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Lilly v. County of Cook

OPINION FILED MAY 16, 1978.

BRIDGET DENISE LILLY, A MINOR, BY BARBARA LILLY, HER MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE COUNTY OF COOK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. — (BRIDGET DENISE LILLY, A MINOR, BY BARBARA LILLY, HER MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

COMPREHENSIVE COUNTY HOSPITALS, HEALTH AND ALLIED MEDICAL PROGRAMS GOVERNING COMMISSION OF COOK COUNTY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DAVID A. CANEL, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BROWN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied June 16, 1978.

Defendant, County of Cook, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County, vacating, pursuant to plaintiff's section 72 motion, a final order dismissing the plaintiff's complaint as to this defendant. Plaintiff also appeals, requesting that the circuit court's order dismissing the Health and Hospitals Governing Commission of Cook County as a party defendant be reversed. We reverse both orders.

This action was brought to recover injuries sustained by plaintiff while she was a patient at Cook County Hospital in 1969, and the appeal concerns the powers and duties given to the Commission by the original statute which created it. For a better understanding of the questions presented, it will be helpful to set out the relevant events in chronological order.

In 1969, the Illinois General Assembly enacted, by Public Act 76-32, effective July 1969, the county hospitals governing commission act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 34, pars. 5011-5029). For convenience, Public Act 76-32 will hereinafter be referred to as the "original statute." This original statute created the Comprehensive County Hospitals, Health and Allied Medical Programs Governing Commission of Cook County (hereinafter Commission). Prior to this time, Cook County Hospital had been owned, operated and managed by the County of Cook (hereinafter County).

The original statute, in section 10 thereof, provided that:

"The Commission shall have the general responsibility of organizing, operating, maintaining and managing the various hospitals and hospital facilities owned by any such county and the hospital, medical, nursing, health and allied medical programs related thereto. It shall have the power to operate, maintain and manage such hospitals, facilities and programs, to make and enter into contracts therefore, and to establish rules and regulations for the use, operation and management thereof." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 34, par. 5020.)

Although this provision would appear to vest the Commission with total operating control over Cook County Hospital, the County (through the Cook County Board) retained control of the hospital's budget through a line-by-line veto power over appropriations (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 34, par. 5023).

In November 1969, plaintiff, then seven months of age, was a patient in Cook County Hospital for treatment of a high fever, diagnosed as acute meningitis. As a consequence of various alleged acts and omissions by the hospital staff, it became necessary to amputate plaintiff's right arm, and she suffered, in addition, irreparable brain damage.

In May 1970, a group of doctors at Cook County Hospital attempted to wrest control of the "purse strings" from the Cook County Board, claiming that the Board was too remote and could not adequately deal with the problems facing the hospital. On May 29, 1970, following mass resignations by doctors and nurses, the County Board agreed to relinquish direct financial control of the institution.

In June 1970, by Public Act 76-2015, effective July 1, 1970, the General Assembly amended the original statute. For convenience, P.A. 76-2015 will hereinafter be referred to as the "amending statute." The amending statute gave the Commission full management power by eliminating the line veto control of the County Board and substituting in its place the use of a consolidated budget, and lump-sum appropriations (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 34, par. 5023). The amending statute also statutorily enlarged the authority of the Commission over medical personnel at the Cook County Hospital below the level of superintendent of the Hospital.

In 1974, the plaintiff commenced suit solely against the County.

In March 1976, the County filed an amended answer which asserted as an affirmative defense that the responsibility and power to operate, maintain and manage Cook County Hospital at the time of the occurrence, had been placed in the Commission by the provisions of section 10 of the original statute. In May 1976, the County filed a motion for summary judgment and memorandum in support thereof, which again asserted that at the time of the occurrence the hospital was operated, maintained and managed by the ...


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