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05/30/96 ROBERT GROCE v. SOUTH CHICAGO COMMUNITY

May 30, 1996

ROBERT GROCE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF FELY GROCE, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
SOUTH CHICAGO COMMUNITY HOSPITAL AND VISHNU N. MATHUR, M.D., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE DONALD J. O'BRIEN, Jr., JUDGE PRESIDING.

Rehearing Denied September 9, 1996. Released for Publication September 16, 1996.

Presiding Justice Hoffman delivered the opinion of the court. Cahill and S. O'brien, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hoffman

PRESIDING JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

On September 2, 1988, the plaintiff, Robert Groce, individually and as administrator of the estate of Fely Groce, deceased, filed the instant action charging that the medical negligence of the defendants, South Chicago Community Hospital and Vishnu N. Mathur, M.D., proximately resulted in injury to Fely Groce and her subsequent death. On December 30, 1988, South Chicago Community Hospital was voluntarily dismissed from the action, and the matter thereafter proceeded solely against Dr. Mathur. On June 27, 1995, Dr. Mathur filed a motion for summary judgment which the trial court granted on August 14, 1995. The plaintiff has appealed and, for the reasons which follow, we reverse and remand this case to the circuit court for further proceedings.

Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. 735 ILCS 5/2-1005(c) (West 1994); Carruthers v. B.C. Christopher & Co., 57 Ill. 2d 376, 313 N.E.2d 457 (1974). Since the entry of a summary judgment is not a matter committed to the discretion of the trial court, a reviewing court must independently examine the evidence presented in support of and in opposition to a motion for summary judgment ( Arra v. First State Bank & Trust Co., 250 Ill. App. 3d 403, 621 N.E.2d 128, 190 Ill. Dec. 259 (1993)) and review the decision of the trial court de novo ( In re Estate of Hoover, 155 Ill. 2d 402, 615 N.E.2d 736, 185 Ill. Dec. 866 (1993)).

We have examined all of the pleadings and evidentiary material on file at the time of the entry of the order appealed from in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Kolakowski v. Voris, 83 Ill. 2d 388, 415 N.E.2d 397, 47 Ill. Dec. 392 (1980). From that evidentiary material, we adduce the following facts relevant to the disposition of this appeal.

The decedent was referred to Dr. Mathur in 1984 by her personal physician, Dr. Lofton Kennedy. After examining the decedent, Dr. Mathur performed a biopsy of her left breast. The biopsy confirmed the presence of cancer, and Dr. Mathur recommended surgery. On September 4, 1984, Dr. Mathur performed a modified radical mastectomy upon the decedent's left breast. During surgery, it was discovered that the decedent's cancer had invaded her lymph nodes. Dr. Mathur continued to care for the decedent until July 1987.

In August 1987, the decedent was diagnosed as suffering from advanced metastic breast cancer. She died on August 12, 1988, and this action was filed 21 days later.

In his complaint, the plaintiff charged, inter alia, that Dr. Mathur was negligent in his treatment of the decedent by:

"a) Failing to advise and inform FELY GROCE of her options for radiation therapy or chemotherapy when her mastectomy revealed a positive node for metastic cancer;

b) Failing to adequately monitor and examine FELY GROCE during her 14 office visits from September 1984 to August 1987[;]

c) Failing to adequately assess the condition of FELY GROCE during the period subsequent to ...


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