Civil Procedure Springfield Injury Lawyer Blog

Barring Witnesses Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215

Illinois law has method by which a court can order a civil litigant to undergo physical or mental examination. The point of the rule is to make sure that both sides have the ability to examine a party. In other words, it would not be fair for the defendant if the plaintiff got to pick all of her medical providers and the defendant could not have their own doctor examine the litigant. Illinois Supreme Court rule 215 is a procedure allowing doctors to examine patients. The doctor is supposed to prepare a report within 21 days of the examination.

In Batson vs. Township Village Associates, the issue became whether or not a doctor who did not turn over the report within the 21 days could testify. Linda Batson claimed she was injured while riding in an elevator owned by Township Village Associates. By filing suit, she placed her physical condition at issue because she claimed she got injured. The defense hired Dr. Mitchell Rotman to examine the plaintiff. Dr. Rotman met with plaintiff on August 15, 2016. On August 31, 2016, Rotman faxed a copy of his report to the defense lawyer hired him. He did not however, fax, mail, or deliver a copy of the report to plaintiff’s counsel.

The parties took a deposition on September 13, 2016, from one of the plaintiffs treating doctors, Dr. Baak. Before the questioning started the lawyer for the plaintiff stated, on the record, that he had not received a copy of Dr. Rotman’s report. He also indicated he intentionally scheduled the evidence deposition seven days after the 21-day time limit so that he would have the report prior to Dr. Baak’s evidence deposition. Counsel for the plaintiff filed a motion to bar Rotman’s testimony.

Plaintiff argued that Rule 315 required the exclusion of the report and that plaintiff did not have to show prejudice. The trial court said it “must weigh factors in ruling on discovery violations.” So, the court denied the motion to bar Dr. Rotman’s testimony.

The appellate court reversed the trial court. The appellate court specifically cited the language of Supreme Court Rule 215. Supreme Court Rule 215 says “if the report is not delivered or mailed to the attorney for the party examined…neither the examiner’s report, nor the examiner’s testimony…may be received in evidence except at the instance of the party examined order produced the person examined.”

The rule is fairly straightforward. The court has the discretion to extend the time within which a party must disclose the report before the deadline. It seems likely that the court could extend the deadline if a party merely filed a motion before the deadline expired. However, the litigant who requests the report has an obligation to get the information to opposing counsel within 21 days. If that does not happen report is barred.

The appellate court in this case did the right thing. The language of Supreme Court rule 215 is clear.

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