Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., No. 4-99-0954.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation258 Ill.Dec. 722,325 Ill. App.3d 129,757 N.E.2d 107
Decision Date26 September 2001
PartiesBetty Lou EADS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. HERITAGE ENTERPRISES, INC.; Rutledge Joint Ventures, LLC, d/b/a Memorial ContinuCare; and Memorial Health Ventures, Defendants-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 4-99-0954.

757 N.E.2d 107
325 Ill.
App.3d 129
258 Ill.Dec.
722

Betty Lou EADS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
HERITAGE ENTERPRISES, INC.; Rutledge Joint Ventures, LLC, d/b/a Memorial ContinuCare; and Memorial Health Ventures, Defendants-Appellees

No. 4-99-0954.

Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District.

September 26, 2001.


757 N.E.2d 108
Kenneth B. Graves (argued), Springfield, for Betty Lou Eads

Karen L. Kendall, Craig L. Unrath (argued), Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, Peoria, Kurt M. Koepke, Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, Springfield, for Heritage Enterprises, Inc.

Paul Brown, Brown, Hay & Stephens, Springfield, for Memorial Health Ventures.

Justice MYERSCOUGH delivered the opinion of the court:

In September 1999, the trial court dismissed the first-amended complaint of plaintiff, Betty Lou Eads, and allowed her 90 days within which to file a second-amended complaint. In November 1999, the trial court granted Eads leave to seek interlocutory review under Supreme Court Rule 308 (155 Ill.2d R. 308) from this court to answer a certified question. We answer the question in the negative and remand for further proceedings.

I. BACKGROUND

In June 1998, Eads was a resident of Memorial ContinuCare (ContinuCare), an extended-term nursing facility owned and operated by defendants, Heritage Enterprises Inc., Rutledge Joint Ventures, LLC, d/b/a Memorial ContinuCare, and Memorial Health Ventures. During her stay at ContinuCare, Eads fell and fractured her hip while attempting to use a rest room. In May 1999, Eads filed suit against defendants, alleging numerous causes of action, including breach of contract and fiduciary duty, res ipsa loquitur, and violations of the Nursing Home Care Act (Nursing Home Act) (210 ILCS 45/3-601 (West 1998)).

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-613(a) of the Code of

757 N.E.2d 109
Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-613(a) (West 1998)). The trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss, finding that Eads' complaint improperly commingled causes of action in violation of section 2-613 of the Code but granted Eads leave to replead

In July 1999, Eads filed a three-count amended complaint, alleging only that defendants acted negligently under the Nursing Home Act. In her amended complaint, Eads alleged that she became feverish, weak, confused, and unsteady on her feet, suffered hallucinations, and was unable to comprehend verbal instructions. Eads claims that the ContinuCare staff members knew of her weakened condition and that she was unsteady, unresponsive, and disoriented, yet permitted her to repeatedly get out of bed, without assistance, to use the bathroom. Eads further claims that defendants were negligent by failing to (1) adequately supervise her activity, (2) ensure that she did not walk without assistance, (3) respond to her call light when she requested assistance, (4) equip her bed with a pressure release to alert staff that Eads had risen from her bed, and (5) adequately staff the facility to ensure appropriate assistance would be provided.

Defendants again moved to dismiss Eads' amended complaint (735 ILCS 5/2-622(g) (West 1998)), arguing that her claim sounded in "healing art malpractice." Specifically, defendants complained that Eads must (1) attach an affidavit attesting that she or her attorney had spoken with a qualified physician who thought her claims were meritorious and (2) include a copy of the physician's written report made after reviewing Eads' medical records. 735 ILCS 5/2-622(a) (West 1998). Eads responded that her claims were not "healing art malpractice" claims but were negligence claims specifically allowed by the Nursing Home Act (210 ILCS 45/3-601 (West 1998)); therefore, she was not obligated to file an accompanying affidavit and written physician's report.

In November 1999, the trial court granted defendants' motion and dismissed Eads' amended complaint but granted her leave to replead. Eads chose instead to seek interlocutory review under Supreme Court Rule 308 (155 Ill.2d R. 308). This appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS

A. The Certified Question

The trial court certified the following question:

"In a case where the [p]laintiff has sued a nursing home for injuries sustained as a result of alleged violations by the nursing home, its staff[,] and employees, of the [Nursing Home Act] and the regulations promulgated pursuant thereto [77 Ill. Adm.Code § 300 et seq. (West 2001)], is the [p]laintiff required to comply with the mandates of [section 2-622 of the Code]?"

Plaintiff urges this court to answer this certified question in the negative, arguing that requiring plaintiffs who file a cause of action pursuant to the Nursing Home Act to comply with section 2-622 of the Code would nullify the purpose of the Nursing Home Act. In addition, Eads argues that the Nursing Home Act and section 2-622 are irreconcilably in conflict. We agree with both propositions for the following reasons.

B. The Purpose of the Statutes

After reviewing the purpose of each statute, we conclude that their purposes are opposite. The Nursing Home Act encourages litigation against owners and licensees of a nursing home for the protection of nursing home residents, and section

757 N.E.2d 110
2-622 discourages litigation in the area of medical malpractice

1. Nursing Home Act

The Nursing Home Act was enacted because of concerns over reports of "inadequate, improper, and degrading treatment of patients in nursing homes." 81st Ill. Gen. Assem., Senate Proceedings, May 14, 1979, at 184 (statements of Senator Berning). Its purpose is to provide protection for nursing home residents. Springwood Associates v. Lumpkin, 239 Ill.App.3d 771, 777, 179 Ill.Dec. 901, 606 N.E.2d 733, 736 (1992). The Nursing Home Act provides two methods of implementing this goal. First, private nursing homes must be licensed and regulated by the Department of Public Health (Department); and second, nursing home residents are granted a private right of action against nursing homes for violations of the residents' rights. Springwood Associates, 239 Ill.App.3d at 777, 179 Ill.Dec. 901, 606 N.E.2d at 736. The legislature realized that the Department cannot daily police every nursing home and detect every violation of the Nursing Home Act, and that the residents are in the best position to know of and seek redress for violations. Harris v. Manor Healthcare Corp., 111 Ill.2d 350, 369, 95 Ill.Dec. 510, 489 N.E.2d 1374, 1382 (1986).

As a further incentive for residents to seek legal redress, the Nursing Home Act provides attorney fees to a resident whose rights under the Nursing Home Act were violated. Specifically, section 3-602 provides that "[t]he licensee shall pay the actual damages and costs and attorney's fees to a facility resident whose rights, as specified in [p]art 1 of [a]rticle II of this [Nursing Home] Act, are violated." 210 ILCS 45/3-602 (West 1998). In addition, the Nursing Home Act provides for the award of punitive damages for willful and wanton misconduct. Dardeen v. Heartland Manor, Inc., 186 Ill.2d 291, 300, 238 Ill.Dec. 30, 710 N.E.2d 827, 832 (1999) ("Under the amended version of the statute, plaintiff may recover actual damages and attorney fees upon proof of defendant's negligent violations of the Act, and may additionally recover common[-]law punitive damages upon proof of willful and wanton misconduct on the part of defendant"). The Nursing Home Act also permits class actions to be brought (210 ILCS 45/3-604 (West 1998)); remedies to be cumulative, and no restrictions to be placed on any party to prevent them from seeking any additional remedy (210 ILCS 45/3-714 (West 1998)); and damages to be exempt from public-aid recovery (210 ILCS 45/3-605 (West 1998)).

The Nursing Home Act has been amended many times since it was first enacted. Even though the legislature has amended the Nursing Home Act, the legislature has never chosen to adopt the procedural limitations found in section 2-622 for long-term care in nursing homes. In fact, the legislative history of the Nursing Home Act and its amendments reflect a real concern about the quality of care received in these facilities and about the preservation of a cause of action for violation of residents' rights, in keeping with the statute's purpose. For example, in 1995, when the legislature amended the provisions of the Nursing Home Act that permitted the recovery of treble damages, Senator Fawell made the following statement during one of the senate debates:

"The elimination of the mandatory provision [to award treble damages] in no way prevents a judge or jury from awarding punitive damages in any amount, even in excess of [treble] damages, if actions of the nursing home or any of its employees or agents are deemed to be intentional or willful and wanton, or grossly negligent. In addition,
757 N.E.2d 111
the bill retains the current and unique provision requiring that a nursing home pay the attorney's fees of a successful plaintiff ensuring nursing home residents will be able to secure legal representation." 89th Ill. Gen. Assem., Senate Proceedings, May 24, 1995, at 90 (Statements of Senator Fawell).

2. Section 2-622 of the Code

Section 2-622, often referred to as the "healing art malpractice act," was enacted to remedy a perceived crisis in the area of medical malpractice. Bernier v. Burris, 113 Ill.2d 219, 229, 100 Ill.Dec. 585, 497 N.E.2d 763, 768 (1986). It is designed to reduce the number of frivolous suits that are filed and to eliminate such actions at an early stage, before the expenses of litigation have mounted. DeLuna v. St. Elizabeth's Hospital, 147 Ill.2d 57, 65, 167 Ill.Dec. 1009, 588 N.E.2d 1139, 1142 (1992). To achieve its purpose, section 2-622 requires the filing of an affidavit and written report by an expert setting forth his opinion of the reasonable and meritorious cause for the filing of a case. In addition, in furtherance of its purpose, section 2-1114 of the Code limits the amount of...

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5 practice notes
  • Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., No. 92691.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • February 21, 2003
    ...answered this question in the negative, holding that section 2-622 is inapplicable to claims arising under the Nursing Home Care Act. 325 Ill.App.3d 129, 258 Ill.Dec. 722, 757 N.E.2d 107. One justice dissented. We granted leave to appeal from the appellate court's judgment (177 Ill.2d R. 31......
  • People ex rel. Madigan v. Maxwell Manor, No. 1-11-3132
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • December 31, 2013
    ...as cumulative and not exclusive and a party may elect as between the two." [Citations].' " Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., 325 Ill. App. 3d 129, 137-38 (2001) (quoting Harris v. Manor Healthcare Corp., 111 Ill.2d 350, 365 (1986)). The Act states that it "applies to any and all trustees,......
  • Myers v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., No. 4-04-0250.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 10, 2004
    ...liability under the Act is one of ordinary negligence, which does not require expert testimony. See Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., 325 Ill.App.3d 129, 137, 258 Ill.Dec. 722, 757 N.E.2d 107, 113 (2001) (noting that most of the Act "addresses nonmedical long-term care, which does not req......
  • Myers v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., No. 4-01-1003.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 17, 2002
    ...Berning). The Nursing Home Care Act's purpose is to provide protection for nursing home residents. Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., 325 Ill.App.3d 129, 132, 258 Ill.Dec. 722, 757 N.E.2d 107, 110 (2001), appeal allowed, 198 Ill.2d 589, 262 Ill.Dec. 619, 766 N.E.2d 239. The Nursing Home Ca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., No. 92691.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • February 21, 2003
    ...answered this question in the negative, holding that section 2-622 is inapplicable to claims arising under the Nursing Home Care Act. 325 Ill.App.3d 129, 258 Ill.Dec. 722, 757 N.E.2d 107. One justice dissented. We granted leave to appeal from the appellate court's judgment (177 Ill.2d R. 31......
  • People ex rel. Madigan v. Maxwell Manor, No. 1-11-3132
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • December 31, 2013
    ...cumulative and not exclusive and a party may elect as between the two." [Citations].' " Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., 325 Ill. App. 3d 129, 137-38 (2001) (quoting Harris v. Manor Healthcare Corp., 111 Ill.2d 350, 365 (1986)). The Act states that it "applies to any and a......
  • Myers v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., No. 4-04-0250.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 10, 2004
    ...liability under the Act is one of ordinary negligence, which does not require expert testimony. See Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., 325 Ill.App.3d 129, 137, 258 Ill.Dec. 722, 757 N.E.2d 107, 113 (2001) (noting that most of the Act "addresses nonmedical long-term care, which does no......
  • Myers v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., No. 4-01-1003.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 17, 2002
    ...Berning). The Nursing Home Care Act's purpose is to provide protection for nursing home residents. Eads v. Heritage Enterprises, Inc., 325 Ill.App.3d 129, 132, 258 Ill.Dec. 722, 757 N.E.2d 107, 110 (2001), appeal allowed, 198 Ill.2d 589, 262 Ill.Dec. 619, 766 N.E.2d 239. The Nursing Home Ca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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