Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 94--L--1375. Honorable Robert K. Kilander, Judge, Presiding.
Released for Publication April 18, 1997.
The Honorable Justice Inglis delivered the opinion of the court. Geiger, P.j., and Hutchinson, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Inglis
JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff, John Doe, appeals the order of the circuit court of Du Page County granting defendants', Bobbie McKay, Ph.D., and Bobbie McKay, Ph.D., Ltd., motions to dismiss various counts of plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action pursuant to section 2--615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2--615 (West 1994)).
Plaintiff alleged the following facts which we assume to be true for purposes of the section 2--615 motion to dismiss. Schuster Equipment Co. v. Design Electric Services, Inc., 197 Ill. App. 3d 566, 569, 144 Ill. Dec. 58, 554 N.E.2d 1097 (1990). Beginning in 1990 and continuing through at least October 1995, plaintiff's daughter, Jane Doe, underwent psychological treatment including diagnosis, therapy, and psychotherapy under the care of defendants. During the course of this treatment, she discovered repressed memories of alleged sexual abuse by plaintiff.
Defendants subscribe to the theory that mental or emotional problems in adults are often the result of childhood sexual abuse which is "repressed" from conscious memory as a defense mechanism so that the person has no recollection of the abuse. Additionally, defendants believe that "repressed memories" can be accessed with the techniques they utilize and "healing" can occur when the patient recovers previously "repressed" memories and deals with the consequent emotional turmoil.
During a session at which defendant McKay, Jane Doe, and plaintiff were present, and at the direction of McKay, Jane Doe accused plaintiff of sexually abusing her when she was approximately 11 years old. During this session, plaintiff alleged that McKay, not Jane Doe, repeatedly suggested to Jane Doe that plaintiff might further harm her. McKay advised plaintiff that his daughter's memory of the alleged abuse was supposedly "repressed" until retrieved during therapy with McKay. McKay also advised plaintiff that plaintiff had repressed his own memories of abusing Jane Doe and recommended that he commence treatment at defendant's facility with another therapist. Plaintiff saw the other therapist individually and participated in joint sessions with Jane Doe and McKay.
Plaintiff subsequently was advised by Jane Doe that the session with McKay was arranged by McKay to maximize the shock effect and force a confession from plaintiff regarding the alleged abuse. Plaintiff denies that he ever sexually abused his daughter.
During a joint session on September 9, 1992, McKay made further allegations of sexual abuse against plaintiff and told him of a specific act of alleged abuse. On October 27, 1992, at another joint session, McKay again asserted that Jane Doe and plaintiff had repressed their memories of plaintiff's alleged sexual abuse. McKay told them that the only explanation for Jane Doe's condition was that she had been abused by plaintiff and had repressed the memory of that abuse.
In 1994, plaintiff filed suit against defendants. He sought recovery under various theories against the psychologist individually, and the professional association based upon respondeat superior. While the first amended complaint lists 17 counts, there are, in essence, only two causes of action of relevance to this appeal: the negligent treatment of Jane Doe by defendants which constituted a breach of a duty of care owed to plaintiff thereby depriving him of the loss of his daughter's society and companionship (counts I and XI), and intentional interference with the parent-child relationship (counts IV and XIV) with the resulting loss of his daughter's society and companionship (counts V and XV). Other claims against defendants remain pending in the trial court. Plaintiff's daughter, Jane Doe, is not a party to this suit and has not averred that defendants mistreated her. Plaintiff alleged that he paid $3,208 to defendants for some of the treatment rendered to his daughter in 1992, but there are no allegations or attached documents which acknowledge that plaintiff engaged defendants to treat his daughter.
Defendants filed motions to dismiss those counts of the complaint sounding in negligence and loss of society, arguing that Illinois law does not recognize the theories of liability asserted against them by plaintiff. The trial court agreed and granted their motions to dismiss those counts, finding that Illinois does not recognize recovery for the loss of society and companionship. Plaintiff's timely notice of appeal is limited to the dismissal of counts I, IV, V, XI, XIV, and XV.
When reviewing the dismissal of a complaint pursuant to section 2--615, we must determine whether the complaint, when considered in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, alleges facts sufficient to state a cause of action. Ziemba v. Mierzwa, 142 Ill. 2d 42, 46, 153 Ill. Dec. 259, 566 N.E.2d 1365 (1991). When assessing the sufficiency of the complaint, we must take as true all well-pleaded facts and reasonable inferences drawn from those facts. Stinson v. Physicians Immediate Care Ltd., 269 Ill. App. 3d 659, 662, 207 Ill. Dec. 96, 646 N.E.2d 930 (1995). We are not required to defer to the trial court's judgment, as our review is de novo. T&S Signs, Inc. v. Village of Wadsworth, 261 Ill. App. 3d 1080, 1084, 199 Ill. Dec. 467, 634 N.E.2d 306 (1994).
Plaintiff contends that his claims for negligence resulting in the loss of society with his daughter were improperly dismissed. A legally sufficient complaint for negligence must set forth facts that establish the existence of a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, and an injury proximately caused by that breach. Kirk v. Michael Reese Hospital & Medical Center, 117 Ill. 2d 507, 525, 111 Ill. Dec. 944, 513 N.E.2d 387 (1987). Whether a duty exists is a question of law which depends on whether the parties stood in such a relationship to one another that the law will impose an obligation on the defendant to act reasonably for the protection of the plaintiff. Gouge v. Central Illinois Public Service Co., 144 Ill. 2d 535, 542, 163 Ill. Dec. 842, 582 N.E.2d 108 (1991). In determining whether a duty exists, the court ...