Cases Pending, edited by Gretchen Harris Sperry and Catherine Basque Weiler, has been updated to discuss the Illinois Supreme Court’s September Term, which begins Monday, September 11, 2017, with oral arguments scheduled for September 12, 13, 14, 19 and 20, 2017. A total of 16 cases will be heard – 9 criminal and 7 civil. The following civil cases are scheduled for argument this Term:
Yarbrough v. Northwestern
Memorial Hospital—No.121367—September 14
Corbett v. City of Highland
Park—No. 121536—September 19
Citibank v. Illinois
Department of Revenue—No. 121634— September 19
Ramsey Herndon LLC v.
Whiteside—No. 121668—September 19
Cohen v. Chicago Park
District—No. 121800—September 20
In re Marriage of
Goesel—No. 122046—September 20
Lawler v. University of
Chicago Medical Center—No. 120745—September 20
Below is a summary for two
of these civil cases, Lawler v. University of Chicago Medical Center and
Corbett v. City of Highland Park. Tomorrow, a list of the criminal cases scheduled for argument and a summary of one of the
cases will be posted. Summaries for these cases and others pending with the
Illinois Supreme Court can be found in our Cases Pending publication,
accessible to ALA members on the ALA's website.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – STATUTE OF REPOSE
Lawler v. The University
of Chicago Medical Center
The issue in this case
concerns whether a medical malpractice claim brought under the Wrongful Death
Act, 740 ILCS 180/0.01 et seq., can relate back to an existing claim, or is
barred by the statute of repose.
On August 4, 2011, Jill
Prusak (“Prusak”) filed a medical malpractice claim against Defendants,
including The University of Chicago Medical Center, alleging Defendants failed
to diagnose her macular pathology, an injury she alleged she discovered on
August 7, 2009, leading Defendants to fail to recognize Prusak’s lymphoma.
Prusak died on November 24, 2013.
Prusak’s daughter, Sheri Lawler, substituted as Plaintiff as the
executor of Prusak’s estate. On April
11, 2014, Lawler filed an amended complaint, adding a wrongful death
claim. Defendants moved to dismiss the
wrongful death claim as barred by the four-year statute of repose applicable to
medical negligence cases, 735 ILCS 5/13-212(a).
The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss, finding that the
wrongful death claim was a new action and did not relate back to the original
The Illinois Appellate
Court reversed. The court concluded that
the wrongful death claim arose out of the same occurrence set out in the
original pleading, and that Defendants had notice of both the facts and
allegations underlying the medical malpractice claims in a timely-filed
complaint. Therefore, the Illinois
Appellate Court held, Defendants would not be prejudiced by claims filed after
the expiration of the statute of repose.
The relation-back doctrine saved the wrongful death claim which otherwise
would be barred by the statute of repose.
In their petition for leave
to appeal, Defendants argue that the court improperly evaluated the issue using
principles applicable to the statute of limitations, not the statute of
repose. By doing so, Defendants explained,
the court improperly allowed the relation-back statute to supersede the statute
TORT IMMUNITY ACT
Corbett v. City of
The issue presented in this
case involves whether, under Section 3-107(b) of the Local Governmental and
Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (“the Tort Immunity Act”), a bicycle
path qualifies as a “riding trail” such that a local public entity is immune
from liability for injuries caused by a condition of that path. That section provides that “[n]either a local
public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury caused by a
condition of *** any hiking, riding, fishing or hunting trail.” 745 ILCS
This action arose after
plaintiff, a cyclist, sustained an injury while riding her bicycle on a portion
of the Skokie Valley Bike Path known as the “bunny trail” due to the frequent
appearance of rabbits thereon. She sued the County of Lake and the City of
Highland Park (“the City”), alleging that they were both liable for the defects
present on the path which caused her injuries. The circuit court entered
summary judgment in favor of both defendants, concluding that the bicycle path
constituted a “riding trail” for purposes of the Tort Immunity Act such that
the defendants were immune from liability for Plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiff
appealed the entry of summary judgment in favor of the City.
Reversing, the Illinois
Appellate Court, Second District concluded that the section of the paved
bicycle path upon which Plaintiff was injured, which was located in a
semi-urban area, did not qualify as a “trail,” as intended by the legislature.
Relying on prior case law defining a trail as being located within a “forest or
mountainous region,” the Illinois Appellate Court determined that the path was
not a trail and therefore, the City was not entitled to absolute immunity under
the Tort Immunity Act. The court further opined that “[t]he frequent appearance
of bunnies on the trail does not, in our judgment, call the foregoing analysis
into question.” The court reversed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment
and remanded Plaintiff’s claims against the City to the circuit court.
In its petition for leave
to appeal, the City argues that the Second District’s restrictions on what
constitutes a “trail” under the Tort Immunity Act– limiting it to forested or
mountainous regions – would effectively preclude any public entity other than
Forest Preserve Districts from seeking immunity, would ignore the purpose of
the statute, and would lead to absurd results insofar as there are no
mountainous regions within Illinois.
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