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Ballard v. Rawlins





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Pulaski County; the Hon. GEORGE OROS, Judge, presiding.


Plaintiffs, Odessa Ballard and Edward Ballard brought an action against defendant, Fred E. Rawlins, a medical doctor who resides and practices in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, for alleged malpractice. Defendant appeared specially objecting to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Pulaski County over his person. Plaintiffs appeal from the order quashing service of summons and entering judgment of dismissal for defendant contending that the trial court obtained personal jurisdiction over the defendant pursuant to section 17 of the Civil Practice Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110, par. 17).

Plaintiffs, residents of the State of Illinois, filed a five-count complaint against the defendant alleging that he negligently treated Odessa Ballard. The complaint alleged that the defendant failed to examine plaintiff after being informed of the seriousness of her condition. The complaint further alleged that the defendant prescribed a drug, Benedictin, used for the treatment of nausea, although the plaintiff's condition indicated she was suffering from toxemia. As a result of the alleged negligent treatment, a premature Cesarean section was performed on plaintiff, causing the death of plaintiff's baby and serious injury to plaintiff.

In the complaint, plaintiffs alleged that defendant transacted business within Illinois in that he solicited patients in Illinois, called prescriptions to Illinois pharmacies, and accepted payments for medical services from the Illinois Department of Public Aid. The defendant was personally served with summons in Missouri.

In the affidavit accompanying defendant's appearance and motion, he stated that he is a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, is licensed by the State of Missouri and is president of a Missouri professional corporation with offices located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The defendant is not licensed to practice medicine in Illinois, does not practice in Illinois and does not have any offices or employees in Illinois.

For the convenience of patients, defendant occasionally calls prescriptions to pharmacies located in Illinois. The affidavit further states that defendant treated plaintiff for her pregnancy, such treatment occurring solely in Missouri. In addition, the defendant avers that he did not solicit plaintiff as a patient but rather plaintiff voluntarily sought his professional services. Finally, defendant states that although he treats patients that reside in Illinois, these patients initiate the relationship and treatment occurs entirely within the State of Missouri.

After a hearing on the motion to dismiss, the trial court found that jurisdiction was not proper in Illinois, citing Muffo v. Forsyth (1976), 37 Ill. App.3d 6, 345 N.E.2d 149, as controlling authority.

Section 17 of the Civil Practice Act provides, in pertinent part, the following:

"(1) Any person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this State, who in person or through an agent does any of the acts hereinafter enumerated, thereby submits such person, and, if an individual, his personal representative, to the jurisdiction of the courts> of this State as to any cause of action arising from the doing of any such acts:

(a) The transaction of any business within this State;

(b) The commission of a tortious act within this State;

(3) Only causes of action arising from acts enumerated herein may be asserted against a defendant in an action in which jurisdiction over him is based upon this Section * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110, pars. 17(1)(a)(b) and (3).

The Illinois Supreme Court has held that section 17 of the Act is intended to expand personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants to the full extent permitted by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Nelson v. Miller (1957), 11 Ill.2d 378, 389, 143 N.E.2d 673, 679.

• 1 In order for a State court to exert jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant consistently with the Constitution, there must exist sufficient minimum contacts between the defendant and the forum State such that maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. (International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945), 326 U.S. 310, 90 L.Ed. 95, 66 S.Ct. 154; Milliken v. Meyer (1940), 311 U.S. 457, 463, 85 L.Ed.2d 278, 283, 61 S.Ct. 339, 342.) The determination as to what constitutes sufficient minimum contacts depends upon the facts of ...

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