Motion to publish granted, January 5, 2015.
Rule 23 order filed 2015 December 12, 2014.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Marion County. No. 09-L-51. Honorable Michael D. McHaney, Judge, presiding.
In plaintiff's action seeking damages based on defendant county coroner's decision to order an autopsy performed on the body of plaintiff's elderly husband after he died at his residence, the trial court properly granted summary judgment to defendant, notwithstanding plaintiff's contentions that the autopsy was unnecessary and constituted willful and wanton misconduct, especially when decedent's primary care physician thought the cause of death was natural and he was willing to complete a death certificate, defendant described the autopsy he ordered as " random" in his own records, and he ordered the autopsy only after receiving a call from decedent's cousin indicating that the death might be suspicious because plaintiff was younger than her husband, her husband had substantial assets, and plaintiff had had relationships with other older men prior to marrying decedent, since defendant's decision to order the autopsy was a discretionary act " unique" to his office, and section 2-201 of the Tort Immunity Act provided immunity, regardless of whether the autopsy was " random" or willful and wanton misconduct.
For Appellant: Eric L. Terlizzi, Salem, IL.
For Appellee: Joseph A. Bleyer, Bleyer and Bleyer, Marion, IL.
JUSTICE SCHWARM delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Welch and Stewart concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] The plaintiff, Sharon Wright, lost her husband, Dale, to natural causes. The plaintiff claims that an autopsy of her husband by the defendant, Clinton County coroner Phillip Moss, was entirely unnecessary and willful and wanton misconduct. She brought suit, claiming damages for this misconduct. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the defendant, and the plaintiff now appeals. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the circuit court's judgment.
[¶3] On March 31, 2009, the plaintiff's husband, Dale Wright, died in his home in Carlyle, Clinton County, Illinois, at the age of 88. Dale had been suffering from numerous ailments, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and renal issues. Deputy coroner David Moss, the father of the defendant, arrived on scene to examine the body. David called Dr. Suppiah, Dale's physician, who believed the death was natural and was willing to complete a death certificate. Dale's body was taken by Robert Bruns, an employee of Neal Funeral Home, who ...