Darrough v. Glendale Heights Community Hosp., 2-91-1390

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation600 N.E.2d 1248,175 Ill.Dec. 790,234 Ill.App.3d 1055
Docket NumberNo. 2-91-1390,2-91-1390
Parties, 175 Ill.Dec. 790 Michael P. DARROUGH, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GLENDALE HEIGHTS COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, Defendant-Appellee.
Decision Date29 September 1992

Page 1248

600 N.E.2d 1248
234 Ill.App.3d 1055, 175 Ill.Dec. 790
Michael P. DARROUGH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
No. 2-91-1390.
Appellate Court of Illinois,
Second District.
Sept. 29, 1992.

Page 1249

[175 Ill.Dec. 791] David J. Comeau, Anesi, Ozmon & Rodin & Assoc., Ltd., Chicago, for Michael P. Darrough.

[234 Ill.App.3d 1056] Douglas J. Esp, Robert G. Black, Stephen R. Swofford, Alice Kehl Kush, Hinshaw, Culbertson, Moelmann, Hoban & Fuller, Chicago, for Glendale Heights Comm. Hosp.

Justice NICKELS delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Michael P. Darrough, appeals the circuit court's order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant, Glendale Heights Community Hospital, on plaintiff's negligence claim. Plaintiff asserts that the circuit court incorrectly concluded that plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie claim of negligence as a result of the alleged malfunction of the leg rest of defendant's wheelchair and, therefore, entered summary judgment in favor of defendant as a matter of law. We reverse and remand.

On September 14, 1986, plaintiff injured his knee during a softball game and was taken to defendant's emergency room. The next morning, a surgeon performed reconstructive surgery and wired together the shattered fragments of plaintiff's kneecap, which was then immobilized by placement in a closed cast.

On September 23, 1986, plaintiff was taken from his hospital room to the X-ray

Page 1250

[175 Ill.Dec. 792] department for a chest X ray in an attempt to diagnose an unrelated congestion. An unidentified male candy striper placed plaintiff in a wheelchair, on which the candy striper raised and set a movable leg rest to hold plaintiff's casted injured leg in a horizontal position parallel to the floor.

The wheelchair was manufactured by defendant, Ivancare, Inc., which was previously granted summary judgment independent of this appeal. The wheelchair was one of two models supplied to defendant, the other not having leg rests. The leg rest in question was controlled by a cam-activated lever, which was released to elevate the leg rest and which then automatically locked. The leg rest remained in the position thus set until the cam-activated lever was again released, which would cause the leg rest to immediately drop to its lowest, vertical position perpendicular to the floor.

The candy striper pushed the wheelchair containing plaintiff to the X-ray department without incident. The floor was entirely smooth, and the wheelchair never bumped any walls or doorjambs. An X-ray technician then moved plaintiff from the X-ray department reception room into the X-ray room, took plaintiff's X rays, and returned plaintiff to the reception room, again all without incident and with plaintiff remaining in the wheelchair with his injured leg elevated. [234 Ill.App.3d 1057] Another hospital employee, who was in charge of patient transport, then appeared and began to return plaintiff to his hospital room.

The patient transport employee released the brakes on the wheelchair in which plaintiff was seated, which had been set by the X-ray technician, and began pushing the wheelchair with both hands on the handles protruding from the rear of the wheelchair. Throughout this entire time, plaintiff had kept his hands in his lap and did not touch any part of the wheelchair. The wheelchair had moved less than a single revolution of the rear wheels when the leg support collapsed, and plaintiff's injured leg fell to the floor. The patient transport employee lifted plaintiff's casted injured leg, reset the leg rest, and, after checking to be sure the leg rest would hold, once again placed plaintiff's injured leg on the leg rest. Neither plaintiff nor the patient transport employee knew what had caused the leg rest to collapse.

After returning plaintiff to his room and outside his presence, the patient transport employee inspected the wheelchair and found the leg rest to be operating correctly. Therefore, he returned the wheelchair to stock. As a result, the wheelchair in which plaintiff was sitting when the leg rest collapsed was not identified, and defendant was not able to produce the wheelchair for inspection or testing. However, all wheelchairs purchased when defendant began operations in 1980 were still in service on the date of plaintiff's injury and at all time relevant to these proceedings. No incidents similar to that which occurred here had occurred either before or after that time.

Plaintiff filed suit and alleged that, as a result of the sudden jarring and bending of plaintiff's knee within the cast when the leg rest of the wheelchair collapsed, the reconstruction of plaintiff's knee failed and eventually required the total removal of his kneecap. Specifically, plaintiff's complaint alleged that defendant "possessed, operated, managed, maintained and controlled or had a duty to possess, operate, manage, maintain and control, both directly and indirectly, individually and through [its] agents, servants, and employees, a certain wheelchair on the premises [of defendant]," and defendant had "improperly operated, managed, maintained and controlled the aforesaid wheelchair, so that as a direct and proximate result thereof, the Plaintiff was injured."

Defendant moved for summary judgment and argued this circumstantial evidence permitted multiple inferences as to the cause of the collapse of the leg rest, and, therefore, plaintiff's assertion that the candy striper had failed to properly set the leg rest was mere conjecture and speculation. Thus, defendant argued, plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie claim for negligence, and summary judgment [234 Ill.App.3d 1058] was proper. In opposition to defendant's motion,

Page 1251

[175 Ill.Dec. 793] plaintiff asserted that any multiple inferences permissible from the undisputed, although circumstantial, facts created a material question of fact precluding summary judgment.

During the hearing on defendant's motion, defendant argued that defendant did not have exclusive control of the wheelchair because plaintiff had been left unattended for some period of time and may himself have released the leg rest control, cam-activated lever. Plaintiff responded that there was no evidence that plaintiff had done anything to cause the incident or that the wheelchair had collided with anything that could have jarred the leg rest and caused the leg rest to fall. The circuit court asked if plaintiff had a claim for res ipsa loquitur, to which defendant's counsel responded that plaintiff's claim sounded only in strict negligence, and defendant's counsel again later during argument asserted that plaintiff had not claimed res ipsa loquitur. The circuit court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment, and in its letter of opinion expressly noted:

"From the evidence taken as a whole in this case the trier of fact would be left to speculate as to why the leg support fell. Was it a defect in the chair, was it improperly set initially by the candy striper, did the plaintiff himself accidentally bump the release lever, or did it just slip due to the chair being pushed around down to and in and out of the xray [sic ] department for some unknown reason. Nothing guides us to a conclusion as to any of these possibilities either directly or circumstantially. This being the case, I have no alternative but to grant defendant's motion."

The circuit court subsequently denied plaintiff's...

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21 cases
  • Willis v. Morales
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 15, 2020
    ...fact pleading [citation], res ipsa loquitur is often pleaded as a separate claim." Darrough v. Glendale Heights Community Hospital , 234 Ill. App. 3d 1055, 1060, 175 Ill.Dec. 790, 600 N.E.2d 1248 (1992).¶ 52 Our discussion of the evidence bearing on whether the court should have permitted t......
  • Garland v. Sybaris Clubs Int'l, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • August 28, 2019
    ...but it does not affect the necessity or method of proving proximate cause. Darrough v. Glendale Heights Community Hospital , 234 Ill. App. 3d 1055, 1059, 175 Ill.Dec. 790, 600 N.E.2d 1248 (1992). The plaintiff argues that, here, the defendants had complete control over the decision to autho......
  • Heastie v. Roberts
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • November 1, 2007
    ...Jones v. Minster, 261 Ill.App.3d 1056, 1061, 200 Ill.Dec. 22, 635 N.E.2d 123 (1994); Darrough v. Glendale Heights Community Hospital, 234 Ill.App.3d 1055, 1060, 175 Ill.Dec. 790, 600 N.E.2d 1248 (1992). The traditional formulation of the doctrine also included a requirement that the injury ......
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