Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Dismissal of Amended Complaint with Prejudice in Medical Negligence Case

One of the biggest considerations that accident victims need to keep in mind is ensuring that they assert their claim for compensation within the designated statute of limitations. Knowing when your statute of limitations may expire can be complicated. As seasoned Chicago personal injury lawyers, we have counseled numerous victims regarding the procedural aspects of their claims. A recent Illinois appellate opinion illustrates the importance of filing before the statute of limitations expires.

The plaintiff consulted two physicians in 2010 regarding low back pain and pain in her left buttock and leg region. A neurosurgeon then diagnosed her with left lumbar radiculopathy and multilevel spinal stenosis. He recommended a lumbar laminectomy to treat these conditions. In 2010, one of the original treating physicians performed this operation, and the plaintiff experienced relief for roughly four months, but the pain eventually returned. The treating physician then recommended an additional course of treatment that provides temporary relief, but she ultimately recommended another surgical procedure when the plaintiff’s symptoms persisted.

The physician performed a lumbar spinal fusion procedure using two plates. The plaintiff suffered serious complications following the surgery, requiring hospitalization and a displaced spinal fusion plate. The physician recommended a revision surgery. A few hours after the surgery, the plaintiff reported numbness in her left foot. Eventually, the plaintiff underwent emergency surgery to address a number of conditions and complications. The plaintiff was eventually discharged and prescribed rehabilitative treatment.

The plaintiff filed a medical negligence complaint against a number of physicians involved in her treatment, including the hospital where she received treatment. The plaintiff alleged that the doctor was aware that the fusion plate was displaced in April 2011 and that she acted negligently in many aspects regarding the plaintiff’s treatment. They also alleged that the hospital where the plaintiff received care was vicariously liable for the doctor’s allegedly negligent conduct as the employer and partner of the doctor.

The doctor and hospital filed an answer, denying the allegations of negligence. The case proceeded to discovery, and the plaintiff eventually filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, based on evidence they derived through over a year of discovery. In the complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that other personnel at the hospital who provided care to the plaintiff acted negligently, naming a few nurses who monitored the plaintiff after the revision surgery specifically.

The hospital responded to the amended complaint by filing a motion to dismiss the new allegations as time-barred. The hospital claimed that the new allegations against the nurses constituted separate and independent claims that did not relate back to the plaintiff’s original claims. The lower court agreed with the defendants and dismissed the new allegations. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury concluded that the defendants were not liable. The plaintiff appealed.

On review, the appellate court reversed and concluded that there was a sufficient relationship between the original complaint and the newly added count against the nurses to allow the plaintiff to add the new claim. The allegations related to the same event, i.e., the plaintiff’s treatment and resulting complications. Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s order dismissing the plaintiff’s amended claims and remanded the case for new proceedings.

If you have been injured as a result of another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. At Therman Law Offices, we pride ourselves on assisting victims of accidents with bringing personal injury claims for the compensation that they require for their injuries, inability to work, and pain and suffering. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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