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Churkey v. Rustia

April 26, 2002

LAURIE R. CHURKEY AND ELROY G. CHURKEY, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
G.A. RUSTIA AND SHERMAN HOSPITAL, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 98--L--222 Honorable Pamela K. Jensen, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

UNPUBLISHED

Plaintiffs, Laurie and Elroy Churkey, appeal from an order of the circuit court of Kane County granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Sherman Hospital (hospital) on the ground that plaintiffs failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to whether co-defendant G.A. Rustia, M.D. (Dr. Rustia), was the hospital's apparent agent. The trial court concluded that there was no just reason to delay the enforcement of or the appeal from its order. We agree and determine that we have jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (155 Ill. 2d R. 304(a)). The sole issue before us on review is whether summary judgment in favor of the hospital was proper.

Laurie underwent nasal surgery at the hospital on October 10, 1996. Dr. Rustia was the anesthesiologist who attended to her during the surgery. Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that Dr. Rustia gave Laurie the wrong kind of anesthesia, which caused her to go into cardiac arrest during the surgery and led to permanent brain damage. The sole basis of plaintiffs' action against the hospital is that Dr. Rustia was the hospital's apparent agent. Laurie sought damages for the injuries she incurred as a result of Dr. Rustia's alleged medical negligence and Elroy sought damages for loss of consortium.

Laurie admitted that prior to her surgery she signed a consent form that stated in relevant part:

"To provide for specialized services such as Diagnostic Imaging and Anesthesia, Sherman Hospital has entered into agreements with independent groups of physicians. The independent groups that contract to provide services to the hospital are:

ELGIN RADIOLOGY ASSOCIATES, S.C.

ELGIN ASSOCIATES IN ANESTHESIA, S.C.

ASSOCIATES IN NEONATOLOGY, S.C.

I understand that Sherman Hospital uses independently contracted physicians and physician's [sic] groups to perform specific services such as Anesthesia and Radiological services for the hospital and its patients. The physicians are not employees of Sherman Hospital but have been granted privileges to practice at the institution, and if that is the case, I can expect to receive a separate bill from these physicians or physician groups."

The final paragraph of the consent stated that the patient read and understood the document, was given an opportunity to ask questions, and that all questions were answered to the patient's satisfaction.

Dr. Rustia was a member of Elgin Associates in Anesthesia, S.C., one of the groups identified in the consent form as an independently contracted physician group.

In her deposition, Laurie testified as follows regarding her memory of the events ...


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