Where the decedent has a valid cause of action at the time they die, a two-year statute of limitations applies from the date of death, even if the statute of limitations on the action had already been extended due to the decedent’s disability prior to death.

The 1st District Appellate Court reversed and remanded a decision from Cook County Associate Judge Daniel T. Gillespie.

Barbara Mickiewicz suffered from dementia and was a resident of the Glenbridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre Ltd. in northwest suburban Niles from April 2013 until Feb. 17, 2016.

Although she was never adjudicated disabled, she was considered legally disabled. Mickiewicz suffered several falls while at the nursing home, including the final one on Jan. 27, 2016. After the fall, she was transferred to the emergency room. Approximately four months later, she died of complications related to her injury and hospitalization.

On Feb. 16, 2018, Radoslaw Mickiewicz as independent executor of the deceased woman’s estate, filed suit against Glenbridge as well as Generations at Regency LLC, another nursing home where Mickiewicz resided.

Regency was subsequently dropped from the suit.

Glenbridge moved to dismiss, arguing that the complaint was filed after the two-year statute of limitations had passed. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, based on precedent from Giles v. Parks holding that the two-year statute of limitations begins tolling at the day of injury or incapacitation and is not reset by the death of the incapacitated party. Mickiewicz appealed.

On appeal, Mickiewicz acknowledged that precedent barred his suit but argued that it was wrongly decided.

The appellate court agreed.

The appellate court noted that after the trial court’s grant of dismissal, a different panel of the court rejected the conclusion of Giles in a separate case, finding that the court’s interpretation of the statute had been incorrect and that the suit was timely if filed within two years of the date of death.

The appellate court agreed with this reasoning, though the court emphasized that the trial court correctly followed established precedent at the time it granted dismissal.

The appellate court held that the action was authorized by Section 13-209(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure which allows two years for a decedent’s estate to file any suit for which the decedent had a valid cause of action at the time of their death.

The appellate court held that this two-year statute of limitations controlled even when the time permitted to file suit had already been extended due to the party’s incapacity prior to death, meaning that Mickiewicz was permitted to file suit on the decedent’s behalf until April 18, 2018, more than two months after his suit was filed.

The appellate court, therefore, reversed the dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Radoslaw Mickiewicz v. Glenbridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre Ltd., et al.

2019 IL App (1st) 181771-U

Writing for the court: Justice Cynthia Y. Cobbs

Concurring: Justices David W. Ellis and Nathaniel R. Howse Jr.

Released: Jan. 22, 2020