Illinois Appellate Court Bars Legal Malpractice Case Because of the Filing Was Beyond the Two Year Statute of Limitations

The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a decision of a Cook County circuit court judge dismissing a legal malpractice case because of the running of the statute of limitations barred the plaintiff from filing suit.

On Feb. 4, 2005, Rose Anne Godbold underwent a positron emission tomography scan in a clinic run by Advocate Medical Group and overseen by Brian McMahon. Sometime between August and September 2005, Godbold became aware that the protocols that had been followed in her scan and results had been concealed. The primary consequence of this was that Godbold had Hodgkin’s disease, which a properly performed positron emission tomography would have detected. However, Godbold did not discover that she had the disease until June 18, 2007.

Godbold hired lawyers to pursue a medical negligence case. She hired the Chicago law firm of Karlin & Fleischer LLC. The firm forwarded to Godbold a retainer agreement on Nov. 10, 2008 and the request for medical authorization and a cost advanced payment of $2,500.

On Nov. 15, 2008 Karlin & Fleischer agreed to represent Godbold. But the relationship did not last long. On Feb. 13, 2009, Karlin & Fleischer advised Godbold that they would no longer represent her saying that they felt that her claim was barred by the statute of repose.

On June 1, 2009, Godbold filed a medical negligence lawsuit without using a lawyer seeking recovery from Advocate and Brian McMahon. Advocate and McMahon moved to dismiss Godbold’s claim as untimely, stating that the filing of the case fell outside the statute of limitations.

On May 7, 2010, the Cook County circuit court judge dismissed several of the counts of her complaint. Godbold appealed.

On June 25, 2012, Godbold filed suit against lawyers Karlin & Fleischer. Godbold alleged that she retained Karlin & Fleischer to represent her in the medical negligence lawsuit and that by agreeing to represent her and then withdrawing they were still duty-bound and responsible for her filing the pro se lawsuit in a timely fashion.

On Aug. 30, 2012, the legal malpractice counts were consolidated with the remaining negligence charges against Advocate and McMahon for discovery purposes. On Sept. 14, 2012, Karlin moved to dismiss. Karlin argued that the authorizing statute for the legal malpractice case required Godbold to file her complaint within two years of the injury for which she sought damages. The circuit court dismissed Godbold’s suit on May 7, 2010. Godbold filed suit against Karlin on June 25, 2012, more than two years after that ruling. Godbold argued that she still had three charges remaining in her medical negligence case and that until all of her charges had been dealt with, her legal malpractice case against Karlin was not ripe.

Godbold requested that the action be stayed pending the resolution of the medical negligence case. The circuit court granted Karlin’s motion to dismiss and Godbold appealed that order.

Godbold argued that by appealing the decision from May 7, 2010, she prevented the statute of limitations in her legal malpractice lawsuit from commencing to run as the decision still could have been reversed.

However the appellate court held that Belden v. Emmerman, 2003 Ill.App.3d 265 (1990), held that the statute of limitations for legal malpractice lawsuits begin to toll when the final judgment is entered even if there is still appeals pending.

Godbold argued that the Belden decision had failed to consider that “the more logical start date for the legal malpractice limitations period is the date in which the underlying case is affirmed by the appellate court.” The appellate court disagreed.

The court stated that this alternative had been considered and that it had decided Belden correctly as it was. The appellate court held that Godbold had not delayed the running of the statute of limitations for the legal malpractice case when she filed her appeal and thus affirmed the trial court’s decision dismissing the case.

Rose Anne Godbold v. Karlin & Fleischer, LLC, 2014 IL App (1st) 131523-U (July 11, 2014).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases, nursing home cases and birth injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Willow Springs, Streamwood, South Holland, South Chicago Heights, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, Sauk Village, Schaumburg, Schiller Park, Palos Hills, Park Forest, Niles, North Riverside, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Olympia Fields, Orland Hills, LaGrange Park, Justice, Hazelcrest, Hickory Hills, Hanover Park, Chicago (Roseland, Rosehill, Rogers Park, Ravenswood Manor, Portage Park, Oz Park, North Town, New Town, Morgan Park, Lincoln Park, Little Italy, Ukrainian Village, West Town, West Loop, Goose Island, Clybourn Corridor, Albany Park, Edgebrook, Edison Park, Mount Greenwood, Washington Heights), Worth and Burr Ridge, Ill.

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