Introduction to Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, 237 Ill.2d 217 (2010): A Battle over Litigation Costs
On a cold night in the end of October of 2005, Francis Lebron entered Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Cook County, Illinois to undergo a Caesarean section. After being admitted, she was placed under the care of Dr. Levi D’Ancona and Florence Martinoz, a registered nurse. However, things did not go swimmingly. Her child, Abigaile Lebron, was born with severe brain injury and impairment as well as cerebral palsy. Consequently, doctors discovered that she would not develop brain functions normally or be able to eat without the assistance of a feeding tube. For the economic and noneconomic damages (i.e. trauma, medical costs, and reduced quality of life to name a few), the Lebrons sued the hospital as well as the attending doctor and nurse.
The family soon ran into the wall of existing laws. Just in that same year, through 735 ILCS 5/2-1706.5, the Illinois state legislature had put a cap on non-economic damages at $500,000 for doctors and $1,000,000 for hospitals for “any medical malpractice action or wrongful death action based on medical malpractice.” The Lebrons’ claim asked for a lot more than that. Based off of the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling in Best v. Taylor Machine Works (179 Ill.2d 367 (1997)), the circuit court held that 2-1706.5 was unconstitutional as an improper exercise of legislative power and declared the entire act void. Unhappy with the result, the defendants appealed to the Supreme Court.
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