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Lindsey v. Butterfield Health Care II, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

February 9, 2017

JANNIE LINDSEY, as Plenary Guardian of the Person and Estate of Laura Lindsey, a Disabled Person, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BUTTERFIELD HEALTH CARE II, INC., d/b/a Meadowbrook Manor of Naperville; THE BUTTERFIELD HEALTH CARE GROUP, INC., d/b/a Butterfield Health Care Group, Inc.; JIN RONG WANG; and VIVIAN SALVADOR, Defendants Butterfield Health Care II, Inc., d/b/a Meadowbrook Manor of Naperville, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County, No. 15-L-222; the Hon. Kenneth L. Popejoy, Judge, presiding.

          Clausen Miller P.C., of Chicago (Rodd E. Elges and Paul V. Esposito, of counsel), for appellant.

          Susan Novosad and Nicole Schroeder, of Levin & Perconti, and Leslie J. Rosen, of Leslie J. Rosen Attorney at Law P.C., both of Chicago, for appellee

          JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Hudson and Justice Spence concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          SCHOSTOK JUSTICE .

         ¶ 1 In this consolidated appeal, the defendant Butterfield Health Care II, Inc., doing business as Meadowbrook Manor of Naperville (Meadowbrook), claims that certain of its documents are privileged and that the circuit court of Du Page County should not have ordered it to produce them during discovery in a lawsuit filed against it by plaintiff, Jannie Lindsey, as the guardian of Laura Lindsey. Meadowbrook insists that the Medical Studies Act (735 ILCS 5/8-2101 et seq. (West 2014)) and the Long-Term Care Peer Review and Quality Assessment and Assurance Protection Act (Quality Assurance Act) (745 ILCS 55/1 et seq. (West 2014)) protect it against having to disclose those documents. We agree with the trial court that the documents at issue should be produced.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On April 29, 2012, 88-year-old Laura Lindsey was allegedly injured during a fall while she was in the care of Meadowbrook, a nursing home. On May 9, 2012, employees of Meadowbrook completed a report regarding Laura's injury. On January 9, 2014, the plaintiff filed a complaint on Laura's behalf against Meadowbrook, sounding in negligence. The plaintiff subsequently issued written discovery requests to Meadowbrook, seeking all investigation reports. Meadowbrook refused to disclose the May 9, 2012, report, asserting that it was privileged pursuant to the Quality Assurance Act and the Medical Studies Act because it was "prepared for the Facility's Quality Assurance Committee."

         ¶ 4 On August 25, 2015, the plaintiff filed a motion to compel, arguing that the May 9, 2012, report was authored neither for the purpose of internal quality control nor by an internal quality control committee. Meadowbrook opposed the motion and gave the report to the trial court for its in camera review. In support of its objection, Meadowbrook filed an affidavit of Patricia Stambaugh, its administrator at the time of Laura's fall. Stambaugh averred that, as Meadowbrook's administrator, she was familiar with Meadowbrook's quality assurance protocols. Meadowbrook's quality assurance process required the completion of internal quality-assurance-investigation reports relating to incidents or accidents involving resident injuries. These reports were prepared for the purpose of being considered by Meadowbrook's quality assurance committee and/or its fall committee. (The fall committee met to determine ways that the risk of resident falls might be reduced.) The quality assurance committee met on a quarterly basis, and the fall committee met on a weekly basis.

         ¶ 5 On October 15, 2015, following a hearing and the trial court's in camera review of the report, the trial court ordered Meadowbrook to disclose the report. The trial court found that the report was simply factual and that it did not contain recommendations for improvement. The trial court further noted that there was no indication that the report had been reviewed by any committee.

         ¶ 6 On December 17, 2015, after Meadowbrook continued to refuse to disclose the report, the trial court found Meadowbrook in contempt. Meadowbrook appealed from that order. That appeal was docketed in this court as appeal No. 2-16-0042.

         ¶ 7 Thereafter, while updating discovery, Meadowbrook discovered six written witness statements that were prepared during the course of its internal investigation. It provided the plaintiff with a supplemental privilege log that included the statements, and it then filed a motion for a protective order. In support of its motion, Meadowbrook attached an affidavit of Stambaugh. She stated that the statements were prepared pursuant to Meadowbrook's quality assurance practices. On April 6, 2016, the trial court denied Meadowbrook's motion and ruled that the statements were not privileged. After Meadowbrook indicated that it would refuse to comply with the trial court's order, the trial court held Meadowbrook in contempt. Meadowbrook appealed from that order. That appeal was docketed in this court as appeal No. 2-16-0268. On May 5, 2016, this court consolidated Meadowbrook's two appeals for review.

         ¶ 8 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 9 On appeal, Meadowbrook argues that the trial court erred in ordering disclosure of the May 9, 2012, report and the six witness statements. Meadowbrook argues that the report and the statements were privileged ...


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