In re ESTATE OF ALBINA DEUTH, Deceased (The Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Christine Fiedler, Executor of the Estate of Albina Deuth, Deceased, Defendant-Appellee).
Rule 23 Order filed April 24, 2013
Motion to publish allowed June 27, 2013
The trial court erred in ruling that the State’s claim against decedent’s estate seeking reimbursement for Medicaid payments was barred by the five-year “catch-all” statute of limitations set forth in section 13-205 of the Code of Civil Procedure, since section 13-205 does not expressly apply to claims brought by the government, a public right was being asserted, not a private right, and nothing in the Public Aid Code placed any limitation on claims by the State.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Putnam County, No. 09-P-2; the Hon. Kevin R. Galley, Judge, presiding.
Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Carl J. Elitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellant.
No brief filed for appellee.
Panel JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Wright and Justice Carter concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 The plaintiff, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (the State), brought a claim against the estate of Albina Deuth (the Estate) under section 5-13 of the Public Aid Code (305 ILCS 5/5-13 (West 2010)) for the reimbursement of certain Medicaid expenses. The defendant, Christine Fiedler, the executor of the Estate, asserted Illinois's 5-year "catch-all" statute of limitations (735 ILCS 5/13-205 (West 2010)) as a partial defense to the State's claim, arguing that the State was barred from recovering any Medicaid payments it made to Albina Deuth more than five years before the probate estate was opened. The circuit court ruled that the five-year limitations period applied to the State's claim, effectively rendering the State's claim to recover Medicaid benefits paid outside that period time-barred. The State filed a timely motion to reconsider, which the circuit court denied. The State has appealed the circuit court's order under Supreme Court Rule 304(b)(1). Ill. S.Ct. R. 304(b)(1) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010).
¶ 2 BACKGROUND
¶ 3 On March 17, 2009, Fiedler filed a probate petition related to the will of her deceased mother, Albina Deuth. The petition stated that Deuth died on January 21, 2009, and that the Estate had a value of approximately $64, 000. Fiedler was appointed as the independent executor of the Estate on March 19, 2009.
¶ 4 On July 15, 2009, the State filed a claim against the Estate under section 5-13 of the Public Aid Code (305 ILCS 5/5-13 (West 2010)) seeking to recover $6, 237 in Medicaid benefits it had paid on Deuth's behalf. The payments were for "supplemental medical insurance benefits" and "pharmacy claims" dated between February 1, 2001, and December 10, 2008.
¶ 5 In her answer to the State's claim, the defendant raised Illinois's 5-year "catch-all" statute of limitations (735 ILCS 5/13-205 (2010)) as an affirmative defense to a portion of the State's claim. She argued that claims to recover payments that were "incurred" more than five years before the probate action was filed were time-barred. The trial court ruled that section 13-205 applied to the State's claim, effectively rendering the State's ...