Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court
In 2009 plaintiffs challenged, under the Illinois Constitution, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995, which prevents a minor from obtaining an abortion unless a parent or guardian is first given notice of the minor’s intention or the minor obtains judicial waiver of the requirement. The Act has never been enforced. Months earlier, the Seventh Circuit had held the Act facially valid under the U.S. Constitution. The trial court dismissed the challenge. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal, noting the heavy burden in asserting facial invalidity. In Illinois, the right to an abortion derives from substantive due process principles, not from the constitutional privacy provision. State due process protections should be interpreted the same way as the federal due process clause, absent a reason for doing otherwise. The U.S. Supreme Court has found parental notification statutes constitutional under federal substantive due process and equal protection law. Although the state constitution includes a privacy provision not found in the U.S. Constitution, “reasonableness is the touchstone” of that clause,” and the Act is reasonable, having been narrowly crafted to promote minors’ best interests. The Illinois Constitution also contains a clause stating that “equal protection of the laws shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex,” but the Act does not create a sex-based classification. View "Hope Clinic for Women, Ltd. v. Flores" on Justia Law
The plaintiff was injured in a 2003 automobile accident. He was admitted to Edward Hospital and, allegedly, was operated on without a sufficient period of fasting. During surgery he vomited and aspirated vomit into his lungs, causing cardiac arrest and an anoxic brain injury. The circuit court entered partial summary judgment that two defendant doctors were not actual agents of the hospital, but also held that there was a question of fact (precluding summary judgment) as to whether those doctors were the hospital’s apparent agents. The hospital sought dismissal on grounds of res judicata. The Illinois Supreme Court answered the circuit court’s certified question by holding that plaintiff’s claim against the hospital could go forward. The supreme court said there was only one cause of action for negligence and the ruling that there was no actual agency did not entirely dispose of the claim. There is no res judicata barrier to attempting to show that defendant hospital is liable on the basis of apparent agency. View "Wilson v. Edward Hosp." on Justia Law
In 2007 plaintiff died, a few months after filing a complaint, alleging exposure to asbestos brought home from work on her husband’s clothes and body between 1958 and 1964. The defense argued that no duty was owed to a third party. The circuit court dismissed. The appellate court remanded. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, stating that the question of duty for purposes of the negligence claim was not simply a matter of whether the injured spouse worked for the defendant, but of whether defendant could have reasonably foreseen that its actions would cause this injury. Although the complaint alleged that the defendant knew or should have known that there was an unreasonable risk of harm to the worker’s wife, the complaint failed to allege specific facts as to what the defendant actually knew, or should have known, between 1958 and 1964. A complaint should not be dismissed, however, unless it is clearly apparent that no set of facts can be proved that would entitle the plaintiff to recover. View "Simpkins v. CSX Corp." on Justia Law
In a medical malpractice case, alleging failure to diagnose apendicitis, the court gave Civil Jury Instruction 105.01 (2006), which refers to a "reasonably careful," as opposed to a "reasonably well-qualified" (the 2005 instruction) professional. The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs and the appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the jury instruction does not accurately state the law, but affirmed. The 2006 instruction eliminated the distinction between institutional negligence, which can be proven without expert testimony, and professional negligence, which requires expert testimony. The hospital was not prejudiced by the instruction because expert testimony was presented in connection with a vicarious liability claim. The court rejected the hospital's argument that the instruction was confusing and allowed jurors to consider personal knowledge in determining what is reasonable.
Posted in: Health Law, Illinois Supreme Court, Medical Malpractice, Professional Malpractice & Ethics
The plaintiffs sought damages for wrongful-birth and negligent infliction of emotional distress, based on medical-provider defendants' failure to inform them that their older child had a genetic mutation. They claim that they would not have conceived a second child if they had been given correct information. The trial court held that damages available in a wrongful-birth action do not include the extraordinary costs of caring for a disabled child after he reaches the age of majority. The appellate court held that plaintiff parents in a wrongful-birth case may recover damages for the cost of caring for their dependent,disabled, adult child and that the plaintiffs had adequately pleaded a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The Illinois Supreme Court remanded, noting a question of fact concerning when the limitations period began to run. The court affirmed the holding that the plaintiffs have a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress; the "zone of danger" test does not apply when damages for emotional distress are an element of another tort. The court reversed and reinstated the judgment that plaintiffs may not recover damages for the postmajority expenses of caring for their son; damages incurred after the age of majority are incurred by the child, who suffered no legal harm.