Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed December 13, 2012
Wilson v. Edward Hospital, 2012 IL 112898
Appellate citation: 2011 IL App (2d) 110085-U.
JUSTICE GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
The plaintiff in this Du Page County medical malpractice action suffered serious injuries as a result of surgery to repair a broken leg. Injured in a 2003 automobile accident, he was admitted to defendant Edward Hospital and operated on without, the complaint alleged, a sufficient period of fasting. During the surgery he vomited and aspirated some of the vomit into his lungs, causing cardiac arrest and an anoxic brain injury.
In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court answered the circuit court’s certified question by holding that plaintiff’s claim against the hospital could go forward and was not barred by res judicata, despite the fact that the circuit court had entered partial summary judgment that two doctors who were also defendants were not actual agents of the hospital, while also finding a question of fact (precluding summary judgment) as to whether those doctors were the hospital’s apparent agents.
Pursuant to this circuit court ruling, there was a voluntary complaint dismissal and a refiling of the action to allege apparent (as opposed to actual) agency. The defense then sought a res judicata dismissal, which was refused, but the circuit court certified the question. The appellate court held that res judicata barred the action, but the supreme court, in this decision, reversed.
In this decision, 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, that is, there was not a final judgment on the merits for purposes of res judicata. Thus, there is no res judicata barrier to attempting to show that defendant hospital is liable on the basis of apparent agency.
The appellate court was reversed and the cause was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings on the negligence claim.