summary judgment in
favor of Henthorn. The Indiana Supreme Court has explained that
[w]e review summary judgment de novo, applying the same
standard as the trial court: “Drawing all reasonable inferences in
favor of . . . the non-moving parties, summary judgment is
appropriate ‘if the designated evidentiary matter shows that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’” Williams v.
Tharp, 914 N.E.2d 756, 761 (Ind. 2009) (quoting T.R. 56(C)). “A
fact is ‘material’ if its resolution would affect the outcome of the
case, and an issue is ‘genuine’ if a trier of fact is required to
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resolve the parties’ differing accounts of the truth, or if the
undisputed material facts support conflicting reasonable
inferences.” Id. (internal citations omitted).
The initial burden is on the summary-judgment movant to
“demonstrate [ ] the absence of any genuine issue of fact as to a
determinative issue,” at which point the burden shifts to the nonmovant to “come forward with contrary evidence” showing an
issue for the trier of fact. Id. at 761-62 (internal quotation marks
and substitution omitted). And “[a]lthough the non-moving
party has the burden on appeal of persuading us that the grant of
summary judgment was erroneous, we carefully assess the trial
court’s decision to ensure that he was not improperly denied his
day in court.” McSwane v. Bloomington Hosp. & Healthcare Sys.,
916 N.E.2d 906, 909-10 (Ind. 2009) (internal quotation marks
Hughley v. State, 15 N.E.3d 1000, 1003 (Ind. 2014) (omission and some
alterations original to Hughley).
 Here, the trial court entered findings of fact and conclusions thereon in its
summary judgment order. While such findings and conclusions are not
required in a summary judgment and do not alter our standard of review, they
are helpful on appeal for us to understand the reasoning of the trial court. See
Knighten v. E. Chicago Hous. Auth., 45 N.E.3d 788, 791 (Ind. 2015).
 Summary judgment is rarely appropriate in negligence cases because they are
particularly fact-sensitive and are governed by a standard of the objective
reasonable person, which is best applied by a jury after hearing all the evidence.
Kramer v. Catholic Charities of Diocese of Fort Wayne-S. Bend, Inc., 32 N.E.3d 227,
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Opinion 21A-CT-1436 | March 3, 2022 Page 8 of 13
231 (Ind. 2015). Nonetheless, summary judgment is appropriate where the
undisputed material evidence negates one element of a negligence claim.
Rhodes v. Wright, 805 N.E.2d 382, 385 (Ind. 2004).
 To prevail on his negligence claim, Patrick was required to demonstrate that
Henthorn owed him a duty, that Henthorn breached that duty by allowing her
conduct to fall below the applicable standard of care, and that Patrick was
injured by Henthorn’s breach of duty. See Goodwin v. Yeakle’s Sports Bar & Grill,
62 N.E.3d 384, 386 (Ind. 2016). Here, the parties do not dispute that Henthorn
owed a duty to Patrick or that Patrick sustained injuries as a result of the
accident. Rather, the parties dispute whether Henthorn breached that duty.
 In her motion for summary judgment, Henthorn asserted that she had suffered
a medical emergency and, thus, had negated the breach element of Patrick’s
claim. Henthorn relied on this Court’s opinion in Denson v. Estate of Dillard, 116
N.E.3d 535 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018), to support her claim. In that case, a
passenger in a vehicle was severely injured when the driver suffered a heart
attack and crashed. Id. at 537. The passenger sued the driver’s estate, and the
estate filed an affirmative defense and motion for summary judgment in which
it alleged that the driver had suffered a sudden medical emergency. The trial
court found that the estate had negated the breach element of the negligence
claim and entered summary judgment for the estate. On appeal, this Court
determined “as a matter of law that the driver could not be found to have acted
unreasonably after he suffered the heart attack and was rendered unconscious.”
Id. at 541. Thus, the question became whether the driver’s “sudden physical
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Opinion 21A-CT-1436 | March 3, 2022 Page 9 of 13
incapacity was reasonably foreseeable such that a reasonably prudent person in
his position would not have risked driving.” Id.
 Here, Henthorn asserted that, as a matter of law, she could not be found to
have acted unreasonably when she suddenly lost consciousness. And she
continued that she did not act unreasonably when she decided to drive on the
day of the accident because her designated evidence demonstrated that her
condition was well controlled, that she felt healthy that day, and that she had
never had any driving restrictions placed on her. The trial court agreed and
entered summary judgment in her favor.
 On appeal, Patrick does not dispute this Court’s holding in Denson. And he
appears to concede that, if Henthorn suffered a medical emergency prior to the
accident, the holding in Denson would apply. But Patrick asserts that “whether
Henthorn acted unreasonably in deciding to drive” on the date of the accident
“is not and never has been the issue in this matter.” Reply Br. at 5. Rather, he
asserts that “the real issue is whether [she] actually suffered a sudden medical
emergency on the date of the accident.” Id. And Patrick contends that
Henthorn’s inconsistent statements created a genuine issue of material fact
regarding whether she suffered a medical emergency prior to the accident.
 To support his assertion, Patrick directs us to Henthorn’s deposition, in which
she testified that she had not had any episodes of lightheadedness or been
admitted for in-patient treatment for her OTC in the past ten years. Patrick
avers that it is reasonable to infer from those answers that she has not suffered
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any episodes from her OTC in the past ten years, including on the date of the
offense, which is inconsistent with the statements in her and Dr. Hainline’s
affidavits. We cannot agree.
 When considering the meaning of witness testimony, the proper inquiry
requires that we consider both the question and the answer in context. The
statements at issue in Henthorn’s deposition were in response to questions
about her medical history. Specifically, the answers Patrick contends created
an issue of fact were Henthorn’s answers to a line of questions that began when
Patrick asked her how her OTC deficiency had affected her “in the past.”
Appellant’s App. Vol. 2 at 77. After Patrick asked her that question, Henthorn
testified that, most of the time, her OTC deficiency does not affect her but that
it has “in the past.” Id. Patrick and Henthorn then engaged in a colloquy about
the symptoms that Henthorn had previously experienced. See id. at 77-78. It
was during that line of questioning that Henthorn stated that she had not had
any episodes of lightheadedness or received in-patient treatment in the past 10
 In other words, Patrick’s questions were not questions about whether Henthorn
had suffered a medical emergency on the date of the accident. Rather, they
were clearly questions about her medical history. This is further demonstrated
by the fact that, later in the deposition, Patrick changed subjects when he said,
“Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about the day of the accident.” Id. at 83. It was
then that Henthorn testified that she had felt “okay” that morning but that,
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prior to the accident, she got “kind of dizzy” and her “head had a really sharp
pain” while she was driving. Id. at 84-85.
 “Although we are mindful that all reasonable inferences must be construed in
favor of the nonmoving party, those inferences must still be reasonable.” Speaks
v. Rao, 117 N.E.3d 661, 668 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018) (internal citation omitted;
emphasis in original); see also Estate of Short ex rel. Short v. Brookville Crossing 4060
LLC, 972 N.E.2d 897, 904 n.4 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012) (“on summary judgment,
only ‘reasonable’ inferences are to be construed in favor of the nonmovant”).
And, again, taking Henthorn’s answers during the deposition in context and not
in isolation, the only reasonable inference is that, when Henthorn testified that
she had not had an episode in ten years, she was responding to questions about
her medical history and was referring to the time period before the accident, not
to the date of the accident.
 The questions about Henthorn’s “past” during the deposition do not present a
genuine issue of material fact as to whether she suffered a medical emergency
on the date of the accident. Rather, the designated evidence, including her
affidavit, her doctor’s affidavit, and her testimony during the deposition, all
consistently demonstrate that Henthorn suffered a medical emergency just prior
to the accident.
 Still, Patrick asserts that Henthorn offered “several different versions of how she
felt” just prior to the accident and “several different versions of the accident
itself.” Appellant’s Br. at 12. As to how Henthorn felt on the day of the
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accident, Patrick claims that the accident report demonstrates that she was
“hot” prior to the accident, but that she stated in her affidavit that she was
“light-headed, flush and dizzy,” and that she testified in her deposition that she
“felt dizzy and had a sharp pain in her head.” Id.
 As to Henthorn’s memory of the accident, Patrick directs us to Henthorn’s
affidavit, in which she stated that she had lost consciousness and woke up next
to a telephone pole and that she did not remember the accident. And Patrick
directs us to the portion of Henthorn’s deposition in which she testified that she
remembered going through the intersection but does not remember striking any
vehicles, which he claims is inconsistent with the accident report as that report
states that Henthorn hit the first vehicle prior to reaching the intersection.
 Patrick baldly asserts that those inconsistent statements “preclude the entry of
summary judgment.” Id. at 13. But Patrick has not made any argument to
demonstrate that either Henthorn’s description of her symptoms or her memory
of the accident created a genuine issue of material fact. A “fact is ‘material’ if
its resolution would affect the outcome of the case.” Hughley, 15 N.E.3d at
1003. Here, neither Henthorn’s symptoms nor her memory of the accident
would affect the outcome of the case. In other words, whether she was hot,
dizzy, light-headed, or some combination thereof, or whether she remembered
some or none of the accident, does not create a genuine issue of material fact on
the dispositive issue—whether she suffered a medical emergency.
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 As the summary judgment movant, it was Henthorn’s burden to demonstrate
the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Hughley, 15 N.E.3d at 1003.
Henthorn met this burden when she designated her affidavit and that of her
doctor, which showed that Henthorn suffered from a medical emergency
related to her OTC deficiency. At that point, the burden shifted to Patrick to
come forward with evidence to demonstrate that Henthorn did not suffer a
medical emergency prior to the accident. But Patrick did not designate any
such evidence. Rather, as discussed above, the designated evidence consistently
demonstrates that she suffered a medical emergency prior to the accident.
 Further, the designated evidence shows, and Patrick does not dispute, that
Henthorn’s condition had been well controlled, that she did not have any
driving restrictions, and that she felt healthy on the morning of the accident,
which demonstrates that her sudden physical incapacity was not reasonably
foreseeable. See Denson, 116 N.E.3d at 541. Because the designated evidence
demonstrates that Henthorn suffered a medical emergency which was not
reasonably foreseeable, Henthorn has affirmatively negated one element of
Patrick’s negligence claim. We therefore hold that the trial court did not err
when it entered summary judgment in favor of Henthorn. We affirm the trial