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Carroll v. Paddock

December 11, 2000


Appeal from Circuit Court of Edgar County No. 99L7 Honorable James R. Glenn, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garman

Plaintiff, Paul D. Carroll, as the administrator of the estate of Joshua A. Carroll, appeals the order of the circuit court of Edgar County dismissing his complaint against defendants, Human Resources Center of Edgar and Clark Counties (HRC), Jerry Paddock (Paddock), Rod Neeson (Neeson), and Mamerto Guinto, M.D. (Guinto), and granting Paris Community Hospital's (Hospital) motion for summary judgment pursuant to the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Act) (745 ILCS 10/1-101 through 10-101 (West 1998)). Plaintiff also appeals the circuit court's dismissal of his February 15 and April 24, 2000, motions for a declaration of unconstitutionality of a portion of section 1-206 of the Act (745 ILCS 10/1-206 (West 1998)). Plaintiff argues on appeal that (1) HRC and the Hospital are not local public entities under section 1-206 of the Act and are therefore not entitled to invoke the one-year statute of limitations under section 8-101 of the Act (745 ILCS 10/8-101 (West 1998)); (2) section 1-206 of the Act, purporting to give governmental tort immunity to "any not-for-profit corporation organized for the purpose of conducting public business" (745 ILCS 10/1-206 (West 1998)), is unconstitutional as constituting special legislation in violation of section 13 of article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, §13); and (3) section 1-206 of the Act is unconstitutional in that it cedes or delegates to private entities the sovereign immunity that belongs solely and exclusively to the state. Because we agree with the plaintiff on the first issue, we do not consider his constitutional challenges. We reverse and remand.


The following facts are taken from plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint, exhibits, and discovery depositions filed in the record. On April 14, 1997, Paul and Patricia Carroll brought their son, Joshua, to the emergency room of the Hospital after he attempted suicide by slashing his wrists, swallowing a large number of thyroid pills and ibuprofen tablets, and by ingesting a half glass of liquid pesticide. Joshua saw Paddock and Guinto while in the emergency room. The Hospital did not admit Joshua but discharged him from the emergency room on that same day. On April 15, 1997, Paul and Patricia took their son to HRC's facilities in Paris, Illinois, where Joshua received psychological assessment, care, and treatment from Neeson. Later that morning, Joshua committed suicide at his home by means of a shotgun.

HRC is a not-for-profit corporation. According to its articles of incorporation, it is organized "[e]xclusively for charitable and educational purposes, the purposes being limited to those set forth in [s]section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code [(26 U.S.C. §501(c)(3) (1994))]." The articles also provide that "[n]o part of [HRC's] net income will inure to the benefit of private individuals," and "the organization will not be operated for the benefit of private individuals or designated individuals, the creators or their families, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interest." Further, HRC's mission statement explains that the corporation shall "promote and conserve the mental health of the people of Edgar and Clark [C]ounties."

HRC is composed of three divisions: developmental disabilities, community services, and clinical services. First, HRC provides services to developmentally disabled persons, in part, through vocational rehabilitation programs, including work opportunities at Café France, an on-site restaurant at HRC; private contracts for laundry services; and a contract with the Illinois Department of Transportation for cleanup service at an I-70 rest area. HRC also provides substance abuse activities on an outpatient basis. HRC has a prevention program, driving under the influence (DUI) assessment evaluation, and classes. Finally, the clinical services division provides outpatient mental health services. This division provided mental health screening and assessment to Joshua on April 15, 1997. According to John Young, executive director of HRC, HRC provided Joshua's care and treatment pursuant to a contract with the Coles County Mental Health Center (Health Center). HRC contracted to provide screening, assessment, and support services (SASS) under the terms prescribed by the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (Department) and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The Health Center pays HRC $17,075 annually for its SASS services.

According to the charitable organization supplement for fiscal year 1998, HRC received 66.13% of its funding from "government grants" and "membership dues" equaling $1,826,777 out of a total revenue of $2,762,456. In addition, HRC received local funding through property tax assessment; $5,067 from the Edgar County "708 board" and $8,540 from the Clark County "708 board." (A "708 board" is a seven-member community mental health board that administers the Community Mental Health Act (405 ILCS 20/0.1 through 13 (West 1998)).) In fiscal year 1997, HRC's financial statement reports revenue of $1,521,505.88 from "fees and grants from governmental agencies" out of a total revenue of $2,781,342.54. Of this amount, the Department contributed $541,929.01 through grants to HRC that placed certain requirements and restrictions on HRC. The Department and HRC also contracted for services totaling $556,568.51. Together, support from the Department amounted to 41.49% of HRC's total revenues in fiscal year 1997.

The Hospital also is a not-for-profit organization. Its purpose, as stated in the articles of incorporation, is:

"To conduct and carry on the work of the corporation not for profit but exclusively for scientific, education[al,] and charitable purposes in such a manner that no part of its income or property shall inure to the private benefit of any donor, member, officer[,] or individual having a personal or private interest in the activities of the [c]orporation.

To operate a charitable hospital in Edgar County, Illinois[,] for the care of the sick of the area without regard to their ability to pay for such services and without regard to their race, color, or creed."

In 1997, the sources of revenue for the Hospital included Medicare and Medicaid payments, insurance payments, and self-pay collections. The Hospital received $4,318,524 from Medicare and $545,271 from Medicaid, representing 50.9% of its total revenue for the year. The Hospital received $4,936,253 from insurance payments and self-pay collections. The only local government funding provided to the corporation was pursuant to a contract between the Hospital and the Edgar County Special Service Area for ambulance service. For this service, Edgar County paid the Hospital $80,000 in 1997.

The Edgar County Board does not control the Hospital's board of directors. The latter consists predominantly of businesspeople of the community and does not include members of the county board.

Plaintiff filed his complaint on April 15, 1999, under the Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180/0.01 through 2.2 (West 1998)) and requested funeral and burial expenses in connection with Joshua's suicide of April 15, 1997. On August 20, 1999, plaintiff requested the court to convert Guinto, a respondent in discovery, to a defendant. The trial court granted plaintiff's motion on September 23, 1999. Paddock, Neeson, HRC, and Guinto filed motions to dismiss pursuant to section 2- 619(a)(5) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2- 619(a)(5) (West 1998)). The Hospital filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to section 2-1005(b) of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-1005(b) (West 1998)). The motions all asserted that plaintiff's complaint was not timely filed under the one-year statute of limitations afforded local public entities under the Act. After hearings on February 16 and April 27, 2000, the trial court granted defendants' motions, finding that HRC and the Hospital are local public entities within the meaning of the Act and that Paddock, Neeson, and ...

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