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Reviewing Important Illinois Healthcare Court Rulings: Relation Back Doctrine

In our final post reviewing recent Illinois court decisions that made a significant impact on healthcare law in Illinois, we review Simpkins v. HSHS Medical Group, Inc., 2017 IL App (5th) 160478.

In this case, plaintiffs initially sought liability from a Hospital on a theory of apparent agency when Defendant neurosurgeon allegedly failed to recommend emergency surgery. Plaintiffs later filed a First Amended Complaint alleging, for the first time, direct liability against the Hospital. Plaintiffs claimed that the ICU nurses at the Hospital were negligent in failing to request a timely vascular consult.

The Court found that there was a sufficiently close relationship between the allegations in the Original Complaint and the First Amended Complaint to show that the later allegations grew out of the same transaction or occurrence. The Court noted that both the Original Complaint and amended pleadings focused on postoperative care, and therefore, the Hospital was on notice that postoperative care in the ICU was a part of the occurrence or events at issue.

Interestingly, in dicta, the Appellate Court commented that various discovery tactics used by litigants, such as general objections, boilerplate objections, and "dump truck disclosures", constitute a misuse of the discovery process. The Court concluded that general objections and boilerplate objections lack utility and preserve nothing for review because such objections are baseless and not specific. Additionally, the Court noted that the process of referring a party to thousands of pages of documents without reference to a specific page runs contrary to the goal of open discovery. The Court's decision reminds litigants that the goal of discovery is full disclosure and the ascertainment of truth.

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