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Bloom v. Braun

November 01, 2000

RHONDA BLOOM,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
V.
BENNETT BRAUN, M.D., THOMAS SCHEVERS, M.D., RAYMOND KOZIOL, M.D., RUSH NORTH SHORE HOSPITAL, ASSOCIATED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, AND RUSH PRESBYTERIAN-ST. LUKE'S SCHOOL OF PSYCHIATRY,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Burke

(NUNC PRO TUNC September 20, 2000)

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Philip L. Bronstein, Judge Presiding.

Plaintiff Rhonda Bloom appeals from an order of the circuit court dismissing her second amended complaint, alleging medical malpractice in administering psychiatric treatment she received in 1991 by defendants Dr. Bennett Braun, Dr. Thomas Schevers, and Dr. Raymond Koziol *fn1 at defendants Rush North Shore Hospital (Rush) and Associated Mental Health Services. On appeal, Bloom contends that the trial court erred in dismissing her second amended complaint because she satisfied the requirements for alleging claims of fraudulent concealment and legal disability, both exceptions to the statute of limitations, which tolled the limitations period and, thus, she timely filed her complaint. *fn2 For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Bloom filed her original complaint on August 25, 1998, seeking damages for psychiatric malpractice that occurred between April and August 1991. The trial court dismissed the complaint, finding that Bloom failed to allege sufficient allegations to support the fraudulent concealment exception to the statute of limitations and statute of repose. Bloom filed an amended complaint, alleging fraudulent concealment again for purposes of preserving the issue for review, and adding allegations that she was legally disabled and, therefore, the statute of limitations was tolled. The amended complaint also was dismissed as insufficient. Bloom then filed her second amended complaint (complaint).

In her complaint, Bloom alleged that Dr. Braun was involved with a unique psychotherapy program specializing in diagnosing a multiple personality disorder. She also alleged that Dr. Braun was an expert in uncovering repressed memories of satanic ritual abuse. Drs. Schevers and Koziol were fellows in Dr. Braun's program.

Bloom further alleged that in April 1991, she began treatment with defendants on the recommendation of her mother, who was also receiving treatment from defendants. As part of the treatment process, Bloom came to believe she was involved in horrendous satanic cult ritual abuse, of which she had no recollection before treatment. Bloom alleged that defendants misrepresented as fact that satanic ritual abuse was proven to exist and that since her mother had recovered memories of participating in such rituals, she was also a victim/participant in the activity. She further alleged that defendants created and enforced the belief that these memories were historically correct when they knew they were "outlandish," the product of "confabulation and fantasy," and there was no objective evidence of such cults. She also alleged that defendants were aware that the imagery she experienced was confabulated and a product of their therapy, yet they did not inform her that the memories and the resultant multiple personality disorder were actually caused by their therapy.

Bloom further alleged that defendants misrepresented to her that her underlying psychiatric condition was a multiple personality disorder based on her history of satanic ritual abuse and they continuously misrepresented to her that she was a victim of satanic ritual abuse from which she developed a multiple personality disorder. She further alleged that defendants misrepresented to her that she must uncover all of her memories of satanic ritual abuse to obtain mental health because each memory could house a separate personality; defendants misrepresented to her that they could diagnose her based on satanic ritual abuse without any standardized psychological surveys or objective tests; and defendants misrepresented that their multiple personality disorder treatment was safe and effective when they knew there was no support for it by recognized scientific foundations and, in fact, it was experimental. She specifically alleged:

"Thus, the defendants [sic] concerted misrepresentation regarding the asserted validity of therapeutically recovered memories as historical fact, and their diagnosis of multiple personality disorder as a result of the satanic ritual abuse, concealed from the plaintiff that she was injured as a result of defendants' psychotherapy which induced the confabulated satanic ritual abuse imagery, and induced the multiple personality disorder diagnosis, but at all times asserted by defendants as pre-existing maladies, independent of their therapy."

She also alleged that she was lulled into not discovering her psychiatric injuries inflicted upon her by defendants' misrepresentations. With respect to the tolling of the statute of limitations, she alleged:

"That the defendants' affirmative misrepresentations regarding the SRA [satanic ritual abuse] history and MPD [multiple personality disorder] condition concealed the iatrogenic injuries of SRA and MPD as underlying conditions and deprived the plaintiff of knowledge of the iatrogenic, therapeutically inflicted injuries that she sustained under the care of the defendants and are sufficient to toll the statute of limitations as delineated under Illinois Statute 5/13--215."

Bloom's complaint identified her injuries as: aggravation of pre-existing depression; great humiliation and embarrassment; a belief she was a product of incest between her mother and grandfather; self-hatred and a pattern of self-mutilation and cutting; abortion of a fetus because she believed it would be promised to the cult; irrational paranoid fear for her safety; sleep dysfunction, including sleeping with weapons under her pillow; severance of her relationship with her mother; and living in emotionally abusive and violent relationships. She also alleged that, as a result, she suffered from amnesia, lost time, delusions, and a mentally confused state. She further alleged that because of this diminished capacity, she was not able to function in her own best interests or manage her person or estate and, therefore, was legally incompetent.

Attached to the complaint were various letters from doctors who treated Bloom subsequent to her treatment by defendants. The doctors stated they believed Bloom was suffering from psychiatric disabilities. Also attached to the complaint was the report of Dr. Edward Frischholz, a clinical psychologist, whom Bloom began treatment with in 1997. Dr. Frischholz noted that Bloom had been treated by three different doctors since her treatment by defendants. In 1992 to 1993, Bloom was treated by Dr. Joseph Ziccarelli, in 1996 to 1997, she was treated by Dr. Laura Sunn, and in August 1997, she began receiving treatment from Dr. Frischholz and Drs. Robert and Bernard Shulman. The report indicated that Bloom reinstated her relationship with her mother in August 1997. At that time, Bloom's mother told her that defendants' treatment was injurious, Bloom's memories were misrepresentations, Bloom was not the product of incest, and Bloom did not suffer from a multiple personality disorder.

Dr. Frischholz's testing of Bloom indicated that she had a high average to superior range of intelligence but suffered from severe depression of a long duration. The report also indicated that Bloom held various jobs from 1985 until 1997, including one with complex and extensive responsibilities. During this time, her income steadily increased until 1996. The report also reflected that from 1991 until 1997, Bloom lived with various individuals, including ...


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