Blaz v. Michael Reese Hospital Foundation

Blaz v. Michael Reese Hospital Foundation,
No. 96 C 0091 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 23, 1999)

In 1947 and 1948, plaintiff
was treated with x-ray therapy for some benign conditions of the head and neck
at defendant Hospital. In 1996 he sued the hospital and the physician who headed
the hospital?s follow-up project that investigated the effect of the treatment.
Plaintiff claimed that he suffers from various tumors because of the negligent
exposure to harmful radiation and that the hospital never explained the risks
associated with radiation therapy. He also claimed that the hospital fraudulently
concealed that there was "strong evidence" of a connection between
the treatment and tumors when he was asked to participate in the follow-up study.

Relying on an Illinois Supreme Court case from
1905, the hospital argued that it was entitled to
absolute charitable immunity from suit for acts of
its employees occurring before 1950. The federal
district court denied summary judgment on the
charitable immunity theory, ruling that the
hospital read the 1905 decision too broadly ? it
protects only the trust funds of a charity from
damages for the negligence of its employees.

Finally, the court also refused to grant
summary judgment to the hospital on plaintiff?s
fraudulent concealment claims. The hospital argued
that plaintiff failed to plead his fraud claim with
particularity because he did not name the person
who contacted him regarding the follow-up
investigation. The court said that argument was
"absurd, because under it, a con artist could
always avoid being sued for fraud by simply giving
a false name ? something fraudsters are
particularly likely to do." The court ruled
that plaintiff was required to plead the "who,
what, when, and where" of the alleged fraud,
which he did.