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Matviuw v. Johnson

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 22, 1982.

WILLIAM D. MATVIUW, M.D., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JEFFREY B. JOHNSON, M.D., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. — (ALEXIAN BROTHERS MEDICAL CENTER, INTERVENOR-APPELLANT; ILLINOIS HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION, AMICUS CURIAE.)



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Edwin M. Berman, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MCNAMARA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

As we shall set forth below, our court has previously considered this matter. Matviuw v. Johnson (1979), 70 Ill. App.3d 481, 388 N.E.2d 795.

Plaintiff, William D. Matviuw, M.D., filed this defamation action seeking compensatory and punitive damages allegedly resulting from statements made by defendant Jeffrey B. Johnson, M.D., at a 1976 meeting of the Medical Executive Committee of Alexian Brothers Medical Center. Alexian was granted leave to intervene. Defendant and Alexian filed motions to bar discovery and admission into evidence of the statements in question on the grounds that they were privileged pursuant to sections 1, 2 and 3 of the medical studies act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 51, pars. 101 through 103, as amended subsequent to the filing of this action). The trial court refused to apply the amendments retroactively to the present case and denied the motions. The trial court certified the following questions for interlocutory appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308:

"A. May the parties introduce into evidence statements made at the November 23, 1976 Alexian Brothers Medical Executive Committee Meeting, or does the Medical Studies Act, as amended, preclude the introduction of said statements?

B. Are the statements made at the November 23, 1976 Alexian Brothers Medical Executive Committee Meeting discoverable or does the Medical Studies Act, as amended, preclude discovery of those statements?"

In November 1976, both parties were members of Alexian's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Plaintiff alleged in his complaint that as a result of defendant's defamatory remarks to the committee with regard to his professional capabilities, plaintiff was not reappointed to Alexian's medical staff, lost patients and was unable to obtain new patients.

The trial court granted motions to dismiss filed by defendant and Alexian on the ground that defendant's statements were privileged pursuant to sections 1, 2 and 3 of the medical studies act, which provided in pertinent part:

"Sec. 1. All information, interviews, reports, statements, memoranda or other data of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois State Medical Society, allied medical societies, or committees of accredited hospitals, including Patient Care Audit Committees, Medical Care Evaluation Committees, Utilization Review Committees, Credential Committees and Executive Committees, but not the original medical records pertaining to the patient, used in the course of internal quality control or of medical study for the purpose of reducing morbidity or mortality, or for improving patient care, shall be strictly confidential and shall be used only for medical research, the evaluation and improvement of quality care, or granting, limiting or revoking staff privileges, except that the claim of confidentiality shall not be invoked to deny a physician access to or use of data upon which a decision regarding his staff privileges was based.

Sec. 2. Such information, records, reports, statements, notes, memoranda, or other data, shall not be admissible as evidence in any action of any kind in any court or before any tribunal, board, agency or person." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 51, pars. 101, 102.

Finding that the statements, having caused plaintiff to be denied staff privileges, fell within the staff privileges exception set forth in section 1, this court reversed that dismissal. (Matviuw v. Johnson (1979), 70 Ill. App.3d 481, 388 N.E.2d 795.) We further found that section 2, prohibiting the admission of such statements as evidence in court, was inapplicable to statements, as those in the present case, which fell within the staff privileges exception.

Subsequent to our decision, the legislature twice amended the medical studies act. The first amendment, effective September 7, 1979 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 51, pars. 101, 102), explicitly limited the staff privileges exception to situations where a physician seeks otherwise privileged information for use in a hospital proceeding reviewing a determination with regard to his staff privileges, or judicial review of such hospital proceeding. Defendant and Alexian thereafter filed new motions to dismiss the same complaint alleging that the statements no longer fell within the staff privileges exception. The trial court refused to apply the amendment retroactively and denied the motions.

A second amendment, effective September 16, 1981 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 51, pars. 101, 102), specifically characterized the protection afforded by the act as privileged and barred discovery or admission into evidence of material so protected. Relying on the act, as amended, defendant filed a motion in limine and an alternative motion for a protective order to preclude admission into evidence of defendant's statement before the committee. Alexian filed a motion to quash and bar discovery and admission into evidence of the statements. Refusing to apply the amendments retroactively, the trial court denied both motions. Defendant and Alexian appeal.

We agree that the act as amended, if applicable to the present case, would render privileged the statements in question. We find, however, that the trial court properly refused to apply the amendments retroactively to the present pending case.

• 1 Statutes and amendatory acts are generally presumed to operate prospectively absent clear statutory language to the contrary. (Country Mutual Insurance Co. v. Knight (1968), 40 Ill.2d 423, 240 N.E.2d 612.) One exception to this general rule allows retroactive application even absent such statutory language where the statute or amendment in question relates only to procedural matters. (Orlicki v. McCarthy (1954), 4 Ill.2d 342, 122 N.E.2d 513.) This exception is inapplicable, however, when the operation of a procedural ...


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