Prof'l Sols. Ins. Co. v. Karuparthy

Docket Number4-22-0409
Decision Date30 May 2023
Citation2023 IL App (4th) 220409
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County No. 21MR818 Honorable Kathleen E. Mesich, Judge Presiding.

Josh M. Kantrow and Jason W. Jochum, of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, LLP, of Chicago, for appellant.

John Malvik, of Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham LLC, of Rock Island, for appellees Venkateswara R. Karuparthy and Integrative Pain Centers of America, Ltd. Brian K. Hetzer, of Duncan Law Group, LLC, of Chicago, for other appellee.

JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Zenoff concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Harris dissented, with opinion.


¶ 1 In August 2020, Nancy Corelis filed a complaint against Venkateswara R. Karuparthy, M.D., and Integrative Pain Centers of America, Ltd. (collectively, the medical defendants), alleging Karuparthy (1) injected a "medical substance" that rendered her immobile and (2) subsequently "repeatedly and intentionally touched, grabbed, fondled, and kissed [Corelis's] person." Corelis also alleged Karuparthy negligently injected her with a substance that rendered her immobile and caused her physical and emotional injuries. Corelis alleged Integrative Pain Centers of America, Ltd. (Integrative Pain Centers) was vicariously liable.

¶ 2 In October 2021, plaintiff, Professional Solutions Insurance Company (Professional Solutions) filed a declaratory judgment action against the medical defendants and Corelis in which it sought a declaration that it had no duty to defend the underlying action because Karuparthy pleaded guilty to two criminal charges arising out of Karuparthy's conduct as alleged in Corelis's complaint. Specifically, Professional Solutions argued that based on the guilty pleas, the underlying complaint alleged only intentional conduct or actions that otherwise did not qualify as professional services under the policy. Alternatively, the allegations fell under several exclusions, including criminal conduct, intentional conduct, and sexual misconduct.

¶ 3 In November 2021, Corelis filed a motion to dismiss the declaratory judgment action pursuant to section 2-619(a)(9) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(9) (West 2020)), arguing the underlying complaint sufficiently pleaded a claim for medical negligence that brought the allegations potentially within coverage under the policy. In response, Professional Solutions filed a "cross-motion" for judgment on the pleadings. After the parties fully briefed the motions, the trial court concluded that Professional Solutions had a duty to defend the underlying complaint, granted Corelis's motion to dismiss, and denied Professional Solutions' motion for judgment on the pleadings.

¶ 4 Professional Solutions appeals, arguing the trial court erred when it found Professional Solutions had a duty to defend Karuparthy. Professional Solutions contends that Karuparthy's convictions for crimes arising out of the same transaction or occurrence as the underlying complaint (1) removed the allegations in the underlying complaint from the policy's coverage, (2) triggered the policy's criminal acts exclusion, and (3) made a prima facie showing that the criminal acts exclusion or other exclusions applied. We agree with Professional Solutions, reverse the trial court's judgment, and remand with directions.

¶ 6 A. The Underlying Action

¶ 7 1. The Complaint ¶ 8 In August 2020, Corelis filed a complaint against the medical defendants (hereinafter referred to as the underlying complaint). The underlying complaint alleged six counts battery (count I), assault (count II), intentional infliction of emotional distress (count III), false imprisonment (count IV), negligence against Karuparthy (count V), and negligence against Integrative Pain Centers based on its vicarious liability for Karuparthy's acts (count VI).

¶ 9 Counts I, II, and III alleged the following. On August 23, 2018, Corelis "received medical treatment from [Karuparthy]." "During that medical treatment, [Karuparthy] injected [Corelis] with a medical substance." "Unbeknownst to [Corelis], that injection impaired/limited her ability to move." "While [Corelis was] under the effects of that medication, [Karuparthy] repeatedly and intentionally touched, grabbed, fondled, and kissed [Corelis's] person." The complaint also alleged that (1) the touchings were unwanted, offensive, harmful, placed Corelis in further apprehension of harm-including rape-and (2) she suffered damages and emotional distress.

¶ 10 Count IV asserted a claim for false imprisonment and contained the same allegations with some changes. Count IV alleged that when Corelis received medical treatment in the form of an injection from Karuparthy on August 23, 2018, "[u]nbeknownst to [Corelis], that injection constrained, impaired, and/or limited her ability to move." (Emphasis added.) Count IV then alleged, "That injection and the effects of same constituted a restraint on her freedom and her ability to leave the room while [Karuparthy] repeatedly touched, grabbed, fondled, and kissed [Corelis's] person, all of which was unwanted."

¶ 11 Count V contained identical allegations as count IV regarding (1) the treatment, (2) the injection, and (3) unknown to Corelis, the injection "constrained, impaired, and/or limited her ability to move." Count V additionally asserted Karuparthy owed Corelis a duty of care and that "he committed one or more or a combination of all of the following negligent acts or omissions." Count V alleged the following acts of negligence:

"a. Failed to obtain informed consent prior to administering a medical substance that impaired and/or constrained her ability to move;
b. Failed to explain the side effects of the medical substance prior to administering same;
c. Failed to conduct a proper clinical examination prior to administering the injection in question; and
d. Failed to make a diagnosis prior to administering the medical substance in question."

Count V then alleged that "[a]s a direct and proximate result" of the above negligent acts or omissions, Karuparthy "injected [Corelis] with a substance, rendering her temporarily immobile." Count V concluded by alleging that "[a]s a direct and proximate result of that immobility," Corelis required medical treatment, suffered substantial pain and discomfort, experienced a loss of a normal life, and suffered emotional distress.

¶ 12 Count VI contained the same allegations as count V but asserted Integrative Pain Centers was liable for the acts of Karuparthy, who was acting as an actual or apparent agent or employee of Integrative Pain Centers.

¶ 13 2. The Section 2-622 Affidavit and Physician's Report

¶ 14 Corelis attached to her complaint a section 2-622 affidavit (735 ILCS 5/2-622 (West 2020)) and physician's report explaining why the physician believed the lawsuit was meritorious. The report stated that it was based on Corelis's medical records from Integrative Pain Centers and explained that "[o]n August 23, 2018, Nancy Corelis was alleged to receive an unscheduled administration of intravenous B-Complex vitamins. Though, in addition to the intravenous vitamins, Dr. Karuparthy administered a thumb joint injection and intravenous ketamine."

¶ 15 Regarding the thumb injection, the physician's report stated that "according to his notes," Karuparthy examined the thumb, noted arthritic changes, and gave a steroid injection to the joint. "Based on records from prior office visits," the injection was a breach of the standard of care because (1) Corelis had no history of arthritis, (2) Karuparthy did not take an X-ray or rule out other causes, and (3) "he failed to obtain consent for the thumb injection."

¶ 16 Regarding the administration of ketamine, the physician's report stated that a thumb joint injection was an inappropriate circumstance to administer ketamine. Accordingly, Karuparthy breached the standard of care by (1) administering the injection and (2) "fail[ing] to obtain consent for the use of ketamine." The report further stated that Karuparthy breached the standard of care based on the manner in which he administered the ketamine and actions he took after giving it. Karuparthy breached the standard of care by not determining how long it had been since Corelis had anything to eat or drink. Further, "[o]n this visit, unlike other visits, Dr. Karuparthy used a bolus to administer ketamine. A reasonably careful anesthesiologist should recognize that a patient can react differently to the manner in which ketamine is administered. According to his own notes, Dr. Karuparthy failed to do so. He left the room, leaving Nancy Corelis unattended while under the effects of ketamine, breaching the standard of care." The report continued:

"When he returned, Nancy Corelis was hemodynamically compromised.
Yet he left the room again to obtain the oxygen tank and oxygen mask, breaching the standard of care. If administering ketamine, the standard of care requires not only that the patient be fully monitored, with a qualified person in constant attendance, but also complete resuscitation capabilities available in the patient's room, not a different room, which breaches the standard of care."

¶ 17 The report concluded that "there [wa]s a reasonable basis for a cause of action against" Karuparthy because he "mismanaged the care and treatment of Nancy Corelis including multiple deviations of the standard of care." However, the report did...

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