The Illinois Supreme Court's September Term began on Monday, September 10th. The Term will include oral argument in 12 civil cases and 10 criminal cases between September 11th and September 19th. Below is a listing of the 12 civil cases that will be heard:
Thursday, September 13, 2018:
Sienna Court Condominium Assoc. v. Champion Aluminum Corp., No. 122022
Beaman v. Freesmeyer, No. 122654
Carmichael v. Laborers’ & Retirement Employees Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, No. 122793 (cons.)
Stanphill v. Ortberg, No. 122974
Tuesday, September 18, 2018:
Gregg v. Rauner, No. 122802
Piccioli v. Board of Trustees of Teachers Retirement System, No. 122905
Gonzalez v. Union Health Services, Inc., No. 123025
First Midwest Bank v. Cobo, No. 123038
Sperl v. Toad L. Dragonfly Express, No. 123132
Wednesday, September 19, 2018:
A&R Janitorial v. Pepper Construction, No. 123220
Palm v. Holocker, No. 123152
Wingert v. Hradisky, No. 123201
Below is a summary of one of the civil cases to be argued. As always, more information about all pending criminal and civil cases is available in the ALA's Cases Pending newsletter.
Stanphill v. Ortberg
This Petition presents the question of whether, in a professional negligence action, a defendant can be civilly liable notwithstanding the lack of reasonable foreseeability of the plaintiff’s injury. The plaintiff below – the administrator of a decedent’s estate – initiated proceedings in Winnebago County, asserting that the defendants – a hospital and a clinical social worker employed by the hospital – negligently failed to diagnose the decedent as suicidal, leading to his ultimate death by suicide. The jury returned a general verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, but answered, in a special interrogatory, that the decedent’s suicide was not reasonably foreseeable. The circuit court thereupon entered a verdict in favor of the defendants.
The plaintiff appealed and the Second District Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the jury’s answer to the special interrogatory was not inconsistent with its general verdict. The Court found that the special interrogatory was improper insofar as it asked the jury to determine whether the decedent’s suicide was reasonably foreseeable to the defendant, rather than to a reasonable person. In so holding, the Second District departed from the First District’s holding in Garcia, which affirmed the entry of a judgment in favor of the defendant under analogous circumstances. There, the jury returned a general verdict for the plaintiff, but answered, in a special interrogatory, that the decedent’s suicide was not reasonably foreseeable to the defendant, causing the circuit court enter judgment in favor of the defendant. Garcia v. Seneca Nursing Home, 2011 IL App (1st) 103085.
In their petition, Defendants argue that the Second District, in analyzing the special interrogatory, incorrectly held thatforeseeability in a professional negligence case should be based upon a reasonable person standard and that the general verdict could not be squared with the jury’s special interrogatory answer.