Illinois Appellate Court Rules that Affidavit of Merit Required for Athletic Trainer’s Negligence

The Illinois Appellate Court has ruled that the guardians of a seriously injured student football player must include a supporting statement from a health care professional to proceed with the case. The guardians had claimed in a lawsuit that a physical and sports-injury therapist provided improper care that caused or exasperated the student’s injuries. Under Illinois’ Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/2-622, the Healing Art Malpractice section, “…a plaintiff shall file an affidavit, attached to the original and all copies of the complaint…”

In the court’s opinion, the three-judge panel found that Illinois law requires the “622” affidavit from a health care expert in a suit alleging medical malpractice and that failure to do so is grounds for dismissal. However, this case is murky because an Athletico Ltd. athletic trainer hired by the public school system is not a traditional medical professional, according to the ruling.

Jodine Williams and Christopher Williams, the guardians of Drew Williams, who suffered a concussion in a football game and then continued to play, filed the suit. Drew Williams became disabled following the injury. Their suit was dismissed. The court ruled that the Williams’ suit should not have been dismissed. The appeals court said in remanding the case that the guardians should have a reasonable chance to file the 622 affidavit along with an amended complaint.

“The affiant must state that he (plaintiff) has consulted with a health professional, that the health professional has reviewed the relevant records and has determined in a written report that there is reasonable and meritorious cause for filing a complaint, and that in light of the report and consultation, the affiant concludes that there is reasonable and meritorious cause for filing the complaint.”

During the course of a football game in 2013, Drew Williams was involved in a serious collision that left one player with broken ribs and a ruptured spleen.

Instead of pulling Williams from the game for a check on his condition, the Athletico trainer let him keep playing. Williams continued to receive blows to the head during the course of the game. Toward the end of the game, he became dazed. He was then checked for a concussion. While undergoing that check of his condition he began to seize and was rendered unconscious.

Drew became disabled because of the repeated head trauma. The lawsuit was filed shortly after the incident.

Athletico moved to dismiss the case on the ground that it was improperly pled and lacked the 622 affidavit by a medical professional. The lower court refused to dismiss the case and certified three questions concerning the certificate of merit, the 622 affidavit, to the Illinois Appellate Court for its review. The appeals panel agreed that a certificate of merit under 622 had to be complied with by the plaintiff. Thus, the case was returned to the trial court for plaintiff’s compliance with Illinois rule 622 in that the athletic trainer was considered a health care professional under the Illinois healing art malpractice law.

Williams, et al. v. Athletico, Ltd., et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 161902 (March 21, 2017)

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling misdiagnosis of medical conditions, medical malpractice cases, wrongful death cases, traumatic brain injury cases, birth trauma and injury lawsuits and hospital negligence cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as the result of the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including Barrington, Evanston, Elmhurst, Franklin Park, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Worth, Oak Lawn, Oak Forest, Park Ridge, Olympia Fields and Palos Heights, Ill.

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