APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION
543 N.E.2d 822, 187 Ill. App. 3d 774, 135 Ill. Dec. 254 1989.IL.1265
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. William A. Kelly, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE JOHNSON delivered the opinion of the court. JIGANTI, P.J., and McMORROW, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE JOHNSON
Plaintiffs, Kathleen Galvan, plenary guardian of the estate of William T. Galvan, Sr., and the sons of William T. Galvan, Sr., brought an action against defendants, Dr. Dayon and Dayon & Associates, for the wrongful death of William T. Galvan, Sr. The trial court dismissed the action against defendants with prejudice on grounds that defendants were third-party beneficiaries of an agreement that released them from liability. Plaintiffs present the following issues for review: (1) whether defendants had enforceable rights as third-party beneficiaries to an agreement that was subsequently breached, and (2) whether these beneficiaries obtained such rights so as to preclude the parties from drafting a covenant that was subsequently entered.
William T. Galvan, Sr., was admitted to Jackson Park Hospital on January 16, 1981, for medical and psychiatric treatment. Dr. Dayon, defendant, was Galvan's treating physician. Several days after Galvan was admitted, he attempted to hang himself. The attempted suicide rendered Galvan comatose until his death on April 17, 1982.
Prior to Galvan's death, plaintiffs had begun negotiations with Jackson Park Hospital to dispose of all claims plaintiffs may have had against the hospital and its various affiliates and employees including, arguably, defendants, for the attempted suicide. As part of the proposed agreement the hospital was to pay $675,000 to Galvan's estate to cover expenses that were not reimbursed for Galvan's medical and convalescent care and to oversee such care for the remainder of his natural life.
In consideration of these undertakings the guardians were to "release and forever discharge any and all persons and entities, including but not limited to [Jackson Park Hospital], its affiliated doctors, directors, officers, employees, agents, assigns, successors, subsidiaries and affiliates, from any all [ sic ] all manner of action, cause and causes of action, claims and demands, whatsoever, in law or equity, which they now have or hereafter can, or shall have whatsoever."
Galvan's ex-wife and sons declared in the agreement that they "release[d] and forever discharge[d] any and all persons and entities including but not limited to [Jackson Park Hospital], its affiliated doctors, directors, officers, employees, agents, assigns, successors, subsidiaries and affiliates of and from any and all claims."
The agreement, allegedly, was conditioned upon obtaining the approval and authorization of the probate division of the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois, and upon the signatures of the various parties to the agreement.
On March 12, 1982, the guardians, Galvan's ex-wife, and his sons signed the release. The release was then delivered to the hospital's legal representatives for signature on March 15, 1982. Galvan died on April 17, 1982. The release was never signed by the hospital. On May 17, 1982, one of the hospital's representatives informed plaintiffs' attorney that the settlement offer of $675,000 was withdrawn. Notwithstanding the withdrawal of the offer, plaintiffs' attorney proceeded to probate court to present the proposed release and settlement for court approval of its terms.
The hospital was not represented at these proceedings due to, the hospital alleges, lack of notice. The probate court entered an order on June 1, 1982, finding the terms of the proposed agreement reasonable. After receiving a copy of the order, the hospital again informed plaintiffs that a final agreement had never been reached ...