A recent Cook County lawsuit was reviewed by the Illinois Appellate Court, which found that the trial judge had erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s personal injury claim. While the judge had held that the case facts supported a summary judgment in favor of the defendant hospital, the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence to support some of the plaintiff’s claims. Caburnay v. Norwegian American Hospital, 2011 IL App. (1st) 101740 (Dec. 23, 2011).
The injury in question occurred at Norwegian American Hospital. The plaintiff, Dr. Fernando Caburnay, was an anesthesiologist at the hospital and was waiting for an elevator at the time of his accident. It was a rainy day and a 6 ft. x 10 ft. rubber mat had been placed in front of the elevator. As Dr. Caburnay was stepping back from pressing the call button, he tripped backwards over the mat. The back of his head hit a couch, and he fractured his spine, leaving him a quadriplegic.
Dr. Caburnay filed a personal injury lawsuit against Norwegian American Hospital, the basis of which was their negligence in creating a dangerous situation in the form of the rubber and fabric mat. Dr. Caburnay testified that the mat was the cause of his injury; he tripped after catching his foot on a fold in the mat and falling backwards. However, the hospital denied liability for Dr. Caburnay’s injuries and filed a motion for summary judgment in which it asked the judge to dismiss the claims against Norwegian American Hospital. The judge complied, at which point Dr. Caburnay filed an appeal.