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McRoberts v. Porter

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

June 13, 2013

DAVID McROBERTS, Individually and as Father of Kaitlin McRoberts, a Minor, and KIM McROBERTS, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
TONI PORTER, Special Administrator of the Estate of Lori Maramba, Deceased, Defendant (Southern Illinois Hospital Services, d/b/a Memorial Hospital of Carbondale and St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Respondent-Appellee).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Perry County, No. 11-L-22 Honorable James W. Campanella, Judge, presiding.

Attorney for Appellants John D. Alleman, Alleman & Hicks.

Attorney for Appellee John R. Daly, Associate General Counsel, Southern Illinois Hospital Services.

JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Spomer and Justice Cates concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

CHAPMAN JUSTICE

¶ 1 The only issue presented in this case is whether a health care services lien attaches to underinsured-motorist benefits.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 The accident that forms the basis of the issue involving liens and insurance benefits occurred on November 5, 2009, in Murphysboro. A vehicle driven by Lori Maramba crossed the centerline and struck a vehicle driven by David McRoberts. Kaitlin, a minor, and Kim McRoberts were passengers. David, Kaitlin, and Kim all sustained bodily injuries and damages.

¶ 4 The liability insurance limit available was $50, 000. The plaintiffs collected those benefits. Additionally, underinsured-motorist benefits were available to the McRoberts. The underinsured-motorist benefits were another $50, 000. The record does not contain a breakdown of which the plaintiff or the plaintiffs received medical services and incurred bills. The total amount of medical bills incurred by the McRoberts for care following this accident was in excess of $321, 000.

¶ 5 Several health care providers properly filed liens in compliance with the Health Care Services Lien Act (770 ILCS 23/1 to 999 (West 2008)). The plaintiffs filed a petition to adjudicate medical liens on December 1, 2011.

¶ 6 The trial court held a hearing on the petition on December 9, 2011. Southern Illinois Hospital Services, d/b/a Memorial Hospital of Carbondale and St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, filed a written response to the petition and to a memorandum of law filed by the plaintiffs. The trial court considered both memoranda and on January 4, 2012, entered its order. The court found that the Health Care Services Lien Act provided that 40% of the settlement amount of $50, 000 was to be disbursed in proportional shares to five of the lienholders who had filed an appearance with the court. The court allocated $20, 000 of the $50, 000 in underinsured-motorist benefits amongst those five lienholders. The court also entered a second order on January 5, 2012, which analyzed the issue of application of the Health Care Services Lien Act to underinsured-coverage proceeds. The court found that there were no cases directly on point. The court noted that the cases that the defendants cited from other jurisdictions allowing application of a lien to underinsured-coverage proceeds were based upon statutes with far more restrictive language than that contained within the Illinois Act. The trial court held that the phrase "all claims and causes of action" was determinative of the issue and that the legislature meant to include underinsured proceeds. ¶ 7 The trial court included language in the orders to ensure that the rulings were final and appealable. Ill. S.Ct. R. 304(a) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010). From these two orders, the plaintiffs appeal.

¶ 8 LAW AND ANALYSIS

¶ 9 Interpretation of statutory language presents a question of law, subject to de novo review. People v. Collins, 214 Ill.2d 206, 214, 824 N.E.2d 262, 266 (2005). We must give effect to the legislative intent as our main objective in considering and determining the meaning of statutory language. Id. While we must look at the words chosen by the legislature in order to ascertain its intent, we must also consider the purposes behind the statute. Id. The actual words chosen by the legislature are the best indication of the intent of the legislature. Id.

¶ 10 The plaintiffs contend that because the Health Care Services Lien Act is a creature of statute, its liens are limited in operation to the terms included in the statute. Gaskill v. RobertE. Sanders Disposal Hauling, 249 Ill.App.3d 673, 676-77, 619 N.E.2d 235, 237-38 (1993). The defendants argue that although the liens did not exist at common law, the legislature maintains the power to provide for ...


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