Emergency Worker’s Late Appeal Against Hospital Dismissed

Edward Dus, an ambulance driver, injured his knee when he was moving a patient at the emergency room at Provena St. Mary’s Hospital. He claimed he was injured by a laundry cart being pushed by a Provena employee. Dus sued Provena. A jury awarded Dus $300,000, which was cut in half because he also was found to be 50 percent at fault for the accident.

Within 30 days, Dus asked the trial court for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the question of his contributory negligence. But when his lawyer did not appear for the hearing, the trial court denied Dus’s request. Two days later, Dus asked the trial court to reconsider the denial. The trial court allowed Dus to refile the original request for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Dus refiled, but three months later the trial court denied Dus’s request.

Dus appealed. Provena asked the appellate court to dismiss the appeal because, the hospital argued, Dus filed the appeal too late, more than 30 days after the first time the trial court denied his original motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Dus argued the time to file was tolled until 30 days after the trial court ruled on his request for reconsideration, which would have made his appeal timely.

The Third District Illinois Appellate Court agreed with Provena. Here is the court’s rationale:

… [I]f Dus wished to appeal the trial court’s judgment, he was required to file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the trial court’s initial ruling on his judgment n.o.v. [notwithstanding the verdict] motion.

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The [trial] court stated from the bench that the motion was “denied” “due to non-appearance of movant [Dus],” and the [trial] court’s written docket entry confirmed that the motion had been “denied.” Moreover, two days after the court denied Dus’s judgment n.o.v. motion, Dus filed a “Motion for Reconsideration of Plaintiff’s Previously Filed Post-Trial Motion, which asked the court to “reconsider the ruling” the trial court had issued regarding his posttrial motion on September 22. By filing this motion, Dus acknowledgeld that the [trial] court had denied his motion on September 22 … [A] motion to reconsider a trial court’s denial of a posttrial motion does not extend the deadline for filing an appeal under [Illinois Supreme Court] Rule 303(a)(2).

The appellate court dismissed Dus’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Read the whole opinion, Dus v. Provena St. Mary’s Hospital, 2012 IL App (3d) 0901064, by clicking here.

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