Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 98 L 002085 The Honorable Michael J. Hogan, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cousins
Plaintiff Latonia Clark, as administrator of the estate of Ashanti Beasley, brought a medical negligence action to recover damages for the wrongful death of her son, Ashanti Beasley. Plaintiff sued defendants Galen Hospital Illinois, Inc., d/b/a Columbia Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center (Michael Reese Hospital); John B. Payton, M.D.; Dr. Zubair Amin #6200; Dr. Wasef, a/k/a Vassef (Wasef); Nenette Alonzo, R.N.; and Dr. #1341 Respondent in Discovery, a/k/a Dr. Baurlygen, for failure to properly diagnose and treat her son, who allegedly died as a result of sepsis brought on by a dislodged venus catheter on September 22, 1995.
Defendants Dr. Wasef, Michael Reese Hospital, Dr. Amin and nurse Alonzo filed motions to dismiss, alleging that the suit was barred by the two-year statute of limitations governing medical malpractice actions. 735 ILCS 5/13-212(a) (West 1998). The trial court granted the defendants' motions and dismissed the suit. *fn1
On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court erred by finding that the death of plaintiff's infant on September 22, 1995, constituted a traumatic injury which triggered the statute of limitations. Rather, plaintiff contends that the statute of limitations commenced when she received an expert's report, on April 11, 1997, which revealed that death was due to a dislodged venus catheter.
On August 28, 1995, plaintiff gave birth to Ashanti Beasley, a 23-week-old premature boy, at Michael Reese Hospital. He was transferred to the University of Illinois Hospital at Chicago on September 9, 1995. The infant died on September 22, 1995. The medical certificate of death, filed on October 31, 1995, stated that Ashanti died from septic shock due to disseminated intravascular coagulation. At the time of death, plaintiff alleges that she was told "the baby died because of complications due to it [sic] being premature, having an infection and low birth weight, and because his blood was clotting and he couldn't tolerate all the transfusions."
Plaintiff alleges that on February 27, 1996, five months after Ashanti's death, she first sought legal counsel from Hertzel Levine, who agreed to determine if she had a cause of action. At this meeting, plaintiff consented to the release of the infant's medical records. However, plaintiff was never contacted by Mr. Levine again.
Plaintiff subsequently retained her present attorney, obtained the infant's medical records, and hired a medical expert, neonatologist Dr. Stuart Danoff. On April 11, 1997, plaintiff received a report from Dr. Danoff. His report stated:
"That following said review, I am of the opinion that there is a reasonable and meritorious cause for the filing of the action against each of the following defendants: Galen Hospital Illinois, Inc., *** Zubair Amin, M.D., Dr. Wassef and Nenette Alonzo, for all of the following reasons:
a. Failed to order x-rays after the insertion and placement of UVC's and UAC's;
b. Failed to properly manage plaintiff's decedent to insure x-rays were ordered and read;
c. Failed to take due cognizance of the condition of ill being of plaintiff's decedent and immediately order x-rays which would have clearly established a problem with the UVC;
d. Failed to provide proper and adequate neonatal/pediatric care to plaintiff's decedent as stated above;
e. Failed to consult with physicians skilled in other specialties of medicine and capable of properly and timely diagnosing and treating plaintiff's decedent;
f. Improperly cut the UVC line and/or improperly dislodged the UVC line.
As a direct and proximate result of one or more of the foregoing wrongful acts and/or omissions of the defendants, *** Ashanti ...