Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
JEFF SPARGER, as Father and Next Friend of KIERSTEN SPARGER, a Minor, Plaintiff-Appellant,
BAKHTIAR YAMINI, M.D., and THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICAL CENTER, an Illinois Corporation, Defendants-Appellees TIMOTHY I. McARDLE, Contemnor-Appellant.
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 16 L 12475 The
Honorable John Ehrlich, Judge Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Timothy I. McArdle and Michael S.
McArdle, of Nolan Law Group, of Chicago, for appellants.
Attorneys for Appellee: Mark M. Brennan, Kenneth C. Hoffmann,
and Anthony J. Longo, of Brennan Burtker LLC, of Chicago, for
JUSTICE WALKER delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justice Pierce and Justice Mikva concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Plaintiff Jeff Sparger, on behalf of his daughter Kiersten
Sparger, filed a complaint against defendant physician,
alleging the physician's negligence in repairing a spinal
fluid leak following Kiersten's spinal cord surgery
resulted in Kiersten developing meningitis. A
neuropsychologist evaluated Kiersten to determine if the
meningitis affected her "cognitive, emotion, and
behavioral presentation." The neuropsychologist's
report stated that Kiersten presented signs and symptoms
consistent with a traumatic brain injury. Specifically,
Kiersten exhibited several cognitive impairments and had a
change in personality causing her to become emotionally
volatile. Defendant requested Kiersten's medical records
from two hospitals she visited prior to her surgery.
Plaintiff refused to disclose the records, arguing they were
privileged pursuant to the Mental Health and Developmental
Disabilities Confidentiality Act (Mental Health Act) (740
ILCS 110/1 et seq. (West 2018)). Defendants filed a
motion to compel, contending that because the report
concluded Kiersten's injury affected her emotional
presentation, plaintiff placed Kiersten's mental health
at issue and therefore needed to disclose Kiersten's
mental health records. After an in camera inspection
of the records, the trial court granted the motion to compel.
Plaintiffs counsel respectfully declined to disclose the
records and was held in friendly contempt to facilitate
2 We find the trial court erred in granting defendants'
motion to compel because plaintiff did not place
Kiersten's mental condition at issue by claiming brain
damage. The information plaintiff seeks to protect is not
relevant or probative and is unduly prejudicial as it does
not pertain to Kiersten's conduct and actions at the time
of her injuries.
3 I. BACKGROUND
4 On December 22, 2016, plaintiff, as father and next friend
of Kiersten, a minor, filed a medical negligence complaint
against defendants, Bakhtiar Yamini, M.D. (Dr. Yamini), and
the University of Chicago Medical Center (U of C Medical
Center) (collectively, defendants).
5 In the complaint, plaintiff alleged that on March 30, 2015,
Dr. Yamini, an employee of the U of C Medical Center,
performed surgery on Kiersten, "including a lumbar
laminoplasty for untethering of the spinal cord with
microdissection and neuromonitoring." On April 27, 2015,
Dr. Yamini again saw Kiersten because Kiersten's surgical
wound was leaking spinal fluid. Dr. Yamini confirmed that the
wound was leaking and instructed his staff to
"overstitch" the wound. Dr. Yamini discussed the
need to admit Kiersten but informed Kiersten's parents
that due to a nursing strike, Kiersten could not be admitted.
For the next several days, a pouch developed at the wound
site, Kiersten developed a fever and significant neck pain,
and she was eventually taken to the U of C Medical Center on
May 13, 2016, where Dr. Yamini surgically repaired the leak.
The complaint alleged that Dr. Yamini's 14-day delay in
repairing the leak was a significant deviation of the
standard of care, defendants were negligent, and as a direct
and proximate result, Kiersten "developed infectious
meningitis, and the serious sequalae thereof, and suffered
injuries of a personal and pecuniary nature, which are
permanent and continuing in nature."
6 Defendants denied they were negligent and careless in
repairing the wound.
7 During discovery, defendants issued an interrogatory to
plaintiff, seeking the names and addresses of all physicians,
specialists, therapists, clinics, and similar personnel or
facilities who examined or treated Kiersten for her injuries.
In response to the interrogatory, plaintiff identified Dr.
Kathy Borchardt, a neuropsychologist, as one of the
physicians who examined Kiersten. Dr. Borchardt issued a
report of Kiersten's evaluation that plaintiff provided
to the defendants.
8 The report indicated that Kiersten was referred to Dr.
Borchardt for a "neuropsychological evaluation to
determine whether Kiersten's recent bout with meningitis
has affected her cognitive, emotion, and behavioral
presentation." Dr. Borchardt interviewed Kiersten, who
stated that since her bout with meningitis, she "becomes
more frustrated and angry than she used to" and
"has lost friendships because of her moods and
outbursts." Kiersten's parents were also interviewed
and stated that since the meningitis, "Kiersten's
reading comprehension appears compromised, and she has become