Appeal from the Circuit Court of Marshall County; the Hon.
EDWARD E. HAUGENS, Judge, presiding. Affirmed in part and
reversed in part with directions.
This is an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Marshall County finding the appellants, Eugene H. Rennick, Jr. and Country Mutual Insurance Company, a corporation, guilty of contempt of court and fining each of them $50.
Appellee instituted this action in the Circuit Court of Marshall County to recover damages for personal injuries caused by the alleged negligent operation of a motor vehicle by Vernon Chamberlain, one of the appellants. An answer to the complaint was filed by Eugene H. Rennick, Jr., attorney for Vernon Chamberlain pursuant to his employment for that purpose by Country Mutual Insurance Co., insurance carrier for Chamberlain under a liability policy containing the usual provisions including the obligation to defend the claim brought by this action. Appellee filed two motions supported by affidavits requesting that appellants Vernon Chamberlain and Country Mutual Insurance Co. be ordered to produce certain documents for inspection and copying. Said appellants filed an answer and objection in opposition to the motions and after a hearing thereon an order was entered directing Eugene H. Rennick, Jr. and Country Mutual Insurance Co. to produce these documents for inspection and copying.
The affidavits in support of the motion for production of documents were executed upon information and belief by O.B. Pace, Jr., one of the attorneys for appellee. These affidavits stated in substance: (1) that appellee was injured on March 20, 1960 after having been struck by a motor vehicle operated by Vernon Chamberlain resulting in injuries requiring hospitalization for several months; (2) Appellee's injuries included loss of memory and mental impairment which continued from the date of the mishap to the date of the affidavit; (3) that because of appellee's mental and physical condition, he was unable to recall or provide information concerning the accident, the medical treatment which he received, or the events which took place thereafter; (4) that Country Mutual Insurance Co. was the liability insurer of the vehicle operated by Vernon Chamberlain and also carried an automobile policy with medical coverage on Appellee; (5) that because Country Mutual Insurance Co. had insurance with both parties to the mishap it was able to secure statements, reports, receipts, bills and other documents from the appellee, his family, doctors and hospitals; (6) that Appellee did not employ counsel until nearly two years after the mishap had occurred; (7) that Vernon Chamberlain during a pretrial discovery deposition and on advice of his attorney, Eugene H. Rennick, Jr., refused to answer any questions concerning his insurance coverage; and concluded by incorporating by reference, a letter addressed to the attorneys for Vernon Chamberlain requesting the production of the documents later made the subject of the motion to produce, the letter being unanswered.
A supplemental affidavit was filed by O.B. Pace, Jr., as attorney for appellee, its substance being that representatives of the Country Mutual Insurance Co. had participated in numerous conversations with appellee and his family and had assured appellee and his family that no litigation would be required and in fact a settlement offer of $5,000 was made approximately six weeks prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, said offer being refused. Subsequent thereto affiant was employed as counsel.
The order for inspection and production of documents after reciting the filing of the motion therefore is as follows; ". . . and it appearing to the court that certain of said documents and objects relate to the merits of the matter in litigation: It is therefore ordered that the Country Mutual Insurance Company, its employees and attorneys, and the defendant, Vernon Chamberlain, and his attorneys and agents, produce and permit the plaintiff to inspect, copy and reproduce the following items, documents and objects in the possession and power of the Country Mutual Insurance Company, and the defendant, Vernon Chamberlain, his attorneys and agents:
1) A copy and contents of the automobile insurance Policy No. A 434284 in force between the Country Mutual Insurance Company and the defendant, Vernon Chamberlain, on March 20, 1960.
2) All medical reports, hospital records, letters of correspondence from or to all physicians, surgeons, psychologists, psychiatrists, hospitals, clinics, or other medical personnel concerning the health, physical and mental condition of Roger L. Monier from March 20, 1960, up to the date of employment of counsel for the defendant.
3) All statements made by the plaintiff or members of his family relative to the subject of litigation, whether signed or unsigned.
4) All memoranda made by personnel of the Country Mutual Insurance Company of conversations with the plaintiff and members of his family relative to the matter of litigation.
5) All written statements of witnesses, whether signed or unsigned, obtained by agents, employees or other personnel of the Country Mutual Insurance Company obtained prior to the employment of Eugene H. Rennick, Jr., Attorney at Law, Toulon, Illinois, or Robt. A. Barnes, Attorney at Law, Lacon, Illinois, attorneys for the defendant in the cause.
6) All reports, photographs and statements obtained by agents, employees, investigators, adjusters or other personnel of the Country Mutual Insurance Company relative to or growing out of the transaction complained of on March 20, 1960, which were obtained prior to the employment of Eugene Rennick, Attorney at Law, Toulon, Illinois, and Robert A. Barnes, Attorney at Law, Lacon, Illinois, attorneys for the defendant in this cause.
7) All medical reports or memoranda concerning the health and physical or mental condition of the plaintiff, Roger L. Monier, as it existed ...