SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
531 N.E.2d 355, 125 Ill. 2d 267, 126 Ill. Dec. 60 1988.IL.1684
Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Myron T. Gomberg, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE STAMOS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CUNNINGHAM
Plaintiff, Lindsay Stallman, brought suit by her father and next friend, Mark Stallman, against defendant Bari Stallman and codefendant Clarence Youngquist (not a party to this appeal) for prenatal injuries allegedly sustained by plaintiff during an automobile collision between Bari Stallman's automobile and the automobile driven by Clarence Youngquist. Defendant Bari Stallman is the mother of plaintiff. Defendant was approximately five months pregnant with plaintiff and was on her way to a restaurant when the collision occurred.
This case has been before the circuit court of Cook County twice, and also twice before the appellate court, in Stallman I (129 Ill. App. 3d 859) and Stallman II (152 Ill. App. 3d 683). The Stallman II court reversed the circuit court, which had granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant filed a petition for leave to appeal from the decision in Stallman II pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 315 (107 Ill. 2d R. 315), which was granted. There are two issues on appeal: the status of the parental immunity doctrine in Illinois and the tort liability of mothers to their children for the unintentional infliction of prenatal injuries. For the reasons developed below, this court does not recognize a cause of action brought by or on behalf of a fetus, subsequently born alive, against its mother for the unintentional infliction of prenatal injuries. This decision requires us to hold that the circuit court was correct when it granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. Therefore, it is unnecessary for this court to reach the issue concerning the status of the parental immunity doctrine.
Plaintiff brought a three-count complaint in the circuit court of Cook County. Counts I and III are not involved in this appeal and are presently pending in the circuit court. Count II of plaintiff's second amended complaint, the subject matter of this appeal, charged defendant with negligence, the direct and proximate result of which caused the fetus (the unborn plaintiff) to be thrown about in the womb of her mother (defendant) resulting in serious and permanent injury to plaintiff.
Defendant's motion to dismiss was granted in the circuit court. Plaintiff appealed this decision to the appellate court in Stallman I. Defendant argued to the Stallman I court that no Illinois court had ever considered the question whether a mother could, on any grounds, be sued by her subsequently born child for injuries sustained as a result of the mother's acts or omissions during pregnancy. In response to defendant's argument that public policy considerations militate against imposing civil liability through the tort damages system on women who become mothers, the Stallman I court expressed that in its "opinion, the right of the child to be compensated for her injuries is not outweighed by considerations of public policy." (129 Ill. App. 3d at 865.) The Stallman I court then stated that it did "agree with plaintiff . . . that the parent-child tort immunity doctrine should not be applied to this case so as to defeat plaintiff's cause of action for negligence against her mother" (129 Ill. App. 3d at 862), and that "[i]n our opinion, plaintiff should be given the opportunity to prove whether defendant Stallman's act of driving to a restaurant was not an act arising out of the family relationship and directly connected with family purposes and objectives" (129 Ill. App. 3d at 864).
On remand, the circuit court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed this decision to the appellate court. Defendant argued that stare decisis and the doctrine of the law of the case precluded the Stallman II court from reconsidering the issue of parental immunity, which was decided by the Stallman I court. The Stallman II court rejected defendant's argument and proceeded to reevaluate and then partially abrogate the parental immunity doctrine.
The Stallman II court noted that in Illinois an infant who is born alive and survives may bring a tort action to recover damages for prenatal injuries resulting from another's negligence. The court then simply stated that its holding "simply allows plaintiff to litigate count II of her complaint, naming her mother as a defendant." (152 Ill. App. 3d at 694.) The Stallman II court cited a Michigan court of appeals case which held, "a child's mother bears the same liability for negligent conduct, resulting in prenatal injuries, as would a third person. Grodin v. Grodin (1981), 102 Mich. App. 396, 301 N.W.2d 869." 152 Ill. App. 3d at 694.
The Stallman II court reversed the order of the circuit court granting the summary judgment and remanded the cause to permit the parties to proceed to trial on the merits. Defendant petitioned for leave to appeal to this court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 315 (107 Ill. 2d R. 315). We granted this appeal. Neither the Stallman I court nor the Stallman II court adequately addressed the preliminary issue whether a cause of action by or on behalf of a fetus, subsequently born alive, may be asserted against its mother for the unintentional infliction of prenatal injuries. This court holds that such a cause of action shall not be recognized.
This holding makes unnecessary the consideration of the issue of the parental immunity doctrine. Accordingly, we do not consider defendant's arguments concerning stare decisis and the doctrine of the law of the case, both of which were directed to the Stallman II court's decision on the parental immunity doctrine. Insofar as Stallman I and Stallman II purport to effect a change in the status of the ...