Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal Where Another Injured Party Plaintiff Was Added After the Passing of the Statute of Limitations

The plaintiffs, Brittany N. Hage and Joann M. Blackmore, appealed the dismissal of their Count VI of Hage’s Fourth Amended Complaint, which added Blackmore as a party plaintiff in the Hage cause of action. The suit was filed against the defendant, Trisha L. Pannkuk.

Because the allegations in Count VI did not arrive out of the same transaction or occurrence as Hage’s original complaint, Count VI was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.  Accordingly, the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District affirmed the dismissal of Count VI.

This incident arose out of the Feb. 1, 2011 13-vehicle crash that occurred on Route 72 in Ogle County, Ill.  The weather conditions included snow on the roadway and blowing snow, which greatly reduced visibility. There were several other lawsuits that arose out of this incident.

On April 5, 2012, Hage filed a five-count complaint against defendants Shane M. Kossier, Trisha Pannkuk and three others. In that complaint, Hage alleged that she suffered serious injuries as a passenger in a car driven by Kossier when that car slid into the vehicles driven by two of the other defendants. The Hage complaint alleged that Kossier’s car was then hit from the rear by another car driven by Pannkuk. According to Hage’s complaint, the cars were then hit by a vehicle driven by yet another defendant.

On Jan. 24, 2013, one week before the statute of limitations would have expired, Blackmore, who was also involved in this multi-car accident, filed a single-count complaint against a defendant, John W. Cline. No other parties were named in that lawsuit.

Blackmore alleged that she stopped her car in the roadway when she approached another car that was already stopped on the road. She alleged that when she exited her car to speak with the driver of the car that was stopped in front of her, Cline’s car struck her car from behind. Her car was thrust forward, hitting her, running over her foot and slamming her into a snowbank, causing injuries.

On Aug. 23, 2013, the trial court consolidated the Hage and Blackmore actions for purposes of discovery only. Between November 2013 and August 2014, the parties deposed several of the parties who were involved in the accident but not a party in neither of these cases.

On Dec. 7, 2015, Hage sought leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint. She proposed adding Blackmore as a party plaintiff in the claims against Pannkuk, Ludwig and Cline. Count VI of the proposed Fourth Amended Complaint was directed against Pannkuk. In that complaint, Blackmore alleged that Pannkuk’s car collided with Ludwig’s and Cline’s, which had already collided and struck Blackmore. The appellate court stated that “in other words, the proposed Fourth Amended Complaint included a count by Hage alleging that Pannkuk’s car struck the car in which she was riding, as well as a separate count by Blackmore alleging that Pannkuk’s car struck cars driven by Ludwig and Cline.”

On Jan. 25, 2016, Pannkuk objected to Hage’s motion to amend arguing that the proposed Fourth Amended Complaint was outside of the statute of limitations. Pannkuk argued that Count VI did not relate back to Hage’s original complaint because it alleged a new cause of action with different injuries.

The appellate court agreed, finding that Blackmore had not brought any claims against Pannkuk at the time, in that the limitations period had expired more than a year earlier.

The plaintiff argued that Section 2-616(b) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure defines the relation-back doctrine, the purpose of which is to “preserve causes of action against loss by reason of technical default unrelated to the merits.” The court, however, centered its decision on the fact that the amended pleadings grew out of the different transaction; thus the statute of limitations had in fact run out on this claim.

Finally, the appeals panel stated that Blackmore cannot now circumvent the statute of the limitations by hitching her wagon to Hage’s timely filed complaint. For these reasons, the judgment of the circuit court was affirmed.

Hage v. Kossier, 2018 IL App (2d) 170901 (Aug. 8, 2018).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile crash lawsuits, truck accident cases, bicycle accident cases, motorcycle accident cases and catastrophic injury lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Crestwood, Forest Park, River Forest, Oaklawn, Worth, South Holland, Blue Island, Country Club Hills, Countryside, Barrington, Chicago (Ashburn, South Shore, East Side, West Loop, Little Italy, Little Village, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, West Rogers Park, North Lawndale, Englewood), Bridgeview, Waukegan, Gurnee, Cary, Lindenhurst and Naperville, Ill.

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