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Carroll v. Paddock

February 07, 2002

PAUL D. CARROLL, AS ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF JOSHUA A. CARROLL, DECEASED, APPELLEE
v.
JERRY PADDOCK ET AL., APPELLANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kilbride

Released for publication March 15, 2002.

PAUL D. CARROLL, AS ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF JOSHUA A. CARROLL, DECEASED, APPELLEE
v.
JERRY PADDOCK ET AL., APPELLANTS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kilbride

PUBLISHED

Docket Nos. 90771, 90772, 90778 cons.-Agenda 23-November 2001.

 The primary issue in this appeal is whether a not-for-profit charitable hospital and a not-for-profit mental-health-care organization are "local public entities" within the meaning of section 1-206 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Tort Immunity Act (Tort Immunity Act or Act) (745 ILCS 10/1-206 (West 2000)). Plaintiff, Paul D. Carroll, as administrator of his son Joshua's estate, brought this wrongful-death action against defendants Jerry Paddock, Rod Neeson, Human Resources Center of Edgar and Clark Counties (HRC), Paris Community Hospital (Hospital) and Dr. Mamerto Guinto, alleging that the defendants' malpractice caused Joshua's death by suicide. The circuit court of Edgar County held that the action was time barred by the Act's one-year statute of limitations. 745 ILCS 10/8-101 (West 2000).

The appellate court reversed and remanded, finding that HRC and the Hospital are not local public entities within the meaning of the Tort Immunity Act and, thus, neither those entities nor their employees are entitled to invoke the protection of the Act. 317 Ill. App. 3d 985, 995. We consolidated and granted all of defendants' petitions for leave to appeal (177 Ill. 2d R. 315) and now affirm the judgment of the appellate court.

BACKGROUND

On April 14, 1997, Paul and Patricia Carroll brought their son, Joshua, to the emergency room of Paris Community Hospital after Joshua attempted to commit suicide. Joshua was seen by Dr. Guinto, an employee of the Hospital, and Jerry Paddock, an employee of HRC. Joshua was discharged without being admitted. On April 15, 1997, Paul and Patricia took Joshua to HRC, where he received psychological assessment, care and treatment from Rod Neeson. Later that morning, Joshua took his own life.

On April 15, 1999, plaintiff filed a wrongful-death action against defendants. HRC, Paddock, Neeson, and Guinto filed motions to dismiss pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2000)), arguing plaintiff's complaint was not timely filed under the one-year statute of limitations contained in the Tort Immunity Act. The Hospital filed a motion for summary judgment on the same ground. In their motions, the defendant entities claimed that they were not-for-profit corporations organized for the purpose of conducting public business and that they and their employees were local public entities entitled to assert immunities and defenses afforded by the Act.

Plaintiff responded that HRC and the Hospital did not qualify as local public entities under the Act. In the alternative, plaintiff argued that section 1-206 of the Act constitutes special legislation in violation of article IV, section 13, of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, §13) and that section 1-206 of the Act delegates tort immunity to private entities in violation of article I, section 12, and article XIII, section 4, of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §12; art. XIII, §4).

The complaint, exhibits and discovery depositions filed of record supply a factual basis for assessing the status of defendants under the Act. HRC is a not-for-profit corporation. It is composed of three divisions: developmental disabilities, community services, and clinical services. The clinical services division provides out-patient mental-health services, and its employees administered mental-health screening to Joshua and assessed his condition.

HRC came into being as a result of the merger of two existing not-for-profit corporations known as the Edgar County Mental Health Center and the Edgar County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council. Following the merger, the entity assumed its present designation as the Human Resources Center of Edgar and Clark Counties. HRC's board of directors consists of private citizens, as did its original incorporators.

According to its articles of incorporation, HRC is organized "exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, the purposes being limited to those set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. §501(c)(3) (1994)." The articles also provide that "no 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 Counties."

In a discovery deposition, the executive director of HRC, John Young, testified about the operations of that entity. He stated that HRC provides clinical services, including outpatient mental-health care and substance-abuse evaluations and classes. According to Young, HRC also furnishes services for developmentally disabled persons, including placement of those individuals with private corporations for work experience and income. Young further stated that HRC renders community services ...


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