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

The ruling overturns a decision by District Judge Ted Lympus that dismissed a lawsuit Diane Morigeau filed against David Gorman, M.D., and the Polson Family Medical Clinic over the February 2003 death of her husband, Ben Morigeau.

In a ruling last year, Lympus agreed with Gorman and the clinic, who argued the case should have been filed in tribal court because it involved a tribal member and the medical care in question occurred in Polson, which is on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

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


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