Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment As Discovery Violation Sanction In Medical Malpractice Case

In its Order filed on October 14, 2021, the Appellate Court of Illinois Fourth District (“Illinois Appellate Court”) held that in denying the plaintiff’s motion seeking to extend his time to disclose Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213(f) expert witness information, the circuit court incorrectly applied Illinois Supreme Court Rule 183 and its good cause standard, instead of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 219. The circuit court further erred in granting summary judgments in favor of defendants based on this ruling because said ruling prevented the plaintiff from offering the expert testimony necessary to succeed in a medical malpractice action.

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 183 provides: “The court, for good cause shown on motion after notice to the opposite party, may extend the time for filing any pleading or the doing of any act which is required by the rules to be done within a limited period, either before or after the expiration of the time.”

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 219 permits a trial court to sanction a party for an unreasonable failure to comply with a supreme court rule regarding discovery or an order entered pursuant to these same rules.

The defendants in the Illinois medical malpractice case under review argued that Rule 183 and its good cause standard applied to the discovery and sanction issue in the circuit court while the plaintiff argued that Rule 219 applied.

The Illinois Appellate Court stated: “it is Rule 219 that permits a circuit court to impose sanctions for unreasonable failures to comply with a court’s discovery order … Thus, we conclude the circuit court should have considered Rule 219, and applied it to the controversy below, instead of Rule 183. The violation before the court was proffered as emanating from the court’s scheduling order, not a supreme court rule. The circumstances fall squarely within the confines of an order entered by the court, pursuant to the supreme court rules on discovery. Therefore, we will review with reference to Rule 219, as the court should have, and now turn to the propriety of the sanction.”

The Illinois Appellate Court further stated: “a reviewing court [is] to consider several factors to determine the appropriate sanction, if any at all, in these matters. These are: (1) the surprise to the adverse party; (2) the prejudicial effect of the proffered testimony or evidence; (3) the nature of the testimony or evidence; (4) the diligence of the adverse party in seeking discovery; (5) the timeliness of the adverse party’s objection to the testimony or evidence; and (6) the good faith of the party offering the testimony or evidence.

The Illinois Appellate Court held in the case it was deciding: “[i]n the instant case, these considerations favor plaintiff …  a greater degree of prejudice and a stronger showing of wrongdoing is necessary than that presented by the facts of this case in order to impose such a drastic sanction … the sanctions imposed by the circuit court were unreasonable … we note reversal is consistent with the goal to encourage courts to resolve cases on their merits, as well as coercing compliance with discovery, the underlying reason for sanctions.”

Source Anglin v. The Carle Foundation Hospital, 2021 IL App (4th) 200322-U.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in Illinois or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your surgical medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a surgical medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021 at 5:23 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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