Lawsuit for Absence of a Doctor (Neurosurgeon) on Duty In a Hospital Emergency Room

In Monti v. Silver Cross Hospital, 262 Ill. App. 3d 503, 637 N.E.2d 427, 201 Ill. Dec. 838 (1994), the plaintiff, suffering from a head injury that left her unconscious, was taken by ambulance to the defendant hospital's emergency room. The hospital had no neurosurgeon on duty at the time. Twelve hours later the plaintiff was transferred to a different hospital. She filed suit, and the (initial receiving) hospital moved for summary judgment on the ground that the defendant doctors were independent contractors and not the employees or agents of the hospital. Summary judgment was granted and the plaintiff appealed. The defendants argued on appeal that there was no apparent agency because the plaintiff was unconscious when she was brought to the emergency room and so "did not select the hospital or otherwise rely upon the hospital to supply treating physicians." Monti, 262 Ill. App. 3d at 507, 637 N.E.2d at 430. The appellate court reversed, holding there was a triable issue as to apparent agency. The court noted that the actions of those who were responsible for the plaintiff's care (the nonparty emergency medical personnel who selected the hospital) 2 showed an "implied reliance" on the part of the plaintiff. Monti, 262 Ill. App. 3d at 508, 637 N.E.2d at 430.