Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Summary Judgment in Favor of Medical Provider in Brain Injury Lawsuit

Empty Exam RoomMedical malpractice cases can be some of the most complex and detail-focused types of personal injury actions. As the following case illustrates, consulting with a knowledgeable Illinois medical malpractice lawyer can help you ensure that you protect your legal rights and interests throughout the course of the lawsuit.

According to the appellate court’s opinion, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against a number of defendants, asserting causes of action for medical negligence, common law fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. As the complaint stated, the plaintiff suffered brain damage following his attempted suicide while he was receiving inpatient care at one of the defendant’s establishments. The defendant hired a controlled medical expert pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213(F)(3) to examine the plaintiff, and the expert determined that the injury did not occur in relation to the plaintiff’s suicide attempt at the establishment.

The medical defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the lower court granted. It concluded that a patient-physician relationship did not exist between the plaintiff and the defendants, including the controlled expert, and that as a result, the defendants did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care. The plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, and the lower court denied the motion. The plaintiff appealed. To support their argument, the defendants included an affidavit from the doctor, indicating that he was retained as an expert witness by the defendant.

The plaintiff countered this motion by alleging that the immunity that is extended to court-appointed experts pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215 does not apply to the expert’s statements made in his reports and outside of testimony in court. The plaintiff also contended that a physician-patient relationship did exist between himself and the doctor.

The lower court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the doctor was retained for a specific and limited purpose and that the plaintiff did not seek out the doctor for the purpose of obtaining general medical care. The plaintiff appealed.

On review, the appellate court agreed with the lower court’s conclusion that the doctor did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff. Reviewing the record, the court was in agreement that the limited nature of the doctor and his purpose of being retained by the defendant for the litigation meant that a physician-patient relationship did not exist between the plaintiff and the doctor. This was true even though the doctor examined the plaintiff and produced a written and verbal medical assessment of the plaintiff’s condition. Accordingly, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries as a result of negligent medical care, you may be entitled to damages. At Therman Law Offices, our dedicated team of Illinois personal injury lawyers understands just how confusing, stressful, and painful this situation can be for you and your family. We provide a free consultation so that you can learn more about your legal rights and options and how our team of seasoned legal professionals can assist you. Call us now at 1-773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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