Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 13th Judicial Circuit, LaSalle County, Illinois. No. 92 S. Ct. 1778. Honorable John David Zwanzig, Judge, Presiding.
Released for Publication June 11, 1996.
Present - Honorable Peg Breslin, Presiding Justice, Honorable Tom M. Lytton, Justice, Honorable John F. Michela, Justice. Presiding Justice Breslin delivered the opinion of the court: Lytton and Michela, JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Breslin
PRESIDING JUSTICE BRESLIN delivered the opinion of the court:
The defendant, Louis Olivero, appeals from the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the plaintiff, Dr. Peter J. Meier. Olivero claims that Dr. Meier failed to properly perfect a physician's lien and was thus not entitled to recover on the lien. We hold that Dr. Meier did not perfect a valid lien because he failed to include necessary information in his notice of lien. Therefore, we reverse.
This matter arose out of Louis Olivero's representation of Julius Donaldson in a personal injury claim against Luehrs' Ideal Rides, Inc. Donaldson settled his claim for $6,202.95. However, Donaldson received medical services for the injuries that formed the basis of his claim and owed several medical providers for those services. Dr. Meier was one of the providers.
Prior to the settlement of this claim, Dr. Meier sent Olivero a notice in which he claimed a lien of $1,250 against the amount recovered by Donaldson in his personal injury case. Thus, when Donaldson settled his claim in February 1992, Olivero distributed one-thirdof the settlement amount on a pro-rata basis to each of the medical providers, including the hospital. Olivero determined that Dr. Meier's pro-rata share of the settlement proceeds was $412.50 and sent him a check in that amount.
In September 1992, Dr. Meier filed a complaint against Olivero and Donaldson alleging that they failed to satisfy the lien in the amount required by the Physician's Lien Act. 770 ILCS 80/1 (West 1994). After several unsuccessful attempts to serve Donaldson, the court granted Dr. Meier's motion to dismiss Donaldson as a defendant. Dr. Meier then filed a motion for summary judgment, and Olivero filed a motion to dismiss.
In his motion to dismiss, Olivero claimed that Dr. Meier's notice of lien was defective because it did not comply with the requirements of the physician's lien statute. Specifically, the lien did not include Donaldson's address, Dr. Meier's address, the date of the injury or the name of the party alleged to be liable to Donaldson. Olivero also argued that Dr. Meier did not follow the statutory requirements for serving the notice. Dr. Meier failed to serve the notice of lien on either Donaldson or Luehrs' Ideal Rides, Inc. He did send a notice to Olivero by regular mail, although the statute does not specify that such a notice be sent to the injured person's attorney.
In his motion for summary judgment, Dr. Meier pointed out that physician's liens are to be distinguished from hospital liens. Where the total amount of physicians' liens exceeds one-third of the settlement amount, the physicians are entitled to a pro-rata share of one-third of the settlement amount. Dr. Meier argued that Olivero failed to properly apply the statute by including the hospital lien in the pro-rata distribution of one-third of the settlement amount. He thus claimed he was entitled to $1,167.50.
The trial court found that Dr. Meier had substantially complied with the statutory notice requirements and that Olivero recognized and acted on the lien by paying Dr. Meier his pro-rata share of the settlement proceeds. The court thus denied Olivero's motion to dismiss and granted summary judgment to Dr. Meier.
On appeal, Olivero first renews his claim that Dr. Meier's lien was not perfected because it failed to include necessary information.
According to the Physician's Lien Act:
"Every licensed physician practicing in the State who renders services by way of treatment to injured persons, *** shall have a lien upon all claims and causes of action ...