with Dr. William Cheshier, which my parents forced me to terminate."
The Sullivans seek recompense under various theories for the loss of their daughter's society, for the intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress and for the injury to their family relationship.
Dr. Cheshier says the claims are barred by the statute of limitations and, besides, are unprovable. He seeks summary judgment. The standards for summary judgment are well known. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).
Dr. Cheshier reads the complaint as asserting personal injuries arising from the October 22, 1990 meeting. Illinois requires such claims to be brought within two years. 735 ILCS 5/13-202. The period of limitations began running, at the latest, says Dr. Cheshier, on November 6, 1990 when John Sullivan wrote, "I am taking action against Dr. Cheshier for the damages he has done and is doing to you and to those you love." On that day John Sullivan knew he had been injured, believed he had a legal remedy and had hired a lawyer. See Fetzer v. Wood, 211 Ill. App. 3d 70, 569 N.E.2d 1237, 1243, 155 Ill. Dec. 626 (Ill. App. Ct. 1991). As a fallback, it is said that the statute surely began to run by January 2, 1991 when John Sullivan complained to the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. The fact that Dr. Cheshier may have continued to treat Kathleen Sullivan does not extend the start of the limitation period beyond the date that the malpractice was discovered. On this record, I would find that the latest date for discovery is January 2, 1991. On October 22, 1990 the plaintiffs could not have discovered the wrongdoing--they may have considered whether Kathleen Sullivan was speaking the truth. Even the threat of November 6, 1990 may not establish "discovery," but it is hard to see how one who files a complaint with the state can deny having discovered the tort. Green v. Bernstein, 238 Ill. App. 3d 656, 606 N.E.2d 500, 179 Ill. Dec. 668 (Ill. App. Ct. 1992). This suit was filed on January 6, 1993.
The Sullivans meet this argument by denying the applicability of the two-year limitation period.
They begin with a defense of the Public Nuisance claim, the last count of the complaint. The theory is simple. The Illinois Clinical Psychologist Licensing Act ("CPLA") defines clinical psychology as "treatment of mental, emotional, behavioral or nervous disorder . . . [and] includes . . . hypnosis . . . when . . . used for the purpose of . . . the amelioration of psychological disorders of individuals or groups." 225 ILCS 15/2(5). One could conclude that Dr. Cheshier used hypnosis to ameliorate Kathleen Sullivan's psychological disorder and thus practiced clinical psychology. In Corgan v. Muehling, 143 Ill. 2d 296, 574 N.E.2d 602, 610, 158 Ill. Dec. 489 (Ill. 1991), the Illinois Supreme Court held that the CPLA implies a private right of action for persons injured by one who practices clinical psychology without a license. The approved form of action is public nuisance. The Sullivans argue that causes of action implied by statute are statutory rights of actions. Where the statute does not supply its own limitations period, the period is supplied by the five year catch-all period for statutory actions set forth in 735 ICLS 5/13-205. Blakeslee's Storage Warehouses, Inc. v. Chicago, 369 Ill. 480, 17 N.E.2d 1, 4 (Ill. 1938). This rule is followed. National Marine Serv., Inc. v. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, 120 Ill. App. 3d 198, 458 N.E.2d 551, 559, 76 Ill. Dec. 151 (Ill. App. Ct. 1983); Mueller v. Bittle, 53 N.E.2d 56 (Ill. App. Ct. 1943); Lyons v. Morgan County, 313 Ill. App. 296, 40 N.E.2d 103, 104 (Ill. App. Ct. 1942). Dr. Cheshier maintains that the CPLA claim is one for a statutory penalty. If so, it is governed by the two-year statute. McDonald's Corp. v. Levine, 108 Ill. App. 3d 732, 439 N.E.2d 475, 64 Ill. Dec. 224 (Ill. App. Ct. 1982). But it is not so. Corgan found an implied claim for compensatory damages implied in the CPLA. This is not a statutory penalty, nor is it injunctive remedy since it is discretionary.
Dr. Cheshier says he did not violate the CPLA because the Act says "Nothing . . . in this Act shall restrict any person not licensed . . . from carrying on any of the activities [of clinical psychology] . . . if that person does not represent himself or his services in any manner prohibited by the Act." 225 ILCS 15/2
225 ILCS 15/3(a).
There is evidence from which a jury could conclude that Dr. Cheshier did represent himself in some manner as a psychologist or one able to practice clinical psychology. Dr. Cheshier practices under the title "Clinical Psychotherapist," a title which the public might well believe is "clinical psychologist." His handout to patients notes that he has a doctorate in psychology and is a member of the American Psychological Association and has "chosen" not to be registered as a clinical psychologist. The Sullivans could make their case against Dr. Cheshier under the CPLA.
The other four claims do not arise from statute but the plaintiffs argue that it is wrong to characterize them as simple personal injury claims governed by the two-year limitation period.
Over a hundred years ago, an Illinois court held that the two-year statute applies only where there is some physical injury to the person and the five-year period catch-all applied to a suit by a wife accusing her father-in-law of breaking her marriage. Bassett v. Basset, 20 Ill. App. Ct. 543, 548 (1886). See generally Johnson v. Arnos, 624 F. Supp. 1067, 1071-73 (N.D. Ill. 1985) ("absent specific legislation Illinois courts have placed personal tort actions based on intangible rights under the residual statute.") Johnson v. Arnos and Shorters v. Chicago, 617 F. Supp. 661, 665 (N.D. Ill. 1985), relied on this distinction between physical injury and other injuries and held that the five-year limitation period governed § 1873 actions alleging non-physical injury. As a proposition of federal § 1983 law, the Court of Appeals has disagreed and disapproved both Johnson and Shorters. Kalimara v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 879 F.2d 276 (7th Cir. 1989). But this does not resolve the question of what law the Illinois courts would apply. Berghoff v. R. J. Frisby Mfg. Co., 720 F. Supp. 649, 652-53 n.4 (N.D. Ill. 1989).
The Illinois courts look to the nature of the damage in deciding whether the two-year or five-year statute applies, i.e., what injury occurred and to what interest it occurred. Compare Schreiber v. Eastern Airlines, Inc., 38 Ill. App. 3d 556, 348 N.E.2d 218 (Ill. App. Ct. 1976) (Contract claim arising from burns inflicted by flight attendant is physical harm case governed by two-year period) with Roth v. Lundin, 237 Ill. App. Ct. 456, 458 (1925) (Suit to recover for expenses resulting from spouse's physical injury is governed by five-year statute). That these claims arise, in part or whole, out of acts of "malpractice" is not germane. Suits arising from malpractice by licensed practitioners is limited to two years after discovery and no more than four years after the event. 735 ILCS 5/13-20(a).
The defendant is not licensed. The statute does not apply to him. Cox v. Kaufman, 212 Ill. App. 3d 1056, 571 N.E.2d 1011, 156 Ill. Dec. 1031 (Ill. App. Ct. 1991). Absent this malpractice statute, Illinois courts analyze whether or not the injury is tangible. See Doerr v. Villate, 74 Ill. App. 2d 332, 220 N.E.2d 767, 770 (Ill. App. Ct. 1966).
The interests of John Sullivan and Susan Sullivan are intangible; there is no claim that they were physically injured. Loss of companionship and society do not constitute physical harm. See Dralle v. Ruder, 124 Ill. 2d 61, 529 N.E.2d 209, 215, 124 Ill. Dec. 389 (Ill. 1988) (Clark, J., concurring). In fact, Dr. Cheshier says their injuries are so intangible that they have no standing to sue. But in Dymek v. Nyquist, 128 Ill. App. 3d 859, 469 N.E.2d 659, 83 Ill. Dec. 52 (Ill. App. Ct. 1984), a father was allowed to sue his ex-wife and a psychiatrist for destroying a father-son relationship. So, too, in Kunz v. Deitch, 660 F. Supp. 679, 683 (N.D. Ill. 1987), a father could sue grandparents for trying to separate him from his son. Parents may not sue generally for damages caused by malpractice against a child, but the summary record here can be read to say that Dr. Cheshier specifically directed his actions, in part, against the parents and their interests, that he imposed a false memory in Kathleen Sullivan, instructed her to break contact with her parents if they dissented from her memory and prevented the parents from taking some reasonable steps to inquire into the validity of the memory.
Whether a parent can sue where malpractice causes damage to a parent-child relationship has been addressed by courts construing Illinois law. The answer is yes where malpractice causes the death of the child. Bullard v. Barnes, 102 Ill. 2d 505, 468 N.E.2d 1228, 82 Ill. Dec. 448 (Ill. 1984). Where the child lives, the answer is different. Dralle v. Ruder, 529 N.E.2d at 214-15, held that a parent cannot sue for loss of filial society that occurs as a consequence of malpractice. Dralle left open the question whether this rule would apply to acts "intentionally and directly interfering with the parent-child relationship." The Supreme Court of Illinois noted that the First and Fourth District Appellate Courts had split on the question and one federal judge had found a cause of action. Since Dralle was decided, Judge Shadur of this court reluctantly concluded that even intentional interference between parent and child is not actionable. Alber v. Illinois Dep't of Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities, 786 F. Supp. 1340, 1364-65 (N.D. Ill. 1992).
Other states which have precluded recovery for negligent damage to family ties do permit suits for intentional damage. E.g., Siciliano v. Capitol City Shows, 124 N.H. 719, 475 A.2d 19 (N.H. 1984); Surina v. Lucey, 168 Cal. App. 3d 539, 214 Cal. Rptr. 509 (Cal. App. Ct. 1985).
Judge Shadur wrote that each of the factors which caused the Supreme Court of Illinois to reject the negligent interference tort would also lead it to reject the intentional interference tort. These were "the availability of a tort remedy to the injured child, the possible multiplication of claims and the difficulty of determining damages." Dralle, 529 N.E.2d at 213. I think that two of these factors might generally be absent in the context of some intentional torts. In this case and cases like these, the child will not sue and claims will not be multiplied. Indeed, the gravamen of this particular sort of claim is that the damage inflicted by the defendant causes the inability of the child to sue. While I believe Judge Shadur's prediction about what the Supreme Court of Illinois would do may be correct in most cases, I do not believe that Court would preclude an intentional tort suit under the specific facts alleged here. See Person v. Behnke, 242 Ill. App. 3d 933, 611 N.E.2d 1350, 1353-55, 183 Ill. Dec. 702 (Ill. App. Ct. 1993).
Dr. Cheshier accuses the plaintiffs of arguing against their own complaint. He notes that Count I (Malpractice) seeks relief for injury to physical health, emotional and mental well being and for pain and suffering, physical and otherwise. Count II (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress) claims severe emotional distress. Count IV (Loss of Society and Companionship) cites humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress. These are the sorts of physical injury subject to the two-year period. I think Dr. Cheshier reads the complaint too narrowly. The Sullivans used ordinary personal injury language, perhaps as a reflection of lawyerly habit, but the injury is the excision of their daughter from their family. Count II, however, is directed toward traditional infliction of tangible injury and the two year statute does apply and, it seems to me, that the record contains no evidence of a specific act intentionally causing emotional distress after January 6, 1991. Count II is dismissed. See Dahl v. Federal Land Bank Ass'n, 213 Ill. App. 3d 867, 572 N.E.2d 311, 314, 157 Ill. Dec. 242 (Ill. App. Ct. 1991).
The viability of Counts I and IV also depend on the meaning of a statute. 735 ILCS 5/13-203. In 1974, the Supreme Court of Illinois applied the five-year period to a suit for loss of consortium. Mitchell v. White Motor Co., 58 Ill. 2d 159, 317 N.E.2d 505 (Ill. 1974). The Court reached this result by distinguishing between physical injuries and other sorts of injuries. The General Assembly changed this result by enacting a two-year limit for "actions . . . for loss of consortium or other actions deriving from injury to the person of another." 735 ILCS 5/13-203. Illinois courts have construed the law to include loss of society and companionship of a child. Batteast v. Wyeth Labs., Inc., 172 Ill. App. 3d 114, 526 N.E.2d 428, 122 Ill. Dec. 169 (Ill. App. Ct. 1988), rev'd on other grounds, 137 Ill. 2d 175, 560 N.E.2d 315, 148 Ill. Dec. 13 (Ill. 1990). But this case can be read and the Sullivans ask that it be read, not to allege solely damage deriving from injury to the person of another, but rather damage inflicted upon the plaintiffs by the reckless or intentional acts of defendant directed toward the plaintiffs.
Dr. Cheshier finally urges the absence of evidence to prove the facts alleged. His argument is simple. He denies implanting any memories--false or otherwise. So does Kathleen Sullivan.
When there are only two witnesses to an event and both swear to the same version of the event, it is often difficult to refute that version. But it is not impossible, even when the refutation must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Sullivans offer, as they must, circumstantial evidence. Dr. Cheshier told them he had hypnotized Kathleen Sullivan and while under hypnosis she stated that she was abused by an older sibling. Dr. Cheshier told them (directly or by implication) that no testing questions could be asked of Kathleen Sullivan. The Sullivans conducted an investigation of the truth of the statements and found no evidence to corroborate the statements and have a witness who denies the truth of the statements. Prior to Dr. Cheshier's hypnosis, Kathleen Sullivan never made similar statements. Finally, there is the statement by Kathleen Sullivan while being treated by Dr. Cheshier, arguably admissible under F.R.E. 803(2) or 803(3), that she would decline all family contacts unless family members admitted the statements were true. From these facts, a jury could infer that the memories were false and intentionally or recklessly implanted by Dr. Cheshier. There is no question that after the statements were made by Kathleen Sullivan her relations with her parents and siblings changed for the worse. It would be hard to doubt that the family relationship would be seriously and negatively affected in this situation. A trier of fact could reasonably lay it at Dr. Cheshier's door. And, a trier of fact could find that Dr. Cheshier practiced clinical psychology without a license.
For the reasons stated above summary judgment is granted to defendant on Counts II and III and denied as to Counts I, IV and V.
James B. Zagel
United States District Judge
28 Feb 1994