from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Marshall
County, Illinois. Circuit No. 16-L-5 Honorable Thomas A.
Keith, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices O'Brien and Wright concurred with the
judgment and opinion.
1 Scarlett Palm filed a personal injury lawsuit against Ruben
Holocker on June 22, 2016. Contemnor, Karl Bayer, represented
Holocker. Contemnor invited civil contempt to challenge the
circuit court's discovery order that compelled Holocker
to answer written discovery. He argues that Holocker's
statutory physician-patient privilege (735 ILCS 5/8-802 (West
2016)) protects his private medical information from
discovery unless he affirmatively places his physical or
mental health at issue. Palm counters that the
physician-patient privilege does not apply in civil cases
where the defendant's physical or mental health is
relevant to the case; the statute does not require the
defendant-patient to affirmatively place his or her health at
issue. We agree with contemnor. We reverse the circuit
court's discovery order and vacate its contempt order.
3 Palm's complaint alleged that on October 18, 2014,
Holocker struck Palm, a pedestrian, with his vehicle at a
crosswalk in Lacon. Palm alleged that Holocker failed to keep
a proper lookout, failed to stop at a stop sign, and failed
to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian.
4 Holocker's answer admitted that his vehicle struck
Palm; however, he denied liability. He filed an affirmative
defense, which claimed that Palm improperly crossed the
street, failed to keep a proper lookout, and was under the
influence of drugs or alcohol when she crossed the street.
Holocker further alleged that Palm's negligence rendered
her 50% or more at fault for her injuries. Palm denied
5 During initial discovery, Palm sent Holocker the motor
vehicle interrogatories provided in the appendix to Illinois
Supreme Court Rule 213 (eff. Jan. 1, 2007). Interrogatory No.
20 of the Motor Vehicle Interrogatories to Defendants asks:
"20. Do you have any medical and/or physical condition
which required a physician's report and/or letter of
approval in order to drive? If so, state the nature of the
medical and/or physical condition, the physician or other
health care professional who issued the letter and/or report,
and the names and addresses of any physician or other health
care professional who treated you for this condition prior to
the occurrence." Ill. S.Ct. R. 213, Appendix.
6 In response, Holocker disclosed that he needed a letter of
approval for "diabetic reasons." He also disclosed
the physician who writes his letters, Dr. Nau, and admitted
the Secretary of State once suspended his license when Dr.
Nau "failed to sign [a] medical authorization."
7 Holocker objected to the two ensuing interrogatories. They
requested Holocker to:
"21. State the name and address of any physician,
ophthalmologist, optician or other health care professional
who performed any eye examination of you within the last five
years and the dates of each such examination.
22. 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." Ill. S.Ct. R. 213, Appendix.
8 Holocker's objections claimed that these
interrogatories "violate[ ] HIPAA, doctor- patient
privilege, and the Defendant has not placed his ...