Cases Pending Highlights Civil Cases In Illinois Supreme Court's September Term

September 02, 2020 10:52 AM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

The Illinois Supreme Court's September Term begins Tuesday, September 15, 2020.  Oral arguments are scheduled for September 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23, 2020.  A total of 17 cases will be heard --12 civil and 5 criminal.  The following civil cases are scheduled for argument this Term:

September 16, 2020

People ex rel. Lisa Madigan v. Stateline Recycling, LLC, No. 124417 

People ex rel. David P. Leibowitz v. Family Vision Care, LLC, No. 124754

Tzakis v. Berger Excavating Contractors, Inc., No. 125017

Steed v. Rezin Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, S.C., No. 125150

September 17, 2020

Dameron v. Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, No. 125219

Gillespie v. East Manufacturing Corp., No. 125262

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Elmore, No. 125441

September 22, 2020

Tirio v. Dalto, No. 125442

Barrall v. The Board of Trustees of John A. Logan Community College, No. 125535

Rehfield v. Diocese of Joliet, No. 125656

Zander v. Carlson, No. 125691

September 23, 2020

Policemen’s Benevolent Labor Committee v. The City of Sparta, No. 125508

Below is a summary for one of those cases, Dameron v. Mercy Hospital and Medical Center.  Summaries for this case and others pending in the Illinois Supreme Court can be found in our Cases Pending publication, available to ALA members on the ALA’s website. 

Dameron v. Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, No. 125219

The issue in this case is whether a party who has disclosed a witness as a testifying expert may thereafter redesignate that witness as a nontestifying consultant whose opinions and work product are privileged and protected from discovery unless there is a showing of exceptional circumstances by the opposing party.

Plaintiff Alexis Dameron filed a medical malpractice action against the defendants, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Cordia Clark-White, M.D., Alfreda Hampton, M.D., Natasha Harvey, M.D. and Patricia Courtney (collectively, “Defendants”).  On May 30, 2017, in her answers to written discovery, Plaintiff disclosed Dr. David Preston as an expert witness. She also disclosed that Dr. Preston would testify as to the results of an EMG test he would perform on Plaintiff on June 1, 2017. On that date, Dr. Preston examined Plaintiff and conducted the test.  He also prepared a report in which he discussed his findings and opinions. Two months later, Plaintiff filed a motion to designate Dr. Preston as a nontestifying expert consultant pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 201(b)(3), claiming that the disclosure of Dr. Preston as a testifying expert witness was “inadvertent.” The trial court denied Plaintiff’s motion and ordered Plaintiff to produce Dr. Preston’s records and report regarding the EMG test. Plaintiff refused and the court found her in contempt and imposed a $100 fine, which was later reduced to $1.  Plaintiff appealed the interlocutory friendly contempt order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(b)(5). 

The appellate court reversed, explaining that, under Illinois law, a party may withdraw an expert witness as long as the opposing party is given clear and sufficient notice allowing it to take the necessary action in light of the abandonment of the witness. However, in this case, the court noted, Plaintiff did not merely seek to withdraw Dr. Preston as a testifying expert witness, but sought to redesignate him as a nontestifying consultant whose reports and opinions are protected from discovery pursuant to the privilege set forth in Rule 201(b)(3).  The court noted that this was an issue of first impression in Illinois and looked to federal cases for guidance.  Following Davis v. Carmel Clay Schools, No. 1:11-cv-00771-SEB-MJD, 2013 WL 2159476 (S.D. Ind. May 17, 2013), the appellate court held that “where a previously disclosed testifying expert witness has been timely withdrawn prior to disclosing his or her report in discovery, the expert may be redesignated a Rule 201(b)(3) consultant and entitled to the consultant’s privilege against disclosure, absent exceptional circumstances.” Because Plaintiff had not disclosed Dr. Preston’s report to Defendants prior to her motion to redesignate him as a consultant, the appellate court held that the trial court erred in denying Plaintiff’s motion.  Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s order, vacated the contempt finding and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Appellate Court Decision:  2019 IL App (1st) 172338.  Hall, J., with Rochford, J., and Hoffman, J., concurring

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