Lawyers at DBMS successfully litigate a wide variety of civil cases and argue appeals in some of the most challenging jurisdictions in the country.

Appellate

Gonzalez v. Union Health Service, Inc.

11/29/2018
Client:

Defendant Union Health Service, Inc.

Outcome:

Appellate Court Victory

Synopsis:

Karen K. DeGrand and Laura C. Ieremia successfully challenged a circuit court order in the Illinois Supreme Court, resulting in dismissal of the case based on a statutory immunity defense. Gonzalez v Union Health Service, Inc., 2018 IL 123025. DBMS’s client, a “health services plan corporation” organized under the Voluntary Health Services Plans Act, moved to dismiss plaintiff’s negligence claims based on the Act’s provision immunizing certain types of health services plans from civil liability. 215 ILCS 165/26 (West 2016). Plaintiff opposed the motion based, in part, on a claim that the 1988 version of the Act’s statutory immunity provision was unconstitutional. The trial court ruled that a 1988 amendment of the immunity provision constituted special legislation and violated federal and state equal protection guarantees. Based on its declaration that the immunity provision was unconstitutional, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the claims against it.

DBMS sought a direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. Overcoming a jurisdictional obstacle, DBMS persuaded the supreme court to exercise its supervisory authority to address and reverse the circuit court’s ruling. The supreme court held that the circuit court need not have addressed the 1988 amendment to the immunity provision, because the effect of a finding that that the amendment was unconstitutional would not abolish the statutory immunity conferred on the defendant by the original version of the statute. Rather, even if the amendment were unconstitutional, the provision would simply revert back to its original version, which has been upheld by the appellate court against a constitutional challenge. Based on that immunity, the supreme court observed that the defendant still would be entitled to seek dismissal.

The supreme court, accordingly, vacated the order denying the motion to dismiss and remanded the case for further proceedings in the circuit court. On remand, the circuit court dismissed all claims against DBMS’s client based on the statutory immunity defense.