VANETTA L. PHIFER, Plaintiff,
PHYLLIS M. GINGHER, Defendant-Appellee Matthew D. Ports, Contemnor-Appellant.
from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria
County, Illinois, Appeal No. 3-16-0170 Circuit No. 13-L-242
Honorable Katherine Gorman, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE WRIGHT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Holdridge and Justice O'Brien
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant seeking
damages for "great pain and anguish both in mind and
body" resulting from an automobile collision in 2012.
During the production of pretrial discovery, defendant filed
multiple motions to compel plaintiff to produce plaintiffs
mental health records. Plaintiff resisted the discovery
requests by asserting the records were privileged under the
Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality
Act. 740 ILCS 110/1 et seq. (West 2012).
2 Following an in camera review of plaintiff's
mental health records, the court ordered plaintiff to produce
the records for defendant's review on January 4, 2016.
Plaintiff's counsel (contemnor) refused to produce his
client's mental health records and requested to be held
in indirect civil contempt to facilitate appellate review of
the trial court's pretrial discovery ruling. Therefore,
the trial court found contemnor in civil contempt. Contemnor
appeals the trial court's contempt finding.
4 On August 21, 2012, a vehicle operated by Phyllis M.
Gingher (defendant) struck the back of Vanetta L.
Phifer's (plaintiff) vehicle on Knoxville Avenue in
Peoria, Illinois. On September 4, 2013, plaintiff filed a
complaint alleging defendant negligently operated her vehicle
and caused plaintiff to sustain "serious and permanent
injuries." Plaintiff's complaint alleged that due to
defendant's negligence plaintiff "suffered great
pain and anguish both in mind and body and will in the future
continue to suffer." On November 20, 2013, defendant
answered plaintiff's complaint by denying she drove
negligently on the date in question.
5 On November 19, 2013, defendant issued interrogatories that
are relevant to this appeal. Defendant's interrogatory
No. 10 requested plaintiff to "State the name and
address of any physician or other health care professional
who examined and / or treated you within the last 10 years
and the reason for such examination and / or treatment."
Plaintiff answered: "Unknown."
6 Defendant's interrogatory No. 11 asked if plaintiff was
claiming "any psychiatric, psychological and / or
emotional injuries as a result of this occurrence?" If
so, in subparagraph (a) of defendant's interrogatory No.
11 defendant requested plaintiff to disclose the name of any
health care professional rendering treatment for
plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff affirmatively responded
to defendant's interrogatory No. 11 by listing Dr. Lisa
Watt and Lisa Bresnahan. Subparagraph (b) of Defendant's
interrogatory No. 11 asked whether plaintiff "suffered
any psychiatric, psychological and / or emotional injury
prior to the date of the occurrence" in 2012.
7 Plaintiff's deposition took place on March 28, 2014.
During this deposition, plaintiff disclosed that she
sustained a closed head injury as a result of the August 21,
2012, collision. Plaintiff claimed that as a result of the
head injury she sustained in the collision, she had current
difficulties with memory and multitasking, headaches, crying
spells, and fears associated with traveling in a vehicle and
residing in the area near where the collision occurred. In
addition, following the collision plaintiff suffered from
lower professional confidence, slower thinking, lower energy
levels, inability to focus, and recently suffered panic
8 According to her deposition testimony, plaintiff went to
see Lisa Bresnahan for psychological issues after the 2012
collision. Plaintiff also stated Lisa Watt conducted
cognitive testing on plaintiff as part of Watt's
evaluation after the August 21, 2012, collision.
9 On September 25, 2014, the parties conducted the discovery
deposition of Lisa Bresnahan, a licensed clinical social
worker and counselor employed by the Saint Francis Medical
Center in Peoria, Illinois. Bresnahan explained that she
provided professional services to plaintiff for several
months after the 2012 collision. According to Bresnahan,
following the accident, plaintiff sought treatment for
ongoing difficulties with multitasking and remembering
details. Bresnahan stated plaintiff suffered from headaches,
anxiety, and showed signs of depression.
10 The deposition of Dr. Lisa Watt, a neuropsychologist, also
took place on September 25, 2014. Watt explained that after
the 2012 accident, she gave plaintiff a multitude of tests to
measure and gauge plaintiff's cognitive abilities. In
terms of a diagnosis, Watt explained that plaintiff had many
indicators supporting the conclusion that she suffered from a
traumatic head injury. These indicators included headaches
and cognitive inefficiency that caused difficulty with
learning, recall, and a reduced attention span.
11 On November 5, 2014, defendant issued supplemental
interrogatories. Defendant's supplemental interrogatory
No. 1, requested plaintiff "State the names and
addresses of all physicians, surgeons, or other healers of
every description who have either examined or treated the
Plaintiff at any time for mental health reasons, including,
but not limited to anxiety and depression. Give the dates of
all such examinations and periods of treatment in each
case." In response, Plaintiff ...