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Williams v. Davet

December 31, 2003

BERNADETTE WILLIAMS, INDIV. AND AS SPECIAL ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF ROBERT JAMES WILLIAMS, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MARIANNE DAVET AND AGNES HAYES, DEFENDANTS (JOSE PAZHAMPALLY AND MADDEN MENTAL HEALTH CENTER, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 01 L 5070 Honorable Michael J. Hogan, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hall

UNPUBLISHED

The plaintiff, Bernadette Williams, special administrator of the estate of Robert James Williams, deceased, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing her complaint for damages against the defendants, Jose Pazhampally and Madden Mental Health Center (Madden). *fn1

On May 1, 2001, the plaintiff refiled her complaint for damages, alleging the following facts. *fn2

On June 16, 1996, Robert James Williams (Robert) was arrested for disorderly conduct. While in police custody, Robert attempted to injure himself by ramming his head into the cell bars and trying to hang himself. Robert was taken to Christ Hospital, where police officers signed a certificate setting forth their observations of Robert for purposes of a petition for involuntary admission. After being examined by a physician and a psychiatrist at Christ Hospital, a petition for involuntary admission was completed and signed. While at Christ Hospital, Robert's behavior required the use of physical restraints.

The physician at Christ Hospital contacted Mr. Pazhampally, a social worker, at Madden, and requested that Robert be transferred to Madden. Mr. Pazhampally, acting on behalf of Madden, accepted the transfer. Robert was transported to Madden by ambulance, along with copies of his records from Christ Hospital and the petition and certificates for involuntary admission.

Mr. Pazhampally reviewed Robert's history, which included information that he had managed to free himself from one restraint. Robert also admitted to defendants Davet and Hayes that he had recently started using crack cocaine. However, Robert was released to the plaintiff's custody without treatment. The plaintiff was unaware that Robert had attempted to hang himself and was not warned of the risk of suicide.

After returning home, Robert hanged himself, resulting in his death on June 21, 1996.

On July 18, 2001, Mr. Pazhampally filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-1010 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/ 2-1010 (West 2000)), supported by his affidavit. On October 18, 2001, the circuit court denied Mr. Pazhampally's section 2-1010 motion to dismiss.

On December 12, 2001, Mr. Pazhampally and Madden filed an amended motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-619(a)(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure (the Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(1) (West 2000)). The motion alleged that the complaint should be dismissed as to them because the doctrine of sovereign immunity barred suits against the State and its agents and, therefore, the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

On March 22, 2002, the circuit court granted the motion to dismiss on the basis that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The circuit court also made a finding pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (155 Ill. 2d R. 304(a)) that there was no just reason to delay enforcement, appeal, or both enforcement and appeal of its order.

The plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal.

The issues raised on appeal are whether the circuit court erred in dismissing the plaintiff's complaint as to Madden and Mr. Pazhampally pursuant to the doctrine of sovereign immunity and whether the circuit court erred in denying Mr. Pazhampally's section 2-1010 motion to dismiss.

ANALYSIS

I. Standard of Review

Motions to dismiss under section 2-619 of the Code are reviewed de novo. Owens v. McDermott, Will & Emery, 316 Ill. App. 3d 340, ...


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