Partner, Jenny Blake, and appellate attorney, Mehreen Sherwani, once again have won summary judgment in three medical malpractice cases. In the first case, the plaintiff filed a wrongful death and survival action against a hospital predicated on the care and treatment her mother received from the hospital’s alleged agents, a primary care physician, a treating nephrologist, and an emergency room physician. Ms. Blake and Ms. Sherwani successfully argued that the patient either knew, or should have known, that the physicians taking care of her were independent contractors, and not employees or agents, of the hospital. They argued the patient had a long history with the primary care physician and nephrologist prior to the admission at issue, and the patient knew before she presented to the hospital that she was going to see them there. With respect to the emergency room physician, they argued the hospital placed the patient on notice that she was not an employee or agent of the hospital because the patient had signed a consent form informing her that the physicians providing medical services to her were not employees or agents of the hospital, but rather, were independent contractors. Ms. Sherwani argued the motion in DuPage County, and the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the hospital.
In the second case, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against a hospital, seeking damages arising out of the death of her husband following multiple surgeries performed at the hospital. The plaintiff alleged the surgeons who had performed the surgeries were apparent agents or employees of the hospital. Ms. Blake and Ms. Sherwani successfully argued that, during his admission, the decedent or his family had signed several consent forms which clearly informed them that the surgeons were independent contractors and not employees of the hospital. The consent forms also contained statements which provided that the individual signing the form had not sought treatment from any independent contractors based on their association with the hospital. Further, as the trial court noted, there was no evidence that the hospital did anything to hold out these physicians as its employees or agents. The trial court further rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the decedent’s mental or physical condition impaired his ability to understand the consent forms, as he had signed the same consent form on prior occasions, and his wife had signed the consent form prior to his first surgery, and his son had signed the consent form prior to his second surgery. Based on the strength of the briefs alone, the trial court in Cook County granted summary judgment in favor of the hospital.
In the third case, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against a hospital predicated on the care and treatment his mother received at the hospital following a fall which occurred without anyone present. Ms. Blake and Ms. Sherwani argued that the plaintiff’s expert’s opinions lacked an adequate foundation or were otherwise baseless. They further argued that the only criticism that did not suffer from these infirmities was the nurse’s claimed failure to check on the patient every 15 minutes. With respect to that criticism, Ms. Blake and Ms. Sherwani argued that the expert’s opinion that the nurse’s failure to check on the patient every 15 minutes caused her fall was based on pure speculation. The undisputed evidence showed no one was in the room when the patient fell, and no one knew how, when, or what caused her to fall. Ms. Blake successfully argued the motion in Lake County, and the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the hospital, thereby entirely disposing of the case.