Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Negligence Claim against Care Providers Following Death of Minor

Personal injury lawsuits often involve claims of negligence around car accidents and slip and falls. But they can also include situations in which someone failed to exercise reasonable care and skill when providing supervision for someone else. At Therman Law Offices, our seasoned team of Chicago personal injury lawyers is prepared to assist you with exploring your potential claim for damages against the person or entity responsible for your injury or loss.

A recent opinion from the Illinois Court of Appeal demonstrates a situation in which a care provider was accused of negligence in failing to render appropriate care. A minor died at the age of 17 years old from a heroin overdose the day after she was treated for a heroin overdose and discharged from an emergency department. Her mother, acting as administrator of her daughter’s estate, brought a claim against the emergency department, the operator of the department, and a number of care providers, alleging that they were negligent in not admitting or holding her daughter after her first overdose.

The mother appealed a judgment from a jury in favor of the defendants on the basis that the lower court abused its discretion in granting a number of pre-trial motions regarding the evidence to be offered at trial. The mother also alleged that the verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence and the lower court should have granted her motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or granted a new trial. The defendants alleged that the pre-trial evidentiary motions were appropriately granted because the plaintiff’s retained emergency department expert was not qualified to testify about the psychiatric standard of care and because the plaintiff did not disclose the opinion that the expert intended to offer at trial. The appellate court denied the plaintiff’s motions and affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of the defense.

The plaintiff appealed and the appellate court reviewed to evaluate whether the lower court should have denied the evidentiary motions, entered a verdict for the plaintiff despite the jury’s verdict, or granted a new trial. Ultimately, the appellate court concluded that the lower court did not commit an error and that the jury’s verdict was appropriate. For example, the plaintiff alleged that her daughter’s statement to one of her caregivers that she may die the next time she used drugs prior to their decision to release her was overwhelming evidence of negligence. The appellate court rejected this, noting among other things that the standard for granting a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict is very difficult to meet and to be used only in extreme situations. If there is any evidence to support the jury’s verdict, then superseding the jury’s verdict is not appropriate.

If you lost a loved one or suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. At Therman Law Offices, our knowledgeable and compassionate Chicago personal injury lawyers are available to discuss your situation and whether you may have a legal claim. To schedule your confidential and free consultation, call our office now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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