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Lubin v. Jewish Children's Bureau of Chicago

March 04, 2002

JEROME LUBIN, EVE LUBIN, AND PHILIP LUBIN, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
JEWISH CHILDREN'S BUREAU OF CHICAGO, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, NOT FOR PROFIT, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McNULTY

Released for publication March 12, 2002.

JEROME LUBIN, EVE LUBIN, AND PHILIP LUBIN, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
JEWISH CHILDREN'S BUREAU OF CHICAGO, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, NOT FOR PROFIT, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McNULTY

PUBLISHED

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Sheldon Gardner, Judge Presiding

 Jerome and Eve Lubin adopted Miriam Lubin in 1963. In 1999 the Lubins sued the Jewish Children's Bureau of Chicago, alleging that the Bureau fraudulently told them, before the adoption, that Miriam came from a family with no known mental or emotional problems. The trial court dismissed the complaint as untimely. We hold that the trier of fact must decide the issue of when the Lubins should have known that they had suffered an injury that was wrongfully caused. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

Jerome and Eve Lubin adopted Philip Lubin in 1960. The next year they told the Bureau that they wanted to adopt a second child, but they would accept only a normal, healthy child whose parents had no known mental, intellectual or emotional problems. The Bureau placed a girl, Miriam with the Lubins. The Bureau told the Lubins Miriam met their adoption criteria.

The Lubins had difficulty with Miriam during her infancy. Prior to adoption, the Lubins brought Miriam to a pediatrician to determine whether the difficulties presented signs of possible future mental health problems. The pediatrician said Miriam "was a difficult but normal child," without outward signs of mental health problems. The Lubins also consulted the Bureau's employee who had worked on Miriam's placement with the Lubins. The Bureau's employee tested Miriam and told the Lubins she found no signs of possible mental health problems. The Lubins decided to adopt Miriam in 1963.

When Miriam was 13 years old, doctors diagnosed her as schizophrenic. Miriam later had two children. Because Miriam lacked the ability to care for the emotionally disturbed children, a social service agency recommended placing them for adoption. Such placement required medical records for Miriam and Miriam's biological parents. The Lubins contacted the Bureau. In a letter dated June 26, 1997, the Bureau informed the Lubins that Miriam's birth mother came from a "family situation [that] was disturbed, and the whole family was in treatment. According to the record, the birth mother suffered from emotional problems, and was in treatment."

On June 25, 1999, the Lubins sued the Bureau for fraud and negligence, alleging that they would not have adopted Miriam if the Bureau had disclosed to them what it knew about Miriam's biological mother and her family. The Bureau moved to dismiss the complaint based on the statute of limitations.

At the hearing on the motion the Lubins argued that until they received the letter in 1997, they had no way of knowing that Miriam's family had emotional problems, or that the Bureau knew of such problems. The court said:

"Here you have 30 years from the time of adoption and it's a fairly difficult situation. ***

***

*** As a practical matter in terms of how far the Court goes with an obligation, in keeping somebody obligated for ...


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