News & Events

Chicago, January 4, 2018

Schichtel, Weiler Successfully Appeal Apparent Agency Question to Illinois Supreme Court

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP has successfully appealed an interlocutory apparent agency question on behalf of a hospital client to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The plaintiff sought prenatal and obstetrical treatment at a Chicago-area, federally-funded and operated clinic. She was told that she would most likely deliver at a client-operated hospital, where her physicians had staff privileges. The plaintiff later alleged malpractice related the treatment by her clinic doctors (given at the clinic), but she sued only the hospital client based on apparent agency. The hospital client moved for summary judgment, explaining that, as a matter of law, apparent agency should not apply in this case because the plaintiff did not seek treatment at the hospital or a hospital-owned or operated facility. The circuit court determined, and the appellate court agreed, that the issue was one of fact to be decided by a jury. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, holding that the question is one of law and further finding that a hospital cannot be vicariously liable for treatment given by clinic doctors at a clinic.

While the facts were case specific, the related policy issues affect hospitals, medical facilities, and charity care throughout Illinois. The appellate court’s decision seemed to suggest that any physician with staff privileges could create an apparent agency relationship with a hospital or medical facility – a decision with significant policy implications for hospitals and charity care in Illinois. The Supreme Court’s opinion clarifies that staff privileges, alone, do not satisfy apparent agency requirements under Illinois law, and that hospitals cannot be held responsible for the care given by employees of an unrelated, independently owned clinic.

Swanson Martin & Bell, LLP partners Kay L. Schichtel and Catherine Basque Weiler represented the hospital client, and Weiler argued the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Additional analysis and media coverage can be found via Cook County Record, Law360, Illinois Lawyer Now and Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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