McDonald v. Lipov: Certificate of Merit Requirements in Illinois Medical Malpractice Cases

In a recent case in front of an Illinois appellate court, a woman lost her right to recover for injuries that she claimed were due to negligent treatment by her attending physician. In the case, McDonald v. Lipov, the court determined that the “certificate of merit” requirement is strictly enforced in medical malpractice cases, and it may also be enforced in medical battery claims, depending on the surrounding facts.

law-series-1-1467440According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff filed suit against her treating physician pro se, meaning without the assistance of an attorney. The court granted her ample time to comply with the procedural requirements of § 2-622, which mandates that a certificate of merit be obtained from a qualified medical expert. The plaintiff failed to do so, and the case was dismissed.

The plaintiff then refiled the action, rephrasing several of the same claims. Rather than bringing the claims as “medical malpractice” claims, the plaintiff phrased them as “medical battery” claims, in hopes of avoiding the requirements of the statute.

Certificate of Merit Requirements in Medical Malpractice Cases

In order for a medical malpractice case to proceed to trial, the plaintiff must first obtain a statement from a medical professional that there is “reasonable and meritorious cause for filing of such action.” If this is not provided to the court, the court is not in abuse of its power to dismiss the case.

The Plaintiff’s Failure to File the Certificate of Merit

The plaintiff in the case discussed above was not represented by an attorney, and she failed to obtain a certificate of merit. This was cause for the initial dismissal of her case. Upon refiling, however, the case was dismissed again for several reasons. First, the court noted that the claims she brought still were covered by § 2-622 and thus required a certificate of merit because “an assessment of the claims requires knowledge, skill, or training in a technical area outside the comprehension of laypersons.” Thus, the plaintiff’s attempt to re-frame her claims outside the requirements of the statute were fruitless.

Second, the court noted that the claims had already been heard in the plaintiff’s first filing, and thus this court was not able to revisit a valid decision. In sum, the case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the plaintiff is forever prevented from recovering for her injuries.

Have You Suffered Because of a Doctor’s Negligence?

If you or a loved one has recently suffered due to an incident of medical negligence, be sure to consult with a dedicated medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. With an attorney’s assistance, you can rest assured that you will not miss a crucial deadline or fail to comply with any other procedural requirement. Moll Law Group has the experience and knowledge you need in medical malpractice cases and has an extensive network of medical experts who can evaluate your claim. Call 312-462-1700 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney today. Calling is free, and our help will not result in any cost to you unless we can recover for you in your case.

See More Posts:

Six-Vehicle Chain-Reaction Accident Caused When Semi-Truck Rear-Ends Van<, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 20, 2015.

Fatal O’Fallon Truck Accident May Have Been Caused by Medical Emergency, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 18, 2015.