Illinois Appellate Court Sends Case Back to Trial Judge for Further Disposition on Relation-Back Doctrine

This case arrived at the Illinois Appellate Court as an interlocutory appeal that came about from the plaintiff Eric Owens’s lawsuit against the defendant hospital, Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital, and its doctors related to the care received by Owens at the hospital’s emergency room in 2011. He initially named Dr. Ahmed Raziuddin as a defendant in the lawsuit as the physician who treated him in the emergency room based on Dr. Raziuddin’s name appearing in the hospital’s records as the treating physician.

However, it turns out that Dr. Raziuddin filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit claiming that he was not the doctor treating Owens and that a Dr. Seema Elahi was actually the treating physician. That motion was granted.

Owens then amended his complaint adding Dr. Elahi as a party defendant replacing Dr. Raziuddin. Dr. Elahi then filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the statute of limitations had expired.

The trial judge denied the motion to dismiss finding that the amended complaint related back to the initial filing of the complaint, but certified the question for review pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308.

The appellate court allowed leave to appeal and answered the certified question in the affirmative. However, while the court was able to answer the question of law presented in the certified question, the record of the case at bar was not sufficiently developed for the Illinois Appellate Court to determine the application of that law to the factual circumstances presented in the case. Accordingly, the analysis in the opinion provides a roadmap that should be used to answer this important question in the court below as well as in the future and thus the case was remanded back to the trial judge for further disposition.

The original lawsuit was filed just five days before the statute of limitations expired. Owens named in that lawsuit the defendant hospital, Dr. Leo Dilan and Dr. Ahmed Raziuddin claiming negligence against each defendant and alleging that the named doctors were employers and/or agents of the defendant hospital.

The complaint alleged that on Dec. 10, 2011 and on Dec. 14, 2011, Owens was a patient in the hospital’s emergency department where he was evaluated and treated “for complaints of body aches, malaise, chills and other signs and symptoms of major illness.”

However, the lawsuit alleged that defendants chose not to exercise reasonable care in providing medical care and treatment to Owens causing him to be “severely and permanently injured and hospitalized during a later hospitalization at Swedish Covenant Hospital wherein he remained in critical condition from a pulmonary infection from pneumocystis jiroveci from which he sustained permanent damage and physical injury and will require continued medical care in the future.”

After it was determined that Dr. Raziuddin was the wrong physician in the emergency department, the plaintiff amended the complaint with leave of court and added Dr. Elahi as a party defendant. Dr. Elahi then filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s amended complaint arguing that the cause of action against her was barred by the two-year statute of limitations set forth in Section 13-212(a) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

In response, Owens argued that under Section 2-616(d) of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-616(d)), plaintiff’s amended complaint related back to the filing of his original complaint. Owens argued that he initially filed his complaint against “Weiss Hospital and the emergency room’s physicians identified in his medical records as being his attending physicians on December 10th and December 14th.”

In short, the Illinois Appellate Court remanded the case back to the trial judge to determine whether Dr. Elahi received constructive notice. That issue was not yet developed in the court record.

Owens v. VHS Acquisition Subsidiary Number 3, 2017 IL App (1st) 161709 (March 31, 2017) Cook County, 5th Division.

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling hospital negligence lawsuits, medical malpractice cases, birth trauma injury cases and nursing negligence 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 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Morton Grove, Niles, Rolling Meadows, Des Plaines, Wilmette, Winnetka, River Grove, Arlington Heights and Bensenville, Ill.

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