Athletic Trainer Who Causes Injury Must Attach Health Professional’s Report

The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District modified and answered the certified questions in addition to remanding a lawsuit back to the Circuit Court of Cook County. On Oct. 4, 2013, Drew Williams, who played on the Lane Tech High School’s football team, “violently collided” with a teammate during a game. The collision came during the first quarter of the game. Drew, although shaken, was not assessed with concussive brain trauma and continued to play. During the fourth quarter, he showed signs of a concussion. It was later diagnosed that the blows to the head resulted in numerous brain bleeds, which rendered him disabled.

The parents of Drew — Jodine and Christopher Williams — filed a lawsuit against Athletico Ltd. Athletico is a private company that was under contract with the Chicago Public Schools to assign and maintain an adequate staff of competent personnel who were “fully equipped, licensed . . . and qualified to provide on-site injury care and evaluation in all matters pertaining to the health and well-being of the athletes.”

The Williams family claimed that Athletico was negligent in failing to assess their son.  The head trauma or the concussion was the gist of their lawsuit.  The Williamses also named Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers Ltd., the predecessor to Athletico, a company also under contract to provide athletic training of trainer services to Lane Tech students during football games and to evaluate and treat injuries during football games. The trainer assigned to the game was also named as a party defendant.

The issue came before the Cook County circuit court as to whether the Williamses were required to attach a health professional’s report to their complaint under the Code of Civil Procedure, Section 622 (735 ILCS 5/2-622), which governs “healing arts malpractice.”

Both parties formulated versions of the questions of law and rather than choose between them, the Circuit Court judge certified them both for appeal, along with the question of whether the health professional must be in the same profession and possess the same class of license as the defendants.

The three questions suggested to the appellate court as to whether this case should fall under Section 622. The first one was the question of whether Drew should have been assessed or evaluated by someone with sufficient medical judgment. The negligence allegations of the complaint were “analogous to a medical negligence claim alleging a failure to diagnose.”

In addition, the fact that the athletic trainer had undergone state certification under an Illinois statute that laid down a standard of care for the profession, and that a standard of care, as well as the violation of that standard had to be established, argued for the requirement of a health professional’s report.

The appellate court also answered the question in the negative as to whether the health professional must share a profession and license class with the defendant, stating that he or she must be licensed by a physician to practice medicine and is otherwise qualified to give such opinions. The appellate court therefore sent the case back with instructions to allow the Williams family the opportunity to refile the complaint with a health professional’s report attached.

Jodine Williams, et al. v. Athletico, Ltd., et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 161902.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence lawsuits, birth trauma injury cases, nursing home abuse, nursing negligence lawsuits and hospital negligence cases for individuals, loved ones and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Prospect Heights, Morton Grove, Niles, Skokie, Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka, Waukegan, Glencoe, Kenilworth, Naperville, New Lenox, Lemont, Long Grove, River Forest, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Forest Park, Crestwood, Worth, Alsip and Vernon Hills, Ill.

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