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Olsen v. Karwoski





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


Rehearing denied February 15, 1979.

This is an action for damages plaintiff Robert Olsen claimed he suffered when he was twice involuntarily admitted to mental hospitals for emergency hospitalization. The circuit court judge granted summary judgment in favor of Dr. Theodore Dulin and Dr. Yang Cog Chun, defendants in this action, and also dismissed all charges against the plaintiff's former wife, defendant Dr. Agnes Karwoski. The plaintiff appeals from those orders.

In October 1974, the plaintiff was twice involuntarily admitted to mental hospitals for emergency hospitalization. The first admission took place on the evening of October 11, 1974, when he was brought to Mt. Sinai Hospital (Mt. Sinai) in Chicago by the Darien police. This admission was pursuant to the Illinois Mental Health Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 91 1/2, par. 7-1), which authorizes emergency hospitalization for any person who "is or is asserted to be * * * in need of mental treatment and in such a condition that immediate hospitalization is necessary for the protection * * * of such person or others * * *." To establish that this condition exists, the Mental Health Code requires both a petition stating the reasons for the admission and an accompanying certificate of a physician setting forth the reasons why the person allegedly in need of mental treatment should be hospitalized. The physician's certificate is to be based on his personal examination of the person within 72 hours prior to the admission.

Dr. Karwoski, who at the time was the plaintiff's wife, signed the petition. The medical certificate was signed by Dr. Dulin at Dr. Karwoski's request. In this certificate, dated October 11, 1974, Dr. Dulin attested that he had personally examined the plaintiff within the prior 72 hours. The plaintiff disputes Dr. Dulin's statement, claiming that Dr. Dulin had not examined him on October 11, 1974, at any time thereafter, or for several years prior to that date. Dr. Dulin has not denied the plaintiff's assertion.

Shortly after being admitted to Mt. Sinai, the plaintiff was examined by Dr. Chun, a staff psychiatrist, who diagnosed the plaintiff's condition as suicidal and homicidal. Dr. Chun certified that the plaintiff was in need of mental treatment, but despite Dr. Chun's findings and certificate, the plaintiff was released later the same evening. Nothing in the record explains why the plaintiff was released within such a short time after his admission to Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Four days later, on the evening of October 15, 1974, the plaintiff was again admitted for emergency hospitalization, this time at Tinley Park Mental Health Center (Tinley Park), where he was brought by Chicago police. The plaintiff alleges that he was not examined by any physician within the 72 hours preceding his admission to Tinley Park, as required by paragraph 7-1 of the Mental Health Code. The plaintiff further charges that the certificates signed by Dr. Dulin and Dr. Chun on October 11 were altered by either or both of them, or by someone acting at their direction, to make the certificates appear to have been prepared on October 14, within 72 hours of the plaintiff's admission to Tinley Park. The plaintiff was released from Tinley Park shortly after his admission to that hospital. Again, the record does not explain why.

The complaint alleges (i) that the three defendants conspired to have him hospitalized through abuse of process and falsely arrested and imprisoned, and to maliciously prosecute him; (ii) that Dr. Chun caused him to be falsely arrested and imprisoned, and caused his hospitalization at Tinley Park through abuse of process; (iii) that Dr. Karwoski and Dr. Dulin caused the plaintiff to be falsely arrested and imprisoned, maliciously prosecuted him, and also caused him to be hospitalized at Mt. Sinai and also at Tinley Park through abuse of process.

We first address the question of whether Dr. Karwoski's motion to dismiss her from the proceeding was properly allowed. After the plaintiff instituted this proceeding, she and the plaintiff were divorced. The divorce judgment entered by agreement of the parties specifically referred to this action in the following provision:

"E. That the Plaintiff shall dismiss the Defendant with prejudice from his personal lawsuit in the case of Robert Olsen vs. Agnes L. Karwoski a/k/a Agnes L. Olsen, Dr. Theodore Dulin and Dr. Yang Kog Chun [sic], Case No. 75 L. 21082."

Plaintiff contends that the circuit court judge who presided in this case improperly dismissed the plaintiff's action against Dr. Karwoski because that judge lacked jurisdiction to enforce this provision of the divorce judgment. The plaintiff's theory is that the provisions of a divorce judgment cannot be enforced by a circuit court judge sitting in the law division of the court.

• 1, 2 Circuit courts> are tribunals of general jurisdiction where all judges are invested with equal authority regardless of which division of the court they may be assigned to at a particular time. Thus, a law division judge in the circuit court of Cook County can enforce a judgment or order entered by a judge sitting in another division. (See Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 9; Fins, Illinois Courts> Derive Their Jurisdiction From The Constitution And Their Authority Is No Longer Dependent Upon Statutes or Pleadings, Ill. State B. Ass'n Judicial Ad. Newsletter No. 1 (1977).) This court recently pointed out in Lescher v. Barker (1978), 57 Ill. App.3d 776, 373 N.E.2d 1007, that the judge of a circuit court organized in divisions has equal authority with that of every other judge of the court:

"As divisions of the same constitutional court of general jurisdiction, each division of the circuit court has equal and concurrent subject matter jurisdiction * * *. Section 9 of the Judicial Article of 1964 and 1970 provides: `Circuit Courts> shall have original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters * * *.'" (Emphasis added.) (57 Ill. App.3d 776, 778.)

Therefore, the trial judge assigned to the law division was authorized to enforce, and properly applied, the provision in the ...

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